Lynn’s Paradise Cafe

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I was distraught when I read Lynn’s Paradise Cafe had closed its doors. My wife and I loved eating breakfast at Lynn’s Paradise Cafe when we were in Louisville, Kentucky.

Lynn’s Paradise Cafe was one of those restaurants that was special. It was loud because people were having a good time and eating exceptional food. Usually the tables were filled with families and large groups of friends. The decor was unlike any restaurant I had experienced. It was artsy and gaudy and over-the-top…so nouveau kitsch.

It was so enjoyable eating at Lynn’s, like eating at the fun aunt’s house, you know the one that never married because she had a career in the city and wanted to spread her wings and saw a life beyond what she knew from her upbringing. She traveled. She cooked exotic foods and didn’t care if you dropped stuff on the floor because it would be a treat for her two dogs and four cats.

My wife would order French toast at Lynn’s, the portion being the size of a beret worn by a big, bulbous-headed futuristic Frenchman. I would have an omelette as big as a small hen-house.

I love to eat. My sister-in-law calls me “the locust”. I informed her on a recent visit that I have started fasting on Sunday morning. She reported this surprising development to her husband who responded,”Does that mean he wants only two pancakes with his eggs and bacon?”

We plan our vacation destinations on the availability of Krispy Kreme Doughnuts and only travel during the times when the “hot” light goes off. Whenever we go to the southeast coast we time our travel so we will be eating lunch at Maurice’s Bar-B-Q (also known as the Piggy Park) in Columbia, South Carolina.

My son was about six years old when he first dined at Maurice’s. We were driving to the beach from our eastern Kentucky home. I kept telling him how wonderful the food was at Maurice’s as we passed the hours on the road. He was a picky eater, as most boys are at that age. I knew he would not want the barbecue. He only wanted a plain hot dog.

I don’t know if it was the 8-hour build up or the excitement of going to the beach, but he proclaimed to all who would listen that “this is the best hot dog I have ever eaten!”.

I took this photo of Lynn’s Paradise Cafe one morning last April as we were waiting to get a table. I will miss Lynn’s. I hope she will reconsider her decision. I don’t think France’s economy will survive the loss of income from exporting their toast.

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

Morgan County Courthouse at Christmas

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I would like to wish everyone a Merry Christmas.

As most everyone does at this time, I always look back on the current year and do some reflecting. It seems like this year has been a lot harder upon which to reflect.

I realize in all years there are difficulties, strife, and calamities. We lose people through the year that we are close to and remember them more at this time. We pray for those who are grieving and lonely and missing family members.

Now we as a nation mourn the loss of children, teachers, and one mother who tried to raise a tormented boy into adulthood and hoping, one day, he would be able to function in society. It seems as though they have replaced, in our thoughts, the previous senseless deaths at the hands of other demented souls in Oregon, Colorado, and places that don’t make the front pages and 24 hour news cycles. While it is hard, we should mourn for those who pulled the trigger, and somehow hoping, they had no idea what they were doing.

Here in West Liberty, Kentucky we are still feeling the effects of a tornado that devastated us and while we are making progress, we see reminders everywhere and think of the families that had ones they love taken away. The folks in the northeast also are going through a similar and more recent experience.

However, while we reflect on Christmases of the past, there is really only one Christmas that should be foremost on our mind and that is the first Christmas. A loving God entered into His creation He cherished so dearly. He did not wait for all of humanity to come to Him. He came to us.

I took this photo of the Morgan County Courthouse last Christmas. I know the courthouse will one day be just as beautiful as it was in this photo.

May your Christmas be filled with love and peace. May those who lost loved ones this year have fond memories and those memories will somehow give them comfort and joy. May we be filled with the wonder and awe of those Bethlehem shepherds. And may the world come to know the loving God who came in the form of a little baby and showed the world how much He loves us.

Merry Christmas.

If you like this photo, you can see more here.

Sometimes Haiti is a Blurrrrrrrrrrrrr

What happens when you combine chaos and potholes and put them in a centrifuge along with yourself, oh, and add chickens, roosters, goats, and an occasional pig… then hit spin?  Oh, not just spin…hyperspin.  You have a typical street scene in Port au Prince.

I loved being a part of it.  Of course I wasn’t driving the bus.  That bus was a renovated Morgan County school bus that was shipped to Haiti to serve a pastor and his churches.  You can see it as the background blur in the above picture.  It was sitting on the side of the street because a rather large rock was wedged  between the back two tires on the driver’s side.  It took a while for my friends to hammer it out.  I, of course, went across the street to take some shots of the moving traffic.  This particular shot I really liked because it shows the movement of the street and it was so typical of Haiti, yet so atypical of America.

