Monday, October 26, 2009

558. Weekend Wrapup

I was busy the entire weekend. Covered a lot of ground in many different places and a few different ways.

The busy weekend started with my friend Morgan Ransdell at Actors Theater on Main Street in downtown Louisville. It was a production of William Shakespeare's Midsummer Night's Dream. It was quite a production that, had it been a movie, might have been rated R or at least PG-13. The acting was interesting as the story was set somewhere in haze of the drug-infused 1960s, replete with a Volkswagen full of second-rate actors for the play-within-the-play, a Shakespeare staple. Older readers might recall sets from Rowan and Martin's Laugh-In or the old Dating Game.

As written by the Bard, the stars are Oberon, Titania, and Puck, respectively the King and Queen of the Faeries, and Oberon's special servant, Puck, sometimes known as Robin Goodfellow. As performed, the characters of Puck and Bottom (the Ass, from the Players Troupe) took the center stage of the viewers' attention. Eric Bondoc , my favorite for the night, played a very seductive and somewhat homoerotic Puck to his master King Oberon, played by Edward O'Blennis. Puck's unusual singing voice, a sultry lower-middle range, added to the intensity. O'Blennis' portrayal was a cross of Jimi Hendrix, Richard Pryor, the performer once and presently known as Prince, and a few others. He was great. Bottom was portrayed by Aaron Munoz who is transformed as an ass and plays lover to Queen Titania, which was played by Jessica Morris. Munoz as the Ass as well as his Bottom was over-the-top in so many ways. His ramblings around the stage interacting with nearly every other cast member at some point was excellent. We laughed through the entire production which was a litte long on time but never short on creativity and excitement. A great Friday night.

Saturday and Sunday were spent with Preston Bates touring the counties which comprise the 14th Kentucky Senate District, a district where it is anticipated a Special Election may be called for December 8. Preston was already in the area with his U of L History class on some sort of field trip to the Perryville Battlefield State Park in Boyle County, one of my favorite places in Kentucky and our stake in the tourist department for Civil War buffs. Waiting for Preston's class to end, I hiked one of the two loop trails, a distance of about 1.5 miles through Parson's Ridge, the Widow Gibson site, overlooking the Bottom House, up and down Loomis' Heights, along Doctor's Creek, and eventually returning to the Trailhead near the Confederate Cemetery and the Union Monument. I can use the exercise, and this little hike was probably the most I have had in years.

Eventually Preston and I joined up, leaving Perryville and headed to Harrodsburg. We viewed the site for the new Court House, going up on the same Civic Square where three previous courthouses have been erected. Harrodsburg is the county seat of Mercer County, one of the five counties in the 14th Senate District. We headed north out of town and out of the district into Anderson County toward the BG Parkway. As Preston's class had centered on the Civil War, I took him to the Salt River Baptist Church Cemetery in Lawrenceburg where, among many others, are buried distant cousins of mine, the Moore brothers, Samuel and James. Samuel and James were Confederate soldiers under the command of Louisville's Lt. Col. Bennett Young. Here is a trivia question for you. The Moore brothers of Lawrenceburg, Kentucky participated in the northernmost skirmish of the Civil War as privates in the 8th Kentucky Cavalry of the Confederate Army. The "raid" occurred fifteen miles from the Canadian border. Any takers on the name of the raid?

Also buried in the Salt River Cemetery is my 5-Greats Uncle and 6-Greats Grandfather, the same person, Johann Michael Hockersmith, a veteran of the Revolutionary War whose grave is marked by a Sons of the American Revolution plaque. He died around 1812. The cemetery and church date from 1798.

From there, as it was getting late, we took the Bluegrass Parkway over to the western side of the 14th District, to its most populous county, Nelson, and its county seat of Bardstown. However, again a detour. Preston has asked me in the past about the Catholic population of central Kentucky. Nelson County is the base of this popluation, and even before Bardstown was the community of Saint Thomas, home for Bishop Flaget's cabin, the Saint Thomas Church, and the original building which housed Nazareth College, the forerunner of my alma mater, Spalding University. The building dates from 1814. From there we went into Bardstown where we ate supper at a Mexican restaurant on Third Street. We called it a night and proceeded back to Louisville.

Sunday's trip covered the rest of the 14th District, beginning in far southern Taylor County at Tebbs Bend. This beginning again took us into Civil War territory. On July 4, 1863, while the rest of the country was focussed on battles at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania and Vicksburg, Mississippi, another smaller battle was being fought over the Green River Bridge at Tebbs Bend in Taylor County. A confederate cemetery marks the spot and among its graves are those of James Hockensmith and Alexander Hockersmith, cousins of mine, both from the family of Johann Michael mentioned above. We left the cemetery driving into Campbellsville with its very non-descript courthouse built in the 1960s as well as Campbellsville University on the northwest side of town.

