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Saturday, April 28, 2012

HANDSOME TRANSOM

TRANSOM LIGHT, LANCASTER, KENTUCKY

Lancaster, Kentucky is a small town that had a population of 3,734 in the 2000 census. Within the town's borders you will find a diverse collection of vintage structures represented by commercial buildings as well as homes.


I have been taking photos of these structures for a few years. One of my favorite places to visit in Lancaster is the Garrard County Historical Society. It is a place where extremely knowledgeable folks hang out and can answer most questions about Garrard County and Lancaster. 


I took the photo above in Lancaster. My eyes had floated to the transom light above a commercial building doorway. If you look closely at the above square window, that is located above the entrance door, you can make out a name of G. C. Walker. This square window is called the transom light. Transoms became a building tradition in the 1800s with a name and/or address  placed in gold leaf on the transom's glass. 


After the 1800s, transom lights over doors slowly lost their popularity.  These old transoms were hinged and could be independently opened from the door below it, thus providing light and ventilation to the interior. 


This transom light is especially handsome as it incorporates the Victorian architectural features that surround it.  I'm sure there are a few other transoms in Lancaster that I have not noticed. 


Lancaster has so many beautiful homes and commercial structures that are unique, both small and large. I plan on many more photo sessions in this quaint town. 


Reference:
 To view an old transom in a kitchen visit
 old house web

APPALACHIAN CHINA HEAD DOLL


LATE 1800s CHINA HEAD APPALACHIAN DOLL

A material object has a silent language that we can read to understand its possible history. As an example, I will use the small china head doll in the photo above to explain how I read a material object. I found this above tiny doll in an Appalachian area. 


I am not a doll collector -- rather I am a story gatherer. I look at an object or listen to folks to gain pieces of their culture. I attempt to put the pieces together to understand  their culture. With many pieces gathered a story begins to form. It is not the absolute truth but it is similar to the truth. No one can capture the absolute truth -- at least that is the way I feel. 


I know that china head dolls of the above style are old. How do I know this? Through handling and becoming deeply aware of their attributes over time -- combined with research.


CHINA HEAD DOLL -- 8 INCHES LENGTH

Now I move into the story part once I have established that its age is from the latter part of the 1800s. The head of the doll is manufactured. The body is homemade consisting of an early cotton covering with wool stuffing. 
I look at the cotton cloth used and determine it is early scrap material  probably taken from the perennial scrap bag that most Appalachian households had. The stitches are both fine and primitive. Apparently two persons were involved in the stitching. I feel one was the household seamstress, probably the mother, and the other, a child practicing stitching on her doll. One question in my mind  -- is the body original to the china head? If not, I still do believe that the body is from the same timeframe as the china head. 


Although available in late 1800s stores, no china shoes or hands were assembled on the doll. Was this because the family did not have the money to buy these extra parts for the doll? Also, the china shoulder is broken and has worn through the  body cloth. Water stains are the large brown ripples on the body cloth. The doll has no clothes. Now all this information scatters my thoughts. When did this all happen? 


I have come up with these deductions:
- One is the doll suffered neglect with its original owners.
- Or, number two, that it was in great shape during its early life and then lost its status with its recent owners?
- Or number three, I am way off base on my deductions.
- plus more . . .


The clues I am looking at are the silent language that I try to read. I will not be able to really determine what  happened to this little doll but one thing I can say is that it has suffered abuse. Now it is my turn to take care of it. It will have a good home for now. Plus it will have my thoughts of how it managed to survive for about one hundred years. 









Tuesday, April 24, 2012

RED AND BLACK OUTBUILDINGS


"I like red!" These words were carefully enunciated  by (almost) 90 year old Christine as she stood on her patio talking with me. Her blue dress with red and yellow flowers pronounced her love of flowers and of course the color red.  


"I'll be 90 in two months and have lived in my home here for 20 years." She was affable and animated when she addressed me -- I being an unknown to her before today. 

I had stopped by to take photos of her country outbuildings painted in black and red with touches of old farm implements gathered on and around the buildings -- also painted red. 


Christine told me that she and her daughter had spruced up the two outbuildings with black and red paint. The buildings were just a few feet from the roadway that passed in the front of her property. 


She talked about when as a married couple they used to have a 50 acre place not to far from her now present home. They moved to this place when they got older as it was easier to care for. 


Her outbuildings are now cheerful and homey. They match the warm personality within Christine.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

EATING MAPLE TREE SEEDS

A group (panicle) of maple leaf seeds  in my yard. 
It is now the end of the season of my Silver Maples sending thousands of samaras to the ground. They spun like mini-helicopters filling my gutters as well as spaces outside my house. 


During this period, squirrels, from near and far, were in their glory as they bounded toward my yard. "Yippee," they'd screech  as they practically flew from branch to branch munching on every samara they can get their paws on. This food fest was carried out from morning till dusk during the season. 

I used to complain about the samaras filling my gutters. That is until I discovered that their food value was not only good for the wildlife but also humans. 

I started peeling off their "helicopter tissue" and discovered that each held one seed about the size of a small dried bean. I searched online for more information on these seeds expecting to find what wildlife benefited from them. This is when I found that the seeds are a valuable resource of protein and carbohydrates for humans.

So for the rest of my "helicopter" season I didn't complain about them -- I ate their seeds in my dishes. I now consider them a forager food. They were great in my quinwoa, salads and rice dishes. 

