Friday, December 30, 2011


Noticed this funky old mailbox along a road in Madison County, Kentucky. I thought it looked as if it had been homemade. The owner must be one that receives an abundance of mail as it was twice the size of a breadbox. Does anyone still remember the size of a breadbox?

It stood on a post that perhaps was a piece of old farm equipment? Together, mailbox and post, did present a unique mailbox.

I think I even saw a bullet hole in the side of the box. Target practice for the "bad boys." Why do some folks have to try and ruin something so full of meaning to the owner?

Sunday, December 18, 2011


My friend Vivian sent me this awe inspiring TED video of Louie Schwartzberg and his fantastic cinematography. I found it profound in its message. Actually it brought tears to my eyes as I watched it. It is nine minutes long and worth every second of viewing. 

Friday, December 16, 2011



It all comes down to Barack Obama.
As I type this, Big Oil’s representatives in the House and Senate are pushing legislation that would rush approval of the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline. Up until now President Obama has stood strong, threatening to reject any bill that includes the pipeline. But in the last hour, some terrible news has begun to leak from DC: President Obama seems to be on the verge of caving on Keystone.
The next few hours will be absolutely crucial — the President needs to hear from you that cutting a back-room deal with Big Oil on Keystone XL is unacceptable. If he steps up makes a public threat to veto this bill, he can stop this pipeline in its tracks.
To keep his promises, President Obama needs to veto legislation that would rush approval of Keystone XL. This pipeline is a threat to our climate and jobs and needs to be stopped.
Your calls right now are absolutely crucial, and you should also be getting ready to get back into the streets in the days and weeks to come. We’re dusting off our plans to go to Obama 2012 offices and raise a ruckus. Call the White House, but also get in touch with your friends to start plotting your next steps locally.Big Oil cut a back-room deal with the dirtiest Members of Congress to attach this legislation to a must-pass tax cut bill. These kinds of deals exemplify the tyranny Big Oil exercises over our government, and underscores why the President needs to threaten a veto.
Thanks to you, this fight isn’t over yet — not by a long shot.
Let’s go,
SOURCE: Duncan Meisel for the team at 350.org @ TAR  SANDS ACTION

Ogallala Aquifer


Environmental groups, citizens, and politicians have raised a number of concerns about the potential impacts of the Keystone XL pipeline extension from Canada.  One concern is that the pipeline could pollute air and water supplies and harm migratory birds and other wildlife. It will cross the Sandhills in Nebraska, the large wetland ecosystem, and the Ogallala Aquifer, one of the largest reserves of fresh water in the world. The Ogallala Aquifer spans eight states, provides drinking water for two million people, and supports $20 billion in agriculture. Critics are concerned that a major leak could ruin drinking water and devastate the mid-western U.S. economy. Portions of the pipeline will also cross an active seismic zone that had a 4.3 magnitude earthquake as recently as 2002. Opponents claim that TransCanada applied to the U.S. government to use thinner steel and pump at higher pressures than normal.

In its March 2010 report, the Natural Resources Defense Council stated that "the Keystone XL Pipeline undermines the U.S. commitment to a clean energy economy", instead delivering dirty fuel from oil sands and high costs. In December, 2010, No Tar Sands Oil campaign was launched. Sponsored by a number of action groups, including Corporate Ethics International, NRDC (Natural Resources Defense Council), Sierra Club, National Wildlife Federation, Friends of the Earth, Greenpeace, and Rainforest Action Network. 

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Friday, November 25, 2011


FOLKWAYS NOTEBOOK  has been on blogspot for three years now and I as the author have throughly enjoyed all the folks and reading their wonderful blogs that they write. 

Now I have to take some time off to finish some writing and research projects that I started long ago that have been on the back burner for some time. Thankfully I will only need to have FOLKWAYS NOTEBOOK  down until the first of the year -- January 2012. 

In the mean time I have started a fun blog that I can zip in and out of to ease  my addiction to blogging  while I am off. You can check into the blog at PICAYUNE PHOTOS.