From there we headed north on US68 and the detoured onto KY208, an older path between Campbellsville and the Marion County seat of Lebanon. This road takes us through Calvary, a small town memorable for me as the place where my Ford Ranger PickUp crossed the 100,000 mile mark on the odometer a few years back. Ah, the memories. In Lebanon, we drove around several parts of town noting the statuary at the corner of Spalding Avenue and Walnut Street. Spalding heads out of Lebanon and Marion County and into Springfield and Washington County, following KY55. Nine miles of very good highway separate the two county seats.

In Washington County I am always interested in passing the Mordecai Lincoln House, once belonging to the president's uncle. I helped with its original fundraising drive for restoration back in 1979. Upon the death of Mordecai's father, Abraham, who was killed in a Native American raid in Jefferson County, Mordecai inherited his father's property in Washington County. The president's parents were married a little north of this site in 1806. Three years ago, a reenactment of that marriage was the official opening event of our country's celebration of President Lincoln's bicentennial. The marriage license marking this event can be found in Washington's 1816 courthouse, Kentucky's oldest still in daily use.

We ventured north out of Sprinfield past the Lincoln Homestead Park, using KY555, Kentucky's proposed Heartland Parkway. Although this is a very wide two-lane highway, you can see the even wider right-of-way marked by the fencelines, right-of-way which someday could allow for the construction of another two (or more) lanes. I've written before about this connecting road between Green River Lake and Taylorsville Lake, and it was on KY555 and its connecting KY248, that we returned home to Louisville, thus completing our tour of the 14th District's five counties, counties we will need to know all we can in a few weeks as we approach the Special Election.

I will add pictures later.

Monday, October 19, 2009

557. Out of sorts

That last few days have been not quite but almost difficult because of a rift between me and a friend of very long standing. We've disagreed on something very important to both of us. Like all things, this too shall pass. In the meantime, I've sought diversions where they may be found. Friday afternoon Preston and I went to Frankfort and toured the Old Capital on Broadway, designed by a very young Gideon Shryock - notice the spelling - the same young architect who designed our Jefferson County Court House. We did a few other touristy things in my favorite capital city before returning home. Saturday afternoon was yet another trip to central Kentucky, this time to Lexington for a political dinner held in an old refurbished barn. Sunday I was a reader at church, reading the Prayers of the People for the Twentieth Sunday After Pentecost, praying for all sorts of folks. Today I did go back to work, but I remain a little dulled by the situation at hand. After work, again with Preston, I took in a faculty concert given by Paul York and Michael Gurt playing selections from Bach and others in Comstock Hall on the U of L campus. Afterward, we went to Denny's on Crittenden Drive [don't act like you don't know Denny's on Crittenden Drive] where we, unwittingly, became engaged in a conversation with someone who was intent on telling all about his educational, ideological, and professional career. At some point through the discussion, which included this man telling me he recognized my voice from when I did radio voiceover commercials in the late 1980s and early 1990s, I realized I knew who this man was. To confirm, I asked if he had a business card. He offered one. It idenifies him as the founder of the Kentuckiana Cinematography Club, a producer, writer, director, DP [I don't know what those letters mean], actor, aerial videographer, and cinematographer. His name? Brennan Callan. I remain out of sorts.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

556. Barnyard Affair

My guess is General Wesley Clark has spoken in lots of different places in his various careers - military man, politician, venture capitalist. Last night he addressed the Kentucky Democratic Party's Jefferson-Jackson Dinner crowd from a barn, shown in the picture. Not just any barn, but a well-known fixture at Lexington's Red Mile Race Track, the Round Barn. It sits on the track's campus, an eight-sided three story wooden structure with a cupola on top. More on the barn later.

Last night's event was presided over by the very likable Chair of the Kentucky Democratic Party, Charlie Moore of Union County. Although all the tables in the barn were filled, it did seem like there were a number of prominent Democrats missing from the crowd. House Speaker Greg Stumbo was absent, as was most of the Democratic delegation of the General Assembly. The only State Senator in the room was Kathy Stein, although if you could only have one, and you think and vote the way I do, she makes an ideal member of the Upper House. House members included Majority Leader Rocky Adkins, as well as Jesse Crenshaw, Charlie Hoffman, Susan Westrom, and Ruth Ann Palumbo. There were no legislators from Louisville although I did see former State Representative Eleanor Jordan, who was seated with Representative Palumbo.

Other than Lieutenant Governor Dan Mongiardo, all the Democratic constitutional officers were present: Auditor Crit Luallen, Treasurer Todd Hollenbach IV, Attorney General Jack Conway, and, of course, Governor Steve Beshear, who spoke several times. Mongiardo was doing similar duties about 100 miles away at the Bullitt County Jefferson-Jackson Dinner, also held last night. Although he didn't speak, Kentucky's true political rock star, former United Senator (and Governor) Wendell Ford was also present, showered with adoration throughout the evening. There were also maybe eight of us who serve on the State Central Executive Committee present. They included gubernatorial aide Chad Aull, Lisa Tanner (who sang the Star-Spangled Banner), By-Laws Chair George Mills, Jane Jensen, Barren County PVA Brad Bailey, and Tim Longmeyer. KDP EXecutive Director Kyle Cox was present as well as most of the KDP staff. The Kentucky Young Democrats were also well represented. The night began with an invocation by Colman Eldridge, recently elected as Vice President of the National Young Democrats. I also spoke with Austin Redman of Shelby County, Walker Mattox of Fayette County, and Lyles Taylor of Woodford County, all leaders of the Kentucky Young Demcrats.

