Wednesday, July 30, 2008

back to Bardstown

I was side-tracked with a trip back to Bardstown last weekend for Aunt Louise’s 94th birthday party. What a gift it is to be within driving distance (5 ½ hours) for these occasions! I’ve been away for so long. (But I have to admit, I remember why it was that I had to leave!) More photos are on Flickr.

I love our adventure to the Center of the country. It is quieter here, and there is something very calming about the fields of corn and soybeans (though John tells me it is all being grown for bio-fuel, not food). It is McCain country - haven’t seen an Obama bumper sticker yet.

The great rivers, the Missouri and the Mississippi, both captivate me. And I can’t wait to get into St. Louis to explore more than just driving through.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Missouri Land and Sky

Something about the Missouri land/sky that both thrills and scares me. I find myself dreaming about it. It's so BIG! These photos are to the East, where Jubilee and I walk every morning. Same view, 2 different mornings.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Missouri Wind, Rain, and Mud

There were thunderstorms the other night. Missouri thunderstorms feel different from Florida thunderstorms. The light flashes higher in the sky, and is more diffuse. The timbre of the thunder is not as deep. I think it must be because the air is not as thick.

And then there is the wind. The mat before our back door (on the inside) was soaked from the 70 mph wind-driven rain. No one around here thinks much of any of this. But I was speaking to my neighbor, Julia, about the winters here. She says that the big thing is the wind. You have to figure out a way to walk your dog according to which way the wind is blowing.

I had forgotten about mud.

The ground doesn’t look especially wet, but when you walk on it, the mud cakes and clings to your shoes until they weigh about 10 pounds. And there’s no getting it off with a stick. You need a high-powered hose.

Jubilee fared much better than I did with the mud. After walking through a couple of puddles, she was free and clean. Maybe because she was born in Missouri?

Sunday, July 20, 2008


(the smudges on the photo are John's dirty car windshield.)

Just outside of the quaint little town of St. Charles, built into the Missouri River (to avoid gambling laws, the “offshore” trick, I guess) is a huge casino – Ameristar.

John and I decided to check it out on Sunday morning. I guess I’ve never been into a full scale casino before. No charge to get in, but we had to show our IDs and were issued a special card to stick into the machines. It would keep track of our earnings and losses. We were told that in the state of Missouri, if you lose more than $500 in 2 hours, you’re cut off and have to wait 24 hours before you can gamble again. Gee. We were advised that if we got close to the $500 loss, we could just wait an hour and then would have another hour to gamble.

It was a strange kind of place – I couldn’t quite understand the energy. A lot of people there, even on a Sunday morning. I wonder what it was like on Saturday night. The gamblers were all ages (over 21) and came in wheelchairs and with walkers, like to a shrine. Most sit alone before the myriad of glitzy machines. A few at the card tables.

Smoking was mostly allowed – there were a few small non-smoking areas – even though the air-conditioning was cranked down low and the ventilation was good, the smell of smoke was in the air. Bars were open and busy. Loud music – I remember hearing “What’s new pussycat?” play for a very long time.

What attracts so many people to a place like this? Is it the lure of winning big? Risk? Having fun?
It’s fancy, that’s for sure. I just don't get it.

This is the hotel that is attached to the casino. Wonder what it is about red and black? The Roulette Table?

Sign in the bathroom.

Again, smudges are on John's windshield.
Post note: The states of Iowa and Missouri have sought to revive their waterfronts by permitting riverboat gambling. The initial gambling regulations required the casinos to navigate the river. They were subsequently amended so that the casinos could be permanent land-based structures as long as they had a moat with Missouri River water surrounding them. - from Widipedia

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Saturday Night in New Town

Jubilee and John on the front porch, listening to Saturday Night Music

This whole phenomena of New Town has me slightly mystified. Ordinarily I would be suspicious of a “planned” community, built in the middle of cornfields. I would wonder where “real” life was.
But there is something about this place that feels refreshing to me, and it’s not just the newness. The friendliness of the people, the ability to walk everywhere.

Ada, my new friend next door, moved from a place near here. She says they were stuck in a rut, and one day she told her daughter, “we have to move!” She rented her house out and moved into a rented apartment here. Now, as she feeds the birds from her balcony, she calls down from her balcony to me: “good morning, I’m so happy to be here!”

Saturday night they had live music downtown. We walked the 2 blocks down there, but ended up listening to it as we sat on our front porch.

Here are some more New Town photos:

New Town Cops!
The Diner.
The Canal. Saturday Night Music.

I admit this Church has me mystified! I 'm sitting under it's spires right now, connecting to everyone and the Almighty too. It's 7PM and still 95 degrees!
Here are some photos of the Missouri Ground:
And, just for my friend Sandra, here are some Missouri Weeds!!!

St. Charles (Old Town)

Exploring the town of St. Charles, I’m re-learning some basic U.S. history.

Missouri became the 24th State in 1821. St. Charles, a little further from the hustle and bustle of St. Louis on the Mississippi River, served as the state’s first capitol from 1821-1826.

The Missouri River runs through St. Charles.

It was from here that Meriwether Lewis and William Clark set out on their venture westward, commissioned by President Thomas Jefferson to explore the headwaters of the Missouri River and negotiate with the Indian Tribes. Post note: The dog, a Newfoundland named "Seaman", belonged to Captain William Clark.

(I need to find out more about how the Louisiana Purchase figured into this whole deal. When I get my Internet connection back, I promise to be more academic about this journal!)

St. Charles, itself, is a lot like Bardstown – an old frontier town with lots of old buildings now turned into antique and knick-knack stores.

Anyone know what “Quilogy” is?

Funky New Town

Here are some photos of New Town, a funky little place in the middle of Missouri Corn Fields. They tell me that the community is modeled after “Seaside” in Florida and that the architecture is a blend of New Orleans and Old West. New Town actually reminds me a bit of the 500-year-old village of Parsdorf, Germany, where all the homes are near to each other, and surrounded by farmland.

We live on the main road coming into New Town. There is a canal going down the center, and on each side are the row houses and a variety of “mansions”. The mansions are actually apartments, 4 or 5 to each “mansion”.

This is the Canal down the center of New Town Avenue. (John has caught some catfish and bass from this canal.)
These are the row houses and the street that we live on.

This is the “mansion” next door to us. My new friend, Ada, lives upstairs here.

This is our corner of our mansion. I think that ours looks kind of “Greek”.

Here is another "mansion".

Here are some photos of the community pool. You can see the surrounding farmland (mostly corn). It is 98 degrees here today (much hotter than I've ever known Florida to be), so the pool is very cool:

This is one of the side streets. I call these the "prairie houses". They look very much like the houses that are in St. Charles "Old Town". Again, you can see the farmland that is just beyond the street.

Corn is higher than John, already. Wonder where it'll be in August???

This is where we go to get our mail. Kind of a funky place. I know the postwoman by name, because, so far, none of our mail has been forwarded.

I've been going here most every day. Hopefully I'll get stronger.

And this is a little herb garden that I discovered behind the diner. We haven't eaten at the diner yet. I wonder if they use the herbs.

Some more funky things around this place.

What about this Church with Radio Towers for Steeples!? I'd say they just might be able to connect with the Almighty!