Thursday, May 31, 2012

Yard Art

More adaptation in the name of the decorative arts:

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

1807 Morgan Row

Harrodsburg is Kentucky's oldest town, having been founded in 1774 by James Harrod, an early Kentucky explorer. Once a part of Virginia, Harrodsburg served as the seat of government for the then Kentucky County. This magnificent row house was built in 1807 by Joseph Morgan, whose tavern quickly became the business and social center for the town. An historic marker in front notes that in 1836 it hosted a reunion of survivors of the Battle of the Thames, a decisive victory by the Americans over the British in the War of 1812. In attendance for the reunion was Richard M. Johnson, who the following year would become Vice President of the United States under Martin Van Buren. It was said that Johnson personally killed Tecumseh, leader of the Indian forces, at the Battle of the Thames. He used this to his advantage during the election, campaigning with the slogan "Rumpsey Dumpsey, Rumpsey Dumpsey, Colonel Johnson killed Tecumseh." Four years later he and Van Buren were replaced by William Henry Harrison and John Tyler. Ironically, Harrison had been Johnson's commander at the Battle of the Thames.

Today the row house is commercial and museum space. The brightly painted doors give variety to the facade, as well as inviting patrons into the building.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Creative reuse

We recently were invited to some friends' house for an evening of wine and back-porch pickin'. Both are artists, and creativity seems to just flow out of every pore in their bodies. The latest was a porch bar, created from various items that had come to the end of their usefulness for their intended purpose. In blunt language, they were worn out and recycled. But, oh, what creativity!

Who would have thought of using an old garden rake? Isn't that great?

Monday, May 28, 2012

Decoration Day

The old name is still used in the southern highlands, even though everyone knows it's officially Memorial Day. It's an occasion for families to gather that goes well beyond simply placing flowers on the graves of departed loved ones. Many do that year round anyway, since the advent of inexpensive, realistic, artificial flowers. But Decoration Day is a time for family get-togethers; a time to catch up on births, deaths, and marriages; a time to trace genealogies; and a time to reaffirm self, family, and place. It's one of our cultural anchors.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Sunday Morning

I stopped to photograph this church for one of my regular Sunday Morning posts. Then I saw this historical marker in front of the church and suddenly the church demanded more than that.
The marker ties this church to the Second Great Awakening in North America, an event taking place when this part of Kentucky was the frontier of the United States, and an event that gave rise to a number of modern protestant church denominations, including this one's.

The Second Great Awakening began on the frontier around 1800, but reached its zenith the following year when some 20,000 people were drawn to a camp meeting at Cane Ridge, near present day Paris, KY. These camp meetings lasted over several days and featured near continuous preaching by multiple preachers representing many denominations, but dominated by Baptists, Methodists, and Presbyterians. The services became very charismatic, with participants being overtaken by the Holy Spirit, shaking, writhing, falling down in a faint, and speaking in unknown tongues. It was these mass revivals that attracted the attention of Shaker leadership at New Lebanon, New York, resulting in the dispatch of three missionaries to the west and the ultimate founding of Shaker Communities in Kentucky, Ohio, and Indiana.

Two of the more important preachers attracted to the revivals were Barton W. Stone, a "New Light" Presbyterian, and Alexander Campbell, who together led what has become known as the Restoration Movement, seeking "the unification of all Christians in a single body patterned after the church of the New Testament." From this movement emerged the modern denominations of the Church of Christ, the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), and several independent churches known variously as Christian Churches or Churches of Christ.

 It's interesting that this church began in 1783 as a Baptist church, but changed its affiliation as a result of the influence of Campbell and Stone. Just imagine the even greater shift in theology required of the converts to the Shaker church, including adopting celibacy and communal ownership of all property. The Second Great Awakening surely was a profound experience for all who attended. I'm almost sorry I missed it. Almost ...