General Clark was the keynote speaker for the Party's somewhat-annual fundraising dinner. After an introduction of himself and his military career, including his years at West Point, as well as time spent in Brandenburg, Kentucky and Fort Knox, Kentucky, the retired military leader launched into an explanation of why he is a Democrat, what being so means to him given his background, and why he thinks the Democratic Party is the cure for what ails the Republic.

He pointed out than in the last century, wars were won under the leadership of a Democrat citing Wilson in WW1 and Roosevelt in WW2. He blamed the loss of Vietnam on President Johnson's decision to withhold troops in 1968 which led, a few years later, to the fall of Saigon, in one of the less-noble of America's military ventures. There are a nubmer of parallels between then and now and I got clearly mixed signals from him on how President Barack Obama is handling our current several foreign wars. His strongest point, though, was how honorable it is as Americans to have as president a winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, perhaps the most prestigious accolade in the world.

After the military discussion, he moved into the current economic situation, acknowledged by one and all as not good. He explained, as well or better than any business or economics professor ever has, how the economy works or doesn't work under certain conditions. He talked at length about the value of the American dollar, the volume of those dollars making their way into foreign hands, especially the hands of the Chinese.

He went into an explanation of oil and gas and natural resources and how the world economy is built around their exploration, discovery, and use. He offered an interesting idea to bring those costs home to Americans. He suggested that whenever we purchase gasoline at the corner market, that our receipt should include where those dollars we just spent actually go. The receipt would not only say "10 gallons at $2.499 per" (the price I paid yesterday) for a total of $24.99, but also how many of those dollars go to oil interests other than the United States, in places like Canada, Saudi Arabia, and Venezuela. Maybe such a system would lead people to believe that if we are to sustain our present use of oil (an idea opposed by many in the left wing of the Party), then we must also find ways to produce more here in the United States.

He segued from oil and gas over to a discussion on global warming and included in that discussion was both a veiled threat to as well as support of the use of coal, one of Kentucky's "cash crops." The applause for the two different sides of the discussion was interesting. I suppose the Conway supporters applauded at different times than the Mongiardo supporters, as the camps seems to be divided on the subject, far moreso than the candidates they support. Although I am a Conway supporter, I side with those who believe there is a role for Kentucky's coal in the future, mined in a less destructive way, and burned in a cleaner, greener way. I admit the technology still seems to be out-of-reach, but only just out-of-reach and conceivably closer than we imagine.

I very much appreciated General Clark's unbiased assessment of our nation's economy as well as his directions for where we can go from here. At the end of the night I made my way up to him to thank him for coming. I had met him before when former KDP Chair Jerry Lundergan had brought him to Louisville's West End to do some campaiging with then-candidate John Yarmuth, an event Clark cited in his speech.

Other speakers included the aforementioned congressman representing the Left Bank of the Ohio River near Milepost 606, the Honorable John Yarmuth, as well as Governor Steve Beshear and Kentucky's Sixth District Congressman A. B. "Ben" Chandler III, a blue dog of sorts who took the time to explain that he and Congressman Yarmuth do not always agree when they are in Washington, but they do agree that the Democratic Party is best prepared to deliver a better life for all Americans. Ben also gave a rousing endorsement of President Obama's term in office thus far - all nine months of it - an unspoken reminder that he, like Yarmuth, was an early endorser of Obama. He also pointed out that in the 2004 presidential the man he endorsed was sitting in the room - General Wesley Clark.

But, back to this interesting venue, the Round Barn at Lexington's Red Mile Racetrack. The barn was built in 1882 and served as a Women's Club type facility, known as the Floral Hall. It has eight sides and three stories, each higher one smaller than the floor below, and was designed by John McMurtry, a well known central Kentucky archtect from the 19th century. The money to build the barn was appropriated by the United States Congress to the Lexington Fairgrounds for damages rendered to the fairgrounds by Union troops during the Civil War twenty or so years earlier.

As stated, it served as an exhibition hall for floral events and the like. The Red Mile Race Track had been built a few years earlier in 1875. The racetrack, whose first grandstand is shown below, was within the Lexington city limits, where gambling was illegal. The Floral Hall was outside the city limits and at some point the gamblers took over Floral Hall for bookmaking purposes. Some time in the 1890s, the race track acquired the hall and converted it to stables, with living quarters for groomsmen on the upper levels. That was the purpose it served for over fifty years. About sixty years ago, the facility underwent a major renovation and since that time has served as a guest facility of sorts to be rented for events like this one last night. There isn't much to it - a round building outfitted with a set of restrooms. Sitting at my table last night, looking up and around reminded me of what parts of Churchill Downs' grandstand look like, although every time I go to that famous site, it is of a less-and-less historic nature and looks more-and-more like a modern day commercialized casino, which it no doubt some day wants to be.

