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Tuesday, December 29, 2009

VERNACULAR ONE-PEN LOG CABINS -- AGED AND WORN

RED LICK LOG HOUSE
I spotted the aged and worn single-pen log dwelling, above, on private land recently. A single-pen is defined as a one room unit of construction; a double-pen would be two rooms . A typical single-pen cabin, during this era, was perhaps sixteen by sixteen feet while a rectangular version was maybe sixteen by eighteen. Families lived in these small structures hoping that it would be temporary until additions could be made to the dwelling or a larger house built. The Red Lick log above is a story and a half -- the upper half usually a sleeping loft for family members.

On this day I hesitated to walk on the open private land. I always feel one needs to obtain permission. If one is granted they should ask if there is a vacated open well site or perhaps unfriendly dogs that might descend on them.

When I viewed the dwelling from the road it was difficult to decipher the construction details that usually give hints as to the possible date it was built.

So I used my photo I took of the place to determine some of the construction details. I could make-out that it had half-dovetailed notching and secondly that it did not have an outside chimney on the gable end. At least the gable end that could be seen from the road. . Perhaps it had one but was located out of my view. What I did see was a metal smoke stack poking out of the roof near the ridge line which meant that a metal stove had been used for heat. I believe this might be a log built around the late 1800s. Not sure. A close examination of the log would either dispel this assumption or verify it.

GILLISON ROAD LOG HOUSE
Another abandoned property was found near the town of Paint Lick on Gillison Road in Madison County, Kentucky. It has round-log corner notching with an addition. The smaller unattached log building appears to be an outhouse. No one was available to ask permission to walk the land. Round log was common in both the 1800s and the early 1900s. The early round log cabins left the bark on while the later round log dwellings were skinned of their bark.

Historically Kentucky had large inventories of log buildings. Today log dwellings are sparse on the landscape. It seems that most house historians believe that these types of dwellings hay-day was from the late 1700s through the early 1900s. This would put most of those still extant on the land in Kentucky about 100 years of age or older.

Information source for this post: Kentucky Folk Architecture, Montell and Morse.

Monday, December 21, 2009

FANTASTIC BIOLOGICAL SOURCE ON THE WEB

PAGE SOURCE: HANDBOOK OF FROGS AND TOADS OF THE UNITED STATES AND CANADA
by Anna Allen Wright and Albert Hazen Wright, Professor of Zoology, Cornell University, 1932

Now maybe everyone knows about this source but me, but I was sure glad to have discovered it today. I was perusing one of my favorite magazines, UTNE, when this article appeared, The Encyclopedia of Life, which was the name of an internet site. Apparently this internet idea was a dream of E. O. Wilson. His idea, in his words were, Imagine an electronic page for each species of organism on earth .

Wilson's dream is now a website called The Encyclopedia of Life which allows all 1.8 million species known on earth their own page!

I turned to my computer and typed in its address and was taken to a registration page. After an easy registration I was able to take a test run of the site. I just took "frogs" as an example to search for and ended up knowing just about all that I could possibly think to ever know about frogs.

The photo at the top is just the tip of the iceberg of the knowledge represented and available on the site. You can open old documents and books and page through them. There is much more but I will let you check it out for yourself if you haven't already.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

BEAUTIFUL PRE-SOLSTICE SNOWY DAY

VIEW FROM MY FRONT PORCH LOOKING DOWN ON MY NEIGHBOR
Solstice is coming. And what a beautiful entrance Mother Nature is providing it here in central Kentucky. The sky is filled with overhanging snow clouds and the mountains in the distance cannot be seen through the mist. Quiet abounds.

MY SILVER MAPLE BRANCHES BALANCED WITH THIN ROWS OF SNOW
I hear on my radio that a huge snow storm is rushing up the eastern coast and will reach New York sometime this afternoon as a blizzard. Perhaps it is mother nature's way of churning everything to a halt and saying, " stop shopping, you're using up my resources."

PINE BRANCHES PROVIDE MASS FOR SNOW BLANKETS
The dogs and I are cozy. No need to go anywhere as we are food stocked and warm.

SAL GALLOPS CRAZILY THROUGH THE THREE INCHES OF SNOW
What a delight it is to experience the sheer joy snow brings to Sal and Lil.

