Just More Dum Spring Pictures

More Spring glories………

This has been a somewhat epic Spring – early by a month, enticing as all get-out with the proliferation of blooming things as well as some equally unseasonable scents to go with the flowers. I had forgotten how great Kentucky can smell.

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I can’t get enough of these gorgeous blooms.

This dogwood explains its design, set next to this white home and co-existing with such an enhancing flowering.

More of the Native Pinks, the Dogwoods have truly been the stars of the local show for my money.

Here, once again, is Nature’s rendition of a chaotic romp set in little Audubon Park in Louisville.

This is pretty much the butt-kickingest Redbud I’ve seen so far.

The “roadside look” I always enjoy. These blooming things show up in all the local forests, creating a lacy framework around which the visible harbingers of Spring group. Notice too all the super-young leaves on local trees as they grow and re-color to their deeper greens as the season progresses.

Inside the local neighborhood, things are picking up serious steam as well.

This Kwanzan Cherry tree does its usual double-blooming trick, increasing the weight on those branches by about 10 times.

All in all, we are so blessed here.



What’s New?

I’m pretty sure Winter is sometimes as forgetful as I am. I’m knocking on wood as I type this, but honestly, it is plainly deep into March and – I can’t put this any other way – Spring has officially sprung. What was most remarkable about this 2012 edition by far is in the way it sort of settled in back in January. Seriously, I am positive it was the most gentle January and February on record, leading to this glorious pass in which we now find ourselves. If Climate Change means this, then I’m darned if I can find the downside from a strictly Human Comfort perspective. Just like when I loved the standard average paradisaical weather in Santa Cruz, California, I’ve awakened mornings feeling guilty more than once. I mean, what did I do to deserve this gorgeous beauty? Can I repeat this every year?

No, my heart is not the least bit broken. 😉

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Here in beautiful downtown Douglas Hills, the Louisville suburb I live in, we’ve noticed the fresh young buds of local Dogwood trees strutting their stuff on incredibly aromatic Spring mornings and days, giving us not only the fresh scents of Springtime but the blooming promise of the days and weeks ahead.

From such humble and rather grinning beginnings, Spring is formed. It will get spectacular in mere days ahead as the days get warm, the muggy but still pure moisture always so present in the air maintaining a freshness one has to experience to believe.

The local Chinese Pear population, in the person of these ‘Chanticleers’, are always early and this year’s mini-heat wave has inspired not only their standard early riotous profusion but also timed so perfectly with all the other buds and blooms. There is a virginal quality to these lime-green urban forests that always seems to leave us in a certain awe of Nature’s possibilities. One must – absolutely must – regard the designs of some of the planners of these parks, boulevards and yards as just fabulously and totally inspired. Designing for Spring is simply the best.

This is a park a person can sink their eyeballs into!


The rich, Fuchsia-colored Redbud trees are another wonder.

Good days in ‘Tha Hood’!   🙂

Moving outwards, there is another “tiny matter” worth discussing.

Basketball. The University of Louisville and the University of Kentucky have both earned their way to college basketball’s Ultimate Tournament – ‘The Final Four’, played this year in New Orleans. The eventual winner of two games is crowned Champion, ruling over the entire amateur basketball world.

For those not familiar with the event, it must be said that it is nearly as big as the Super Bowl or – dare I say – the Kentucky Derby in the terms of American interests.

To give an idea of just how basketball-mad Louisville and the entire state is, take a look at how they invest their entertainment dollars. Below is the inside of a Palace – the Yum! Center in downtown Louisville. Only 22,000 Louisvillians can fit inside.

This is not your Grandad’s basketball building. 😉

Confession here: I am a Louisville fan. Pretty much everyone’s head will explode soon enough in this crazy state over an absolutely Tectonic and sweetly serendipitous occurrence, based on real achievement and a couple of groups of “thoroughbreds” which always satisfy Kentuckian’s senses.


Owensboro, Kentucky is an otherwise fairly sleepy burg of around 57,000 people situated on the Ohio River. Its population actually sees it as the 4th largest town in the state so it has a bit of swag simply from being its size. For long years during its past, the cultivation and auction sales of tobacco was an absolute stalwart economic engine, although manufacturing – a huge GE plant – and gas transmission (Texas Gas transmission HQ) played major roles in the local economy. Finally, there is the very tell-tale odor of bourbon whiskey as it cooks and then ferments for years in the big barrels in those huge warehouses at a good number of distilleries nearby. Often, the aroma pervades the town, giving it a sort of sinfully acrid but still-delicious singularity.

