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Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Nursing Homes - Not All Bad

Richmond nursing home is second worst in nation, agency says - Latest News -

Wow, this is the stuff of nightmares. Very hard to read when you have a loved one in a nursing home. This article does contrast, however, with the home where my mother is staying - Bourbon Heights in Paris, Ky. - which received a "Best in State" award this year. It's not perfect, but I have never witnessed anything that could be considered neglect or abuse on my many visits there. To the contrary, I am often impressed with the patience and tenderness shown to the residents by various staff members, and their quick response when needed. The building is always as clean and well-kept as the residents, who are up and dressed and active every day as long as they are able. I think the fact that Bourbon Heights is owned by the county, not run by a for-profit corporation, makes all the difference. Paris is a small town, and there's very much a sense of family... the folks in that home are our teachers and store clerks and neighbors... our parents and grandparents... the visitors there are the folks you see around town every day.

It was a horribly gut-wrenching day when I first took Mom there to stay... having come to "the end of my rope" after several years of home care as her Alzheimer's progressed. That first day... a friend helped get her moved in, and I stayed til things were settled, long into the evening, and left after she finally fell asleep. Then locked myself in the car and just screamed for a while. Daughters are supposed to take care of their mothers, not leave them in such places, and I was so afraid of all the things described in this article, and more. I finally pulled myself together and went home, only to be called back around midnight -- Mom had gone into the bathroom and fallen backwards into the unused tub. She was OK, but we were all rattled, and I didn't get any sleep that night. Very soon the unused tub was covered with a padded platform. (Bathing is always done in a special room down the hall with a whirlpool tub and a chair lift.) Now, a couple of years later, it's still very hard every time I visit Mom and have to leave. But I know she's where she needs to be, and she is getting good care. Wish that all such places could do the same.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Thanksgiving with Mom

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

Mona came by and we had a feast: turkey and dressing and corn and beans and potatoes, with some great cake for dessert (which I ate first!). We talked about canning beans and freezing corn and how to cook a turkey, then sang Red River Valley, Long Long Ago, Church in the Wildwood, and My Old Kentucky Home, among other favorites. My roommate Rosa had visitors who got her to do her 'famous' yodel, so I chimed in with a big "Whoopee!" A fun day; I do still enjoy having company. Now time for a little nap. Love and hugs to all. See ya later, alligator...
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Sunday, November 15, 2009

Monday, October 26, 2009

Uneven Ground: Appalachia Since 1945

Sharing a book review:

Uneven Ground: Appalachia Since 1945, by Ronald D. Eller.
Lexington: University Press of Kentucky, 2008.
376 pp. $29.95 (cloth), ISBN 978-0-8131-2523-7.
Reviewed by Kevin BarksdalePublished on H-Appalachia (March, 2009)
Commissioned by Brian D. McKnight

Failed Policies, Flawed Theories, and the Tragedy of Postwar Appalachia

"In Uneven Ground, historian Ronald D. Eller offers a Braudelian narrative of the social, economic, and political transformation of Appalachia after the Second World War. Focusing primarily on the relationship between relief and development efforts and the deteriorating postwar mountain communities and economy, Eller’s study stands as an indictment of failed governmental policies, faulty theories and models, and corporate greed and irresponsibility. From the acceleration of Appalachia’s postwar economy to the contemporary grassroots efforts to halt mountain-top removal mining practices, Uneven Ground covers a staggering amount of historical terrain and fills a long-overdue gap in the region’s historiography."

Read the rest of the review here:


Sharing a notice from a listserv group - take a look at this new online journal of Appalachian writing:

"Marianne Worthington (poetry editor), Jason Howard (nonfiction editor), and Silas House (fiction editor) have created _Still_ as an online source for literature of and about the mountain south. Each issue, which will be published in October, February, and June, will feature stories, poems, essays, interviews, and multimedia like songs or short films. They will publish established voices next to the voices of emerging writers of the region. The first issue of _Still_ features non-fiction writers Karen McElmurray and Beth Newberry as well as a solo musical performance by Sue Massek of The Reel World String Band. _Still_ is planning an annual contest and building a links page as a resource for Appalachian literature, music, environmentalism, and other sites of interest to those who love Appalachia.

Read _Still_ at, and also learn about the inspiration for the title and how to submit work for future issues."

Randolph Hollingsworth, Ph.D.
University of Kentucky
H-Kentucky List Editor

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Thursday, October 15, 2009

What It's Like to Have Dementia

This article offers some good insights...