This was my first trip to Haiti.  I tried to learn some Haitian creole before my trip.

During one particular conversation on the above bus, I was trying to communicate with some locals we were transporting to a church service.  We were in the back of the bus being tossed about like the crew of the S.S. Minnow due to the less than immaculate road conditions.  I was trying to convey to them in my fluent creole that the ride was not smooth, as if they were not aware of the situation.  I kept saying the same phrase over and over hoping to get some sort of acknowledgement.  All I received was blank stares.

Later, as I was sitting in the church service, wondering why my exquisite creole did not register with my bus companions, it suddenly hit me.  I was telling them, “My name is bumpy”…over and over and over again.

If you like this picture, you can see more here.

Moving Through Florence

Florence is a beautiful city.  I wish I could expound on its history and setting and sound worldly and knowledgeable  but I cannot.

You see when my wife and I were planning a trip to Italy, she wanted to do a tour so we would know what we were seeing and know the history and the meaning of it all.  At least that’s what I thought she was thinking.  As it turned out, not having faith in my honed sense of direction, all she was thinking was to prevent us from getting lost or kidnapped in a foreign country.  Nevertheless, I was able to convince her that we would  be able to navigate on our own and it would be more relaxing.  I’m sure the tours did not stop for gelato every half hour like we did.  I hate looking at watches and having to be somewhere at a certain time, especially on vacation.  We did download a few of Rick Steves’ tours on our iPhone and iPod and that was very useful.

Like Rome, there were some things that amazed me about Florence.  I was struck by the number of people riding bicycles in the city and weaving their way in and out of traffic and through pedestrians, and there were a lot of pedestrians.

As you may be able to tell from my previous blogs, I like to photograph motion.  I don’t know why.  Maybe it is because it requires some skill and technique.  To show motion in a still photograph is pretty cool.  Since the digital age, more and more photography is relegated to the processing programs.  I think I like motion because it still has to be done through the camera lens.

Anyway, I took numerous shots of bicyclists in our three days in Florence.  This shot is my favorite of all of them.  I did it in black and white to give it more feel and drama.  This was taken outside of the Uffizi gallery along the Arno River.

Don’t be fooled by this photo and think all I like to take is motion shots,  I shot a couple of thousand pictures in Italy…one good thing about the digital age.

If you like this photo, you can see more here.

Rome at Night

My wife and I went to Italy in the late summer of 2010 to celebrate our 25th wedding anniversary.  We tried to plan a trip for our 10th, 15th, and 20th anniversaries but something was always coming up and preventing us  from doing so (those darn kids  we have to take care of).  I’m sorry, did that thought slip out?

Rome was our first stop in Italy.  We landed in Rome at about 9:00 AM after a sleep deprived flight from Detroit to Amsterdam to Rome.

Our first clue as to the fast-paced life in Rome would be the taxi ride from the airport to our hotel.

We “spun the chamber” at the taxi stand and hopped in our ride, seemingly an  innocuous event.  The cab was small and did not look like it had enough horse power to match my first car, a 1965 Corvair that would shake and shimmy at 50 mph.  Looks can be quite deceptive.

After informing our driver of our destination, he welcomed us on our first visit to Italy. I did not know we were preparing to embark on a taxi ride that would make the New York and Chicago cab drivers look like they trained behind the reins of an Amish wagon.  While my wife and I were still in a sleepless haze, he shot out of the taxi stand with a sly grin. I felt like Slim Pickens riding the bomb in Dr. Strangelove minus his level of excitement.  We weren’t sleepy anymore.

Can you be terrified and at the same time be impressed?   Those thoughts don’t seem to go together, but oddly enough that’s what I was thinking as exhaustion turned to shock.   We watched our driver perform levels of multitasking heretofore I thought were not humanly possible.   He was talking to someone on bluetooth in Italian, while he was typing on a keyboard in the seat beside him and following the progress of his fingers on a monitor mounted on his dashboard, at the same time turning to pleasantly converse with us in English, all the while driving 70 miles per hour (sorry, 112 km per hour).   He was speeding through traffic along roads that had four lanes painted, however, there were six lanes of cars.  The one task he did not perform was to look in his rear view mirror as he navigated this roving chaos.  My wife and I quit talking after five minutes.  Instead we just looked at each other as if to memorize the face of the one we loved so we could be sure to recognize each other in the afterlife.

Rome is an incredibly wonderful city to visit.   Like that cab ride, I was ever amazed at how fast and furious the city moved.   I wanted to get a photo that showed the movement of Rome.   This photo was taken during our night walk across the city.   I did not have a tripod so I had to hand-hold this shot.   We stood at this intersection and watched the traffic for a few minutes while I contemplated  how I wanted to compose the shot in the camera.  I was pleased with the result since I had to hold the camera and shoot at 1/25th of a second.  It captured the movement of the traffic while keeping the buildings in focus.

