Wednesday, March 25, 2009


Every Wednesday for about the last ten years carvers have been gathering at the Berea Welcome Center to not only demonstrate to tourists their carving techniques but to enjoy each others company while they carve and talk about any subject under the sun. They are a laid back bunch that tease each other as well as people that stop by to ask about their craft. Lots of laughs are included in the gathering. Carvers sitting around a table jawing and carving makes for a pleasurable experience.

Here we have Jack Gann, Jack Johnson, Keith Flowers, Don Napier and Dean Owsley.

A satchel sits all packed ready to leave the gathering of the Berea woodcarvers. Notice all the specialty knives in the side pockets and the chain project the carver is working on.

Each carver has a satchel or kit that contains all the tools of the trade. It sits by their side on the floor and gets lots of use. The items they carve are not for sale at their gatherings.

Keith Flowers carves some finishing touches on a toy for children at UK Childrens Hospital
The carvers not only carve for themselves but also for community projects. The informal group of carvers number about twenty from the surrounding area of Berea.

Some of the men of the group have taught carving at college adult education classes. Mr. Jack Gann seemed to garner the most voices saying he is the master carver of the group. Also Dean Owsley is very proficient and one of the more intensive objects he carves are dulcimers.

Here is John Adams, Leo Calburn, Jim Emmert and Marion Thompson carving away.

Here is one of the more popular toys they make for sick children -- Sponge Bob -- to set on a hospital stand near the child's bed.

Carving has been around since ancient times. In the Appalachia's it is still an active tradition of many. Carving falls in the folk art category and the older pieces done by elders of the past are desired by many collectors.

When you meet a carver in the Appalachia's chances are that your day will light up from their ability to make you smile.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009


Leonard Hayes

Many times we ride by a building and don't pay attention to whether it has merit or not. Recently, I parked near a building in Berea, Kentucky and failed to even give it a glance. Then, suddenly, for some reason, maybe the sun was shining on it just right or I looked toward the clouds moving in, and there it was. I instantly recognized it as an old train station (depot) and it was obviously vacant. After becoming aware of this station I began asking around the area as to its history and who owned it. Eventually I discovered a Mr. Leonard Hayes (above) and he was not only the owner but in my eyes the steward of preserving the train station that has lived its life as a freight station. The town's passenger station was located across the tracks from the freight depot.
Berea's Freight Station

Leonard Hayes generously provided some information about the above old freight station. He had a builder's copy of the floor plan dated 1884. He said its construction date was 1886. Since acquiring it he has put on new roofing shingles and a loading dock on the track side. Other than these changes, Mr Hayes believes that it retains its original character. The City of Berea was in the process of condemning the station when he acquired it. Presently it is used for storage.

My take on the station was its old artistic building materials and construction. Built of all wood that has turned a silver-tone color from exposure to the elements, the whole of the building has an organic feeling. The station's many doors give a feeling of rugged survival.

I've included several photos of the doors, each individual yet related. Above is one of two similarly diagonal patterned dock doors, this one enjoys splashes of white paint on its surround.

A sawbuck door stands strong even though its use is no longer needed.

Another of the diagonal doors, different than the other one by its shades of silver patterns.

Although the freight station will not experience the same use again, the community of Berea is fortunate to have Mr Hayes taking excellent care of a piece of its past.

Friday, March 20, 2009



OK, I am determined to become more knowledgeably about the biota also known as the natural life; animals and plants, around me. I am finding that nature is complex as well as mysterious.

Today it was sunny and in the fifties -- a good day to take a tramp up the hill through the woods. You would have thought that I was heading up MT. Everest as I packed a shoulder bag with binoculars, camera, ID guides, pen and paper etc..

With the poison ivy fairly pulled back from the paths and the ticks not active, I felt a bit more bold in examining trees and vines off the beaten path. This primitive path is uphill and is mainly stony from the underlying limestone of the terrain.

One tree that I discovered is believed to be a Persimmon. At first I thought it was an Ash then a Tupelo, but my daughter straightened me out and said it was a Persimmon. It has alligator type bark that is chunky-type squares. It has fruit that animals like and people wait until it drops from the trees and is soft so they can use it in baking breads and jellies.

Anyway, what was extraordinary was the trunk. Some white symmetrical bands of white were running intermittently up the tall trunk. My thoughts were that the tree was diseased! Notice the bands in the photo above.

After I showed the tree's photos to my daughter she again came to my rescue. No, she said, its lichens. She explained that they are one-dimensional lichens in the crustose family. Meaning: my tree was healthy. Lichens do not harm trees.