What It's Like to Have Dementia

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Coal Country

A new documentary movie premiers this week at the Kentucky Theatre in Lexington, Wednesday 10/7 at 7:30 p.m. - Jean Ritchie, Kathy Mattea, and Silas House will be there! Who wants to be my date??? See If you can't go, watch for the book and DVD, to be released in November... "Best regional film since 'Harlan County USA' "

Here's a related video featuring Ashley Judd speaking out against mountaintop removal:

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

The Lost Symbol

The Lost Symbol - Dan Brown’s highly anticipated sequel to The DaVinci Code - was released today, 9/15/09. With a first printing of 5 million copies, there’s no doubt that Symbol promises to be the publishing event of 2009. A 509-page puzzle, the book is set in modern-day Washington, D.C., and is driven by a Masonic legend: hidden in our nation’s capital is a map or portal that leads to a body of secret knowledge… visit the web site for more details.

And here's a related article about how the Freemasons are anticipating being the center of so much attention, including a couple of video interviews with the author.

9/26 - Just finished the book - definitely a page-turner with lots of surprises!

Diabetes Drug Fights Breast Cancer

Here's something interesting - and I'm actually taking Metformin:

Diabetes Drug Fights Breast Cancer

The Body Count at Home

Thanks to Virginia for sharing this...

Op-Ed Columnist - The Body Count at Home -

Friday, September 11, 2009

Never Forget

Carla Sings

Who says libraries are quiet and dull? I stayed after work last night for a live bluegrass/folk band performance featuring Carla VanHoose in the library's Community Room. Very enjoyable... unfortunately I didn't get the name of the female fiddler, but she was just superb.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

The Bourbon Trail

Today's Lexington Herald-Leader features a story about Kentucky's Bourbon Trail: Tour of Eight Kentucky Distilleries Gets Acclaim from National Geographic Traveler. (Thanks to brother James for the link!) I toured Labrot & Graham's Woodford Reserve Distillery last summer, and it really is fascinating to see (pics at left from my visit). The samples at the end were great, too! First class tour and product... mmm, spoiled now! Hope to continue the trail eventually.

I recently learned about another use for the white oak wooden barrels... making TABASCO® Sauce!


Jockeys: Horse Racing, Thoroughbreds, Racehorses - Animal Planet
Just discovered this show - haven't seen it yet, but definitely looks interesting, and the web site has lots of info about the industry. There's a good review from the NTRA here, and some colorful wallpaper here. (Maybe I can persuade the library to get the DVD of the first season; second season is just starting.)

Here's a good story about the current jockey to beat - Calvin Borel: How a Common Man Rode to Greatness. Plus photos and video of his latest win, a thrilling ride on Rachel Alexandra at Saratoga yesterday, the first filly to win the Woodward Stakes! And just one more link - a very touching blog about a dad and his daughter rooting for Rachel.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Breathitt Floods of 2009

Moving from olden days to modern, here is another sad chapter for Breathitt County... scenes of devastation from earlier this year, set to a haunting rendition of Amazing Grace - who is the singer, does anyone know? (Thanks to Cousin Bill for the link.)

Robyn and James agree that the singer is Leeann Rimes.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

A Personal Plea...

I learned this week that a friend who has been suffering with what seemed to be a pulled muscle actually has lung cancer. He is a talented computer techie who lost his wife to cancer a few years ago, has been unemployed since last fall, and has no health insurance -- already losing his house and surviving on odd jobs, now this. Another friend, a fifty-something divorced mother, is gambling on her health with no insurance, can't afford preventive exams. A cousin is fighting for her life against another recurrence of cancer, unable to work because of it and out of insurance coverage. Hard-working American-born citizens all. When my own husband lost his short battle with cancer in 2000, the 'leftover' bills bankrupted me even though we did have health insurance. Chances are, someone among your family and friends has a similar tale.

The health care system in this country has failed, and must be changed. We simply must find a way around the rhetoric and angry words that are swirling around the current debate for reform. No matter what your politics, please take a moment to read this, then listen to the eloquent plea below, and find a way to support meaningful change. It is literally a matter of life and death - and YOU could be the next in need.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009


The end of an era. Listen, and remember...

"I dream things that never were, and say why not"

Five years after RFK's visit to Barwick, Ky., I spent a summer working there - helping with garden projects at the new community center, visiting homes to talk about nutrition. Wonderful people, unforgettable experiences.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

White Queen Widget

(Click on the small pics to start the videos.) New release from a favorite author - can't wait to read it! Don't miss the author's web site here.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Brush with horses...

Living in the Bluegrass region of Kentucky means being surrounded by the horse industry, especially Thoroughbreds. Picturesque farms dot the landscape, and horse barns are brightly lit around the clock in midwinter to encourage early foaling. (All the registered foals born in a season will turn one year old in January, so being born in February instead of April could give a two-year-old a real edge on the racetrack.) I've never been involved with or knowledgeable about the industry though, beyond picking up such tidbits from friends, making an occasional visit to the Kentucky Horse Park, or touring a local farm like the world-renowned Claiborne.

