Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Cranky Old People

Mind games

My son Isaac works part-time as a stock person in a grocery store, and he sometimes talks about "cranky old people". Usually, he's frustrated that they've scolded him about things that are totally outside his control.

At my job today, I met one of Isaac's "cranky old people".  I asked a white-haired fellow if I could help him with anything, and he launched into a passionate complaint about my misleading labels. 

My labels? I was taken aback, but when he paused, I spoke as politely as I could. "I'm sorry it's confusing, sir," I said. "I will pass along your complaint, but the store really has no control over that product's labels. The packages and the information that's printed on them come from the manufacturer."

My words only made him angrier. He spat out a few more paragraphs about "my" labels and "my" sizes and "my" products and "my" store, and I stood there meekly and heard him out. Finally he bought the only thing we had that resembled what he really wanted, and strode away, a thin, stiff, angry, elderly man.

This incident reminded me of my mother-in-law, who is now in her mid-90s. For the past few years (since breaking a hip), Mama N. has lived in an assisted-living home. She doesn't go out to shop anymore, which is probably just as well. The last few times I shopped with her, she had conversations with clerks that were quite similar to the one I had this morning.

Portrait of a Elderly Lady
(Mary Cassatt)
Those unfortunate clerks didn't know that Mama suspected they would cheat an old lady like her, every chance they got.  Mama tried to be extra feisty, to show them that she was no easy mark. That's sort of like my angry man today. He was sure that the labels were intended to trick him.

If I make it through another decade or two, I hope that I don't go paranoid in the process. Being suspicious all the time surely must be exhausting. And it makes a person cranky, which certainly is hard on other folks.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Naughty or Nice? March Can't Decide!

Volatile spring weather

When I got off work yesterday and headed for home, a black cloud was hanging over Hopkinsville (KY). I turned on the radio and learned that we had a tornado watch and a severe thunderstorm warning. A storm front, capable of 70 mph winds, was passing through eastern Christian County.

The bright sunlight against the dark storm cloud was eerie. I held my camera out of the car window and clicked this photo of Skyline Drive. Its angle is strange, but it expresses the instability of the weather at that moment.

Later, I read on Hopkinsville's weather report that one-inch hail was reported east/southeast of Kelly (a few miles north/northeast of Hopkinsville.)

A lot of people were wearing shorts and sleeveless shirts earlier this week, but today they had on their sweatshirts and jackets again. The low tonight is supposed to be around 30 degrees.
- - - - - - - - - -

Update 3/26/11
Today at work, I talked to a fellow who is building a house on the Kelly-Dogwood Road. He said that he was in town when the cloud went through, but when he went out to the construction site later, he found full-size sheets of plywood in the treetops.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

The First President I Remember

I liked Ike.

Seen in a flea market in Cave City, KY
Dwight D. Eisenhower is the first U.S. President that I remember. We didn't have television in the 1950s, so I knew him from the radio and from pictures in magazines and newspapers.

President Eisenhower took office when I was one year old and served until I was nine.  I had the deepest respect and greatest awe for him that a little country girl could muster.

I remember telling my brother once that I wished we had television just so I could see the President.

Dwight was five years older than me and more sophisticated. He didn't share my reverence. "What would be so great about that?" he asked. His scorn shocked me!

I don't remember my reply, but I'm sure I didn't explain myself well. Even 50 years later, it's hard to explain the position of high honor that President Eisenhower held in my little heart and mind.

I Grew Up In Radio Land

Monday, March 21, 2011

Spring Cleaning of the Blog

A general freshening

I installed a new blog template over the weekend. It is displaying all right with the browsers and operating system that I have on my computer, but if you have any problem with it, please let me know.

Particularly, I would like to know if anything is overlapped, oddly chopped, or not displaying. Also, I'd like to know if there are any dark lines in the header or anywhere else that seem unrelated to the design.

This design is a modification of the new "Simple" template. One advantage of the new Blogger templates is that pages can be added. I've moved a few things that used to be in the sidebar to their own pages, and I'll be evaluating how well that works.

I certainly hope the new blog design works out better than Buster Brown's housecleaning did!

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Seen in Cleveland, Ohio

On the shores of Lake Erie

Outside the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. 
Peace and love, Isaac!

No photography is permitted in the Rock Hall.
This photo of the gift shop was a
backward look as we left the building.

Cleveland claims credit for naming 
"Rock 'n' Roll" and for holding
the first rock concert ever.

A U.S. Coast Guard vessel,
docked on the Erie shore.

This World War II submarine is a
National Historic Landmark. It's open
for tour during the warmer months.

