Sunday, August 29, 2010

CAMPING AUGUST 2010

This past Friday, Don and I took the day off work, loaded up the four-wheeler and everything we needed to spend the weekend camping, and headed to his brother's land, a beautiful place to spend a weekend.  We set up camp, Bob came down from his house with us, we cooked, we drank, we fished, we rested our souls and here's how that looked in photos:

This was the view from my window of the tent.

The view from our front door.
The camp dogs, Dudette and Kid. 
Where we relaxed around the firepit.
The sun coming up early this morning over the ridge.
 Plans are being hatched for a big family campout but not until the daytime high is no more than 75 degrees.  I was so sweaty that when I got home today and got in the shower I nearly cried from the pleasure of it!  

We had such a great time, though.  I took my bottle of single-barrel vintage bourbon and drank a little over ice Friday and Saturday nights by the fire, the boys had beer, one of Don's nephews showed up for breakfast today...it was almost too relaxing!  

And I almost managed to get home with Kid, the young golden retriever, but Bob wrestled him out of the car at the last minute!  :-)

I hope your weekend was as awesome as mine.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

OH, DEER

This morning I decided to try to alleviate a little stress by getting up early, grabbing the Canon and heading to the River Walk.  I just almost felt a pull to go there, eliminating, in my head, the Rock Garden and the cemetery, both pretty walks early in the a.m. 

Not much needs to be said.  I'll just post the photos I took.

First, after walking about 1/2 mile, I crossed this bridge which curves off to the right.

This little fawn was standing right on the other side of the bridge.  I would say we took each other by surprise, but that's not true.  This baby took ME by surprise but never did she act scared of me.

Friday, August 20, 2010

A SIGN OF REVERTING TO YOUNGER THAN MIDDLE-AGE

Several months ago, I caught the Ford Fiesta bug while watching American Idol.  For the entire winter, I would design mine in my mind.  Having owned a Ford Focus since 2000, I have grown very content with my green Myrtle, and I do have to admit that every time I would go park her in the dealership's lot while I ooohhhed and ahhhed over all the bright, shiny new Foci, I would glance over at Myrtle and see the expression of sadness on her face and get in and promise her I was just dreaming.  I love my car, but every now and then, I begin thinking how much I would love driving a brand new one again.  The Fiesta has been advertised widely for two years now, a tease, really, and I thought maybe they were just not really building that car but pretending to, until today I received an e-mail from the salesman at my local Ford dealership:  "Kathy, I just received my first 2011 Fiesta on the lot and thought you might like to come out and test drive." 

I swear that Myrtle already knows.  I know she knows.  She probably does not know I am scheming a way to keep her in the family, but she definitely knows that the butt she has gotten used to cradling for the past 76,000 miles is about to be replaced.  She is probably safe, though, for at least another couple of months because if I decide to revert back to my teenage days, then I want the car built to my specs with all the bells and whistles I find totally necessary:  A moon roof, Sirius satellite radio, and cloth seats, as well as a built-in GPS.  On-Star will do, thank you.  

So tonight I am going to sneak to the Ford place by having someone else take me. I cannot stand to watch Myrtle panic when she sees the joyous expression on my face as I climb into the driver's seat of the newborn, still unnamed.  


I keep saying, "It's just a car, it's just a car..."

 

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

THE NEW DOG

Today I am going to tell you a story about one of my very best friends and her new dog.  Ginny lost her dog back in the winter and this week decided it was time to find a new pal for herself, so off to the Humane Society she went.  It probably took her all of five minutes to find Petey, a cute little five-year-old mix of pug and something else, who was just sitting there waiting to go home with her.

There are some things you should know about Ginny.  First, she is the most generous, kind, grounded, spiritual woman I know.  We met over the Internet because of an interest in music, and sight unseen, she welcomed me into her home, and I have been going back ever since.  And she's been coming here.  

