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Sunday 28 October 2007

Blackacre Farm

Autumn finally arrived today! After a long hot summer that brought near ninety degree highs well into the last half of October, a cold front came through last night and pushed out a gloomy week of rain and clouds (at least it occurred when I had to be at work anyway), and we awoke to a clear fifty degree morning.

The bright sunshine and cool dry air were a welcome change as we walked into church this morning. However, as we sat down, it became apparent that whoever opens the sanctuary on Sunday mornings cranked up the furnace to knock off the chill. Pretty soon it was a nice toasty warm and people (or at least me) were starting to yawn before the service even started. Well, somebody must have been on the ball and cut off the heat, and we were all able to stay awake after that.

This afternoon we visited Blackacre Farm, a state nature preserve just outside of town. Blackacre dates to the eighteenth century, and was given to the state in 1979 when encroaching suburbia threatened to turn it into subdivisions. The entrance to the farm is a long one lane gravel road that stretches way into the farm. I stopped and the gate and thought long and hard about whether I wanted to try driving down that road. I didn’t see any place where I could move off to the side in the event that another car came in the opposite direction, and even if I did, I wouldn’t trust it after a whole week of rain (you don’t want to take a small pickup truck onto soft ground, a lesson I learned the hard way many years ago). In a perfect world, if someone came onto the road at the other end and saw I was already heading down it, they’d wait at their end until I had come through; but I wouldn’t trust a lot of drivers in this town to do that.

A babbling brook

So I parked the car at the entrance to the farm, and we walked down the gravel road on foot. Turned out to be a nice walk; we saw flowers and birds and I saw a grasshopper – I couldn’t remember the last time I actually had seen a grasshopper. They’re really rather fascinating. In any event, we got to park center where there were several period buildings, including the original spring house from 1795. We walked a couple of trails; CVH found this babbling brook in the woods.

After walking the trails we visited the barn and saw a couple of particularly pregnant goats and watched the farmer feed his cattle a tasty-looking mixture of corn, French baguettes, and English muffins. One of the goats shouldered her way into the line of cattle, displacing a young bull from his spot. The bull then started head-butting the goat in an attempt to get his place back, but the goat held firm until the farmer grabbed her by her horns and dragged her down to another trough.

On the way home, we stopped at the Russian grocery store. It’s run by a very pleasant couple, although the lady sounds like Natasha from Bullwinkle. CVH got some beef tongue head cheese, Siberian-style dumplings, and other delights.

Categories: News from Louisville

Sunday 21 October 2007

Colorfest at the Bernheim

This weekend was the annual blowout at the Bernheim Forest: Colorfest. Longtime readers of this blog (???) will recognize the name Bernheim Forest as the Kentucky State Arboretum and a true treasure for the Louisville area.

Due to the strange weather conditions this year (late frost, drought, and long hot summer), there wasn't a lot of color at Colorfest this year, but that didn't seem to stop the crowds. We arrived early, got a good parking spot, and proceeded to walk the trails (I say hike, CVH says walk).

We went to the top of Inspiration Knob (about 150 feet up then 150 down) and then visited the memorial garden where some of Isaac Bernheim's relatives are buried. We walked through the arboretum, where we did find this little bit of color. Another mile or so, and we were at the site of Isaac's grave, the Great Prairie overlook. This is the view of the prairie from that peaceful spot. 

About yet another mile, and we were back at the site of the festivities. There was a singing duo that announced that their program today would be all Kentucky music, and then they launched into "Ring of Fire". I wondered about that, because I didn't think the Carters were from Kentucky, but maybe somebody can straighten me out on that.

A hot bird

The Raptor Rehabilitation people were there with a barn owl, two screech owls (which didn't screech, much to my disappointment; they're only about the size of a coke can, but let loose a scream that sounds like a woman being disemboweled), a bald eagle, and this hawk. It was quite warm by then, and you can see the bird panting in the sun.

We saw a beehive, full of busy bees, and remembered that there was a flowering shrub over by Inspiration Knob that must have had a hundred bees buzzing amongst its little blooms. There was a fellow from the Purple Martin society showing how he grows grubs to feed his purple martins; he was too busy for me to ask why the birds can't find their own food. Maybe somebody can straighten me out on that one, too.

We ate a chili dog, and watched the little kids climb on the Boy Scouts' rope bridge, get face tattoos, paint pumpkins, look at turtles and salamanders, and do all the kid stuff that the naturalists had there. Then we drove through the forest to where the old fire tower stands.

The fire tower

The fire tower is not usually open and I wanted to take advantage of the opportunity (I still remember climbing that tower on US 69 south of Tyler Texas when I was very small). This one was built in the '20s, and was used for about 50 years. Now it's occasionally opened for Bernheim visitors, and the weather today was unusually clear and I could easily see downtown Louisville amidst the knobs and valleys, forty kilometers away.

A great time on a beautiful fall day, and we'll both sleep very soundly this evening, I am sure.

Categories: News from Louisville

Saturday 20 October 2007

Prayer Retreat

Last night and today, CVH went on a prayer retreat at church. The retreat lasted a total of twenty-four hours, but since she came home to sleep, it was more like fourteen for her.