FOLKWAYS NOTEBOOK will still be on line while I am off -- although I will not be contributing any posts nor will I be able to answer any of your fine comments.

Monday, November 21, 2011


Here is the table I wish I was at for Thanksgiving. One that gave thanks to all of nature with its animate spirit (including turkeys) . I found this print at the Library of Congress. Of course you recognize the toast master -- Theodore Roosevelt, our former President and a well-renown conservationist. He was responsible for saving many of our wild lands that we enjoy today -- such as:

Crater Lake, Oregon
Wind Cave, South Dakota
Sullys Hill, North Dakota
Mesa Verde, Colorado
 Chickasaw National Recreation Area, Oklahoma 

Plus other National Park areas like part of the Grand Canyon.

My wish for Thanksgiving is that these areas will continue to be protected from corporate and political greed so that my grandchildren will be able to sit at a table in the wild just like Teddy did with his animal friends above.

Happy Thanksgiving

Friday, November 11, 2011


Just checking in with a big thank you to President Obama for stopping the Keystone XL oil pipeline until a complete environmental review could be done on it. It was set to run from Canada down through the mid-section of our country to the gulf area. This would have devastating effects on our water, air and many other natural environments. 

Among the many folks and organizations against this pipeline was the National Resources Defense Council, NRDC. Here are a few words of what they had to say about the pipeline:

"Make no mistake: a no-holds-barred review of the Keystone XL pipeline will reveal that this entire scheme is a boon to Big Oil and a disaster-in-the-making for the rest of us. It would drive more destruction of the Boreal forest, turbo-charge global warming, threaten water supplies in the heartland, raise gas prices and lock America into the dirtiest oil on the planet for decades to come."

Please watch the YOU TUBE below with Robert Redford thanking  President  Obama for his action.

Thursday, September 29, 2011


String Theory, by Dave Morrison

Thousands of lives are being
spent trying to construct an
Explanation of Everything, six
extra dimensions, parallel universes,
the whole overloaded wagon held
together with tiny bits of string.


Why not tiny jacks, or tiny crescent
wrenches or tiny dandelions, or tiny
charm bracelets, or tiny umbrellas, or
tiny teacups, or tiny disco balls, or
tiny rubber bands, paper clips?
Our Universe is as it is because of
tiny hoops of twine? This
is what you get from too much
coffee and a 'what if'-

When my friends and I considered
such possibilities behind the
cafeteria with a nickel bag of
lame weed, it did not occur
to us that we were budding physicists;
we were burnouts
trying to get comfortable with

Text Credits:
New Scientist Blog and Scriblerus 2008

Monday, September 26, 2011


Recently, I noticed this quaint backyard in a small town in Madison County.  Looking old, yet a bit lonely, with its  mature apple tree and a vintage two-car wooden garage, it enticed me to stop and snap a few pictures. Scattered on the ground, dropped from its mature tree, were lots of apples that I could tell had not been sprayed this year.

The gnarled apple tree had lots of bare branches that looked like old grey bones.

Sitting together, the apple tree and garage, reminded me of how backyards looked before plastic swimming pools, large garages, patios, decks, and all other types of outdoor paraphernalia came about.

I let my imagination kick in --  I could easily see my great-grandmother sitting under this tree peeling apples into a  large granite dishpan. 

Saturday, September 24, 2011


Lil entered my life seven years ago as an adopted critter. She and I hit it off immediately -- she liked to travel in the truck as did I. We traveled to the southeast, Rockies, and states in between finally settling in Kentucky to live for the last four years. 

She died of natural causes yesterday aged thirteen years. 

She left me with great memories and lots of laughs.  

Her buddy was Sal my male golden -- he missed her today.


Thursday, September 22, 2011


I have noticed these doors leaning outside against a building for quite some time. They are old yet their craftsmanship is excellent. Sometimes we put the best old objects out to pasture and treat poorly produced new objects as priceless.  