LIL AND SAL COMPLETELY WEAR DOWN THE SNOW AS THEY PLAY
After a hard romp in the snow their eyes shift toward me. They tell me its time to eat.

BREAFAST TIME -- SAL AND LIL HEAD TOWARD THE DOOR TO COME INSIDE.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

A MOVING PHILOSOPHY

A new folkway was born when the car sticker mania appeared many years ago. Why not let your thoughts hang out on your car or truck? Good way to get your opinions out in the open. I found
this truck yesterday in a parking lot and thought it was too good to pass up as an example of a new folkway.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

OLD RURAL KENTUCKY FENCING

EARLY 1800s PROPERTY WITH ORIGINAL DRY STACKED LIMESTONE FENCING

Dry stacked fencing has a history reaching back into ancient times. In Kentucky its history of construction can travel as far back as the late 1700s -- believed to be built by slaves and/or Irish immigratnts. Kentucky's natural limestone beds have provided the resources to construct the beautiful fences. Today there is an effort to maintain what still exists through training by the Dry Stone Conservancy. Also an excellent researched book by Carolyn Murray-Wooley presents a fascinating history of the early years of building Kentucky's limestone fences. Unfortunately, of the hundreds of miles of fencing of this type in the state, much are in need of repair. It takes knowledgeable people to maintain them of which the Dry Stone Conservancy is working toward.

SPLIT-RAIL OR ZIG-ZAG TYPE OF FENCING, KENTUCKY
Source: city.data.com
Abe Lincoln was raised in Kentucky and was known as a rail splitter in his youth. Therefore, split-rail fencing has become associated with him. I picked this photo (above) off the internet and am not sure as to its age. Let's just say it is similar to what he might have made. I do not see old split rail fences, perhaps if I do I will post it. The split rail fences that I have seen are the Home Depot or Lowes newer types.

1800s PRIMITIVE COUNTRY PICKET FENCING
Crudely made fence posts arranged as precursors to the more polished type of picket fences are found in old photographs of Kentucky's early log homes. It reflects a "get by" existence that for either economic reasons or lack of appropriate tools served early settlers as well as fine fencing. Also referred to as paling fencing.

1931 MORTAR AND LIMESTONE MASON BUILT FENCING
This beautifully constructed fence is located in Central Kentucky. It is located on land that has been in one family going back to some of the earliest settlements in the area. Built as this country was falling fast into the Great Depression. The date 1931 is chiseled on the gate post. The mason that built the fence probably was grateful for the work.

REMAINING SECTION OF OLD PICKET FENCE ON ABANDONED PROPERTY
Many times I come across properties that have much of their cultural landscape missing. It might be the homestead house or a few outbuildings, etc. Here was a stand-alone fence. No trace of its position in its relevance to the landscape. If one looks carefully or enlarges the photo one can see the nicely turned tops of the pickets.

20TH CENTURY BOARD AND POST FENCING
Reaching into the 20th century one finds the board and post around many properties. Usually left in a natural state or perhaps with some white wash applied. With the cost of wood accelerating I assume that in the future these will become a thing of the past.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

MERRY CHRISTMAS FROM FANNIE SCOVELL

Miss Fannie Scovel sent this card out to wish the receiver a Merry Christmas and happy New Year in the early twentieth century. She placed her words in pencil, "with my flowers'" at the top of the message. The bottom is her simple signature Fannie Scovel.

Photo postcards span the early twentieth century and open up the world to the folkways of the people. The back of photo postcards have a regular postcard backing with a space for message, stamp, and date and town postmark. This sparse information along with the photo can tell us about housing stock, clothing, hairstyles, interests, pets, cars, and other sorts of clues. They are windows to this early era.

Collecting them can be interesting and they can still be found at reasonable prices. I have had this Fannie Scovel photo postcard for many years. Personal clues, to this early 1900s elder woman's passion, are roses, creative gardening, living in a middle class neighborhood, and loving hats. She probably lived alone as no family is mentioned. Other clues can be picked out from this postcard.

Picture postcards were taken by the common people, not studio produced, so they are true reflections of the time. For more information click here.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

WINTER SOLSTICE 3000 YEARS AGO

LOTTERY WINNERS CONGREGATE
Photo: knowth.com
The above photo is of people in Meath County, Ireland, who were previous lottery winners, experiencing the Winter Solstice event at the Newgrange ancient burial mound. About fifty people are selected for the sunrise event out of about 24,000 entries. Archaeologists date the mound at around 3000 years old.