Some of Cleveland's big buildings

Apparently, St. Patrick's Day is well-celebrated 
in Cleveland. The GPS helped us bypass the streets 
that were closed for the parade, so we didn't
get lost or cause any major traffic jams!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Thursday 13: Needlework Idioms

Figures of speech, related to sewing and needlework

"Lise Sewing" by Renoir, Dallas Museum of Art

1. Revolution is part of the fabric of South American history.

2. The room was so quiet that you could hear a pin drop.

3. The peace accords are unraveling.

4. The contract is all sewed up.

5. The partnership is coming apart at the seams.

6. He needled his wife about her driving.

7. I'm tired, and my nerves are frayed.

8. He looks a bit frayed around the edges.

9. Her jokes had me in stitches.

10. That story's made out of whole cloth.

11. The two boys are cut from the same cloth.

12. This deal is hanging by a thread.

13. Finding his homework in his room was like looking for a needle in a haystack.

If you have a sewing or needlework idiom, please add it in the comments!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Can You Identify This Artist?

Unknown Western singer and guitarist

I found this photo in an old book that I purchased. I'm curious to know if anyone can identify this man. It seems likely that his genre was western music, perhaps during the 1940s or 1950s.

Monday, March 14, 2011

A Mine Camp Childhood

Memories shared

Today, I asked one of my elderly customers if she had lived in Christian County (KY) all her life. My question was the only invitation she needed to tell me about her childhood.

Her family lived near Crofton (KY) when she was a little child. Her father was a coal miner. He walked six miles every morning from their home to a mine in the Mannington area. He worked all day in the mine, and then he walked another six miles back home each night.

Later on, they lived in a coal camp (in Hopkins County, KY, if I understood correctly). All the houses in the camp were owned by the mine. Everyone in the little town knew each other. It was almost like a big family. The kids all went to school together and played together, as children do.

The coal was pulled out of the mine in cars pulled by little mules. Her father was paid in scrip, instead of money, and the company store in their little coal camp was the only place where they could buy anything.

One time, there were problems related to the labor union. If I understood the lady's story correctly, labor organizers were trying to get the men to join the union. At any rate, all the men who were union members and their families were evicted from the company houses. Her family spent a winter in a tent provided by the union. They had a wood stove in their tent, but when the wind blew wrong, the tent filled up with smoke. Nonetheless, they made it through that winter.

"I have good memories of the coal camp," she told me. I wished I could have heard more of her stories, but unfortunately, I'm not paid to interview the customers. I told her I had enjoyed talking to her, and she should write down some of her memories. Her grandchildren would enjoy reading them someday.

I think these stories are probably from the 1930s. I know this lady's daughter, and she's a little younger than me. My mother was born in the 1920s, so this lady was probably born in the 1930s.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Hopper Court in Hopkinsville, KY

Homes with style

The home on the left in this photo is a bungalow. Sometimes its architecture is also called "Craftsman". I know that because James Coursey, a local architect with an interest in Hopkinsville's architectural heritage, wrote an article about bungalow houses in Hopkinsville a few years ago ("Local homes epitomize bungalow style of architecture", in the Kentucky New Era, April 14, 2007.) This home is one of several Hopkinsville bungalows that he cited.

According to Coursey, bungalows originated in California and were popular from about 1905-1925. The style was a reaction to the excesses of the Victorian period. For example, in a bungalow, the front entrance hall of Victorian architecture was eliminated. The front door opened into the living room. Also, stairs were no longer an architectural element. They were hidden away, often in the back of the house.

I don't know the proper term for the architecture of the house on the right, but I like it because it reminds me of Germany. A big, square, stucco home like this would fit right into many German towns, especially if it had one more story and lace curtains at every window.

These two houses are part of Hopper Court, a neighborhood in Hopkinsville that was developed around 1910. If you look closely at the photo, you'll see that the street has a strip of green down the center of it, where some small trees are planted. This mini-boulevard was once the private driveway of a large, red-brick house that still sits at the far end of Hopper Court. Waymarking.com has several photos of Hopper Court, then and now.

Hopper Court is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The book, Hopkinsville & Christian County Historic Sites by Gibbs & Torma for the Kentucky Heritage Commission (Copyright 1982 by Gateway Trust) says the following about this site:
The E. H. Hopper house was built about 1885 in a mansard or Second Empire style. About 1907, the land leading to the house was developed as an ideal suburban street, complete with tree-planted median, sidewalks, and stone obelisks marking the entrance. The houses built along the street are mostly frame bungalows. Hopper was a stationer, bookseller, and major property owner in Hopkinsville in the late 19th century.

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Rowe Sanctuary Crane Cam, 2011

Experience the migration!

The spring Sandhill crane migration has begun again, and the Audubon Society's Rowe Sanctuary has its Crane Cam running.

Rowe Sanctuary is located on the Platte River in central Nebraska. Thousands of Sandhill cranes gather on the Platte before flying northward for the summer. It is one of the great natural spectacles of North America.