Wednesday, September 21, 2011


Preparing for the seasonal closing of a nursery, that sells mostly from its outdoor plant area, can cause as much hustle and bustle as the start of spring season. Winding down at a nursery can involve lots of organizing while at the same time chaos. Much like when you are doing major cleaning around your house -- you begin fairly organized, move to chaos, then return to getting everything back in place. 

The beautiful vintage barn above, with a graphic tulip quilt square on its gable, stands above the disorganization of the fall scene at the nursery.  Tulips, a symbol of spring, reminding us that the cycle of life returns after the winter ahead. 

Saturday, September 17, 2011


Chaotic materials clash with use, time, and mother nature, assembling industrial beauty in this old alleyway in historic Lancaster, Kentucky.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011


In the photograph above dated 1899, sits a man and his friend -- his arm on its back like they were best of friends. 

He brought it to a studio to have their picture taken together. Notice the sign (difficult to read)  that he placed on his friend.  I have a feeling that his "friend" was a squash or pumpkin that probably was a county fair winner and the man was so pleased about it that he took it to a professional photographer. 

And why do I assume that it was a professional  photographer? Because of the hand-painted backdrop  that is behind the man and his friend. Backdrops like these were popular in small studios during the late nineteenth -- early twentieth century.

The sign on the pumpkin or squash says that it is 122 pounds in the year 1899. I cannot make out the long name except that it starts with an "S."  It could be his name or perhaps an heirloom variety name.

I found this old photo in a box with many others about twenty years ago in an antique store in Williamston, Michigan. It was one of those large, about 8 X 10 cardboard's, with the photo pasted on the cardboard while leaving about an inch of cardboard border. Sometimes you find names on the backs of old pictures. This was not the case here. Its back was blank.

You might wonder why I call this very large pumpkin or squash this man's "friend"  Well, I just thought it was a bit strange to include a squash or pumpkin with the presumed owner in a photo taken professionally. Perhaps it was a cultural folkway in 1899 to do so?

It is difficult to understand folkways sometimes when time has passed, in this case one hundred and twelve years. 

Monday, September 12, 2011


Window in the Shaker Farm Deacon building 1809

Window panes are like eyes to the world. As you gaze out a window you frame a space that becomes part of your thoughts. How many of you sit by a window looking outside all the while letting your thoughts roam while including the landscape seen outside. Perhaps something is seen that triggers your mind to stray to another place that contains emotional occurrences.

 Shaker Farm Deacon Building, 1809

Shakers did not mix freely with the outside world. They left their ties behind when they joined the sect.  Yet with all their discipline and vigor to remain true to the Shaker principles, I wonder if they didn't daydream as we do when we look through windows to the world beyond. If what we view is natural beauty we are more than likely to take a holiday from our busyness and  float on a stream of private thoughts.

Lots of windows
Shaker Centre Dwelling with herb garden
"where Shakers slept and ate"

My photos taken at Shaker Village of Pleasant Hill -- an original Shaker site in Kentucky complete with original on site buildings. 


Shaker Communities of Kentucky: Pleasant Hill and South Union, The (KY) (Images of America) [Paperback]
James W. Hooper (Author), Larrie Curry (Foreword), Tommy Hines (Foreword

Sunday, September 11, 2011


The vegetable garden  has now passed its glorious stage after all the cool and wet weather we have experienced here in central Kentucky. Now it limps along providing only sweet  butternut squash and tall golden cosmos. But that is enough and I thank the garden for what it has provided through drought and stormy weather.

The last of the mammoth sunflowers have come to rest in my brown crockery pitcher, a bit bedraggled. They sit near me while I’m at my computer, smiling and telling me its been a good summer. Yes, it has been, with my son here teaching me new tricks with my computer. He is leaving in October bicycling across a few states heading west – then meeting up with a good friend – where they will drive the rest of the way to probably Oregon – no sure destination – just west.