Photo: knowth.com
Let's understand why so many people desire to experience the solstice at the Newgrange burial mound. Little is known of its history. Here's what we do know. It dates back to the New Stone Age of the Neolithic period. The Neolithic period was the beginning of agriculture as we know it in our civilization. Also, at this time, rituals and burials became a part of life. Art flourished. Not knowing about the how, when, and who of the place seems to set it into the realm of the mystical. Especially, because the entrance to the mound has an opening right above it, like a door transom, built of stone, where the solstice sunlight shines into the interior passageway to light the central chamber. Only at the time of Winter Solstice does this happen. It's architecture is very sophisticated.

It is thought that the Winter Solstice was perhaps significant in the life of the ancients as it was a sign of birth and renewal.

This year we realize the solstice on Monday, December 21st. Current recognition for some is a time of contemplation and wonderment, and for others a time of ritual and festivities.

The below YouTube video was produced by tubelookjohn. He captures the sense and spirit of Newgrange.


Monday, December 7, 2009

WORLD COMMUNITY AND CLIMATE CHANGE

The following article appeared in many newspapers around the world -- speaking as one common voice.

Unless we combine to take decisive action, climate change will ravage our planet, and with it our prosperity and security. The dangers have been becoming apparent for a generation. Now the facts have started to speak: 11 of the past 14 years have been the warmest on record, the Arctic ice-cap is melting and last year's inflamed oil and food prices provide a foretaste of future havoc. In scientific journals the question is no longer whether humans are to blame, but how little time we have got left to limit the damage. Yet so far the world's response has been feeble and half-hearted.

Climate change has been caused over centuries, has consequences that will endure for all time and our prospects of taming it will be determined in the next 14 days. We call on the representatives of the 192 countries gathered in Copenhagen not to hesitate, not to fall into dispute, not to blame each other but to seize opportunity from the greatest modern failure of politics. This should not be a fight between the rich world and the poor world, or between east and west. Climate change affects everyone, and must be solved by everyone.

The science is complex but the facts are clear. The world needs to take steps to limit temperature rises to 2C, an aim that will require global emissions to peak and begin falling within the next 5-10 years. A bigger rise of 3-4C — the smallest increase we can prudently expect to follow inaction — would parch continents, turning farmland into desert. Half of all species could become extinct, untold millions of people would be displaced, whole nations drowned by the sea. The controversy over emails by British researchers that suggest they tried to suppress inconvenient data has muddied the waters but failed to dent the mass of evidence on which these predictions are based.

Few believe that Copenhagen can any longer produce a fully polished treaty; real progress towards one could only begin with the arrival of President Obama in the White House and the reversal of years of US obstructionism. Even now the world finds itself at the mercy of American domestic politics, for the president cannot fully commit to the action required until the US Congress has done so.

But the politicians in Copenhagen can and must agree the essential elements of a fair and effective deal and, crucially, a firm timetable for turning it into a treaty. Next June's UN climate meeting in Bonn should be their deadline. As one negotiator put it: "We can go into extra time but we can't afford a replay."

At the deal's heart must be a settlement between the rich world and the developing world covering how the burden of fighting climate change will be divided — and how we will share a newly precious resource: the trillion or so tonnes of carbon that we can emit before the mercury rises to dangerous levels.

Rich nations like to point to the arithmetic truth that there can be no solution until developing giants such as China take more radical steps than they have so far. But the rich world is responsible for most of the accumulated carbon in the atmosphere – three-quarters of all carbon dioxide emitted since 1850. It must now take a lead, and every developed country must commit to deep cuts which will reduce their emissions within a decade to very substantially less than their 1990 level.

Referenced from Worldchanging Bright Green

Sunday, December 6, 2009

BEAR MOUNTAIN WILDLIFE HABITAT

CAPTAIN SAL IS A HAM FOR THE CAMERA -- WILDLIFE HABITAT SIGN
On the two plus acres where I live are scores of nature's treasures. In addition to my homestead, I am partially surrounding by a forest of beech, different types of oak, black ash, persimmon, redbud, maples and other deciduous trees. Also, several species of conifers. It is a steep piece of land that is reached by climbing up a one lane dirt road which dead ends just up from my house. Having lived here for two years, I feel I am just beginning to understand the land.

