Cascades

Waterfalls, Morgan County 2011 061 2Water, water everywhere…

My apologies to Samuel Taylor Coleridge.  I hope the need for royalty payments  for The Rime of the Ancient Mariner have passed.

This is a sentiment that many of us in eastern Kentucky have expressed over the past few months.  Some were duped by The Farmer’s Almanac website which I will quote, “Summer will be hotter and drier than normal, with the hottest periods in mid to late June, mid to late July, and early to mid-August.”

OK, maybe the “powers that be” changed the season of summer to be from July 24- July 28, because those days were hot and dry, except for the steam that rose out of the swampy goo.

Trying to mow my three acres in this saturated state has become my Waterloo…I’ll let you think about that for a minute.

This summer my grass has been growing at a faster rate than the seemingly, steroid infused mildew that was in the bathtub of my college fraternity house.

Mowing has become necessary again, however I cannot mow.  “Why can’t I mow”, you ask, quizzically.  Because IT’S RAINING!!!  I know you people living in California can’t grasp this concept of rain.  Maybe some pimply faced  intern at The Farmer’s Almanac confused California with Kentucky in the compiling of this year’s almanac.  Somewhere a California farmer is looking for blue mold.

I took this picture of cascades of a creek in the Yocum and Pleasant Run area of Morgan County, KY.  It resembles the water running through my side yard during the last storm.  Shortly afterward, I saw a small Asian boy leading a yak down my street.

My mower has been stuck in mud…stuck in mud…stuck in mud… three times this summer, because you can’t see the water standing in the yard because the grass is so high.  I went to the local hardware store to see if my old Snapper could be fitted with floats like a seaplane.  The amazing thing is I was not the first one to request this.  Since Snapper does not make a hover riding mower yet, I will have to wait for the rain to stop and then send out a dove.

While waiting on my yard to dry, I can always weedeat my gutters.

If you like this photo, you can see more of my pictures here.

War Creek Road

County Road Curve, Morgan County, KY spring 2005

I was explaining how marvelous my diminutive, relatively new sports car was handling through the curves on Route 519 in northern Morgan County.  My passenger seemed distracted.  It could have been because he was thinking “uh-oh”.

We were driving to school on a Sunday afternoon on our way back to Morehead State University in 1977.  My passenger was a good friend and he was in the right seat of my 1970 MG Midget.  It was his maiden voyage in my British Racing Green classic two-seater.  His mother told him earlier, “I’m glad you are riding back to school with someone respectable.”  These words were spinning around in my thoughts as we were spinning around on the narrow two lane road.

Figure skaters and dancers are taught to keep their eyes moving ahead of the spin so as not to get the “swimmy head”.  As we were pirouetting across the pavement, my eyes saw trees…fence…trees…fence…trees…fence.

Inertia was finally overpowered with the help of the barbed-wire fence we broke through and  the fence post  we nestled up to.

We extracted ourselves from this small capsule, staggering like survivors at Roswell.  The swimmy head trick didn’t work.  We retraced the crash path and saw that we narrowly missed a large crevice that would have completely swallowed up the tiny car and left us on missing persons lists to this day.

This is a photo of War Creek Road taken in the spring.  This small winding road is in the southeastern region of Morgan County in eastern Kentucky.  It is similar to the way Route 519 looked at the time of this story before it was rebuilt. It is typical of the many scenic drives along small country roads  in Morgan County. The views can be memorable… when you are in control of your automobile.

Incidentally, the British Motor Corporation stopped production of the MG Midget in 1979 due to the age of political correctness.  They tried to change the name to MG “Little Automobile” but the body wasn’t big enough to display that many letters.

If you like this photo, you can see more of my pictures here.

Ezel Presbyterian Church

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I was in a testosterone fog.

Like the tops of the eastern Kentucky hills hidden by the fog of this particular winter, rainy, day, my judgement was clouded by the current state of my machismo.  My bravado gauge seemed to be in sync with the RPM gauge on my Fiat X 1/9, both maintaining a level above what could be considered safe at the time.  You get the picture.

I had my new girlfriend, now my lovely wife of 29-plus years, sitting in the orange leather passenger seat of this Italian classic sports car (description may be an embellishment).  Our destination was Ezel, Ky.