Go west young man – go west. --  as they used to say long ago.

Saturday, September 10, 2011


An old wooden sign with hand lettering sits in back of the volunteer fire department in Paint Lick, Kentucky. Once it hung on the front of the building. But now a new sign has taken its place -- announcing -- the Paint Lick/Cartersville Fire Department.

Change happens. 

Thursday, September 8, 2011


Growing tomatoes in a narrow sliver of a bed that runs the length of  an old dirt alley way  can be quite a challenge. Especially when you have to lean the tomato plants up against an old multi-story  commercial building. Maybe the stress of it all called for a drink or two . . .  Or maybe the empty bottle sitting on the door ledge above the tomato bed was found while digging the bed? But whatever was going on the plants knew to grow tall and heavy with tomatoes. 

I wonder which appeared first -- the tomatoes or the whiskey bottle?

Tuesday, September 6, 2011


I like to ride up and down side streets which run at right angles to old commercial districts and take photographs. One town where I like to ride the roads is Richmond, Kentucky -- finding a rich diverse stock of vintage residential architecture.

Here the housing stock is eclectic in its originality.  Streets bubble up with old residential homes. All shapes and sizes, some appear to have original exteriors while others have new vinyl siding and windows. No harm, vinyl can easily be removed if a person wants to restore. Overall, the residential landscape along the streets is more vintage in appearance than up-dated.

In the photos above and below are two homes I spotted close to each other on one of the streets. These homes had been up-dated with modern vinyl siding and newer doors but still had the old original archtectural trim decorating their porches. 

The porch's trim illuminates not only the home, but contributes to the historic ambiance of the neighborhood -- architectural pieces are the threads of a fabric that represents community

Fabric threads weave community.

Sunday, September 4, 2011


Follow-up author's note: Thanks to Lola -- she thought this snake was not a copperhead -- I tried to further ID it through online sources. My source of identifying this snake had been a neighbor that was a Kentucky native.  So now its true identity is up in the air. If you want to take a crack at letting me know who the real Mr. Snake is I would appreciate it. I found this great source if you want some help: http://www.virginiaherpetologicalsociety.com/venomous-look-a-likes/copperhead-look-a-likes/copperhead.asp

Yesterday afternoon my son was outside with my two dogs when he noticed something strange moving on the front porch. Strange it was -- it was a copperhead! It had tangled itself in a web under my long sitting bench. The snake was wiggling trying to break free from the web.  

My son ran inside and grabbed the camera and got this close-up. Mind you he was not that close -- it is a cropped photo.

He took a small branch and hooked it in the web that was partly on the copperhead's neck and walked the snake, dangling from the web, out to the field where he let it go.  

Copperheads are extremely venemous but so far no one has died in Kentucky from their bite. But a bite will send you to the hospital for a long recovery. 

They are important to the ecology of your property, eating rodents, slugs and other pests.  Somehow knowing that does not alleviate my fears, but I believe in sparing their life. 

I just ask Mother Nature that they don't come a callin' at my front door anymore! Please stay out in the fields!

Thursday, September 1, 2011


If my decomposing carcass helps nourish the roots of a tree or the ways of a vulture

that is immortality enough for me. 

And as much as anyone deserves.

~ ~ Edward Abbey

Sunday, August 28, 2011


Sunny days with a bit of a breeze were ideal for getting the family's clothes washed, dried and put away in appropriate spots during the early 1900s. 

An outdoor water pump on a covered back porch provided an outdoor room for the washing ritual by the women of some households. Lots of wash materials were gathered together on wash day. Such as a wash stand, a wringer with zinc metal tubs filled with water to rinse the clothes  and the proverbial scrub board and scrub brush to use on extremely soiled clothes or linens. An outdoor clothes line was close by for sun drying. 

It took up a big chunk of time during her day -- the washing, hanging, and folding -- but that was not all she did that day. Some of the other chores she might do were feed the chickens and hogs, weed the kitchen garden, darn socks, bake some bread, prepare breakfast, lunch and dinner, pluck some chickens, can corn relish, dry beans and corn cobs for their seeds, and watch after her children too. Plus more! Whew!

