Monday, November 30, 2009

I Hear the Train A Comin'...

It's rollin' round the bend.

The CSX crossing on Skyline Drive in Hopkinsville, KY

When the railroad crossing arms drop in front of me, I consider it a challenge to get a photo of the train. This freight train was traveling fast. I was surprised that I got my camera out of my purse, rolled down the window, and clicked the shutter in time to catch the locomotive.

The title and subtitle of this post are the first two lines of "Folsom Prison Blues", a song Johnny Cash wrote in 1951, the year I was born. On YouTube, I found over 5000 search results for "Folsom Prison Blues." Many have sung the song; some sang it better than others.

Here's a good, undated video of Johnny Cash singing "Folsom Prison Blues".  It's an interesting contrast to a younger Johnny Cash singing "Folsom Prison Blues"  in 1959.  He picked up steam with that song as the years went by.

In a video of Johnny performing "Folsom Prison Blues" at the Tennessee State Penitentiary in 1974, he appears to be using the Martin guitar that I photographed at the Country Music Hall of Fame museum.

Well if they freed me from this prison,
If that railroad train was mine
I bet I'd move it on a little farther down the line
Far from Folsom prison, that's where I want to stay
And I'd let that lonesome whistle blow my blues away...

(Johnny Cash, 1932–2003)

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

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving!

Counting my blessings

Best wishes for a happy Thanksgiving. My family and I, like many Americans, will be gathering around a table loaded with food today. I thank God for another year of life, for family and friends, and for the plenty and freedoms we enjoy.

Remember our soldiers in your prayers today. My internet friend Fred sent a link to a photo essay of an Air Force Pararescue in Afghanistan. It's interesting and informative, well worth a visit.

And now, I must head for the kitchen. I have things to do there, and I'm also still cleaning house. I've been looking on the Reynolds cooking bag site to see just how long our turkey needs to be in the oven.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Tobacco Curing in the Barn

A familiar autumn scene in Kentucky

This barn has tobacco hanging in it, visible through the doors. This is almost certainly burley tobacco, a variety that has light colored leaves; however, dark tobacco is sometimes air-cured also. The curing process typically lasts for a couple of months, It creates a dried leaf that is high in nicotine and low in sugar. When the weather gets a little colder, farmers will be removing the leaves from the stalks, packing and binding them into bales, and sending the finished product to the factory.

Update: This afternoon, I saw a farmer in his pickup truck, pulling a big trailer-load of tobacco stems. So that means that tobacco stripping is already under way.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Berlin in June, 1989

A letter home from West Berlin

I wrote this letter 6 days before our son Isaac was born. Keely was 3 years old. We were living in military housing (Duepple Housing area) in West Berlin, on the ground floor of an apartment building that was 6 or 7 stories high. Dennis was working for the PX system (AAFES).

June 7, 1989

Dear Daddy, Mama, and all the family,

I'll write a few lines while Keely watches Sesame Street and Dennis snoozes.

Dennis was off work today, so we took Keely to the beach -- the shore of the Wannsee, which is a large lake just a few miles from us. Keely wore her swimsuit and waded a bit at the water's edge, but she wasn't at all adventurous about getting wet above her knees. Dennis and I parked ourselves in our lawn chairs, and Keely had a good time filling her sand bucket with various mixtures of sand and water.

The sky clouded over, and it looked rainy, so we left after an hour, just before it got seriously wet. Maybe it was the approaching rainstorm that made the swans so frisky today. All the time we were there, they were opening their wings and flapping across the water.

As you know, Willadene and Lewis (Dennis's sister and her husband) were here last week. We went to various places in the city with them that we hadn't visited before -- the stadium that was built for the 1936 Olympics, an interesting flea and antique market in some old subway cars at one of the stations, and St. Hedwig's Cathedral. The cathedral is in East Berlin, and the stadium and flea market are in West Berlin.

Also in East Berlin, we saw the weekly parade of East German soldiers in front of their Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. They goosestep new guards in and out every hour, but each Wednesday at 2:30, the whole company has a elaborate ceremony and parade on the street in front of the monument.

After being so warm in May, it's turned cool again. They've even turned on the heat again. It's been below 50° several nights.