Friday, May 25, 2012

Sheepdog Field Trial

We spent a couple of days last week at the Bluegrass Classic Sheepdog Trials in Lexington, KY. Held at a large city park, it was an ideal location, even if there were soccer games going on all around.
Trials are designed to simulate activities encountered on a working farm. Each dog starts the course with 100 points and points are subtracted each time the handler/dog team falls short of the standard for that task.

The Gather
 From a point 400 yards from where the sheep are being held, the handler sends the dog in a wide arc to a position behind the sheep. With a command of "Away to me" the dog runs right in a counter-clockwise path,
or with "come bye" runs to the left in a clockwise arc. The outrun is worth 20 points.

The Lift
From a position behind the sheep, the handler walks the dog forward to put the sheep into motion. The object from this point is to move the sheep in a straight line to the handler standing at the starting post. The lift is worth 10 points.

The Fetch
 The fetch is a 400 yard drive bringing the sheep through one gate to circle around the handler at the post.
The fetch is worth 20 points.

The Drive
In the drive the dog herds the sheep in a triangle from the starting post through a gate on the left,
across the field in front of the handler,
through a gate on the right and back to the handler. It ends at the shedding circle, seen in the foreground as a series of sawdust piles. The drive is worth 30 points.

The Shed
The handler cannot leave the starting post until the first sheep enters the shedding ring. He then walks to the ring and together with the dog attempts to separate one sheep from the rest and hold it briefly.
Success! The shed is worth 10 points.

The Pen
 The course concludes with the dog herding the sheep into a pen and the handler closing the gate. Often the shed and pen steps are reversed. Penning is worth 10 points.
Standards emphasize "quiet, firm, steady control" of the sheep, moving them at a steady pace in a straight line from point to point without excess commands, or circling sheep. We were unable to stay for the finals on Sunday, which involved a "double lift," that is, two batches of sheep that were gathered and herded through the rest of the course together.

It may be an acquired taste, but I am fascinated by working dogs and can sit and watch for hours on end. I've taken friends to trials who were bored and restless within an hour.  But when there's an experienced handler with a well-trained dog on the field, I think I must look a lot like this fellow!

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Border Collie

Do you ever get one photo that just speaks to you? It doesn't have to be artistic, or even unique. It just somehow reaches out and touches you? That's what this shot did to me. This fellow is a classic Border Collie. He's lying quietly, intent on the scene playing out before him; his cousins competing in a sheepdog trial. Soon it will be his turn on the course, but for now he's just another fan. Please, don't interrupt.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

A Shaker Morning

To wake up, look out your window and be greeted by this! How can it not be a good day?

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Shaker Windows

Here is yet another contribution to the growing number of window blogs. Windows seem to be a popular subject for folks who tend to walk around carrying a camera. We were at Pleasant Hill Shaker Village again over the weekend and I began noticing the variety of windows the Shakers had put into their buildings.  Since they were all done in the first half of the nineteenth century, they tend toward multiple panes held together by muntins. The double hung window above is referred to as a "6 over 6" or 6/6.

A 9/9 window.

And a 12/12 window. But windows don't have to be symmetrical.

There were 6/3's,

and 9/6's,

with different combinations on the same building.

The newest building, the 1839 Trustees' Office, even has fancy sidelights on in the windows. Architect/builder Micajah Burnett put everything he had into this building, including the famous spiral staircases seen here.

Even the small windows to let light into basements had variety.

And then there were doors. But that's for another day.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Rugby Video

This video was produced as a class project at Roane State Community College in Harriman, Tennessee. The narrator is Fuzzy Orange, who readers have seen here before. Fuzzy is a life-long learner who is constantly exploring new horizons. He is a local native whose speech patterns recall earlier times in this region, but he also enjoys putting people on just a bit. The video markets Historic Rugby, so pay attention now!

(Sorry about having to put the link there, but Blogger and You Tube apparently are having a dispute and not talking to each other tonight.)