Anyway, Ginny paid for Petey and they headed home.  I received the sweetest e-mail about his car-riding abilities, the way he sat right in the passenger seat.  I received photos of her new baby, and we ooohhhed and ahhhhed over each of his preset accomplishments.  He is, after all five years old, so he came with an entire pre-wired hard drive.

As the first night wore on and Ginny and Petey became better-acquainted, he began to show the sides of himself that were already loaded.  But Ginny always sees the best in everyone, including Petey, and she sang his praises even during the writing of the following e-mail I received from her later last night:  "Petey is so wonderful!  He is crate trained!  And he's potty trained!  He just loves to play with his toys, unless you try to take one away from him.  LOL.  He bit me on the nose.  LOL.  Did you know that your nose will bleed more than a cut finger??  But it was my fault for trying to play with him."

Now, Ginny really already loves Petey, and I would be in love with him already, too, but the second I ended up needing plastic surgery due to his tendencies to defend his stuffed toy to the death, I would be crating him up and returning him for a different model.  Not Ginny, though.  She will keep him and adjust herself to him by simply not playing with him by trying to take the toy back and throw it again.  That's my Ginny.  Compassionate and loving and apparently with a good enough insurance policy that a little plastic surgery a few times a year will be worth it to have Petey happy in her home.  


She really is glad I don't bite, though.  But if I did, she would just pat my head and let me know that it is not my fault...I just love visiting Ginny!


Here's a toast to her and Petey.  To a long, happy, bloody relationship!  CHEERS!

Saturday, August 14, 2010

LOUISVILLE

Last weekend Don and I were treated to a trip to Louisville, Kentucky, by his company, Jasper Engines and Transmissions.  They very generously provide a trip for their anniversary employees, and in the past we have traveled to Branson, Missouri, where we saw shows and scenery and just had a great time.  One year they loaded us on buses and we went to Chicago.  We were wined and dined for three days and treated to the theater one evening where we saw "Wicked" which was just unforgettable.  This year is Don's fortieth year with Jasper Engines. I am very proud of him for hitting this milestone, and the trip this year was to Louisville.  This three-day weekend far exceeded my expectations. Our hosts, Joyce and John, were great at their jobs, and each time we boarded the bus that weekend there were gifts in our seats.  We seriously did not expect gifts as before we boarded the bus in Jasper, the Big Boss Doug Bawel, was there to present us with beautiful small soft-sided coolers full of gifts already, and straw hats.  If you think I did not wear mine, you would be wrong.  It has been a hundred degrees in the shade here now for weeks, my brain is already pretty fried, and I was taking no chances.  Besides, it's cute and really went well with my denim capris and red, white, and blue button down shirt, and bangle bracelets.  Oh, and I just could not leave out my Skeecher's rocker-bottom sandals (on sale for $24.99 at Shoe Show, and they kick ass, if I must say so myself). Okay, back to the trip.

On Friday, while everyone else was working, about fifty of us were loaded onto a brand new luxury bus, and were on our way, with Joyce and John hosting and keeping us laughing, to our first stop which was a tour of a new Jasper Engines branch which was, believe me I am as surprised as you are by this, really enjoyable.

After complementary snacks there, back on the bus we climbed. Don and I always like to sit in the second row of seats so we can see out the big front window. It makes us feel very powerful.  Our next stop was in Jeffersonville, Indiana, at Schimpff's Confectionary. This candy shop is famous and has been featured on The History Channel. Now that I know how close it is, you better believe I will be hitting that store once in awhile.  They did a red hot cinnamon-making demonstration that was very interesting.  Schimpff's is a family-owned business that made the original turtles candy, actually in the shape of turtles, not the lumpy imitations we find in the stores now.  Here, I'll let you read all about it:  http://www.schimpffs.com/ 

I guess it goes without saying that I left with a one-pound can of the red hots rock candy, 1/4 pound of dark chocolate-covered cashews and 1/4 pound of chocolate-covered pecans (Don's choice). At the above website, you can see photos of the store since I walked out of the house without a photo card in my camera and could honestly not find one anywhere we went and did not think the guy driving the 40-foot bus around through narrow city streets would be too amenable to stopping at Walgreen's for me. I did take a few pictures with Don's old Kodak EasyShare camera, which I had no idea how to operate, but none of them were very good.  