A link, How to Eat Maple Seeds, is on WikiHow. The link states that one can eat any kind of maple seeds.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

SMALL VACANT HOMESTEAD



One wonders how long this home has been vacant as it sits aside a fairly busy road in Garrard County, Kentucky. Its weather beaten posture stands fairly straight as vines surround it like a boa chocking the life of its prey.



The house reflects its date of construction -- the early twentieth century when times were either tough or really good. During this time period bungalows were house models being pushed by many construction companies. In fact you could even buy them from Sears and Roebuck in a kit for you to assemble on your land.



This homestead was always a small operation as reflected by the unassuming barn. Now totally being taken over by weeds it still maintains its dignity as does the house. It probably was built with virgin white oak that was a popular building material  during the early twentieth century in Kentucky. White oak is an extremely durable building material that withstands years of abuse from the weather.


I call this outbuilding a chicken coop although I am not certain of its use. Many times, over the years, uses of outbuildings would change. Oral histories of family members that lived in the house would be a way to find out how it was used.



After I had walked a little on the property I looked up and saw a sign that told me I might be in trouble soon. It was a no trespassing sign. I hurried out to my truck and left quickly. I always respect those signs and completely missed it when I was taking photos just a few feet into the property. At least I didn't get any buckshot in my "you know what" as I was leaving.





Friday, April 13, 2012

BLUEBIRDS, BIRDHOUSE, AND MR. LAMB


In the photo above you probably wonder why newspapers are stuck in the entrances to this birdhouse. No, the birds are not subscribing to the local paper. There is a definite reason to block up the entrances according to Mr. Lamb.


Mr Lamb has lived in his area of Madison county, Kentucky all  seventy-seven years of his life. He is a walking encyclopedia of its cultural history. 


He also has a great appreciation for the wildlife that visits his property. He especially like birds and squirrels. Among the many different kinds of birds that visit near his home are lovely bluebirds. 


The above birdhouse is reserved for nesting bluebirds. The newspaper inserts act as barriers to other birds looking for a place to nest.  When Mr. Lamb determines that the bluebirds are ready to nest he pulls out the inserts and lets the bluebirds take over. This all happens sometime around May he says. He should know as he has been an active bird watcher for years.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

KENTUCKY POET ON KATRINA

Why is it so? So -- what? So difficult to understand the injustices in our country. 

Perhaps art can be used as a mirror for expressing these injustices. I think so. 

A form of art is poetry and as you know this is National Poetry Month.. 

For now, I live as a Kentuckian. But I have lived all over the U.S. in my past.

But, for now I am a Kentuckian and so ---

I would like to introduce Nikky Finney, a poet from Lexington Kentucky, fifty-four years of age, writer of fine books and the winner of the 2011 National Book Award. In the You Tube below she will read Left from her latest book Head Off and Split.  A look at the injustices of Huricane Katrina of 2005



Monday, April 9, 2012

WILD GARDEN


I am not a poet. But sometimes words are produced when I look at certain objects. I don't really write the words. Something in my sub-conscience does. They just tumble out from the faucet of my mind. I took this photo a couple days ago for no apparent reason. Today when I looked at it I saw the inequities that abound in our country. My mind wrote the words in caps -- I think it was because emotionally I felt the critical drama that is being played out in our country. 



A WILD GARDEN GROWS NEAR MY SMALL WOODLANDS.

REMINDING ME.

SOME FOLKS ABHOR THE BLOOMS AND SEED PUFF BALLS THAT ARISE

THEY ARE SURVIVORS BEING SWORE AT AND CHEMICALLY SPRAYED.

THEY ARE IMMIGRANTS TO OUR LAND.

BUT CHILDREN LOVE THEM. MAKING SING-SONG AND DANDELION NECKLACES.

CHILDREN OF INNOCENCE WITHIN OUR MAD WORLD.

~ ~ barbara





Saturday, April 7, 2012

FOLKSY BUNGALOW


Last summer I just had to stop and take a photo of this early 1900s bungalow as it made me smile. Its folksy painted purple trim complete with a hand-painted checkerboard on the dormer made me feel good. 


It was a reminder to me that life is to be explored by our creative side in all kinds of ways, including the houses we live in. I believe that indulging your creative mind results in healthy body energy.


This bungalow was discovered on a vintage residential street in Danville, Kentucky. Viewing folk artifacts usually activates people to smile along with  feeling a tinge of  joy. Especially when the artifact is as large as a house.


Monday, April 2, 2012

SIGN OF THE TIMES -- MAIL BOX SIZE



I pass many road-side mailboxes along country lanes that come in all types of designs and colors. Most are the metal gray or black boxes all rusted and worn. 


One of the older types of mail boxes, that I rarely see anymore, are the very large metal ones. I feel they are near extinction in central Kentucky. Because of their rarity these large boxes have reached a collectible status in these parts.


Perhaps there is just not the amount of mail being delivered any more so the big boxes are being taken down -- being replaced by  the small standard ones. I am sure that online emails are a contributor to reducing the usual amount of mail being delivered to households. 



The big metal mailboxes certainly add a charm to the countryside. I'd like to have one just for its reminder of when, as a young wife, I used to anticipate the mail- man's delivery to my big box by the side of the road.  

Sunday, April 1, 2012

MISS FAYE'S SITTIN' PORCH

MISS FAYE'S  'SITTIN" PORCH WITH MULTI--PURPOSE USE.
A BIT OF ROCKING CHAIR CONVERSATION, A FEW WASHABLES SET TO DRYING,
AND A SWING FOR RELAXING.

MISS FAYE
ROCKCASTLE COUNTY, KENTUCKY