From a photograph by Solomon D. Butcher of four daughters of rancher Joseph M. Chrisman, at their sod house in Custer County, Nebraska. From left to right, Harriet, Elizabeth, Lucie, and Ruth. Photographed in 1886.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Elk Problems in Eastern KY

Too many car/elk accidents


Elk were extirpated (made locally extinct) in Kentucky before 1850. In 1987, Kentucky's Dept. of Fish and Wildlife Resources began reintroducing elk in 16 counties of southeastern Kentucky. The repopulation project has been (pardon the pun) wildly successful.

The elk were released into the most mountainous part of the state. Mining is a major industry there. Many large strip-mine sites were made fit for wildlife when abandoned, as required by state law. Most of the reclaimed sites are now open, grassy fields -- an abundant source of food for the elk.

The elk have thrived in Kentucky. They are achieving a 90% breeding success rate, and a 92% calf survival rate. The absence of predators, relatively mild Kentucky winters and abundant food sources have not only contributed to the remarkable population growth, but also account for the fact that the Kentucky elk are on average 15% larger than elk found in western states. By July 2000, Kentucky had the largest free ranging, wild elk herd east of Montana.

Source: The Kentucky Elk Herd

Population projections have been exceeded.

Kentucky Fish and Wildlife predicted the population would reach 10,000 in 2013. Kristina Brunjes, Kentucky Fish and Wildlife big game coordinator, said they are starting to get some research data that indicates they may hit that number in 2009

Source: "The Elk's Return to Kentucky", by Carol L. Spence,  published Spring, 2009, in a University of Kentucky College of Agriculture magazine

Black bears and cougars are being sighted more often in eastern KY, but there aren't enough of them to control the growing elk population. In the absence of other predators, Kentucky is depending on hunters. In 2009, Kentucky issued 250 bull tags and 750 cow tags. A total of 765 elk were harvested, if I am reading the figures correctly.

With so many elk in the mountains, it was inevitable that drivers would encounter elk on the roads. Collisions of cars and elk have been a big problem. In Bell County, KY, county officials recently arranged a public meeting with state wildlife officials so local residents could complain in person.

Fish and Wildlife Resources Commissioner Taylor Orr and Wildlife Division Director Karen Wahlberg said they are working on solutions, such as setting traps in problem areas and allowing more... locals to participate in elk hunts.

Bell County Judge-Executive Albey Brock, who hosted the forum as a way to make sure state wildlife officials understood the magnitude of the problem, said another meeting would be held.

"Instead of saying 'if we have a problem', let's agree we do have a problem," Brock said.

Source: "Residents in southeastern KY. angry about elk", Associated Press article published in the Lexington Herald-Leader, January 25, 2010

I hit a deer with my car a few years ago, and I know how dangerous, unsettling, and expensive that was. I shudder to think of an animal several times larger than a deer plunging into the path of my car. On the other hand, I do like to think of wild elk roaming the mountains.

Image credit: Cervus elaphus.(Robert Karges II / USFWS)

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Handwriting is Still Important

My opinion on the cursive writing debate



Spencerian handwriting sample from The Graphics Fairy.

This morning, I learned on Michael Leddy's blog that today is John Hancock's birthday and National Handwriting Day. I suppose that's why I thought about handwriting, as I was making a mental list this evening of some large and small changes during my lifetime. In the last half-century, I've seen schools nearly give up teaching cursive writing.

My grade-school teachers in the 1950s and 60s had nice handwriting, and they were determined that we would learn a similar longhand script. We had daily assignments to complete from our Palmer's Penmanship books, and we were graded on our efforts.

How I detested penmanship!  But the agonies of penmanship practice were worthwhile. By the time I was a young adult, I had developed a personal, legible, and fairly fast style of handwriting. Because my teachers insisted on mastery, I've never been handicapped or embarrassed by my handwriting skills or an inability to read (most) handwriting.

Today's teachers still "cover" cursive during spelling classes in second or third grade. However, the necessary practice to develop a smooth, flowing script is no longer required. Many students never give up printing. Some young adults can't read cursive handwriting. Some cannot even sign their names with connected letters. I don't blame the students. If schools no longer insist on a mastery of handwriting, most children will not choose to master the skill on their own.