On these trips, they way over-feed us.  In the afternoon we stopped at a great little place called Magdalena's in Corydon, Indiana, where we had the best potato soup ever, served in bread bowls.  If I had not gotten so full, I could have eaten another bowl of that, but thankfully we were on a schedule and I ran out of time before making myself totally ill.  http://magdalenas.com/ 

When we arrived at our hotel, The Galt House, on the Ohio River in Louisville, we were ready for a little R&R in our suites. Here is The Galt House, and if you ever get a chance to stay there, I would highly recommend it:  http://www.galthouse.com/  If you visit this website, click on "photo gallery," and you'll see all the things I didn't take pictures of.  

They always keep us very busy on these excursions, and we no sooner arrived than a huge banner went up at the end of the hallway of Jasper Engines and Transmissions suites announcing, "HOSPITALITY ROOM."  Now, this is just a fancy way of saying that John and Joyce are in their room setting out a gigantic spread of alcohol and snacks, where everyone congregates and makes themselves drunk and at home.  They do a great job.


Once we were nice and "relaxed" we all retired to our own rooms for showers and a costume change so we could attend the banquet (yes, we were eating again) downstairs before walking the few blocks to the theater to see "Jersey Boys."  


At the banquet we were served some of the best food I have ever tasted, and at that point it was still tasting excellent.  By Sunday I would be starting to rebel against the dining experience, but how can you resist when you're with friends away from home where you can let your hair down?  


A man named John Wagner, an inspirational speaker from Kentucky, kept us wildly entertained before the meal, and he was right...a good, hard belly laugh just clears the way for a great time! Even looking at his picture on his website gets me to chuckling. 
http://www.wagnerseriouslyfunny.com/%28S%28y02evcaqxu4xqw453swvr555%29%29/index.aspx


And then here is what I was waiting for on Friday night...the production of "Jersey Boys" which was unbelievably awesome!  Anyone who gets a chance to see this should definitely attend.
http://www.jerseyboysinfo.com/broadway/ 


I was wearing a cream and gold and brown dress with the uneven hem at the bottom, low cut in the front, swirly, silky, pretty, and about ten gold bangle bracelets and, the shoes that go with everything and are easy to walk in, my rocker-bottom sandals.  The dress was sleeveless, and I had bought a cream-colored Pima shawl and Don said, "You aren't going to take that, are you?  It's a hundred degrees outside."  I told him I usually have found theaters to be rather cold, and by the end of the performance, Don and I were sharing my shawl, all curled up together as close as we could get, and we became the show, evidently, for about the row ahead and the row behind us.  Hey, when in adverse weather conditions, you do what you have to to survive, right?



Now, this was just FRIDAY. We dropped into our beds (after another visit to the Hospitality Room), knowing that Saturday morning we had to be back on the bus by 8:15 for our visit to Bardstown, Kentucky.  


So, this is where the fun really began at 10:00 Saturday morning.


Feeling a little sleepy, the bus riders were quiet, dozing, trying to wake up.  We had had a good breakfast at The Galt House. I insisted on finishing mine even though Don was pointing at his watch. "What are they going to do, leave us?" Of course not, but it was a little unsettling to be the last person onto the bus and feeling it pull quickly away from the curb before we even got into our seats.  


Anyway, this was our first stop:  Heaven Hill Distillery.  Yes we were at a bourbon-making operation.  I would put the link here, but you'll have to find it on your own if you want to look at the website because you have to be of a certain legal age to go to it. But here I DID manage to get Don to take a few photos. 