I had invited her to come with me for her first trip to Morgan County, my home, to witness her new boyfriend perform the most manly of courtship rituals.  Amid all of the Animal Planet and Nature Channel shows that focus on the singing, dancing, spreading plumage, and so forth found in nature, there is one facet of the male-to-female attraction ritual that never seems to be shown…the male’s invitation to the female to travel a long distance to watch him play in a basketball tournament in a small rural gymnasium.

As if her femaleness wasn’t clicking on all cylinders in the anticipation of watching me display my prowess on the court of the old Ezel High School gym, added to her delight was riding in a car that barely had the weight to stay within the gravitational pull of the planet at 70 mph.  Not only that, but throw into her experience a driving rain and road spray coming onto a vehicle that wasn’t as tall as the semi trucks’ tires I kept passing.  The six-inch Italian wiperblades could not keep the amount of water cleared off the windshield long enough to see the small ponds formed on the rain-soaked Mountain Parkway.  I assumed each episode of hydroplaning that showcased my daring-do car handling ability would further add to her confidence in opting for my affections.

I was thinking none of her past beaus would have been able to deliver an unprecedented afternoon such as this.

Ezel is a beautiful section of rolling hills and farmland in western Morgan County.  Sitting atop one of these rolling hills is the Ezel Presbyterian Church.  It is one of my favorite sights in all of Morgan County.  This church building was built about ninety years ago.

Remarkably, my wife still continued to date me after this inglorious day.  Although since this day,  when we travel there is a constant update on weather changes and road conditions and speed monitoring coming from the passenger seat.

Also my team made it to the finals of the basketball tournament that day so my lucky new girlfriend was able to be impressed by my manliness for a whole day in that gym at Ezel.  We lost in that game, but not before I was able to keep my man from missing a shot and holding him to about thirty points.

I am happily married today because my wife never understood the fundamentals of a man-to-man defense.

 

If you like this photo, you can see more of my pictures here.

Indiana Farm in Winter

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Last night I was so proud of myself.

I entered into the world of uber-technology…I watched a movie on Netflix.  Now this was not just ordinary Netflix, like anyone can do by getting movies in the mail.  No, this was on my newly installed AppleTV Netflix with it’s own remote control device and onscreen menu.  I wish I was a little more nerdy, so I could have appreciated what was happening.

Excitement was building as I looked over from the deep cocoon-like encumbrances of my recliner to my wife, whose eyes had seen enough of the day, or enough of me, by 9:00 PM.  She was on the express train to Nod.

At the very moment when the basis of all human knowledge and entertainment was liberated from the fortified stronghold of her clutches (she gave up the teevee remote), I knew I could watch anything available to me from filmdom’s bounty. But alas, as if I had an HBO or Showtime free weekend, there was not much there to hold my interest.

In the midst of an eastern Kentucky January, the sun is about as rare as a good movie on the menu I was perusing.  So I was looking for something light and comedic and cheery to help coax me from the precipice of seasonal affective disorder.  So naturally I decided to watch a little Swedish film noir with subtitles about dealing with those pesky, lovable scamps called Nazis.  This lively romp takes place in the late 1930’s when Sweden was trying to stay neutral as Germany came a callin’ on Finland.  For some reason, no other colors were added to the winter blues.

I took this photo of an Indiana farm in the midst of winter last year.  I like the loneliness of the barn in the field.  I like the feel of desolateness.

My wife and I went to Indiana this past weekend to see our daughter and our Hoosier son-in-law.  My son-in-law, whom I love dearly, complains that I only take pictures of Indiana that look dark and dreary.  Since he moved my only daughter to Indiana, I say “One man’s happiness is another man’s sorrow”.

He did not need subtitles to understand that message.

 

If you like this photo, you can see more of my pictures here.

 

Kellacey Falls

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I went to ask my dad for directions to Kellacey Falls in northern Morgan County, KY.   I hadn’t been there in a little while and I knew there was an intersection where I either had to go straight or turn right.  Given my past results on taking true and false tests in school, I did not want to leave that decision at fifty percent.  It always seemed like I gave (or guessed) the wrong answer much more than half of the time on those tests.  I am a statistical marvel, or as my wife says, “It is a marvel at how bad your sense of direction can be.”

My 86-year old father was a rural letter carrier in Morgan County for close to thirty years.   He went past Kellacey Falls every day he delivered the mail.  After getting directions from him, I turned to leave and hurried to the door for I knew what was to come…

“Don’t you dare go by yourself.  Call your brother!”

I did not get to the door in time.

With my 58-year old head hung low, I left that same house feeling as if I was ten years old again.  I knew I had to call my 62-year old brother for security.  Sometimes things get pretty rough going through Tom’s Branch and Dehart.