She said it was the most intellectually stimulating experience that she'd had in a long time. She walked the labyrinth Friday night. Saturday morning was started with stretches and followed by discussions of "weeding" your spiritual life, and a variety of prayers. She also drew this prayer imagery:

There was a discussion of fasting, more prayer, and walking the labyrinth again.

On an unrelated note, she got this certificate recognizing her as an official member of Society of Bourbon Spokespersons. 

Categories: News from Louisville

Sunday 14 October 2007

A Random Walk Downtown

Another beautiful day; to take a break from household paperwork, CVH and I decided to take a short walk around downtown.

We found an apparently homeless dinosaur that lives under the elevated freeway.

There were several pretty ducks with iridescently green heads swimming in the river.

We went by the Louisville Slugger factory with the huge baseball bat leaning up against the building.

We walked past the hotel cum art gallery that is known as "21c". It has red peguin-like birds all over it.

The fire department was having some sort of festival down by the river and we saw a number of antique and classic fire trucks, including this one, which was originally horse drawn, but later converted for a truck.

There were some lovingly preserved trucks there, including a really long one that takes a driver in the front and the back.

Categories: News from Louisville

Saturday 13 October 2007

Health fair schwag

A absolutely beautiful morning, and I wanted to go hiking, but we had to get new tires put on the BMW, and CVH wanted to go to a health fair in Crescent Hill. It turned out to be a huge fair, with over fifty vendors/organizations, and I scored some schwag that was actually useful!

Like a new water bottle for my bicycle

A Tigger toothbrush for our granddaughter

A bag of dog treats for Becky and an organ donor magnet

As well as one of those nifty calendars that you can stick on the top of your monitor or keyboard.

Categories: News from Louisville

Monty Python gets my Email

I've had my current email address for about two years, and up until ten days ago, I was averaging three to four spam mails a day. Then, on Wednesday 3 October 2007, the spam meisters discovered me. Thursday morning, I had about 50 spams, and today I got 145. CVH, who has been using the same address for over tweleve years, gets over three hundred a day.

Since manually deleting them is no longer a viable option, I started looking for a spam filter. Our ISP provided one for free, but it was worthless; incredibly, it required you to still inspect each message yourself! Not much of a filter there. I then found SpamBully and have been testing it for the last week. Of the 145 that came in today, I only had to delete 6. If it keeps up this kind of performance, it will be worth the $30 or so.

Categories: News from Louisville

Sunday 07 October 2007

The Orthodox Expo

Saturday, CVH wanted to walk down the street to the Orthodox Church for lunch. She said they were serving pastitiso, which she knew would get my attention, as the Greek Niko Nikos in Houston and Pegasus in Detroit are two of my favorite restaurants (and I miss them both).

When we got down to the church, I discovered that they were doing much more than serving pastitiso, and kicked myself for not bringing the camera, so you'll just have to read about it. The event was not just a lunch; the father intended to introduce people to Orthodoxy, and maybe even get some converts and lapsed faithful to join the Church.

But first we had to taste the food, and it was delicious. We had Ethiopian lentils and curried chicken served on a flat bread (we discovered later that you make the bread by putting self-rising flour and water in a blender for eight minutes and then bake it on a cookie sheet - click the "Comments?" link below if you want the full recipe), kubie - a spicy ball of deep fried meat and cracked wheat, pierogies, spanikopita, sweet farina, and ma'mool - a date cookie. They had lots of other Ethiopian, Greek, Romanian, and Russian foods but you can only eat so much. While we ate, dancers in very colorful costumes danced traditional (and not-so-traditional looking) Arabic and Greek dances. In between the dances, there was a PowerPoint presentation on the Orthodox Church. We saw monks in long black robes with long ponytails and really long beards.

Then we took a tour of the sanctuary. If you're used to Protestant Churches, as we are, you'll first be amazed at all the colors and the smell of incense. These people are into icons, big time. Overhead, on the inside of a large dome, is a huge painting of Jesus, surrounded by smaller depictions of Old Testament prophets and New Testament saints. All the paintings were done on canvas and then attached to the walls (a tricky business, I thought, to attach a canvas painting to the inside of a sphere). Dozens of icons of saints lined the walls, as well as large murals depicting scenes from the Gospels. We learned that the Sunday service lasts about an hour and forty-five minutes, and it is traditional to stand during the entire service (in some Orthodox Churches there aren't any pews; note that the original Liturgy lasted over five hours).

I found it all quite fascinating, and we planned on attending the service this morning, but after we woke up we decided to just go to the Methodist Church. Still, I'd like to see the Orthodox service sometime to experience the sights, smells, a capella singing, and, we were told, an awful lot of kissing.

Categories: News from Louisville

Wednesday 03 October 2007

When Social Security collapses, be sure you have a cat

Our cat got a box in the mail today from Kroger.

It was a fancy box, which opened up to reveal a special message:

Inside was a bag of cat treats, and this can of cat food.

"White meat chicken and cheddar cheese souffle with garden vegetables". It tasted good; the cat liked it, too. Just don't think about Darfur.

Categories: News from Louisville