The first one is of me at Bourbon School.  And it was just what I said, a class on bourbon, and yes, we got to sample, and yes, it was 10 a.m., and yes it was fun.  I learned a lot there. For example, charring the insides of the barrels happened by accident. The guy who accidentally started the fire that charred his barrels was cheap and shipped his bourbon to New Orleans anyway, and after they got a swig of that, they began asking for his bourbon exclusively, and not to be outdone, all the other whiskey-makers started burning their barrels on purpose, and so that's how we ended up with that woody taste and the amber color.  It used to be just a clear moonshine, now it's a gorgeous liquid. And yes, I bought a bottle of single-barrel 10-year-old bourbon to bring home to take on my camping trips with me.  Who knew I would like bourbon over ice so much??


This was me at bourbon school.  


This was me AFTER bourbon school posing with the Barrel Family.  I'm the one in front of Dad.

We left on a big bus after this fantastic start to the day, and ate lunch...somewhere...it was good and everything, but I was sort of full of alcohol and a huge breakfast, so unfortunately, I didn't retain any info about the Bardstown lunch stop.  I was kind of surprised that this little Kentucky town had so much to offer.  Oh, one more thing I learned about the distillery was that the warehouses, and you see one behind me in the above photo, look filthy on the outside. But the truth is, that's a good thing.  When they put all those barrels of whiskey in the warehouses, a natural mold starts growing on the outside.  It is a harmless mold, and everything in Bardstown sports that crappy-looking color, but on the upside, when the wind is blowing just right, they get to smell that yummy smell of 27-year-old bourbon. Sweet and a good trade-off! I think it is called trujillo mold but could be wrong about that as I was hearing things that were not actually being said after class.


http://www.visitbardstown.com/  If you visit this website, "My Old Kentucky Home" will be playing, a really pretty rendition of it.  Bardstown is very old and supposedly haunted, and I plan on going back there and exploring that aspect sometime.  While there, we went to see a production of, what else?, "My Old Kentucky Home," about the life of Stephen C. Foster.  Beautiful costumes of the times, great voices singing the songs.  It was very interesting...but cold.  


And finally, on Saturday evening, we ended the long, interesting, fun-filled day with a four-course meal served aboard My Old Kentucky Dinner Train.  http://www.rjcorman.com/dinnertrain.html This was a treat, but again, the food...When I ordered chicken I expected a leg.  Imagine my surprise when they plopped down in front of me (third course) half a chicken on my plate. I took one look at it and said, "Well, Don, bon appetite...you want my chicken?"  It was good, but I just couldn't, you know?  


All the way back to the hotel I was saying, "I can't wait to crawl into bed."  But we got there, and that stupid banner called our names, and we spent half the night with our friends back down in The Hospitality Room, drinking beer. I don't know where we were putting it, but again, friends, atmosphere, the Ohio River outside your balcony.  


Sunday morning:  We had a little more time to get to the bus on Sunday.  A lot of people went to church, Don and I couldn't even drag out of bed until about nine o'clock, then we had a leisurely breakfast (yes, I was hungry), ran back to our room and prepared to leave The Galt House, where I could live just fine, thank you.


The Muhammad Ali Center staff had graciously agreed to open the doors for our group early that morning, and we enjoyed a self-guided tour through that place, which is gorgeous, and features a lot of artwork and get this, a shadow boxing ring.  By now you all know that I was the one person out of fifty who shadow boxed with Muhammad Ali, right?  I wanted to put on the gloves and take on my boyfriend in the ring, but he was chicken.


http://www.alicenter.org/Pages/default.aspx  


Last stop on this much-needed, much-enjoyed, and much-appreciated three-day weekend was for...come on, you can say it...LUNCH.  We stopped in Louisville at The Old Spaghetti Factory, and I have to admit I had the best pasta ever!  For dessert I had MY ice cream AND Don's ice cream, but not to be outdone, John managed to talk four people out of theirs.  The bowls were tiny, though, really.  No, really they were.  http://www.osf.com/


And then just like that, we were home where real life slapped us in the faces and the grass needed mowed.


