Saturday, May 2, 2015

Twenty-four hours in Owensboro, Kentucky

Owensboro borders the Ohio River and sits across from Evansville, Indiana. It's a clean and beautiful city. We saw azaleas and dog wood trees in bloom. The city has some beautiful parks. And Smothers Park has fountains and swings where you can sit and view the river. We saw tug boats push barges up the river. High school couples posed for prom pictures. Couples walked hand-in-hand. And we also saw a festival for children sponsored by the Billy Graham Crusade.

Owensboro is known as the BBQ Capital of the World. While we were in town, I had hoped to try two different BBQ restaurants. But we only made it to one, and it was delicious.

Old Hickory Bar-B-Que began in 1918. Charles "Pappy" Foreman traded blacksmithing for barbecuing. He began with a pit and barbecued mutton. Six generations later, the family business thrives. They will tell you this is possible because they won't take shortcuts or compromise the way they barbecue. This is a lesson we can all learn from.

Here's a picture I took of Tim, my parents, and our friend Ron Preuss.

The real reason we traveled to Owensboro was to watch Asbury University Men play their conference tournament. But we were so impressed, we decided we'd like to go for a long weekend. Maybe the second weekend in May when they hold their annual International BBQ festival and competition. We won't make it this year because graduation is the same weekend, but you've still got time to make plans to attend.

By the way, Asbury won the conference tournament. Congratulations, guys!

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

What do Johnny Depp and I have in common?

I was born in Owensboro, Kentucky, and two years later my brother, Chris, was born in Owensboro. Two months after Chris was born, Johnny Depp was born in the same hospital.

I lived in Owensboro until I was eight years old. I've only been back a couple of times, but this weekend I was in town to watch Asbury University compete in their conference tennis tournament.

The hospital I was born in has been torn down, but I was able to find the house I lived in.

As we drove around I showed Tim where I rode my bike. Everything seemed so much bigger back then. I loved riding my bike and thought I had so much freedom. Now I know.

When Grandmother Hubbard turned 100, my mom had a party for her. During the party, an older cousin told me my grandmother had been engaged before she met my granddaddy. I barely got over the surprise of that when he dropped the big news bomb. She was engaged to Johnny Depp's grandfather. I jumped from surprised to shocked, but I didn't argue.

Later I sat on the couch by my grandmother and asked her. And she confirmed, she'd been engaged to Mr. Depp. I think his name was Oren Robert Depp, but I could be wrong. We still laugh about this from time to time. These two people who were engaged at one time, both had grandsons born in the same town and the same hospital a few weeks apart.

I'm so glad my grandmother ended up with my granddaddy, and I'm glad my brother is Chris Lutz. (No offense to Johnny Depp.)

Friday, April 24, 2015

Paul Sawyier a Kentucky Impressionist

Paul Sawiyer is a famous Kentucky artist. His prints are are beautiful and affordable. I bet if you go into somebody's house in Kentucky, they are likely to have a Paul Sawyier print hanging on their walls. My grandmother had some of his prints, and so did my parents. I didn't grow up in the same area of Kentucky as Paul Sawyier, but I now live in some of his old stomping grounds. I've seen the palisades he painted. I've hiked by the Kentucky River where he lived. I've seen the rolling green hills of Kentucky. It's a beautiful place to live, and I understand why he was inspired to paint his surroundings.

Paul lived from 1865-1917.

From 1908-1913 he lived on his houseboat on the Kentucky River in my area from Camp Nelson to Shakertown. He created over five hundred original paintings of the palisades and waterways.

Paul decided he needed to find new places to sell his art, and he moved to Brooklyn, NY and lived with his widowed sister, Lillian. He spent the next two years painting watercolors and oil paintings of their parks and waterways. After this he moved to the Catskill Mountain area where he painted many Kentucky scenes from photographs. Despite most of his art being concentrated in Kentucky, his work attracts national interest. He created over 2,000 watercolors and 200 oil paintings, in addition to portraits and etchings.

Have you heard of Paul Sawyier or seen his paintings? Let me share a few I have in my home.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Bittersweet Days

Miriam Webster defines bittersweet as pleasure alloyed with pain.