Well, identification of the tree and then the lichen was 3F -- fun, frustrating and fascinating. I have a whole woods to explore and like I said in my previous post -- this in going to take years. And as I said before -- all good things take time.

Monday, March 16, 2009


-- RAZING --
-- RISING --

A classic example of how material change occurs. This historic house was once the home of a small congregation of the first Catholic church in Berea, Kentucky. St Clare Catholic Church is located still at 626 Chestnut Street in Berea but now it is a larger and newer church built on the same property. The original home-type church was recently razed due to inefficiency for a growing congregation. The old home church served the community from the early 1950's though recent times. The chapel was in the second story while the church administration was located in the first floor of this late Victorian influenced architectural home.

The internals of the construction of the old home-church display the skill and materials used in the era when this home-church was probably built as a residence about the early 1900s. Fortunately for this tear-down the parishioners were invited to take the old construction materials to be reused elsewhere. So it was taken down in a careful piece-by-piece fashion, by church members, which allowed much of the old church-home pieces to venture to new uses.

Sunday, March 15, 2009


Last couple days have been filled with lightly falling rain. Today is the first rainless day but evidence of rain remains in the mist filled woods and the pine needles. Above is one of my pines holding droplets as if they were jewels.
Mist in the woods surrounding my homestead sets a mood of peacefulness. The grasses are greening and the trees are budding while the concert of birds heralding the coming of spring is music to my ears.

Saturday, March 14, 2009


Recently I was talking to an old friend that now lives in another state. She asked me if I had lots of leaves to rake last fall since I live on country acreage now. This gave me pause for a moment followed by a laugh.

Laughing because I no longer rake as living on a windswept hill Mother Earth takes care of the leaves. The few that are left in corners of the yard turn to humus in the spring. If I want leaves for my garden I gather them early in the fall before the early winter winds gear up. Granted I have lots of trees but somehow the leaves do their ballet dance all the way round and then back into the folds of the woods.

It got me to thinking. Why do people rake? Can you answer that? Give it some thought. I turn to Josephine Johnson many times when I am contemplating how I might live peacefully with the wildness of my naturehill homestead.

Her book, Inland Island, is such a pleasure to experience if one wants to live symbiotically with mother nature. Her philosophy of whatever works with Mother Earth is alright with her--just get out of her way and let things rip. No need to stir things up by putting in a perfect lawn, exotic plants or other unnatural objects into nature (nature -- read -- includes what exists on a home property).

I heartily recommend this book if you live this philosophy or are considering it. I looked up the book on Amazon and it is reasonable used. It's apparently out of print. Then there is always the local library -- the inter-library loans process can get you just about any book you want if the local doesn't have it.

Friday, March 6, 2009


Audubon Society developed this map showing that as our climate warms bird behavior is changing. This map illustrates how 20 species of birds are now spending their winters farther north.

What does this mean to factors such as food availability, health, natural predators, and also the impact on plant life movement. If one really gives some hard thought to this change of bird behavior one can come up with many negative impacts to our total environment.

What changes will occur to our food crops? Could we one day be growing banana trees in Minnesota?

We don't need to join an organization to protect Mother Earth. It is a personal choice. Less consuming is key.

We see things not as they are, but as we are. ~~ Talmud

Wednesday, March 4, 2009


(Suffrage march, New York City, May 6, 1912 -- Library of Congress Photo)

As I sat at home handling the antique shoes I had recently bought, visions of suffragist marches for the right to vote popped in my head. Why? Because the style of shoes pictured below are the ones that you see in the old vintage photos of such marches.

In the U.S. we celebrate women's history each year in the month of March. Internationally we celebrate on March 8th. Who would have thought? Thought what? That women would have a whole month devoted to their history!

Part of this history is the 19th amendment which gave the right to vote to women and was ratified and certified by August 26, 1920. Not without its struggles.

I came upon my antiques shoes as I was browsing through a store selling collectibles. There on the shelf sat a pair of women's shoes from about 1900. I love old historical items so I picked them up and was soon paying for them at the counter. Something was whispering in my ear to buy them although I really had no idea what I was going to do with them.

Such soft leather and well constructed shoes these were. All they needed was some black shoe polish and a suffragette.
They began to take on a life on their own.I began to think that these shoes were worn in a right to vote march. Why not? Yes, I concluded, they walked in a march (everyone has a right to fantasy).
I glanced down at the Birkenstocks that were on my feet. They are fourteen years old and have seen a few replaced soles. I still "kick" around in them.

Come to think of it, I wore them on election day to vote. Hey, thanks old black shoes for giving me this opportunity!