I would like to thank Jasper Engines and Transmissions for sponsoring these trips.  They are always so much fun and so memorable.  And especially Joyce and John, who cannot possibly enjoy these things to their fullest as they are stocking, restocking the Hospitality Room, getting people back to THEIR own rooms after we have helped ourselves to the stocked and restocked supplies, and basically giving up their privacy for three days.  I hope they are well-compensated for that!  


I did not test the links above, so if none work, or some do and some do not, I imagine that is John's fault somehow and I will get his e-mail address for you.  :0)

Thursday, August 12, 2010

IN THE PALM OF MY HAND

Everyday was a struggle.  I looked everywhere for peace.  It was not to be found.  I stood up several times from underneath the big old ash tree.  I had curled up there in the night with a quilt my mama had made me, a pillow off my bed to rest my head on, listening to the sounds of the water cascading across the rocks in the fountain in the back yard, and listening to the breeze rearranging branches and leaves overhead.  The angel under the tree seemed to comfort me, and I reached up and placed my hand on her concrete wing and slept, slept right there with that angel protecting me.

In the morning, though, nothing had changed other than the fact I had a horrific backache and my pink pajamas were soaked with the sweat brought on by the humidity.  There were mosquito bites, too.  I counted about fifteen of them before stopping.  I figured if I could stand up, there was probably still enough blood in my body to nourish me and those little blood-sucking pests, at least through one more day.

As I wearily made my way to my house, I leaned down and scooped up a handful of dirt and let it sift through my fingers.  Playing in dirt had always been a comfort to me, even in my older years, I could barely wait for the snow to melt so I could get out the shovels and trowels and rakes and flower seeds and play in the dirt.  I never wore gloves.  I wanted to feel the earth on my hands and under my fingernails.  That habit of not covering my hands, though, made for a few trips to the ER for stitches and tetanus shots because when you turn up the dirt, you inevitably are going to turn up glass that has no reason for being there.  I always wonder if it got deposited during a heavy snowstorm, and there are times in the winter when the sun will shine while the snow plummets from the sky and I swear I see diamonds hitting the earth.  Who knew that it could snow diamonds in the wintertime?  

I scooped up another handful of soft, hot earth and wondered if peace would ever find me or if I was destined to always be peaceless.  Just as I started to drop the last handful back to the ground and open the door to go inside, I felt something in my fingers, something hard.  I brushed the dirt away and found a tiny little blue plastic butterfly.  I spit on it, rubbed it clean, and turned the little jewel over and read a tiny inscription on the curve of the underside of the butterfly's perfect wing:  "Peace has found you."  

Pocketing the treasure from the dirt in my own back yard, I thought, "I looked everywhere for peace, and I just found it in the most unlikely place...in the palm of my own hand."

Monday, August 02, 2010

THE WILDFLOWERS IN THE MEADOW - MORE NEW MEXICO CAMPING

So, back to the New Mexico camping trip in the cool, crisp, beautiful mountains.  The trip that got me hooked.

This will be the photos from the morning I rose before sunrise and hiked through the field, taking picture after picture of the wildflowers growing out there.  

The first picture is where I left Susan at sunrise.

Rise and shine!!  Sunrise!!
 It was so amazing to have the time to walk around with no other responsibilities than to make the wildflowers pose for the camera.  Thank you Mommy Nature!

Sunday, August 01, 2010

CAMPING AT PATOKA LAKE

My tent at our campsite.

I am going to sort of veer off-topic here, away from my camping trip to New Mexico to share some pictures from our weekend trip this past weekend here in Indiana.  Jamie and her family joined me, Don joined me after work last night, and we ate, drank a little bit, visited with our neighbors, had a fire, walked, swam, and slept with the cool breeze blowing in through the open tent windows with the night woods sounds surrounding us.  

Patoka Lake where we camped.

Where we swam and got sunburned.
Kid enjoying camping...note the "I don't use training wheels anymore," knot on the forehead...
This is what I saw out the window of my tent.
Ready for a hike to the beach.
It's like the sun's going down on me. 
Looks like Jesus looking down on our quieting campsite.  How comforting.