The summer before my son, Scott, started high school he picked up a tennis racket. What started out as a favor to play tennis with my husband turned into a passion. And with that passion came a lot of hard work and sacrifice for the next eight years. Scott took lessons, played on the high school team, and competed in many tournaments through high school. When it came time to look for colleges, he only considered schools where he could play tennis. After several college visits, he finally chose to attend Asbury University.

When he graduated from high school, we were a little sad to see that era pass. But now he's graduating from college, and thus will end his competitive days.

Senior Day dawned beautiful and warm. God could not have given us a more perfect day. Coach Miller had a short and sweet presentation for the seniors before the match began.

Scott's doubles partner is recovering from an injury, so he was paired with Josh to play number one doubles. If you add their heights, they are over thirteen feet tall. It was so fun to watch them play together. Sometimes the other team would hit a shot at them, and I'd think there was no way we'd get it, and one of them would stick a long arm out and return the shot.

The team has conference play coming up. If they win conference, they have a chance to go to the national tournament. Each match they win moves them closer to nationals. Any loss will end the season.

Scott and Josh won their doubles match. When Scott walked off Asbury's tennis courts today, it was his last home match. Ever. A bittersweet sensation overwhelmed me. I think Scott was relieved I only asked to take pictures and didn't actually start crying.

My oldest son, Bill, played tennis for AU before he transferred to UK for pharmacy school. Bill works full time, but he helped Coach Miller at the late night tennis practices through the winter. I was so happy that Bill was able to be around for Senior Day.

Thanks for stopping by my back porch and letting me reflect on the wonderful time we've had watching Scott play tennis the last eight years.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Abraham Lincoln

It was 150 years ago on April 14, 1865 that President Abraham Lincoln was assassinated.

Because of Lincoln's ties to Kentucky, he was my favorite president when I was growing up. As an adult I appreciate his dedication to our country even more.

Today I wanted to share a few of his quotes to honor him.

In the end, it's not the years in your life that count. It's the life in your year.

Most folks are as happy as they make their minds up to be.

Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak out and remove all doubt.

Whatever you are be a good one.

This next quote came from a speech on July 10, 1858 in Chicago:

Let us then turn this government back into the channel in which the framers of the Constitution originally placed it.

In a eulogy on Feb. 8, 1842 for Benjamin Ferguson, he said, "In very truth he was, the noblest work of God -- an honest man."

I'm going to end with the Gettysburg Address.

Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.

Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.

But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate -- we can not consecrate -- we can not hallow -- this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us -- that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion -- that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain -- that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom -- and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Tammy Ruggles, a True Inspiration

The other day I Googled Kentucky Artists and discovered Tammy Ruggles. I was so impressed that I wanted to introduce you to her.

Tammy has Retinitis Pigmentosa. This is a group of rare, genetic disorders that leads to a loss of retina cells. Common symptoms include loss of peripheral vision and loss of night vision. Tammy has had this disease since birth. She grew up on a farm in Kentucky and didn't seem to realize the effects of this disease. She wore glasses and thought her vision issues were normal.

Office For the Blind helped her attend college to be a social worker. While in college she took art and writing as electives.

Her vision continually grew worse and by the time she turned forty, she was declared legally blind. This meant she couldn't drive, and she lost her job. And if that wasn't bad enough, people started telling Tammy her art wasn't as good as it used to be. She was almost ready to quit.And that's when a friend suggested she try finger painting.

I am not artistic, but I can appreciate talent when I see it. And I'm in awe of Tammy's talent and determination. She may be the very definition of hope and not giving up. One day I hope to meet Tammy in person instead of just through email.

If you'd like to seem more of Tammy's artistic talent, here's the link:

Until then, she gave me permission to share a bit of her art with you. Enjoy!

Thursday, April 9, 2015

It's beginning to look like Spring in Kentucky

March Madness is over, and tennis season is here. Our grass is green, the trees are beginning to bloom, and I'm so excited.

Hope can be defined as the feeling of expectation and desire for a specific thing to happen.

Spring is the season of hope for me. After our hard winter, this year I'm especially hopeful for warm weather and a chance to be outside and enjoy the wonderful things God has given us. I took my dog for a walk, and these were a few of the signs of Spring I saw.

As we climbed the hill behind us, I heard sweet little voices playing outside. The girls were riding bikes when I reached their house. They were kind enough to pause for a moment and pose by a flowering shrub.

At last we finished our walk. I hope you find time to get outside and enjoy this season of warmth and hope. Happy Spring!