I hope that by the time you actually receive this letter, maybe we'll have the baby. The day we went to East Berlin and walked for miles, I wondered if maybe we would need to rush to the hospital. (I didn't say a word to Dennis and the group about it, because I didn't want to get everyone excited!) But I'm still waiting. I have my suitcase partially packed.

Laveda Boggs, another AAFES wife who lives one floor above us, has offered repeatedly to watch Keely if we have to go to the hospital suddenly in the night. She works during the day, so we've made arrangements with another lady (Linda) to keep Keely while Dennis is at work. Linda is trustworthy and has three preschoolers of her own. Keely and I have visited at their house several times recently so Keely won't feel like a stranger.

Keely has been wanting to learn to "spreche Deutsch" lately. She has become aware that she and the little German kids speak two different languages. She's been asking me to teach her. When we finish a little lesson, she says, "NOW those kids will understand what I'm saying!"

We went today to see about enrolling Keely in preschool next fall at the John F. Kennedy School. It's a private school, and we will have to pay tuition. We will have to pay her tuition at any preschool, so why not try for one of the better ones? They teach preschool mainly in German. We couldn't find anyone at the school because they're all on a week's vacation, so we will have to try again. They have a waiting list, and I wouldn't want her to begin before next fall anyway. With the baby, that will be enough adjusting and stress for her at present.

Well, I don't have enough news to begin another page, so I'll sign off. All's well here, and we hope you are doing OK too! Love from each of us, and juicy Keely-kisses all around.

Gennie, Dennis, and Keely

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Internet Amusements

For your entertainment

Some of the links below came from my e-mail and others came from the forums and other sites that I read online. The illustrations don't pertain to anything in particular. I just thought they were amusing.

Test your news IQ. They'll probably remove this soon, so go on and take the quiz now. You may do better than you expect.

The "Miniatur Wunderland" model railroad in Hamburg , Germany.  YouTube video of the world's largest iminiature railroad, covering 16,146 square feet of space with more than 10,000 train cars running around its 6.8 miles of HO scale track.

Test your memory -- an interesting quiz by the BBC Science & Nature website.

Regifting Robin -- I'm not sure how this works, but it nearly always does.  I think it has something to do with nines.

Snow Leopard Kittens --visiting outdoors for the first time. (YouTube video)

Model T History -- Watch the first Ford assembly line on YouTube. (Fascinating!)

Meet the Real Invisible Man, Liu Bolin --Bolin takes "blending in with the background" to new levels.

Emily and Fiona sing "Creeque Alley" -- (YouTube) These girls are sisters. They have a refreshing simplicity and lots of talent.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Colors of November

Fall foliage and flowers

The brown concrete building in the background is part of the St. Peter and Paul Catholic Church complex. I would call this building a "fellowship hall", but I'm not sure what they call it. Maybe a "parish hall"?

Four of these shrubs grow in a narrow strip of soil between the side of the building and the parking lot. In my opinion, they are prettier in the fall than at any other time.

The Catholics have a good gardener who keeps their grounds well-groomed and attractive. The photos that follow were also taken at the Catholic Church.

Parke-Davis Throat Lozenges Remembered

Tired of the tickle in my throat!

Today, I napped on the sofa for hours with Casper, my "therapeutic kitty". I've been battling a cold, so I needed the rest. I feel much better this evening, but I have a persistent tickle in my throat. If I could talk to my tickle, I'd emphatically say, "Leave now, and never come back!", as Smeagol said when he exorcised Gollum.

Fisherman's Friend helps my cough as much as anything I've found, and it doesn't interfere with my blood pressure medicine (an unsolicited endorsement). The flavor certainly lives up to the product's "Extra Strong" slogan. I would never mistake the F.F. lozenges for candy!

Fisherman's Friend reminds me a little of Parke-Davis Medicated Throat Discs, also marketed as Parke-Davis Throat Lozenges. Does anyone else remember them? They were quite effective for sore throats and coughs.

