Positive conversations with old and new friends. I'd love for you to join me on my back porch.

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: http://tammyruggles.deviantart.com/gallery/46117265/Photography-Black-and-White

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!

Monday, April 6, 2015

M. A. Hadley Pottery

Louisville, Kentucky has an abundance of clay deposits which has made it a pottery-making center for decades. One of the more famous traditions to come from Louisville is M. A. Hadley pottery.

Mary Alice Hadley grew up in a family of clay tile makers. She started her career as a painter and won awards across the country. Soon she combined her artistry with pottery. In the beginning she made pottery for herself and friends. She created a set of custom dishes for her Ohio River houseboat. She invited friends to go out on the boat, and her friends loved the dishes. The excitement grew so much that she began to make pottery to sell. Her husband, George, helped her start the Hadley Pottery Company in 1940.

Four years later her husband bought a building the the Butchertown section of Louisville for her business. I think she was blessed to have a husband so supportive of her craft. She worked at the pottery until she died in 1965.

I've always been fascinated with M. A. Hadley pottery. Different people in my family have had pieces. They aren't fine china, but they are special. They make me smile.

My mother bought me my first piece of M. A. Hadley pottery, and I've always loved this sweet little rabbit. I remember eating off Hadley plates at my Grandmother Lutz's house. When I see a piece in somebody's home, I pause and enjoy the whimsical pattern.

When Tim and I got married, I gave my bridesmaids a ring holder made by Hadley Pottery.

Last year while in Southport, NC I spotted a mug in a gift shop. I knew right away it was M. A. Hadley. It seemed silly to buy a piece in North Carolina. Plus it'd be the first piece I bought specifically for myself. I kept wandering back to that gift shop, and Tim convinced me to buy it. I've enjoyed it so much, and I now have two more mugs. Even though I've not been a lifelong collector, this pottery has woven a thread through my life.

The pottery is still made today. It's hand painted by different artists, and you will notice a slight variation, but I think that adds to its charm. There are over twenty different patterns. Every piece is signed by an artist trained by one of Mary Alice Hadley's proteges. Look for the signature to know you've got an original.

If you stop and consider how something as simple as pottery can make you smile and can have a slight impact on a person's life, how much more can we affect people? I doubt Mary Alice Hadley dreamed her craft would affect so many people for so many years. It makes me pause and wonder how my actions and words can affect others. And I need to be remember who I serve. I hope to reflect His light and love to others.

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Happy Easter!

I hope you have a blessed day celebrating our risen Lord! Happy Easter!

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Ways to have fun without spending a lot of money

Spring is finally here and it's time to get out and have fun. I asked my family for a few ideas for cheap, or free, things to do as a couple or a family.

My sweet niece-in-law, Jessica Lutz, shared this:

Eric and I love to walk, when the weather is not terrible like it has been. We live really close to the downtown square in Lagrange, and it's just nice to walk there and get some fresh air.

In college, we used to go on date nights to Barnes and Noble and walk around and just look at books. I used to browse through the cakes and recipe books, and he would venture out and look at some other ones.

We also like to do puzzles. I know you have to buy those but you can usually get them pretty cheap. Especially from Hobby Lobby with a 40% off coupon!

One last thing. It does cost money up front but it last for a year. A zoo membership. We go there all the time and pack a lunch and spend the day there. My parents get that for me as a birthday gift every year and we use it like crazy!

Hiking is a free activity my parents taught us to enjoy. It's free and no equipment is necessary. (Although hiking boots are nice.)

My mother said now that she and Dad have arthritis, and other health issues, they enjoy genealogy and working puzzles. But their favorite thing is spending time with family. My parents have always loved nature and enjoy watching birds fly and squirrels run around trees.

When Bill and Scott were little, they loved to hunt Easter eggs. Inside or outside. It didn't matter. They enjoyed the fun even if nothing was stuffed in the colorful plastic eggs.

Tim and I enjoy walking our dog, Heinz, around the neighborhood. And in the spring we like to watch Asbury University Men's tennis team compete. Many small universities and colleges have tennis teams where you can go watch some good tennis matches. You might also check other team schedules at the closest colleges.

Bill and his friends enjoy disk golf. Many free activities involve physical activity which is good for all of us.

I want to encourage you to take a walk or go for a bike ride. Plant some flowers or veggies this spring. There are lots of fun activities to participate in if you use your imagination and go.


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