On the drive out to Kellacey Falls, I was glad to have my brother in the car with me.  It had been too long since we had been together, just the two of us.

My dad called me on my cell phone, which is a marvel in itself, to see how we were. It had suddenly occurred to him that  he had sent both of his sons out into the wilds of Kellacey.  He shuddered to think that not just one of his sons could fall over the edge of the falls, but he could lose both of us.  Our foray into adulthood and past midlife still did not give him the confidence in our ability not to fall off a cliff.  Little did he know that I fell just a few short minutes previous to this adventure, trying to navigate a one-foot step at my house, falling gracefully to the gentle clutches of Mother Earth.  Also little did he know that my protector was at one time on his belly, in the mud, peering over the 200-foot rock ledge proclaiming how high we were.  Some passers-by may have thought “high” had a different connotation.

A picture like this took some planning.

I ordered a remote control device for my camera just for this photo.  I put my camera on my tripod and fully extended it.  I used a 7 mm fish-eye lens.  I set up a step ladder on the edge of the falls and wedged my tripod between the step and the pail shelf (yes that is what it is called, I looked it up).  The tripod with the camera is now extended out over the cliff, so I put a concrete block on the lower step of the ladder to weigh the ladder down so the weight of the extended tripod would not cause this setup to tumble over the edge of the cliff.

At one point, when I was close to the edge, I felt a little tug and looked down. My older brother was holding on to my belt loop…my protector.   Dad knew what he was doing after all.

Of course my protector wasn’t holding on to anything else.

If you like this picture, you can see more of my photos here.

 

 

Remembering Park Drive-In

image_1-1Today I am feeling a little nostalgic…

I don’t know if looking at this photo made me nostalgic or nostalgia came  so I looked at this picture.   Either way today I am thinking about the past.

I took this photo of the Park Drive-In.   It  seems like only a few years ago.   It sat outside of Maysville, KY on a hilltop on Route 11 before descending into town.   I would pass by this old drive-in on my weekly commutes between Highland Heights and West Liberty.   It seems like only a few years ago but in reality it was taken about twenty years ago.   I liked the Peter Bogdonavich-Last Picture Show kind of effect it had when I developed it.   (Yes it was actually shot on Tri-X film and developed and printed in my dark room, before being reborn into the digital world).

I never saw a movie here but every time I drove by and saw the remains, I would think about all of the teenagers and adults that enjoyed an evening at the drive-in and how it was another part of my generation’s past that was slowly slipping away.  And I would always think about going to our drive-in  outside of West Liberty.

At one time West Liberty actually had two drive-in theaters.   We had the West Liberty Drive-In and the Morgan Drive-In.   The funny thing is, there is not much flat land in our area that wasn’t used for farming, so these drive-ins were located in bottom land of the Licking River.   More times than not, my movie experience included watching the last half of the movie through a thick fog.   If you factor in trying to hear through bad window speakers, my movie experience is not too different now.

My dad always told me that listening to that loud Gary Puckett music would make me go deaf.

If you like this photo, you can see more of my pictures here.

Sweet Gum in Late Autumn Sun

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To quote that noted  philosopher George Costanza as he left a message on Jerry’s answering machine,  “This is George, I got nothing.”

I wish I could say I had writer’s block, but that would imply that I was a writer.   So let’s just say, ” I got nothing.”

One good thing about having a photo blog is that you can still post a picture and that is what I am doing today.   I really liked this photo I took in my yard, but I don’t have much to add.

This is a sweet gum in my side yard.    A few days ago I just noticed how the late afternoon sun was shining through the leaves as I came home from work.    Usually I am cursing this tree about this time of year because it drops so many leaves in my yard and I have to take care of them.   I don’t rake leaves anymore, I mulch them with the mower.  I do love the smell of the seed pods as they are crushed by the mower.   It is a very fresh aroma amid  the storm of ground leaves blowing in my face.   It is a little hidden pleasure in the midst of a job I don’t enjoy.   It is one of the smells I have always associated with fall.   It’s funny how God gives us a little moment if we look for them to let us know what He has done.

I feel sorry for those poor slobs who live on the southern beaches or who have to endure that horrible southern California climate.   They don’t get to experience what we get in the latter parts of October.   I love the changes in the leaves to the vibrant colors.   God gives us a wonderful blessing before we enter into the doldrums of winter.