The photo above was actually the place where a woman did wash her clothes in the summers of the early twentieth century. The home now stands empty and will be torn down within the coming year  according to the present family owners. 

Thursday, August 25, 2011


Upper Silver Creek school. Beautiful aged metal roof.

Great trimmed our sash windows now with a war-zone look

Fresh paint leads me to believe that the school was closed recently?

Upper Silver Creek school -- steps to nowhere

Schools seem especially open to vandalism  --  once they have been vacated that is. Soon a beautiful old structure can become target practice for young folks throwing rocks through the windows, graffiti on interior walls, and slogans painted on large surfaces -- in time it sits there degraded and wounded like a homeless person. 

Where are the caretakers? Do structures that were built with fine design and materials need such insult? Does it not insult the community that used the school?

The school I went to in my elementary grades still stands and is still the glowing red brick building I remember. The junior high building that was new when I started seventh grade is now gone. It was bulldozed to make way for development -- apartments. My former high school has grown in size yet is still a centerpiece for my former small, citified community. 

I do know of several communities that have rehabbed schools for offices, police departments, apartments, community centers, and other useful endeavors. How do some communities make the recycling of old schools work for them while others let the old structures decay and become eyesores?

In a nation of plenty, up to now, why is it that we disregard our history, our buildings, our communities, and our environment? Too immense of a question to answer I guess -- so do we continue  to just walk away for the most part? 

Tuesday, August 23, 2011


I was standing on my porch Sunday night trying to capture a piece of mother nature's light show. It had not started to rain yet so I thought the timing was right to photograph some of the lightning flashes that were constantly filling the sky. 

I used my camera with the video accessory  and started filming. I then stepped inside to see if what I thought I had taken turned out. No, it had not. The flashing light from the lightning was too fast for my camera. 

My son suggested we take a screen shot of what I had captured and turn it into a still photograph.  The photo above is the result.  

I think this photo tells a story about powerful storms. Just before the lightning flashed  -- all was completely black outside. Then a lightning flash occurred -- during which the mountains a mile away could be seen from my porch.The flash only lasted a nano-second but light illuminated all of the southern sky from my viewpoint. Beauty in a volatile stormy sky! I had captured the nano-second, not in a video as I wanted but in a still shot. This was just fine with me -- it is all a learning process.

The time was about 10 PM and it was starting to pour. The thunder was close overhead and occasionally making those threatening ripping sounds. I sat back in my comfortable chair - listening , watching, and enjoying the show.

Monday, August 22, 2011


This morning a hot sun breaks through my woods shedding bold light on my small back deck. 

Morning dew has accumulated in large drops on the ends of the pine needles. 

Last night a magnificent lightning/thunder storm suddenly appeared over  my southern ridge, coming in like a race horse and soon disappearing over my back northern ridge. It brought hard rain, ripping thunder and constant flashing lightning.

Tried to video some of the spectacular lightning. Did capture some beautiful shows but overall the video was shaky. Won't publish it. Next time I will do better. 


An old Kentucky 19th century homestead still maintains several of its viable working outbuildings. One of its outbuildings is this small old vertical board shed that's original use is unknown. But today it serves quite nicely as a home gardening shed. It still stands strong upon its original location.

Ideally, one should leave original outbuildings upon their original sites. Old decaying outbuildings could  be considered for removal with the owner's permission. Below are a few examples of some that were removed.

I have a friend that has an old outhouse that she bought and had delivered to her backyard garden area. She uses it today as a garden shed. 

Another friend loved the old outbuildings that doted the landscapes in Michigan. She asked her husband to find her one and have it delivered to their property for her birthday. On her birthday she got what she wished for. She drys herbs and flowers and wanted the outbuilding for that purpose only -- sorta her studio to be alone with her interests.