Yes, times have changed. I realize that today's schools have a lot to teach. I realize that we're all typing and texting on our various electronic devices and not writing by hand as much. However, cursive handwriting remains a skill that's worthy of practice. In the adult world, neat, clear handwriting lends dignity and authority to every pen-and-paper communication. This is especially true of an attractive, distinctive handwritten signature. Consider John Hancock's famous signature. Then imagine his name, hand-printed in manuscript letters. Need I say more about the gravitas of good handwriting?

A person who cannot read and write in cursive is not as well-educated as a person who is fluent in cursive. It can't be denied. I think it's a shame -- yes, shameful -- that schools are doing such a poor job of teaching the handwritten form of the language.



Interested in improving your handwriting? Here are two good articles to read:

Op-Art: The Write Stuff
Tips for Improving Your Penmanship

James of the The Heelers Diaries recently told an interesting story about handwriting -- see #3 in his list of nuns from Planet Zorg.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Bobbin Lace Making

Heartland Lace Guild exhibit at the Encampment, Fort Massac, Illinois, October, 2009




At the Fort Massac Encampment last fall, Keely and I enjoyed visiting the Heartland Lace Guild's demonstration of bobbin lace-making.

In bobbin lace, a number of threads are used. To keep the threads from tangling, each thread is wound around its own small wooden bobbin. A wide lace requires many threads and many bobbins, and a narrow lace requires just a few. The thread may be linen, silk, or cotton, and the lace will be stout or delicate, depending on the thickness of the thread.

In the photo above, the bobbins are arranged at the far end of the padded cushion. A paper pattern called a "pricking" is placed under the thread as a guide. The lace is held in place with pins as it is made. The pattern is created by crossing and twisting the threads. The bobbins act as handles for crossing and twisting the threads, as well as storage for the long threads that are needed.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Helping Haiti

Some efforts to ease the suffering


If you have not yet contributed to the Haiti earthquake response efforts, one good charity to consider is Lutheran World Relief. They hope to raise $1,000,000 to help provide food, water, and shelter for Haitians and to help in the long-term recovery of the nation.

Lutheran World Relief is a highly efficient charity with 91% of its funds going to the relief efforts. It has an "A" (excellent) rating from the American Institute of Philanthropy. To contribute to Lutheran World Relief, click here. You can also donate by phone at 800-LWR-LWR-2,  or you can mail a check or money order to:

Lutheran World Relief
Haiti Earthquake
P.O. Box 17061
Baltimore, MD 21298-9832

If you have Thrivent insurance or a Thrivent financial plan, Thrivent will match your contribution to any of the four main Lutheran charities ( Lutheran World Relief, ELCA Disaster Response, LCMS World Relief and Human Care and WELS Committee on Relief. ) For every $2 contributed by members, Thrivent will contribute another $1, up to $250 per donor. More information is available in a news release from Thrivent.

The Lutheran Church Missouri Synod has posted a list of material donations that it is collecting for Haiti. The list includes such staples as dried beans, peanut butter, first aid ointment, band aids and bedding. These items can be sent to two Lutheran churches in Florida, and they will be sent in shipping containers from there to Haiti.

Old Time Entertainments

Homemade amusements


A recent report says that sitting in front of the TV or computer for long stretches of time greatly increases our chances of dying . We'd be healthier if we'd turn off the electronics and move around a little more. Here's a thought: maybe we should cut back on the web-and-channel surfing and return to some of the old-time ways of entertaining ourselves!

Before television and radio made their way into living rooms, folks often invited their friends for an evening of parlor games. Many of the games involved mild physical activity, such as "Blindman's Bluff" and "Charades." Others required mental energy, such as "Twenty Questions" and "Hangman".  Competitions such as checkers, chess, and card games were also popular.

Party books offered plenty of ideas for fun with a theme. For example, a 1903 book of Halloween activities contains complete plans for several spooky parties-- invitations, decorations, refreshments, games, skits, etc.


I wrote a while back about music in the parlor -- inviting guests for an afternoon or evening of homemade music.  Anyone with a bit of musical talent might be asked to perform. People liked to sing and to hear music. Sheet music made the latest hits available to all.

Recitations were another favorite entertainment. When guests came for the evening, someone might volunteer (or be called upon) to "render" a piece of memorized poetry or a passage of funny or dramatic prose.

Books, such as the 1903 Comic Recitations and Readings pictured at right, provided material to memorize.  (Some of the subject matter would be considered unkind today.  Stuttering, regional and ethnic dialects, and the accents of immigrants were often imitated!)