I always try to get out and take some fall foliage photos.   The problem with this is it usually  coincides with deer hunting season.   You can imagine my trepidation to go out into the woods in my best beige and white jacket and khaki pants.

I waited too late this year to get out in the woods.   The day before I was able to go, we had a hard rain with some sort of steroid induced zephyr.   The result was trees that looked like Daffy Duck after getting in the way of Elmer Fudd.

So after getting this shot of the gum tree leaves in the setting sun, I counted this as a foliage shot and I was content.   I hope you like it as much as I do.

Looky there, 445 words.  Does that still count as writer’s block?  I guess it does if it isn’t very interesting.  (That makes 463).

If you like this photo, you can see more of my pictures here.

Sunset in Harbor Town

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Big Surf Daddy went home for a week for a much needed break.   He was mentally and emotionally spent from the daily decision making of trying-to-make-people-happy-so-they-will-come-back-to-see-him-again part of his life.

My alter ego started surfacing weeks ago as I watched my watch play tricks on my already-vacationing mind.   It seemed like my watch was moving fast during the nine to five, laughing at me while I was chasing the carrot and trying to stay on schedule so I wouldn’t have to make those with appointments wait more than usual (see above description).   At the same time my watch would then seem to drag to an infinitely slow pace as the days would progress from sunrises to sunsets,  a paradox that would baffle John Cameron Swayze.

There was also a small matter of marrying off my only daughter two weeks previous to this trip to the sea.    During this time I felt like I was part of an emotional lab experiment, going from beaker to beaker and tube to tube while some malcontented, discontented lab assistant interjected another stimuli to see what would happen to the poor sap.    Would this photo of his daughter in pig tails dissolve his current state of stability?    Would a tincture of remembrance of her twirling in her dress cause him to combust into a depressed bawling plume of purple smoke?    Would a smidgeon of recollection of him holding her in his arms and wiping away tears suddenly make him go to goo?

As it turned out, my daughter had a lovely wedding and married a man who will be a wonderful, loving husband.   She was very happy on her wedding day and that kept me from submerging myself in the punch bowl until I saw a bright light.

After the wedding, Big Surf Daddy took over.   There is no memory of the two weeks after the wedding and before the departure to the beach, only a vast chasm filled with ocean breezes that extended from ear to ear.

Big Surf Daddy is at home on the beach.   He and Mrs. Big Surf headed to Hilton Head Island in South Carolina.   Big Surf knew this trip to the beach would be special, because it was the first time he and his lovely bride of twenty-eight years would be at the sandy shore alone since before they had children twenty-five years ago.

There was a slight miscalculation in the anticipation of setting records on the bliss-o-meter…

Having the kids at the beach evidently was a big part of the beach experience for Big Surf and his lovely mate.  Big Surf only waded out into the waves on one occasion, to do a seapee.  He still found some shark’s teeth and went for walks with his lovely missus.  He read a book and took some naps.  But it wasn’t the same.

I took this photo of the harbor in Harbor Town on Hilton Head Island at sunset. You can see the light  in the lighthouse.  I thought it made a compelling picture.

There was one benefit to not having the kids with us at the beach…HALF-PRICE SEAFOOD!!!!!!!!!!!

If you like this photo, you can see more of my pictures here.

Rocky Mountains in Black and White

image_1-1Rocky Mountain high….in Colorado.  

Big Surf Daddy had to transition from the salt water curls to the fresh water staircases of the Arkansas River outside of Buena Vista, Colorado.   He made the transition so well my alter ego has an alter ego.   Big Surf became Big Drop Daddy.

My wife and I ventured out to Colorado a few weeks ago.   I needed some continuing education to stay legal and relevant.  There was also a reunion of classmates from my days at the University of Houston.   I will leave off the amount of years from ‘twixt the last time I saw some of these lads and lasses till the present age.   I am secure in the wisdom and wrinkles I have accumulated over the years, but I don’t know if they are as mature as I.

During our last day in Estes Park after the classes and reunion, my wife developed her own “Rocky Mountain High”, a bad case of altitude sickness.    So… I figured the best cure would be to go another three thousand feet higher to Breckenridge.

As we arrived at our small hotel in Breckenridge, Mr. Karma came a visitin’.

While carrying our luggage up to our second floor room, I suddenly became sympathetic to the sufferings of a three-pack a day smoker who decided to start a fitness routine.   I was reminded of John Candy playing racquetball with Tom Hanks in “Splash”.

