Friday, April 24, 2009



Last week, after several days of overcast weather, and finally, today the sun was shining, I decided to spin out to the historic small village of Paint Lick, Kentucky. The unincorporated town sits among picturesque farms and homes while the Paint Lick Creek runs along one of its boundaries. Truly, a charming place to live. Paint Lick is located in Garrard County which has a population of 3000 plus residents. The pollution factor is almost nonexistent with it being declared in the top 20% cleanest counties in the U. S.

My first stop was at Rick's restaurant. The restaurant was neat, clean, and friendly with locals sitting at various tables. It reminded me of small- town restaurants when I was young.

I was looking for someone to tell me about the early house I had spotted on the hill as I rode into town. It looked abandoned yet intriguing with history wrote all over it. Fortunately, Dottie, the wait-staff person, that I talked to initially, steered me right to the owner of the house. He was enjoying some coffee at one of the oil-clothed tables and is a regular at Ricks. After Dottie introduced me to Ike Burnnett I sat down with him for an engaging conversation and coffee.

He told me that he had lived in Rockcastle County at one time but moved to Paint Lick along with his wife, Eva Mae, in 1979. At that time they bought and still own the I-House (the house on the hill) yet, he now lives in a newer house near town with his wife of 58 years. Pre-retirement he had worked at Berea College as a supervisor of the Wood Craft department training students in the old skills of making early American and colonial furniture plus old timey small items such as skittle games. He said when he worked there they began every production with raw wood that had to be dried in kilns at the college. Today they start with already dried wood for their craft program.

The early I-House once had belonged to the Campbell family. At that time it was a homestead of a few hundred acres but when the Burnnett's bought it the size had shrunk to three acres. It sits on a hilltop with a view of the village and Paint Lick Creek.

Above is a side view of the house with its side gable ends as is usual with I-Houses. The very earliest of I-Houses in Kentucky do not have windows in the gable end. The house's exterior material is weatherboard (wood). Ike's hilltop house has a two-story back ell that he said is where they spent most of their time while they lived in the house. The ell has a fireplace that he used to keep stoked to stay warm.

The front part of the house has two fireplaces, one at each end of the gable, each being interior, only the chimney stacks on the roof hint that there are fireplaces in the house. Overall, there are three fireplaces. Ike enjoyed the house while he lived there, planting a garden every season. I asked Ike for permission to drive up the hill and take photos of the house. Of course, he being a very congenial man, quickly said "yes" to my request.

The drive up the hill is over a narrow dirt lane. Its climb is steep and a bit curvy. When I first got out of the car, up by the house, I thought of copperheads as that is Kentucky's native snake that loves to sun itself and it was sunny. It was apparent this ground had not been walked on for a while so I watched where I stepped. And I stepped hard as ground motion scares them away.

The first thing I spotted around the back of the house was the ruins of a very old root cellar -- reached by about 30 to 40 steps from the back ell doorway. Its side banks were stacked limestone rocks. It had seen better days but was surely used by early inhabitants. Now it is slowly caving in on itself.

I reminded myself to stay on what looked like the used pathway around the house. Old wells can send you flying to the depths of hell and, when you are alone -- who knows where you are if you fall in? This happened to an acquaintance of mine one time and she still carries the scars on her legs.

This is a photo that is only the top half of the front doorway. Lots of stuff was piled up toward the bottom half that got in the way of the photo so I just include the top in this photo. The door reflects the early Greek Revival style of architecture with side pilasters and side lights. Earlier, Ike had given me a construction date of around 1830s for the house. My calculation as to the type of house this was -- a vernacular I-House with Greek Revival influences.

Here is a better look of the exterior weatherboard construction. Also, the six over six lights (glass panes) that place them into the 1800s.

This house has many secrets, I'm sure, as it has lived such a long life. Over time, from its hilltop site, it has viewed a devastating fire in Paint Lick and a flood on Paint Lick Creek that wiped out the bridge over the river. It has experienced different families and surely laughter and sadness. I felt something up there that day on the hill that was very peaceful -- it is a place I hope to return to and attempt to sort out some of its many pieces.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009


Sometimes while cruising down a country highway or back road, we come upon a few homes and stores clustered within a semi-defined commercial landscape. The stores can be either deserted or, "hanging in there." Usually the cluster exudes the feeling of a time past, one that is beyond its prime. My father used to define these types of places as, "just a spot in the road."

In Rockcastle County, Kentucky there is an old clustered settlement called Conway which was named after a timber man. He founded the settlement as a commercial place to operate his business. His selective harvesting was mostly virgin timber from the surrounding area. White oak was the most desirable of the trees being cut. Eventually most of the valuable trees were cleared out and Mr. Conway moved on leaving the settlement to survive on its own.