When I was little, the cultural memory of rural Nebraska still recalled entertainments of the sort I've written about here. We played various parlor games at school recess when it was too cold to play outside. My friends and I memorized recitations for school and church programs. I remember dressing in a costume and reciting a humorous monologue at the high school gym for a large audience of extension-club ladies. My mother probably thought it would be a good performance experience for me and volunteered my services.

We've gotten away from these active, participatory sorts of entertainments now. We've parked ourselves in our chairs to absorb our entertainment from a screen, and it's not good for us. I've been sitting here far too long. I think I'd better stand up and do something!

Saturday, January 16, 2010

A Creek Not Forded

Time to turn around




I took a backroad in northwestern Todd County today, and came upon the creek in the photograph above. I've crossed it before in the summer when the weather was hot and dry, and the water was only a few inches deep.

Today, I didn't have the nerve to ford it. The water was nearly still, but the creek was much wider than usual,and I was afraid it was deeper, too.

If my low-sitting little car stalled in the water -- well, I could imagine some unpleasant scenarios. I would probably get wet, muddy, and cold. I would have to climb all the way out of the ravine before my cell phone might work, and if I had to walk back to the nearest house, it would be a couple of miles.

I cautiously backed my car uphill to a slightly wider place in the road and turned around. It took several maneuvers because I was afraid to get the wheels into the muddy ditches. Finally, I was headed in the opposite direction, and before long, I was back to the same highway I had left 20 minutes before.

No progress toward my destination was made on that sidetrip, but I learned a little lesson about creek fords in winter.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

The Winter of 1948-1949

A long season of deep snow and cold temperatures


I wasn't born until 1951, so I didn't experience the winter of 1948-49, but I've heard stories about it all my life.

My parents, along with my brother Dwight who was a toddler, were living on a ranch some ten miles south of Johnstown, Nebraska. The first major snowstorm hit in November of 1948. More snow followed, but around Christmas, it warmed up a little. My parents were able to get to town in the Jeep for supplies. They didn't get back to town again until sometime in late February.

Earl Monahan's Sandhill Horizons (pp.280-284, published in 1987 by Earl H. Monahan) also notes the break in the weather that allowed them to open the roads and get to town around Christmas. At the holidays, the snow was about a foot deep at the Monahan ranch, out in the Sandhills northeast of Hyannis, NE.

On Sunday, January 2, 1949, the Blizzard of  '49 moved in. By the next morning, the temperature was -4°F. and it was snowing hard with a howling wind that created white-out conditions. The blizzard continued through Monday and Tuesday.

On Wednesday, January 5, the sun finally shone again. There were huge drifts, and the wind was stirring the loose snow into a ground blizzard. The effort to locate and feed the cattle in the deep snow began.

Monahan wrote that when the wind died down, they had a few days of moderate weather. Then the weather went bad again -- starting on January 8th,  frequent snowstorms and extremely cold temperatures prevailed until the wintry assault finally slackened in mid-February. The February 7, 1949, edition of Time magazine reported that Wyoming, Nebraska, and South Dakota had 18 snowstorms in 27 days following the initial blizzard in early January.

The Monahan Ranch owned a TD-9 crawler, and it was a tremendous help in feeding the cattle during those long weeks of deep snow. They were able to plow their way to the herds, but the crawler had to be brought home and kept inside every night so it would start again. (The diesel gelled if it got too cold.)

Credit: Blizzard image from Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division, Detroit Publishing Company Collection.

Operation Snowbound and Operation Haylift


Loup County is located in the Sandhills of north-central Nebraska, east of the Monahan Ranch and just south of Rock County where I grew up. My Loup County (NE) centennial book contains the following description of that terrible winter.
The Blizzard of 1949 hit Loup County like a rocket and all was at a standstill. Cars and trucks were immobilized by drifts ten to thirty feet high. In the surrounding countryside, cattle were frozen stiff in standing position. Farmers and ranchers were isolated. When the airports were finally cleared, the Army flew supplies and troops for "Operation Snowbound," a month long program to help suffering familes, ranchers, and farmers. Mom remembers planes dropped food and medical supplies to the Loup County residents that were snowbound in the Sandhills[, s]ome of whom never made it to town until spring.

Source: Story of the J.U. & Delpha Predmore family on page 123, Loup County - Taylor, Neb. Centennial 1993-1983. Published by the Loup County Centennial Committee, no publishing date cited.