Right now on the Crane Cam, I can hear many bird calls in the background. The Platte appears to be running briskly. It has snow on its banks, and some chunks of ice are floating in the water. What a marvelous thing to see and hear those things while sitting at my computer in Christian County, Kentucky!

Facebook users can "like" the Rowe Sanctuary at this link. However, it would benefit the Rowe Sanctuary much more if you showed your support with a monetary donation, even a small one.

Thanks, Carolyn and Fred, for reminding me that its time to post this link again.

Read more about Sandhill cranes in the Prairie Bluestem archives:
Sandhill Crane Webcam 2010
Sandhill Crane Cam 2009
Rowe Sanctuary's Crane Cam 2008
Sandhill Crane Webcam 2007

Early Spring

Sunshine and shadow in a greening landscape

Friday, March 04, 2011

High Hopes of a Kentucky Railway Company

Rail service to eastern Kentucky

The Kentucky Union Railway Company of Lexington, Kentucky, had no qualms about "blowing it's own horn." In 1883, they published a book that was full of fabulous reasons that readers should invest in their company. Naturally enough, the book's title was The Kentucky Union Railway Company.

Eastern Kentucky was ripe for exploitation, the book claimed. If a railroad was built from Lexington, Kentucky, through Powell, Wolfe, Breathitt, Perry, and Letcher counties, to Abingdon, Virginia, great profits would be enjoyed. Trains would bring the coal and lumber of eastern Kentucky and western Virginia to Lexington where it would be used or shipped to the world via connecting rail lines.

Sometimes, the book's enthusiasm amuses me. The following is quoted from page 38, where the writers turn their attention to Kentucky's climate:


The climate is very mild and salubrious. The mean annual temperature ranges in different parts of the State from 50° to 55° Fahrenheit... Cattle remain upon pasture during the entire winter with but little additional food, and there is seldom a day, winter or summer, when a man may not perform a full day's work in the open air.

Physical Development of Men and Animals

The healthfulness of the climate is attested by the low death rate and by the strength and vigor of the population.

The tabulated measurements of United States volunteers during the Civil War show that the soldiers born in Kentucky and Tennessee exceeded all others in height, weight, circumference of head, circumference of chest, and ratio of weight to stature.

The speed and endurance of the Kentucky horse and the superior development of all kinds of domestic animals are well known.

Both man and beast may have thrived in Kentucky, but the Kentucky Union Railway Company did not. Building the railroad through the mountains of eastern Kentucky proved to be more expensive, difficult, and time-consuming than they had anticipated.

By 1894, Kentucky Union had gone into foreclosure. The railbed was constructed from Lexington, KY, to Jackson, KY, and there it ended at about half of its intended length.  It became the property of the Lexington & Eastern Railway, and ultimately part of the L & N's Eastern Kentucky Division. During World War II, part of the line was torn out and melted down for weapon production. You can read more of the history in The Louisville & Nashville Railroad, 1850-1963 by Kincaid A. Herr.

Drag Abingdon to the lower right corner, repeat the motion, and you'll see Lexington at upper left. Jackson, where the Kentucky Union Railway ended, is about half-way between Lexington and Abingdon.

Thursday, March 03, 2011

A Pleasant Porch

Seen at the Adsmore House in Princeton, KY

I've always wanted to live in a house with a big porch -- not a big deck or a big patio, but a big, old-fashioned porch. I want pillars and steps and gingerbread trim.

When we came to Christian County (KY) in the early 1990s and searched for a house to buy, we bid on a little white house near Lafayette. I really liked its big front porch. We were a bit too late, though; someone else put in a bid a few hours ahead of us and bought that little house.

So, we bought another house instead. It has been our home for 20 years. It is the shelter that keeps rain and snow off our heads and the haven that welcomes us at the end of each day. It doesn't have a porch, though, and it's not even a style of house that would wear my porch well.

Thus, I enjoy a good porch when I see one. One of the best porches that I've discovered recently is at the Adsmore House, a museum at Princeton, KY. It's a back porch -- a pleasant, comfortable space that overlooks the garden, lawns, and carriage house.

I took this photo last fall on my second visit to the Adsmore. The tour guide saw me stop with my camera as we left the house. She asked if I would like her to take my picture on the porch. "No, I just want a picture of the porch!" I told her.

It was a gray, rainy afternoon, and my porch photo turned out dark and a bit unfocused. I was disappointed in it. I downloaded it to my computer and forgot about it.

A few days ago, I happened to look at the photo again, and I decided to work with it. After I straightened it, lightened a few areas, and added some "glow",  I installed it as my desktop background. It may not be a perfect photo, but it's my private window onto a very nice porch, and I've been enjoying it.
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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.