We stayed in Italy long enough to make us long to return.

If you like this photo, you can see more here.

Morgan County Courthouse

In the summer of 1979, I worked on a crew that started restoring the Morgan County Courthouse.  It was my first summer of really hard work.  My previous summers were spent as a life guard at the West Liberty Kiwanis swimming pool.  Now some of you may think dragging yourself out of bed at the crack of 11:00 AM and rushing out to the pool to sit in the sun, listen to music, drink your fill of cold Cokes, and eating hot dogs, chips, and ice cream most of the day constitutes hard work, then so be it.

Okay, maybe I left out the part of having to deal with screaming kids, cleaning filthy bathrooms, and actually being on guard to prevent those same screaming kids from drowning.

The summer I spent working on the courthouse was a great summer.  I was employed by a local builder and worked with a knowledgeable, professional, and hard-working crew…well, except for me.  I will always be thankful for the patience they showed a former lifeguard with no experience in working at real man’s work.  Even though I was the low man on the totem pole (can we say totem pole now in classic American literature such as this?), it was a great summer job.

Most of our conversations went something like this, of course names are changed to protect my children’s inheritance:

Foreman to carpenter, “Bring ten of those shingle bundles up to the roof.”  Implicit within these directions were the facts that the bundles weighed eighty pounds each and the roof was a ladder destination about fifty feet in the air.

Carpenter to experienced laborer, “We need ten bundles of shingles up here on the roof.”

Experienced laborer to me, “Kent, go get ten bundles of shingles and bring them up to the roof.”

I can never say enough good things about the crew I worked with that summer.  One thing they taught me was to finish college because I was not cut out for this kind of work.

There have been many courthouses on this site.   Built in 1907, this particular courthouse is on the National Register of Historical Places.  Once condemned with a fence around it and awaiting a wrecking ball, a group of concerned citizens led the fight to save it.   I’m glad they were there to save the building.

As a young boy I remember the whittlers and knife traders on the courthouse square. I also remember the Saturday Night Jamboree from the courtroom.  My uncle tells about having his tonsils removed in a make-shift operating room set up in the courtroom.

On the night of the tornado, I was glad to see the courthouse still standing, knowing it had taken all the storm had to give.  As I stood for a moment and gazed at the battered building, all of those memories of working that summer came back to me — I was filled with relief the crew had had the good sense to never let me drive a nail.

If you like this photo, you can see more here.

Doughboy

The Doughboy stood as a sentinel on the Morgan County Court House square for over eighty years.  Since the 1920’s when he came to West Liberty, KY and began his watch over our community he had witnessed many changes and through it all he remained steadfast….until March 2, 2012.

He had seen horse and buggies and A-models on mud streets through the depression. He witnessed young men, like himself, go off to war from the bus station across the street, knowing they were full of patriotism and a sense of duty mixed with a lot of anxiety and wondering if they would see their families again as they looked out the windows at the back of the bus.  He silently rejoiced as most returned, victorious in battle.  He also mourned for those families that experienced the loss and sacrifice of their sons.

He saw the jubilation and carefree times after  World War II and into the fifties  as the cars going by changed from bulkier sedans to sleeker, longer styles, some having fins. He never blinked when the muscle cars of the sixties and early seventies sped by and he wondered if they ever noticed him.  Recently he has seen helicopters fly in and out of the hospital on the hill across the Licking River.

He saw many sixteen year-olds learning to parallel park on Main Street.  He probably chuckled to himself as he saw one particular frustrated teen feebly attempt to perform this arduous task three weeks in a row in pursuit of his driver’s license.  That name shall remain off the pages of these scholarly ramblings.

I have taken many pictures of this World War I monument over the years.  For some reason I have always been drawn to his face, having been struck by the lifelike features and youthful appearance.  Whenever I would look at him, I thought of my grandfather who enlisted  in the Navy near the end of World War I.  He met my grandmother while in training at the Naval training center in Chicago.  She was fifteen and he was eighteen.  They eventually married and he brought her to West Liberty from Chicago.  I admired her courage and her adventurous spirit.

I like to think the Doughboy “fell on the grenade” that fateful night trying to protect the community he had watched over all those years.  As he absorbed the direct force of the tornado that toppled him from his post and severely wounded him, I hope he felt the love and respect of the community for those many from Morgan County who have served this great nation and for whom he stood in honor.

The Doughboy is being repaired and eventually will be back in the community he loves so dear.  Like that officer that has earned a cushy desk job, he will be performing his duties inside one of the court buildings. I will be glad to see him back in town.

If you like this photo, you can see more here.