When I was a college student in Missouri, I was introduced to a friend's father. Jim Gentry was a heavy equipment operator, who had helped construct the Alaska Highway during World War II. As soon as he heard that I was from Nebraska, he began talking about the Blizzard of 1949.

I don't know the story of how Jim got the job for Operation Snowbound, but in early 1949, he was sent to northeastern Nebraska to drive a snowplow and open the roads to snowbound farms. He worked from dawn to dark every day, and the farm families fed him and gave him a bed, wherever he was. Thirty years later, he still marveled at the experience.

Operation Haylift was carried out by the Army Air Corp. Airmen dropped bales of alfalfa hay out of airplanes to starving herds of sheep and cattle. Many had not been fed for weeks. A terrible number of livestock and wild animals perished from hunger, thirst, exposure, and injury. Some ranchers lost 50% of their herds or even more.

I found several aerial images of the snow-covered prairies in 1949 at the Life photo archive. An image search for "Blizzard of 1949" brings up many interesting snapshots and websites. There's also an excellent video on YouTube: "The Blizzard of 1949: A Nebraska Story".

The entire north-central area of the United States, as far west as Utah, Nevada, and Montana, had a bad winter that year. However, Nebraska was one of the hardest-hit states, and so it has more than its fair share of the snow photographs and stories from the Winter of 1948-1949.

Related articles on Prairie Bluestem:
Blizzard of 1949 Stories
Ready for Winter
Winter Memories
1952 South Dakota Blizzard Story

Blizzard of 1949 in the News

A bad winter remembered


The recent snows and severe cold temperatures have stirred memories of the legendary Blizzard of '49 and the siege of snowstorms that followed it.  Here are three articles that have recently appeared in the news:

The Nebraska blizzard of 1949
Think you've had enough? Area residents recall winter of 1948-49
Living History: Operation Haylift saved Utah cattle

Friday, January 08, 2010

Why I Love Nebraska

Words for the season


Why I Love Nebraska

When it's winter in Nebraska,
And the gentle breezes blow
About seventy miles an hour,
And it's fifty-two below,

You can tell you're in Nebraska,
'Cause the snow's up to your butt;
When you take a breath of winter air
Your nostrils both freeze shut.

The weather here is wonderful,
So I guess I'll hang around;
I could NEVER leave Nebraska--
My feet are frozen to the ground.

(Author unknown)

I saw a scrap of this little ditty posted on Facebook and did an internet search to track it down. I found versions for Christmas and New Year as well as winter. I also found the poem adapted to North Dakota, South Dakota, Kansas, Wyoming, Montana, Minnesota, Missouri, Michigan, Wisconsin, Illinois, Iowa, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Buffalo, New Hampshire, Maine, Alaska, Canada, and Nova Scotia! I didn't find the author's name, though.

I should stop whining about the cold weather we've been having in Kentucky. At least, our temperatures have stayed above zero so far. Here are today's early morning temperatures from Nebraska, according to the National Weather Service. Note that they all start with a minus sign!
Broken Bow: -12° (7:31 am)
Imperial: -12° (7:14 am)
North Platte: -12° (7:45 am)
Valentine: -19° (8:07 am)
Ainsworth: -14° (6:50 am)
Ogallala: -14° (7:10 am)
O'Neill: -13° (6:50 am)
Thedford: -16° (6:50 am)

And the overnight low in Hay Springs, Nebraska: -26°. (Note to Keely and Isaac: Hay Springs is a little town in northwestern Nebraska, a couple towns west of Gordon where my mother grew up and one town east of Chadron where I attended college for a couple of years.)

The bitter cold and the related wind chills put a lot of extra stress on man, beast, and everything mechanical.

First Snow of 2010

And the first snow days of this school year




The rural roads are snow-packed and slick, and the temperatures are very cold, so Christian County Public Schools and many other districts in Kentucky have canceled school for the rest of the week.

The Mennonites resolutely shrug off the weather, be it hot or cold. Their children bicycle to school on days that I wouldn't have sent my own children on such a trip. However, many parents took their youngsters to school with horse and buggy this morning and were waiting outside the schoolhouse to pick them up this afternoon. I saw only two bicycles lying in the school yard, thrown or blown down in the snow. I hope their young owners had a short, safe ride home.