Parke-Davis Throat Discs came in a small, flat box that slid open. The dime-size lozenges were neatly arranged in stacks of three. There were 90 lozenges in a box, as I recall. A new box was wrapped in plastic, and inside, it had a little sheet of paper over the lozenges to keep them exactly in place. As soon as the first lozenge was removed, the remaining lozenges could slide around, and the perfect order inside the box was lost.

Like the Parke-Davis Throat Discs, Fisherman's Friend contains capsicum (pepper extract) and licorice. The flavor is somewhat similar, but Fisherman's Friend doesn't have the zing of chloroform that the P. D. throat discs had. Yes, chloroform! Because of the chloroform, the P.D. box carried a caution about the number of throat discs that could be consumed within a given period of time.

Chloroform in over-the-counter medicines was outlawed in the mid-1970s, and that was apparently the end of the Parke-Davis Throat Lozenges.  I haven't seen them in many years, and I didn't find very much information about them on the internet. Only older people would remember them now. I guess that classifies me!

Interesting related link: Weed, Booze, Cocaine and Other Old School "Medicine" Ads

Thursday, November 12, 2009

W. F. Ware Plant in Pembroke, KY

Small town, big bins

The website of the W. F. Ware Company says that they are "Buyers of Barley, Corn, Popcorn, Soybeans, & Wheat; Specializing in Corn for Human Food Products."  I've photographed their plant in Pembroke before.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Berlin Wall Remembered

We watched The Wall come down.

Dennis and I lived in West Berlin from 1988-1991. Dennis was working as a manager for the Army-Air Force Exchange System (PX system), and I was a busy mother of one, then two small children. Keely turned three shortly after we moved to Berlin in 1988, and Isaac was born there in June, 1989.

In honor of the 20th anniversary of the Fall of the Berlin Wall, this post and its photos will tell a little about Berlin from the viewpoint of an American who was there when the Wall was opened.

Monday, November 09, 2009

Invitation to Join this Blog

Friend Connect added

Today, I added a Friend Connect widget in the right sidebar of Prairie Bluestem. Friend Connect is a fairly new application that Google has made available. I've decided to try it and see if this blog's readers are interested in it.

Joining Prairie Bluestem through Friend Connect is a great way to show that you are a fan. But beyond that, Friend Connect can help this blog's readers get acquainted with each other. When the readers know each other better, a community of people with shared interests can form around this and other blogs and websites that they enjoy.

As a member (follower) of Prairie Bluestem, you can choose (or choose not) to allow other Prairie Bluestem members to send messages to you. You can also choose (or choose not) to allow me to send you messages.

Friday, November 06, 2009

Classic Automobiles Seen in Hopkinsville, KY

Pennyrile Classics Cruise-In

These photos are from the Pennyrile Classics cruise-in that was held on August 15, 2009, on the K-Mart parking lot in Hopkinsville, KY. It was reported that 150 cars were on exhibit by 5:45 pm. Anyone who was interested could walk around, look at the old cars, and talk to the owners.

The Pennyrile Classic Cars Club sponsored cruise-ins on the third Saturday night of each month from April through October.

Many of the owners have put untold hours of work into the engines of their cars as well as the bodies, so they like to open the hoods and show off. I am not particularly interested in the motors of cars, so I enjoyed best (and photographed more of) the vehicles that had their hoods closed.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Odds and Ends from My Email

Links, games, videos

Thanks to Fred, Gloria, Kenneth, Elaine, Taurus, and others who have sent me interesting links.

  • On Veterans Day, all military personnel (current or former) are invited to a free meal at Golden Corral and Applebees. Bring proof of military service.
  • Apple Picking Time -- Can you get half the apples in the pail? If so, you are quicker than I am!
  • The Bear-- A 4-minute wildlife video with a surprise ending by Jean-Jacques Annaud. Well worth watching.
  • Circle the cat game -- it hasn't got any easier since the last time someone sent me the link!
  • Test your reaction time. You might be faster than you think -- or maybe not.

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Halloween Sunset

Cooler weather moves in

Our weather forecast predicts lows tonight in the mid 30s, highs tomorrow in the mid 50s, and clear weather through next Saturday. I hope this forecast proves true. We've had so much rain that farmers are having a terrible time getting their crops out of the fields.
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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.