My wife would have appreciated the irony if she hadn’t been so dizzy.

We had a good-night sleep and felt better the next day.   It helped that we went down about three thousand feet  to Buena Vista for our white water rafting excursion, our first time, by the way.

Our trip down the Arkansas River was booked through River Runners.   I must say it was a tremendously good time.   Our guide was both entertaining and very experienced on the river.   He gave us a great ride.  I would recommend them to anyone.   One piece of info for you first-timers…don’t drink too much coffee before the trip.    Big Drop Daddy found it a little more challenging on the river to rid himself of the coffee’s effect on his bladder than Big Surf Daddy does in the ocean.

I took this picture on a dark and rainy day in  Rocky Mountain National Park.   The black and white worked better for the mood of the day and provided more drama.

My wife and I were with some former classmates, driving through the park.   I must say they were as nice and pleasant as I remembered them.   They were very good to my wife, whom they had just met.    One poignant moment, a midst a beautiful backdrop of mountains, they were all three in a small huddle looking at their phones comparing pictures of sons and daughters.  I guess mothers are all the same when it comes to their children, no matter if they are from Wales, South Africa, or Grants Lick, Kentucky.    In a way, it was more beautiful and natural than the mountainscape they were presently ignoring.

This was a good reunion with old friends.   These friends helped me get through some challenging times many years ago.   It was good to see where they ended up and how we have handled parenthood and our profession.   But most of all it was good to reconnect with those souls that I cared about long ago and to realize we could get back together after all these years as if nothing ever changed.

By the way, my wife and I felt a little better on the drive back to Denver.   I thought a window seat would make us  feel better on the plane ride back home.    The plane was full.    To guarantee a window seat while boarding, I called “SHOTGUN!”  Evidently that has a different meaning at Denver International Airport.

If you like this photo, you can see more of my pictures here.

West Liberty, KY Tornado

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I swore to myself that I would not write about this photo.

I don’t know why I decided to write about it. Maybe, because it is the one year anniversary of the event that will forever be remembered. That is, remembered by those of us who live in West Liberty, KY and Morgan County.

Maybe, because it is still experiencing a grief of some sort that needs to be brought to the forefront every now and then to be dealt with, and by typing these words, it is akin to lying on the therapy couch. Maybe it is the expression of thanks to those many who came to our rescue and later our aid and service. Maybe it is an observance of the people of this community accepting their fate. With one breath followed by another, one step followed by another, one sunrise and sunset followed by another, they have persevered with dignity and grace…but each, to a person, saying how difficult it has been.

I wish I could say that I have handled it well, but that would be a great falsehood. I have not handled this past year very well at all. I have had this nagging underlying feeling in my consciousness, like mold in the damp basement of my soul.

For a whole year I have had a strange feeling of something that is not just right, aside from the obvious of changing routines and seeing the physical scars left on the face of our town as if we went through the windshield of Mother Nature’s pickup.

I think it is guilt, not the “doing something wrong” kind of guilt. It is the guilt of seeing people you love and care about going through a terrible experience and somehow you escaped the worst part of the ordeal. It is the guilt of wishing you were stronger. It is the guilt of wishing you did more to help others in their plight.

I am not asking for forgiveness.

I am merely pointing out the way I have felt for the year since I took this photo standing in my neighbor’s front yard. I really didn’t know I was taking a picture of a tornado, because I thought, like everyone else, that this can’t be a tornado in the hills of eastern Kentucky. It wasn’t until that night, sitting in the darkness, exhausted that I decided to look at the photos taken about one minute before this tornado ravaged downtown West Liberty. I then realized what I had seen through my lens.

There were many who suffered much and lost much.  There were many who were very heroic.   There were many who looked after others and took in others.   Most did so without wanting anything in return or expecting anything in return, true altruism.

I just want to say that I am sorry for the lives of those who were lost…they were very good people and will be greatly missed. I am sorry for those who lost homes and were displaced. I was fortunate to be able to stay in my home throughout the whole ordeal. I am sorry for those who lost businesses and their livelihood. I want to thank God for giving me comfort even though it was a hard year.

On this one-year anniversary, I am happy to say that West Liberty is being slowly rebuilt. We have had good leadership from our officials who were given a horrendous task to deal with and they have come through because they care about the people.

Maybe others have had the same feelings I have had. Just know that you are not alone and we will get through this together. Just look back and see how far we have come in one year.

If you like this photo, you can see more of my pictures here.