But, I digress.

As I said, it was a packed house in a small facility. The aura was interesting, the venue historic, and the food was much better than the usual fare for one of these events. I hope it was a fiscal success.

Friday, October 16, 2009

555. Its that time of year

I should probably write about KY555 on this 555th entry. I do not know how many triple-same-digit numbered highways we have in Kentucky. I can place KY111 in the east between Owingsville and Flemingsburg. I can't place a KY222 which in theory would be somewhere near KY22. Nor can I place any other similarly-numbered highways. But, I believe I've already written about KY555 in an entry in July 2008. Here is the link to that if you'd like to read it again:

So, instead, I'll write, briefly, about it being that time of year. What time of year you ask? Hallowe'en maybe? Thanksgiving? A celebration of the Feast of the Immaculate Conception? (That's December 8th for you non-liturgical types). No, the time bearing time upon us is Christmas. Christmas, for you shoppers, is seventy days off.

Over the weekend, as I promised to do, I cleaned out the garden. In doing so I broke a rake and needed some other incidental stuff, which took me to the Lowe's over on the Veterans Parkway in Clarksville. To find the new rake, I had to make my way through Christmas paradise. Christmas trees, Christmas wreathes, Christmas wrapping, Christmas lights, and several renditions of Santa Claus. I was a little overwhelmed, although I did find a rake and it was on sale too, so all was not lost.

The yesterday, as I was leaving work, I noticed the City Works department people over in Jefferson Square. Their task? Adorning the trees and light standards with thousands and thousands of little white twinkling lights. I'm sure they will all look very nice for the Trick-or-Treaters in two weeks. Four weeks after that is Thanksgiving and Louisville's traditional "Light-Up Louisville" celebration, marking the beginning of the "holiday" season.

Alas, Christmas and its twelve day celebration doesn't start until - surprise - Christmas. Which, as stated earlier is seventy days hence.

Merry, merry!

Saturday, October 10, 2009

554. Not quite the golden triangle

Today was supposed to be spent in southwestern Jefferson County at a community festival helping the candidate I am supporting for Mayor of Louisville-Jefferson County Metro in next year's Democratic Primary. But Mother Nature changed my plans, flooding the festival grounds with yesterday's rains causing the event organizers to cancel the festival.

As such, I got some free time out of it and took to the roads.

My first stop was Lakeview Park in Franklin County, east of the high school on US460. My maternal grandmother's remaining sisters and brothers and their families gathered for a reunion in the very brisk weather under the Hank Hancock Pavilion of the park. My grandmother was the first of her siblings to pass away back in 1976. Since then two more have crossed over. Today the rest were to be found, ranging in age from 69 to 89. My grandmother, were she alive, would be 93.

Everytime I go to one of these affairs I am reminded that like my grandmother's siblings, I too am aging. I joked with more than one of my cousins - actually all 2nd or 3rd cousins as my brother and I have have no true 1st cousins - that I didn't know anyone there under 40 - and I didn't. I had to ask whose kids are whose, and sometimes had to ask whose kids the parents of those kids were.

There was food and drink galore and someone brought an outdoor chimney which provided some much needed heat for the old and young alike. After a full meal and a half, along with a piece of pie, I departed northward out of Franklin County along US127, a very well built highway constructed in the 1970s with wide lanes and wider shoulders. Here and there remnants remain of the former road, especially where one can venture off to the small commnuities of Swallowfield in Frankin County and Monterey in Owen County, which I did. Monterey, by the way, was originally called Williamsburg and was renamed in 1847 in honor of the Mexican city of that name and its role in the Mexican War.

About 25 miles separate Frankfort from Owenton, the Owen County seat. You arrive in Owenton on the southeast side of town where US127 meets the multiplexed KY22/KY227. A note about KY227. When I was younger, it was numbered as US227. However that designation came to an end as the route both started and finished in one state, which sort of keeps it from being a federal highway. The southern part of US227, from Paris to north of Richmond was renumbered as KY627. The northern leg, from Georgetown to Carrollton retained the 227 number, but as a state highway.

The Owen County Court House, shown here in a photo taken by Dave Redden, is off to the west of US127/KY227 on Seminary Street. I stayed north on Main Street leaving the little town where Main Street forks off to the left avoiding the Adams Street Hill. At the community of Long Ridge, more or less an intersection, northbound US127/KY227 are joined by westbound KY36. KY36 is one of the longer state routes in Kentucky, crossing from Frenchburg in Menifee County, through eight more counties before coming to an end at the Milton-Madison Bridge in Trimble County.