The State of Tennessee has a network of community colleges that covers the entire state. These two-year institutions are a cornerstone of our educational system, providing low-cost higher education near where the students live. They offer programs that ready students for careers not requiring a baccalaureate degree or the first two years toward a baccalaureate degree, which are transferable to all state four-year institutions. They also offer continuing education for non-degree students. Roane State is our regional institution, based in adjacent Roane County with satellite campuses in eight surrounding counties. No student living in the region is more than about 20 miles from a campus.

Friday, May 18, 2012

The Fraterville Mine Disaster

Tomorrow marks the 110th anniversary of the worst mine disaster in Tennessee history. At about 7:30 am on May 19, 1902, an explosion ripped through the Fraterville Mine of the Coal Creek Mining Company. Apparently fueled by methane gas that had seeped into the mine from an adjacent unventilated shaft,  the blast and its aftermath took the lives of 216 miners, some of them children. Among the youngest was 12-year-old Henry Whitton.

Whitton and many of the dead were buried in the Leach Cemetery, just south of present-day Lake City, Tennesse. Eighty-nine graves form concentric rings around a central obelisk erected as a memorial to all of the miners killed. (The extreme lean of gravestones near the margins of the photograph is due to distortion by the wide-angle lens used for the shot. Not all stones remain plumb, by any means, but none is as extreme as the photo suggests.)

The monument counts 184 miners killed. The others include miners whose names were unknown, itinerants who had no family in the area.

Names of the 184 men and boys are engraved on the base of the obelisk. One striking aspect of the names is the number of members of a single family killed. Four, five, and six identical surnames are common as one walks around the monument. One family supposedly lost eight members. It is said that only three adult male residents remained in Fraterville after the explosion, amongst a population of widows and orphans.

Indicative of the times, the names of African-American miners were listed separately on the monument. I did not verify, but I suspect that none is buried at this site, certainly not within the rings around the monument.

This seventeen-year-old was just one of many young adults killed. Next to his grave are the graves of 21 and 22-year-olds. By this age, they most likely were experienced, seasoned miners, having joined their fathers in the mines young to help support a large family. The Coal Creek Mining Company was recognized as a good employer in the area. They paid in cash, instead of script, and they never used convicts. The Fraterville Mine was considered to be one of the safest.

Not all who died were killed, or even injured, by the initial explosion. Those deeper in the mine survived, possibly up to seven hours or more before succumbing to lack of oxygen or toxic gases. Many wrote letters to loved ones seeking to comfort them in their Christian faith. J. L. Powell wrote to his wife, Ellen, on behalf of himself and the small son who was in the mine with him. He implored her to "put your trust in the Lord to help you raise my little children." On behalf of "Little Elbert" who sat beside him he added a request "for you all to meet us in heaven, all the children meet us both in heaven."

Rescue efforts were quickly organized, but in those days before modern mine-rescue technology, the rescuers were driven back by toxic fumes. The operator of the mine ventilation system and the mine superintendent were both charged with negligence and then acquitted following hearings.

At the base of the central monument is this small, ceramic Santa holding two children. Who left it? Perhaps a child remembering the children buried there generations ago, who had missed out on the joys of childhood Christmases?

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Welcome Visitor

I saw him from a window and quickly mounted my 300mm lens on the camera. I got one shot before he took off, giving the first clue to his identity. He was about four feet long and could have been any of three species of black snakes we have in this area. But being extra skittish pointed to a black racer (Coluber constrictor).

He paused long enough for another shot, confirming his identity by the white scales under his chin. Racers are nonvenomous snakes that eat a variety of small prey, including rodents, which make them valuable animals to have around. But don't try to make a pet out of one. They will lash around, bite hard and frequently, and defecate material enhanced with especially foul-smelling chemicals when handled.

In this shot, taken after he had decided I wasn't much of a threat after all, one can not only see the white chin, which differentiates it from a black Kingsnake, but also that the scales are smooth, which differentiates it from a black Rat Snake.

I haven't seen him since, but I hope he found our place to his liking and decided to live here.