WEEDS AND WILDFLOWER GUIDES
"weeds are in the eyes of the beholder"
This fall I established my place as a National Wildlife Federation Certified Wildlife Habitat area. I feel I have a commitment to the land, plants and the critters to provide, as much as I am able, an undisturbed place.

BIRDS NESTS, CATERPILLARS AND MOTHS GUIDES
birds' nests book great to use after the leaves have fallen or the field has died back
I am like a child, learning the alphabet, reciting the plants and animals as I learn about them. I have found so many books useful. Several I get out of the library, some I buy at used book stores, and yearly public library sales; many I have owned for several decades dragging them all over the country as I moved around.

ANIMAL TRACKS, INSECTS AND HAWKS GUIDES
Too many good books to list here. However, I will mention a few that are fine guides that I found great for becoming acquainted with mother nature. See list at the bottom of this post. Also there are so many nature blogs with terrific information. Check out the Nature Blog Network for a list plus check out my "good blogs" section on my sidebar.

Become a life long learner about our natural world. Reserve an area for wildness.

DRAGONFLIES, DAMSELFLIES, TREE FINDERS AND NON-FLOWERING PLANTS GUIDES

List of above books below:

1. Hawks; Peterson Field Guides, William S. Clark/Brian K. Wheeler.

2. Insects; Peterson First Guides, Christopher Leahy.

3. Caterpillars; Peterson First Guides, Amy Barlett Wright.

4. A Field Guide to Animal Tracks; Peterson Field Guide, Olaus Murie.

5. Newcomb's Wildflower Guide, Lawrence Newcomb.

6. Weeds; Guardians of the Soil, Joseph A. Cocannouer.

7. Eastern birds' Nests; Peterson field Guides, hal H. Harrison.

8. Discovering Moths; Nighttime Jewels in Your Own Backyard, John Himmelman.

9. Non-Flowering Plants; A Golden Nature Guide.

10. Winter Tree Finder, Mary Theilgaard Watts and Tom Watts.

11. Dragonflies and Damselflies, Steve Gordon and Cary Kerst.

ENJOY!

Saturday, December 5, 2009

APPALACHIAN SNOWFALL

A view from my front porch -- as well as my window behind my computer. I'm located on a ridge of Bear Mountain upon the tableland of the Appalachian Plateau. Yesterday, it was sunny and the birds in the yard were actively feeding. Today they are inactive. What is active are my dogs running through the snow with white tufts of snow on their noses. My silver maple stands as a steward of the small valley below. Its buds in place but dormant until the spring. All is well.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

GROWING OLDER, THINKING AND WRITING A LIFE

As my age turns to seventy years in 2010, I am finding time for reflections of the life I have lived. My reflections to be scribbled onto blank pages. How do I begin the process?

A large plastic envelope filled with old photos could possibly be a place to start. Perhaps they would jump-start images along with mind memories. Examining each one carefully could awaken my personal landscapes...why, when, how, who, and where it was taken. You could call it the bones of a memory. Of course each photo will be but a piece of my life, yet they can be woven along with other scraps to compose a life tapestry.

Why photos? Why not sit down and just start writing memories. Because, I feel that using both memory and vision together can produce a closer proximity to the real life. I plan to title my writings, Making a Childhood. Although one reading of Making a Childhood will not provide a full perspective of a young life, the gaps can produce interpretations open to the reader.

Why write a story of one's life? Especially a common life. Several reasons. Haven't you at some time wished you knew the true story about some family member but knew it was too late as they had passed away. Or, you have a desire to leave a textual footprint for future generations? And if not any of the last two reasons, perhaps for yourself to understand a life one has lived.

We all live and we all die. I do not believe that we are on earth for any general purpose -- only for the opportunity to live a good life if possible. We are given the tools to explore this opportunity in whatever capacity we desire. We can be caught in traps all along the way and sometimes those traps are our demise. We can travel down any one or several paths during our jouney and hopefully we can use our joy to survive in the present moment.

So with this short discourse, I will proceed or better yet, "dive" into my past life with, of course, bias. Reviewing your life can be a clearinghouse as well as perhaps producing a great story. Each of us has a story or stories filled with the emotions that our mind produces. However, we are the captain of those emotions. We steer the struggles and smiles of our life.

Stories are our connections to life.