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

WHOP Celebrates 70 Years

Anniversary of a Hopkinsville radio station


WHOP radio of Hopkinsville, KY, (Lite 98.7 and News Talk 1230 AM / 95.3 FM) is planning an on-air celebration of its 70th anniversary on Friday, January 8, 2010, from 5:30-11:00 AM. It should be quite interesting.

According to the Lite 98 website:

It was 1940...Frank Sinatra debuted with the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra. Walt Disney released the animated feature Pinocchio. World War II raged in Europe...and WHOP signed on the air, January 8, 1940.

Now we celebrate 70 years on the air serving the area. Join us Friday, January 8, 2010 as we look back over the years and listen to many of the voices of WHOP. We will reminisce with those who were there and listen [to] the recorded voices of many who are no longer with us.

Join us 5:30-11:00 am, January 8th, on the WHOP family of stations... Lite 98.7, WHOP-FM, News/Talk 95.3 FM and the original WHOP-AM as we celebrate 70 years as Hopkinsville's voice.

I anticipate that one of the featured radio personalities from the past will be the late Drury "Col. Dink" Embry. Embry began his WHOP career in 1948. His "Early Bird Morning Show" was on the air six days a week for decades. Embry was also the WHOP farm director and a musician. I don't know much about his musical career, but he played with several country groups before and during his employment at WHOP. He's also remembered for his role in the local Rotary Radio Auctions that have raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for college scholarships and loans.

Streaming audio from WHOP is available if you are out of range for over-the-air broadcasts. I couldn't get the Lite 98.7 link on the WHOP website to do anything. However, the link for News/Talk 1230 (below) worked for me with Win-Amp (a free media player.)


UPDATE:
Tim Havrilek of The Underground Rooster provides an interesting history of the Lackey family who founded WHOP (and several other radio stations) and were active in local and state politics.

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

A Really Wrong Forecast

Faulty weather predictions for Winter 2010


Remember the long-range forecasts last fall? This winter in the Midwest was supposed to be warmer than usual, because of one of the Pacific currents. I've forgotten if it was supposed to be La Niña or El Niño.

In a blog poll this fall, Prairie Bluestem readers predicted a cold, snowy winter. Their instincts were more accurate than the predictions of meteorologists.

I read this today:
While predictions of a mild winter prevailed in the fall, meteorologist Joe Bastardi of AccuWeather is now predicting that the United States will have the worst winter in 25 years.

Bastardi reports that the last time severely low temperatures were seen all across the country was in January 1985, when below-zero temperatures struck the country from Chicago east to New York and south to Macon, Ga.

Source: "Midwest Sees Near-Record Lows, Snow By The Foot," an MMX/CBS report published January 5, 2010, by CBS2 of Chicago

I remember January of 1985. I had just found out that I was pregnant with Keely, and I was "morning sick" most of the time. My memories of my queasy stomach are much more vivid than my memories of the cold weather. Maybe there's a lesson to be learned: if I keep my mind busy with something else, the cold temperatures will be easier to endure.

Good Weather for Butchering

A cold spell is ideal


Dennis mentioned to one Mennonite neighbor that we hadn't seen the other Mennonite neighbors working around their barns and sheds for several days. We thought that perhaps they had gone on a trip to visit relative, but it turns out that they have been busy with butchering a beef. Our informant told us that this spell of very cold weather is perfect for butchering.

Most "English" farmers around here would take an animal they wanted butchered to a meat processing plant like Hampton's Meats in Hopkinsville. However, some of the Mennonites and Amish prefer to do their own butchering. It's a way of being frugal. Why pay others to do what you can do yourself?

After we learned what the activity of the day was, I remembered that several times, these neighbors have given us a little package of their freshly ground hamburger shortly after Christmas. The meat was neatly wrapped in white freezer paper and frozen.

Most of the Mennonites in our community have electricity to power their freezers and many other things around the farm. Those who choose to live without electricity usually have propane-powered freezers. The Amish also use propane for their freezers and refrigerators. So the butchering may be done in an old-fashioned way, but the preservation of the meat is quite modern.

Sunday, January 03, 2010

Glen Burnie of the Barkers Mill area

Renovation in progress


The Kentucky New Era had an interesting article on January 2, 2010, about the renovation of Glen Burnie, a large, old home in the Barker's Mill area of southeastern Christian County. Glenburnie, built in 1820, was the home of Chiles T. Barker in the mid-1800s. I wrote several posts about the Barker's Mill area last spring and summer.