I wish that old farms could maintain their outbuildings so they wouldn't fall to decay. However, many times there are either economical or physical reasons why they cannot be kept viable. 

I feel the next best thing to decline is finding new homes for them where they can be appreciated and folks driving by can have the opportunity to see a little bit of our farm history.

If you do remove a building from an old farmstead take photos of its surroundings for historical purposes. Your local historical society would be interested in copies of the photos (and  perhaps a history) for their archives. 

Saturday, August 20, 2011


Here is an Appalachian trellis that I saw in a yard this summer -- I figured it would be easy to make. Wood posts and long, twiggy, straight branches are all you need -- these have been debarked but one could leave the bark on. If you have access to  woods you could find branches and possibly the posts for this trellis. If you have a difficult time finding posts in the woods, try sawmills or lumber companies. A trellis with a nice simple country look for yards either in small towns or in the country. Or anywhere really.

Thursday, August 18, 2011


Out my window on a breezy day, as the sun heads down toward the western horizon -- movements of my maple branches  bounce dapples of light on my gauzy curtain. I'm spellbound by the moving whiteness -- it has a meditative quality. I sit watching the sunlight dance in sync to nature's sounds heard just outside my open front door. 

Monday, August 15, 2011

Sunday, August 14, 2011


Above is an old floor section which resides in a second floor bedroom of an almost two hundred year old log house. Within this section you will notice a tight fitting square patch that has aged similar to the original floor. 

The elderly owner told me that the patch has been there as long as he can remember -- his home has always been in his family since it was built. 

I took the photo of the old patch because it reminded me of the saying, " a stitch in time saves nine."  The saying means with a little effort up front to fix a problem  -- one can prevent  problems down the road. 

I feel life is like that.  

Saturday, August 13, 2011


Red Crested Cockscomb on my kitchen table

Yesterday, I was strolling through my farmer's market when I spotted a large water pail filled with tall red crested cockscombs (Celosia cristata). These flowers resemble a large woolly brain -- a "beautiful mind" type -- a look that stops one in their tracks. Of course, I had to buy some. At only $1.50, how could I not. 

In times past I have grown these red two foot beauties. They're easy to grow from seed. 

I enjoy them in fresh bouquets and also dry them to either break apart and place in wreaths or just to dangle from a hook in my kitchen or lay in one of my old baskets.

Victorians symbolized them as humorous, warm and silly. I would say that I am rather silly at times so we have something in common.

Red Crested Cockscomb -- up close

Thursday, August 11, 2011


October, 1940. Breathitt County, Kentucky.
Library of Congress, Farm Security Administration Photos
Mary Post Wolcott, Photographer

Tis the time for all young folks to parade back to school. There are different types of school choices today -- private, public or home schooling. 

Notice that none of these choices are the one room school house which used to dot our country's landscape during the latter part of the 19th century and into the earlier part of the 20th century. Primarily rural in nature -- they were located in the country and small towns. 

I have always appreciated the tradition of the one room school house. I thought it would be interesting to find some old photos of students attending one of these types of schools. Luckily the Library of Congress provided a couple from their archives.

As I am sure you know, the one room school usually held quite a few grades all taught in one room with one teacher. The usual school room scenario seemed to be first through eighth grade.


October, 1940. Breathitt County, Kentucky.
Library of Congress, Farm Security Administration Photos
Mary Post Wolcott, Photographer

These schools had a traditional social culture where everyone knew each other and you didn't compete by wearing fashionable clothes. Children learned from the students as well as the teacher, and most students assisted those who needed help.

Also, you usually walked quite a distance to school, sometimes brought your homemade lunch in a tin lunch bucket  and got time off to help with work chores at home -- these activities would keep children healthy and strong.

It was a tight school community onto itself. It was self regulated in a sense.

Today young folks are attending large consolidated schools where they do not know all the teachers or other students. The idea of "school community" has become a loosely knit phrase.

My question is -- are we going in the right direction with our school culture today?