About nine miles north of Owenton, KY227 departs the federal route and heads west to the tiny little community of New Liberty, one of the oldest communities in the Commonwealth, dating to sometime before 1800. New Liberty was incorporated in 1827, which is one year before Louisville received its charter from the General Assembly. The oldest church in the county was gathered there about 1806, and remains so, now called the New Liberty Baptist Church.

From New Liberty, KY227 courses westwardly along a ridge through the Dallasburg community which is (apparently) served by the Wheatley Post Office. The street map shows a community named Wheatley, but if one is there I didn't see it. Eventually the road heads toward the confluence of Eagle Creek and the Kentucky River, and the hardscrabble town of Worthville, which is located about four blocks off where KY227 presently runs. Originally the highway fed onto Kyle Street in this little burg, which seems to serve mostly as a staging area for the CSX railroad system. The town is about three blocks wide and maybe 3/4 of a mile long along both sides of the railroad, as shown in the picture. There remain the remnants of an old town - a line of two and three story brick buildings attesting to a once vibrant railroad town. Very little is left other than the railroad yard.

I followed KY227 to its western terminus at US42 in the Carroll County seat of Carrollton. Turning south I ventured one block over (northward) to Main Street which runs along the Ohio River. This street allows a view of the back side of the courthouse and its ample lawn. This is also the original "main" street of the town. A few blocks west is another confluence, that of the Kentucky and Ohio rivers. US42 crosses over the mouth of the Kentucky on a blue two lane bridge built in 1952 into the town of Prestonville.

Someday I will write about the Preston family of Kentucky. This Prestonville and our Preston Highway, along with Prestonsburg in eastern Kentucky and Preston's Landing in Trimble County, are all related. William Preston and his family have roots all up and down the Ohio River and he was from the family of one of Louisville's founders, a family which orginated in Virginia and before that in Ireland. But, I digress.

From Prestonville, I followed the Left Bank of the Kentucky River for a few miles upriver along KY55 and KY389, the latter of which intersects with Interstate 71 at Milemarker 43. From this point I returned home, completing the inside circle of the golden triangle, going "not quite" to Lexington, thence northward "not quite" to northern Kentucky, and returning thence to Louisville.

Friday, October 9, 2009

553. Finish the series: Theodore Roosevelt, Woodrow Wilson, _________________

The series in the title names the three sitting United States presidents who have won the Nobel Peace Prize, something I never imagined writing about here along the Left Bank of the Ohio River near Milepost 606. But here we are.

In my email inbox today was a missive from one Barack Obama, now a Nobel Laureate. I'm sure he only sent it to 100,000,000 of his closest friends - I just happen to be on that list. It is the first email I've ever received from a recipient of the Nobel Prize for Peace.

In it he properly admits that he may not be derserving of this honor. But he has been honored nonetheless. Supporters and opponents alike are enjoying the honor, in good and bad ways. What the president doesn't say in his letter, copied below, is who he might really owes the honor to. That would be the 44th best president our Republic ever endured, Obama's predecessor at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, one George W. Bush. Or maybe not.

Naming the president as the winner of the prize is the international community's way of saying farewell one more time to the former Commander-In-Chief. The president believes there are other factors involved - he cites them in the email below. But even his more ardent supporters know this may be a little over the top.

I'm one of those supporters. I consider the vote I cast in November 2008 for Barack Obama as one of the most important things I've ever done in my life. That isn't to say I've been entirely happy with his performance during these first nine months. But I've been far prouder of my president and my country in the last nine months than I had been for the previous eight years.

The world seems to agree with me on that count. While the president, and Democrats in general, are on the defensive here at home - for no really good reason - around the country our stock is rising. And that is a good thing. Is it a good enough thing to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize? I'm not sure.

President Theodore Roosevelt won the award in 1906 and was deserving of a Peace Prize for his role in settling a foreign war between Russia and Japan (although some credit must go also to his Secretary of State John Hay, originally from Salem, Indiana, and one of my favorite people in American History). The settlement is known as the Treaty of Portsmouth. It is one of the few things that Roosevelt claimed to have done which he actually did do. TR is one of the favorite presidents of many Americans. After close study, I have found him aggressive, entertaining to the max, progressive to a limit, and frankly enchanting. But he wasn't the trust-busting reformer he and his supporters made him out to be. He was an excellent showman and like Thomas Jefferson, a true Renaissance man. But he had not the president mettle of either his predecessor, William McKinley, or his successor, Big Bill Taft.

President Woodrow Wilson won the Peace Prize in 1920 (for the year 1919) for his role in the creation of the League of Nations, a precursor to the United Nations, but one that eventually failed on the world scene, largely because of lack of support from the Congress and people in the United States, and an unwilling backbone against Hitler in the late 1930s. Wilson was a world-class leader in a nation and world not yet prepared for such a role - truly a man before his time. His legacy hangs on the failure of the League of Nations, whereas it might be more appropriate to give him credit for the more modern and successful United Nations.