Currently, I think you can read the article without a password, but that may change.

Closing out 2009

Clean start for a new year



 Burning branches from the 2009 ice storm

Dennis has spent a couple of days burning piles of branches around the yard. Conditions had to be right -- the ground wet, the air still, and Dennis off work for the day. Those conditions were met a few days ago, and again today.

These branch piles were remainders of the major ice storm we had last winter. Most people who live along a highway got rid of their storm debris last spring. They piled it at the edge of the road, and workers, hired by the county, loaded the piles onto trucks and hauled them away.

We don't live along the highway, so we would have had to load and haul our branches in order to pile them for pickup -- an impossible task for us. We thought it was a major achievement when our Mennonite neighbors helped us get the broken limbs gathered and piled, just in our yard!

The pile of limbs in the photo was the biggest of half a dozen piles. Some willow branches and chunks of willow trunk that were in contact with the ground sent down roots and grew new branches up through the pile last summer. Dennis had to chop off the roots to throw the branches on the fire. It was quite a mess.

The only reason that I'm sorry to have the piles of branches gone is that a lot of little wild creatures were probably finding shelter in them. We do still have a big brush pile on the corner of our small property, over the hill where we've pitched branches for years. I imagine that it's pretty crowded this cold night. Dennis is not going to burn it.

While Dennis was burning branches, I took down most of the Christmas decorations. One small Christmas tree will stay in place until sometime in late January, but I packed up the big tree, the Christmas village, and a lot of other doo-dads and knickknacks. I feel a little sad that Christmas is nearly over, but I'm glad to have the bulk of the un-decorating done.

Now the Christmas boxes need to be taken to the shed. I also need to decide what to do with the decorations that I'm not keeping. Should I store them away for the spring garage sale, or should I make a clean sweep and donate them to Goodwill now?


This box is ready to go to the shed.

Friday, January 01, 2010

Nebraska Christmas Blizzard

Lots of snow




My friend Sammie who lives near Amelia, Nebraska, sent this photo of snowdrifts near their house. It was taken during the long blizzard that struck over Christmas. Yes, those are the tops of fenceposts. The depth of the snowdrifts in the trees is hard to estimate!

Sammie wrote:
Started with mist, sleet etc Wednesday. Turned to snow and didn't quit snowing or blowing through Saturday... Most of the roads were closed and most people just stayed home. We didn't have electricity from about 10:30 pm Wednesday night until about 3 the next afternoon. And it was off again Thursday night but was on when we got up Christmas [Friday] morning. That was due to the ice and snow on the lines and trees and the wind. Couldn't see past the fence posts across the road to the east. Saturday, the snow had quit blowing quite so bad, but it still wasn't a good day to be out. The drifts had got pretty hard by then. (Source: E-mail, December 27, 2009)

Sammie's remark about the snowdrifts being hard made me remember childhood adventures of walking on top of snow. If the snow was not very hard, every step was a test. At any moment, one leg might suddenly plunge through the crust and sink into the snow. It was great fun when the snow was so hard that we could walk on big drifts.

Deep snow and big snowdrifts are fun for the kids, but they make life miserable for the livestock and for people who work outside. I remember how my parents struggled to feed the cattle during winter storms, and I know that aspect of cattle ranching hasn't changed much. The hard fight to feed the livestock is always the first thing I think of when I hear about blizzards on the Great Plains. And the public servants who work the storms have my respect and concern as well.

Christmas Eve Weather

High winds in Hopkinsville




We didn't get any snow or ice in Hopkinsville, KY, from the big Christmas blizzard, but we did have strong winds as the front passed west of here. I took this photo about 3:30 in the afternoon on Christmas Eve.

The three flags are, left to right, Woodmen of the World, Commonwealth of Kentucky, and United States of America. (I think the Kentucky flag appears higher only because of my viewpoint.)

I was freezing as I took this photo. The wind cut right through my coat!
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CONTENTMENT: Keep your heart free from hate, your mind from worry, live simply, expect little, give much, sing often, pray always, forget self, think of others and their feelings, fill your heart with love, scatter sunshine. These are the tried links in the golden chain of contentment.
(Author unknown)

IT IS STILL BEST to be honest and truthful; to make the most of what we have; to be happy with simple pleasure; and to be cheerful and have courage when things go wrong.
(Laura Ingalls Wilder, 1867-1957)

Thanks for reading.