Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Kentucky - June 1, 1792

I actually think about Ohio when I think of Kentucky. When we lived in Oxford, Ohio we were in the "tristate" area that included southwestern Ohio, southeastern Indiana, and Northern Kentucky. I think my  first trip to Kentucky was probably to the Cincinnati airport, which is really located in Covington, Kentucky. I missed my plane, but air travel rules were a lot more lax in 1987 and I was able to fly out on another airline within 30 minutes of the missed flight without any additional hassles or fees. The first time I spent any time in Kentucky was later that fall when James and I tagged along on an overnight camping/field trip to Mammoth Cave with one of the Geology classes from Miami University. What I remember most is that I had to pee really bad, but the professor saw no reason to stop for a bathroom break, although I was not the only one who needed relief. That evening when we were telling ghost stories around the fire one of the other students spotted the professor coming and said something like "so the scariest thing was that we had this professor who wouldn't let us go to the bathroom." James ended up taking the class the next year, and I was invited to come along on the field trip again, but I declined. Not only did I think I might need to use a restroom at some point during the weekend, I knew by then that we would be camping in a "dry county", and who needs that. I remember sending out some of the other students on a beer run and it took them over an hour to return.

When I select which books to read for this project there are several things I'm looking for. I try to find something that will help me to understand the culture of the state; I am looking for something with interest to me, but may also expand my horizons beyond what my usual tastes are; and in the case of Kentucky I was looking for a short book. Having the anniversaries for Wisconsin, Rhode Island, Kentucky and Tennessee come so close together it was essential that I pick something that I would have time to read. Besty Byars Keeper of the Doves is a short novel divided into twenty-six really short chapters, each representing a letter of the alphabet - starting with "A for Amen" and ending with "Z is not the end". The length of the book was not the only thing that drew me to it though. Since my daughter's name, Paloma, means "dove" in Spanish, the title caught my attention. Byar's book is the story of Amen (Amie) McBee and her sisters who live in Kentucky during the turn of the 20th century. Their family looks after Mr. Tominski, the keeper of the doves, who  once saved Mr. McBee's life. When the family pet is killed, Amie's twin sisters insist that Mr. Tominski is to blame and Amie questions her loyalties. This book is intended for children ages 8-12 and I read it in about an hour. The brevity of the book did not allow for all of the characters to be developed fully, some seemed very two-dimensional, nevertheless, the story did bring out some emotion of sadness and joy.

Well, we just had no choice but to have mint juleps as an after dinner drink today (our main course was a Kentucky fish recipe). I made mint syrup with 1/2 cup sugar, 1/4 cup water, and mint leaves from my garden. I strained the syrup into two mason jar glasses each containing 4 oz. of Jim Beam bourbon, a splash or water and a mint leaf garnish. Boy, were they good. We tried a bit of the bourbon by itself and it has quite a kick, but mix it with a super-sweet mint syrup and one could easily down a few of these.

I did not properly account for the 3-day weekend when I put Harlan County, USA on my Netflix list. It is supposed to arrive tomorrow. I will write a supplemental post after I have had a chance to watch it.

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