Should President Barack Hussein Obama, Jr., join this dynamic duo from American history? The Nobel Committee seems to think so. For that matter, many thoroughout the world do as well. Maybe we should allow him this international glory - hopefully he will use it not only to create peace around the world (and perhaps rethink his agenda in Afghanistan), but also to restore stability to our domestic economy, something many Americans are still in great need of.

Congratulations, Mr. President.

The email is copied below.


A call to action‏
From: President Barack Obama (
Sent: Fri 10/09/09 5:16 PM
To: Jeff Noble (

Jeff --

This morning, Michelle and I awoke to some surprising and humbling news. At 6 a.m., we received word that I'd been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for 2009.

To be honest, I do not feel that I deserve to be in the company of so many of the transformative figures who've been honored by this prize -- men and women who've inspired me and inspired the entire world through their courageous pursuit of peace.

But I also know that throughout history the Nobel Peace Prize has not just been used to honor specific achievement; it's also been used as a means to give momentum to a set of causes.

That is why I've said that I will accept this award as a call to action, a call for all nations and all peoples to confront the common challenges of the 21st century. These challenges won't all be met during my presidency, or even my lifetime. But I know these challenges can be met so long as it's recognized that they will not be met by one person or one nation alone.

This award -- and the call to action that comes with it -- does not belong simply to me or my administration; it belongs to all people around the world who have fought for justice and for peace. And most of all, it belongs to you, the men and women of America, who have dared to hope and have worked so hard to make our world a little better.

So today we humbly recommit to the important work that we've begun together. I'm grateful that you've stood with me thus far, and I'm honored to continue our vital work in the years to come.

Thank you,

President Barack Obama

Paid for by Organizing for America, a project of the Democratic National Committee -- 430 South Capitol Street SE, Washington, D.C. 20003. This communication is not authorized by any candidate or candidate's committee

Thursday, October 8, 2009

552. Gardening Season Comes To An End

Earlier this year in February, I plotted out how I would put in a garden in my little inner-city plot of land. In front of the house, I've got about a 26 foot square area with a walkway down the middle constituting my front yard. My side yard is a six foot wide stretch of land between my house and the neighbors. The back yard is occupied, for the most part, by an oversized two-car garage, a small deck, and the air-conditioning unit (which quit in July and I've still not had it fixed). There isn't much of a back yard.

What I do have is five of those tall grasses, three very tall and variegated with wide leaves, and two that aren't, along with two very small shrubs. After digging up most of the front yard on the west side of the brick walkway, I did some rearranging and proceded to plant a small garden.

The garden went in on Derby Day under overcast skies and a temperature of 55 degrees. Even though it had been in the 70s and 80s for the three days prior, Derby Day and the two days following remained cool.

I planted four varieties of tomatoes close to the house and three varieties of bell peppers in front of those closer to the little wrought iron fence along the sidewalk. I also added one banana pepper plant. The tomatoes were Chocolate Cherry, German Red Strawberry Heirloom, Rosy Pink Beefsteak, and Winter Grape. The peppers were Chocolate Beauty (brown), Mandarin (red), and Yellow (surprise, yellow). According to the planting directions, fruit should have started appearing on some as early as July 6 and at the latest July 26. Interspersed among all the plants were several different flower varieties - mostly marigolds and petunias, along with a few irises that I didn't know I had. For fun, I also planted some squash seeds just to see the runners, and some rosemary in a pot.

Incidentally, later in the day Mine That Bird, a 50-1 shot, won the Run for the Roses.

It became evident early on that the Chocolate Cherry tomato plant wasn't going to produce as it was taken over by the other three. I pulled it out sometime in July. For a total of seven plants, my garden grew well beyond its appointed boundaries, eventually filling up, mostly with leafy matter rather than fruit, most of the front yard on that side of the walk.

On the 4th of July, I still had not pulled a ripe tomato, but I did take attendance. There was a total of exactly 200 fruits, most of them on the Winter Grape tomato plant, tomatoes somewhat bigger than a cherry tomato plant. I also counted the peppers, which had four, but two had already been pulled.

I pulled the first ripe tomatoes, again Winter Grape variety, on July 9th. The day was overcast and hazy, with a temperature of 80 degrees. Finally, on July 20, the 40th Anniversary of the Man on the Moon, the tomatoes began coming on in abundance, and they have continued so until about two weeks ago. In total, I've pulled about 600 tomatoes, with at least 1/2 of those coming from the one Winter Grape plant. I've never seen anything like it. The peppers began producing in abundance at the beginning of August. I've pulled about 40 peppers, but none which had ripened to a full brown, red, or yellow.

I've taken fruit to my Mom's, her neighbors, church, work, my neighbors, three or four friends, and some to people passing on the sidewalk witnessing the spectacle of a front yard garden. It has been a real pleasure.

But, the time is coming for the garden to be uprooted, the soil turned, and all that sort of thing. Sooner or later this month will come the first real freeze and I want to harvest what is left of the growth before that happens. So far, we've had temperatures as low as 48 and that is forecasted again tomorrow night.