That changed a few years ago when I took a part-time job as a bookkeeper for Ashleigh Stud Farm. Suddenly I had a behind-the-scenes look at a working thoroughbred farm, and was privileged to get to know the farm owners, ex-jockey Frank Ramos and leading consignor Jackie Ward Ramos. Hard work and high risk are balanced, in their case, by a true love of horses and racing. One cold, rainy evening an alarm went off in the office and everyone took off for the foaling barn, including me. What a privilege to witness a new little foal coming into the world! Another foal was lost to a sudden colic that season, underscoring the risky nature of the business. I learned a lot in my two years there, including much about the months-long process of preparing horses for sale, training them for the track, and the myriad details involved with consigning horses for sale at Keeneland and Fasig-Tipton.

Yesterday I got a peek at another part of the industry with a brief visit to the Kentucky July Selected Yearlings Sale at Fasig-Tipton in Lexington. The fast-paced chant of the auctioneer was broadcast over the grounds as we walked around the crowded sales pavilions. Serious buyers had already performed close inspections in the long rows of stables. Just before entering the auction ring, each horse was led through several paths and show rings, allowing a final look at their conformation.

My friend and I found a spot on the rail of the final show ring with our "bibles" in hand -- the sales catalog containing details of about 500 horses in the sale. He offered several interesting pointers about what the buyers are looking for in each horse -- but to my untrained eye, they all looked sleek, powerful, and magnificent. Some were fractious, kicking their heels and flinging their heads, excited by the crowd and the noise. Hmmm... this one brought $12,000 under the hammer, but that one brought $80,000... while I'm trying hard not to scratch my suddenly itchy nose or otherwise deliver an unintended signal to the bid spotters! We were "just looking" and managed not to buy anything, but thoroughly enjoyed the experience.

Sunday, July 19, 2009


Well, for those who have laid awake nights worrying about finding me pecked to death by birds in my own driveway, the immediate peril seems to have abated. No sign of the attack swallows for a coupla days now. Wonder if that has anything to do with the two stray cats spotted lounging in the front bushes? I'd rather think the babies learned to fly and Mom and Dad are off to a more exotic locale on vacation.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

40 Years Ago

July 1969... I was approaching my 14th birthday, begging to be allowed to stay up late to watch the black-and-white television coverage of Apollo 11. A man on the moon! The ultimate fantasy. Didn't have a clue that my future hubby was there, in the middle of all the excitement, hard at work at NASA in Florida: a "Ground Support Communications Supervisor" during the Apollo missions. That's him on the left in this official NASA picture (from his personal collection). Here are a couple of articles about those computers...

Apollo 11: The Computers That Put Man on the Moon

The Lunar Module Computer

And here is an interesting article that describes "LOL memory" -- rope core memory that was literally assembled by "Little Old Ladies." In a factory outside Boston, they would "weave" the software instructions by threading slender copper wires through and around tiny magnetic cores. Fascinating: Weaving the Way to the Moon

In contrast, my MP3 player today has a tiny micro SD memory card that holds 8 GB of data just for entertainment - music, photos, radio, audio books... Imagine taking off for the moon with less technology than is in the cell phone in your pocket today, by a factor of thousands!

For a detailed list of NASA events that celebrate the 40th anniversary of Apollo 11, visit:

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Swallow Tale...

Sheer terror has hit my suburban driveway... in the form of swooping swallows! For the last couple of days, whenever I get out of the car or come out the front door, one or two birds - barn swallows, judging from the deeply forked tails - swoop down at me in full attack mode - aack!! Very aggressive and fast, coming VERY close, chirping and clicking loudly; then they circle high and come right back. So far there's been no actual contact, but certainly not from lack of trying, ha! Ducking and flailing of arms and running for cover ensues on my part... with a few loud, um, protests thrown in, I admit. Today I resorted to using an umbrella to get from the car to the house, sheesh!

Research online indicates that barn swallows are aerial insectivores; they catch insects in mid-air, and beat their wings about 15 times a second. And this: "Barn Swallows will swoop and attack intruders that venture too close their nest, often coming within inches of the threat." Seems that this behavior could last about two weeks, til the fledglings depart... I found this photo of a barn swallow's nest here, and have searched in vain to find something similar on or around my house. No signs of tell-tale mess on the ground, either. One suggestion is to hose down the nest... but I've gotta find it first, and that seems a little harsh. Maybe they're just feeding on bugs in the air?? And maybe I wouldn't mind so much, if I didn't keep seeing visions of Hitchcock's movie "The Birds"...

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

After the rain...

...Asiatic lilies blooming in my front yard.

Huge, beautiful, and the smell is divine!

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Friday, June 26, 2009


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Thursday thunderstorms brought torrential rains for hours. This is the resulting full rain basin in my back yard; not a problem, though - all drained out within 24 hours. More photos here.