Always a very small settlement of a few homes and commercial places, it attempted to make a go of itself. An example of survival was the old Conway Garage. Existing during the 1930s - 40s and perhaps before, it is now a building with a completely different commercial focus. Changes occur by necessity to survive.

Above is a vintage photo of the exterior surrounding the old Conway Garage. A small child in the picture gives one an idea of the height of this large truck. Another plays with a tire off to the left. Notice the large sign on the building announcing CONWAY GARAGE and an old hand pump off to the side of the truck.

Today the structure exists as a deli and small grocery that has been updated almost beyond recognition of the original garage.

"Bones" tell the story when looking at old architecture. You get the feeling that the structure is old by its overall details. Compare the old Conway garage photo at the top of this post and this updated Conway garage photo above you can pick out some of the, "bones" of the old structure.

Down the street a bit is an old store that has additions and sheds surrounding it. But the architectural false facade front is a dead give away that it is from another time.

Old style store bay windows were used to show-case wares, undoubtedly ones that were needed by the locals of the area. It appears that the last use for the store was possibly a resale shop?

-- CLOSED --
A "closed"sign hanging on the door could mean closed permanently, as many of these commercial clusters can be here one day and gone the next usually due to redevelopment growth of an area. This particular building has had a closed sign on it for at least a year.

Conway's old architecture seems to indicate that the prime time in this town was during the early 1900s. Changing ways determine if settlements like these can remain viable.

Saturday, April 4, 2009


Here is the "yellowhammer"

Nesting cavity in my tree -- can you find it?

Whose been hammering at my tree and has put a big hole in it! Probably not the yellow shafted flicker as they have soft beaks and therefore usually just set up housekeeping in deserted cavities. The hammering I hear, I suspect, is territorial drumming. You can see, above in the middle tree and toward the top, the cavity that the flickers are using.

This is the closest I could get to it and still get the angle to show the hole or should I say doorway if I want to be anthropomorphic. I have many different kinds of woodpeckers surrounding my home and woodlands. Lots of drumming and different calls. Great sounds!

Photo at top of ground feeding flicker is from FLICKER Sharing --


Each month I am recording the overall changes to my view from my front porch and sometimes the view from my back yard which takes in my old oak shed and fragile barn. Above is a close up of the maple's seeds, also called keys, developing on one of the Silver Maples by my front porch.

The "keys" green up the Silver Maple's appearance earlier than most trees in the area. Unlike most trees, the silver maple produces seeds (keys) in the spring instead of in the fall. Botanists believe this spring seed production is an adaptation to growing near rivers that flood in the spring. Such flooding washes away plants and soil, leaving bare areas of ground ready for the maple seed germination.

Definitely more green than last month as I look over the hollow from my front porch. Redbuds are flashing their striking rose-colored flowers throughout the woods. I planted two Redbud seedlings last week near my house. Hope they live as they would add quite a spectacular explosion of color early in the spring.

Bird activity is high, butterflies are skittering about, moths have been out for quite some time, hornets and carpenter bees are checking the outside of my house for possible nesting places, and I found a nest inside a bushel basket hanging on the wall of my shed porch. Right now energy is vibrating high in the natural world!

Thursday, April 2, 2009


The Following information is taken from the site of cryptogon.com

Change We Can Believe In: How About the End of Farmers Markets? Say Hello to H.R. 875: Food Safety Modernization Act of 2009

Introduced Feb 4, 2009 by Rep Rosa DeLauro a Democrat of CT, wife of Stan Greenberg who does work for Mansanto. Referred to House Agriculture

For an analysis read: Say Goodbye to Farm Markets, CSAs and Farmers Stands at OpEdNews

FROM WIKIPEDIA: DeLauro introduced HR 875, the Food Safety Modernization Act of 2009, on February 4th 2009. The bill would create a new agency within the Department of Health and Human Services to regulate food production. Critics charge that it would place restrictive regulatory encumbrances on backyard gardening and small-scale organic agriculture

Click on the following site for the full and current bill as it stands, http://www.govtrack.us/congress/billtext.xpd?bill=h111-875

Also here is a summary of the H. R. 875 bill plus a list of people to contact with any concerns you might have:
To establish the Food Safety Administration within the Department of Health and Human Services to protect the public health by preventing food-borne illness, ensuring the safety of food, improving research on contaminants leading to food-borne illness, and improving security of food from intentional contamination, and for other purposes.