Sunday will probably be the day of reckoning for the garden - the summer garden that is.

Sometime yesterday my friend Hazel, who has been cleaning out her garden, dropped off a bag full of black-eyed susans. I'm not sure where they'll go, but I'm pretty sure they will get there on Sunday.


Each year Dick Frymire, an agriculturalist in Irvington, Kentucky, makes weather predictions based on tree bark and wooly worms. Google that name and you will find lots to read from Mr. Frymire. Below are his predictions for the 2009-2010 Winter Season.

Oct. 1: First frost - (didn't happen to my knowledge)

Oct. 30: Killing frost - just in time for Hallowe'en

Nov. 15: Flurries

Nov. 27: Snow, one inch

Dec. 8: Snow, one inch

Dec. 17: Snow, two inches

Dec. 25: Snow, four inches - A White Christmas !

Jan. 11: Snow, five inches

Jan. 12: Coldest day of the year, 11 degrees below zero

Jan. 14: Sleet, hazardous driving conditions

Jan. 21: Snow, one inch

Jan. 31: Snow, one inch - my nephew's birthday

Feb. 6: Snow, one inch

Feb. 17: Sleet

Feb. 26: First robin, at 10:39 a.m.

March 13: Snow, one inch

March 26: 68 degrees

April 7: Last snow

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

551. Invitation to John Boehner

Ok, admittedly, I'm copying from several other people. I think if you admit to copying up front, it is just like footnoting on a college paper. I think.

Congressman John Boehner stated on Capitol Hill that he knew of no one in the Republic who supports the "public option" option on the president's healthcare proposal other than members of congress or members of the administration. I am one of the people who do support that option, and frankly wished to hell the president was little more enthusiastic about it.

But, in answer to Congressman Boehner's statement, someone, I suppose someone connected with my congressman, has created an invitation, which I have printed above. I will copy it and send it to Congressman Boehner's office. Boehner would not have that far to travel from Ohio's 8th Congressional District should he want to come down here to Kentucky's 3rd. He represents several counties along Ohio's western border with Indiana beginning just north of Cincinnati, in Butler County which is where he himself lives in the far southeastern corner of his district. Interstate 275, that eighty-mile long tri-state circle around the Queen City, almost touches the southernmost line of his district in Butler County. In addition to Cincinnati's suburbs the district also include some suburbs of Dayton, but not Dayton itself. Along the border with Indiana are mostly rural counties with considerably smaller cities and towns. The northernmost part of his district touches the once-beautiful Grand Lake-Saint Mary's, or officially just Grand Lake, which is the largest artificial lake in the world made without the use of machinery, although, having said that, it isn't anything like Kentucky or Barkley lakes. At 13,500 acres, it is larger than most of Kentucky's smaller state park and recreational lakes. But I digress.

If you feel as I do about the public option, feel free to print out the invite and mail it up to Congressman Boehner's office. I would suggest mailing it to a local office rather than have it get lost in the cacophony of Washington DC. Here are the local office addresses:

Butler County Office
7969 Cincinnati-Dayton Road
Suite B
West Chester, OH 45069
(513) 779-5400
(513) 779-5315 fax

Miami County Office
12 South Plum Street
Troy, OH 45373
(937) 339-1524
(937) 339-1878 fax

Sunday, October 4, 2009

550. Holy Day/Holy Space

Reader Beware - this is a rambling religious entry.

Some people have favorite days of the year, days such as their birthdays or anniversaries; others have favorite holy days, such as Christmas or Hallowe'en, which has its roots as a the vigil of a holy day in Christianity, which borrowed the day from earlier worship forms. Then their are those non-official holy days, such as Thanksgiving or, more recently, Patriot Day, which is September 11th.

For me, one such non-official holy day is October 4th; it is in fact one of my favorite days of the year. I had said yesterday that October was my favorite month. If I have a favorite day of that month it is certainly Hallowe'en. But if I have a second favorite day it would be today - for reasons religious. Today marks the "Feast Day" for Saint Francis of Assisi, one of the church's true characters from the 12th and 13th centuries. September 17 is also a feast day for Francis, marking the impression on him of the stigmata.

Oddly, September 17 also serves as a feast day for Saint Robert Bellarmine (Roberto Bellarmini), who died on October 4th. Robert Bellarmine was a doctor of the church who lived in the 16th and 17th centuries. Bellarmine is the man who first brought Galileo before the church councils to warn him about his theory on a heliocentric universe. Louisville's Bellarmine University, which I attended off and on in the early 1980s when it was still called Bellarmine College, is a namesake of Saint Robert Bellarmine.

One of my teachers at Bellarmine was Monsignor Raymond J. Treece, a sometimes crotchedy old bastard given to long lectures on the sins of the modern era, usually making barbs at the business of modern business. I remember attending Mass one October 4th at Saint Francis of Assisi Church, three blocks from Bellarmine. Monsignor Treece gave a Hell, Fire, and Damnation sermon with LG&E playing the role of Lucifer. I always liked the old man, to be honest. He was a Civil War buff and I believed had served in the United States Navy. On that count, he reminded of my grandfather, also a Navy man. Both were born in 1912. My grandfather died in 1983; Treece in 1985. He was a remnant of the old social justice mentality of the Roman Catholic Church, a mentality which, like the monsignor, is no more. The absence of that social justice curriculum is one of the major reasons I have been departing Holy Mother the Church in favor of the American offspring of the Church of England, the Episcopal Church. I think Treece would have been comfortable in the present-day Episcopal Church. I'm pretty sure Francis of Assisi would as well. My take on Robert Bellarmine is not as liberal. Such a jump for him would be a giant leap of faith, indeed.

Today being Sunday, I attended mass as the Episcopal Church of the Advent, where the gospel reading was taken from Saint Mark, one of Jesus' lectures on marriage. It included the familiar words most of us hear at weddings. Dr. Dru Kemp, a counselor of some sort dealing with relationships, gave an excellent homily, covering a broad amount of territory in her discouse of Jesus' treatment of the matter. She carefully and tactfully explained her way around the prohibtion on divorce with its subsequent pronouncements of adultery, as well as how in the 21st century, there are many types of relationships and families, not just the familiar ones we read about in the Bible.

After church, I took in a different form of worship, one which addressed the blue sky father, the green earth mother, and various colors of a prayer bracelet representing the four directions, a total of six ideas or dimensions. Tying them altogether was the 7th dimension, the heart. My attendance was at a retreat held on the Oldham County land of Eleanor Bingham Miller, known as Harrods Creek Farm, named for the creek which forms its southern border. It is a vast acreage, as large a single piece of property as I've ever been on in my life. It is located near the "C" on the aside map, actually across Harrods Creek and on the west side of KY 1694. The farm backs up to the Hermitage Farm, all in the Goshen or Shiloh area of southwestern Oldham County.

The retreat involved trust building efforts, a workshop of sorts amongst a group of us working together with a particular goal in mind. It was far more pleasurable than I anticipated. I tried a few things I've not done before, and while I wasn't entirely successful at one of them, I wasn't entirely unsuccessful either. In addition to learning to rely on my peers in our efforts, What I was, mostly, was overwhelmed by the vastness of the property. There was a period where we were directed to spend fifteen minutes walking aimlessly among the paths listening to our souls, perhaps making an appeal to the sky above and the earth below for guidance in our future plans. At the comment part of the retreat, I expressed my awe at the property itself.

As someone who lives on a postage stamped sized inner-city lot (about 27'x130'), I was overcome by the open fields, the woodstands, the forest, the land set aside as habitat for wild animals, and just the land in general. One of our participants, a young man from Washington DC who just arrived in the city talked about how two weeks ago he never expected to be in the middle of the woods in rural Kentucky, yet here he was. I had the same feeling. And there was something deeply religious about spending time on the land that I have so often written about here on the blog.

Our land and its history are as important religious symbols and icons as any words from a Bible, injunctions of Jesus, or sermons on a mount. They are collectively our world, to be cherished and worshiped. As the retreat fell on this well-favored day of mine, I have had a remarkable time of it. It has been a day, and an experience, I will not soon forget.

Thanks Be To God.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

On The Occasion of an October Harvest Moon

Shine On, Shine On Harvest Moon, for me and my gal.

Those are the words of an old song I learned to play on the electric organ, a Magnus 300, when I was about five years old. You may have had one - a little brown box with maybe 25 black and white keys. Most of us learned to play by numbers. C=1, D=2, and so on. I still remember the last bars of the Stars and Stripes Forever as 1 - 2 - 6 - 5- 4, and will usually say those numbers out loud as I did earlier this year listening to the closing song performed by the Cincinnati Pops Orchestra one summer night in Madison, Indiana.

Last night and tonight holds for us the rare occurrence of an October Harvest Moon. They typically fall in September closer to the Autumnal Equinox. Nonetheless, the sky last night and tonight is full of the silvery beams which bring loves' dreams - oh wait, that is a different song.

I am a big fan of October. Football weather, cool days, cooler nights, the turning of the leaves, the anticipation of Hallowe'en, and every thing else. It is my favorite month. Enjoy. Old Man Winter isn't far off.

The Archives at Milepost 606


Louisville, Kentucky, United States
Never married, liberal Democrat, born in 1960, opinionated but generally pleasant, member of the Episcopal Church. Graduate of Prestonia Elementary, Durrett High, and Spalding University; the first two now-closed Jefferson County Public Schools, the latter a very small liberal arts college in downtown Louisville affiliated with the Roman Catholic Sisters of Charity of Nazareth. My vocation and avocation is politics. My favorite pastime is driving the backroads of Kentucky and southern Indiana, visiting small towns, political hangouts, courthouses, churches, and cemeteries. You are welcome to ride with me sometime.