Tobacco and whiskey – now there’s a great intro to a pretty cool town. 😉

It actually gets better, in a way. Barbecue aficionado’s know where I’m going with this. The first-ever ‘World Barbecue Cook-off’s’ were held in Owensboro, where barbecue sits atop the world rankings as a passionate and highly successful local product which made its fame outside in the larger world. You could call it a Hall Of Fame entrant into the wide world  of  barbecued foodstuffs. You’d be very right, too.

To Sports

In 2000, Sports Illustrated called Owensboro “The Best Sports Town in Kentucky”. This represents winning out over some severe competition, especially when you consider Louisville’s deep historical base in sports – Louisville Slugger baseball bats, the first Professional Baseball Team in what was the new Major Leagues of baseball, the birthplace and opening scenes of Muhammed Ali’s life story and home of the University of Louisville. And Lexington, of course, has the University of Kentucky, widely regarded as one of the primary “Blue Blood Programs” of college basketball.

So Owensboro must come by its honors honestly, you would think. Well, they do, I happen to know. From just my upbringing alone, I remember days of hanging out with eventual noteworthy people who were nothing but pals and mutual miscreants in many off beat, sometimes semi-legal adventures. We had the anarchistic urges of those days and a reckless, devil-may-care enthusiasm that determinedly made life fun and a little risky, like pretty much all teenaged boys and girls. Those who – like me – played more than one sport, saw the darkness of many evenings close in while still at school, practicing a sport. Free time was a huge and awesome luxury, usually taking place after games at dances and/or parties where smiles occurred at light speed.

Another thing: Owensboro, Kentucky is most primarily a family town – a fabulous place for kids to grow up in and a town who has paid attention to their sporting heroes with a patience and an understanding of their ages and even of their mistakes with forbearance and pride. The pace is ordered, the limits well-defined and manners take a supreme place in the assessment of an admired person. I always felt I was taught tolerance and some patience at a very good school, under excellent teachers who knew more about the outside world than I did at Owensboro Senior High School. You could do a lot worse than growing up in Owensboro.

Last Friday, I took a trip down to help commemorate Owensboro High School’s “Night of Champions” – a celebration of the teams who have won 28 State Championships in all the various sports while representing Owensboro Senior High School. The oldest historical school in town, Senior High has won more baseball state championships than any school in Kentucky. Ironically, I played on the very first baseball State Championship team. Needless to say, since that time in 1964, Owensboro has earned a fairly stunning place in terms of respect in the state. The team won another 6 State Championships following our breakthrough season, including a completely dominant bunch who won consecutively in 1977 and 1978.

(By the way – Separating the town itself from the smaller view – my old school – reveals other local teams, such as Owensboro Catholic High School, Daviess County High School and Apollo High School, all of whom have won other state championships. The Catholic school is a literal girl’s softball power having won repeated championships, while Daviess County seems to produce track and cross country athletes by the scores. The there is Apollo, the “new school”, who produced NBA star Rex Chapman and a state basketball championship.)

The town also produced any wild number of luminaries from my old friend Darryl Waltrip and a billion NASCAR studs to Rex and Wayne Chapman to a Pulitzer Prize winner and Hugo and Edgar award winners.

Needless to say, the evening was just terrific. We joined a tour held earlier in the day composed of guys and gals who wanted an update, having lived elsewhere, such as myself for all those long years. They ran the event like a Swiss watch, it was wonderful – mixing with these other folks had an element of absolute joy to it. What’s better than approaching a total stranger, introducing yourself and asking: “What state championship were you a part of?” Naturally, most of us were known quantities, but even that wasn’t guaranteed.

The highlight of my evening came when Coach Jack Hicks arrived, in tow with his various nieces. There was a wonderful cafeteria-delivered catering service, consisting of just those barbecued items spoken of above – this time some chopped mutton I can still taste as I type. As the various folks huddled randomly, sitting with old friends or meeting new ones and finding out the coolest facts about the games we played, I spent some ample and fascinating time with Jack, who was besieged by random visitors. I suppose that’s fitting for the guy who got Owensboro baseball back up on its feet, kicking and screaming nationwide, and who won 4 of those state championships. In fact, I have to assess my greatest joys as seeing ex coaches, from Larry Moore (2 state football championships) to Gerald Poynter, the complex and biggest-hearted coach I ever played for (football) who missed his State Title by a hair back when there was no divisional separation, losing a tough game to Louisville Flaget.

It was a marvelous night where I came with a camera which had no memory card. Unbelievable. I therefore won a state championship for being Absolutely Dumb. And no one is close!

However, I am connected!

I’ll post pictures from Jack’s niece who was snapping away madly, once we connect.

My bottom line here? I have always been inordinately proud of my home town. There was always something about Owensboro which associated one with at least a peripheral notion of “class”. Of course, Owensboro has its small-town provincialisms and the weird, “Blue Velvet” sorts of evil you could see if you looked hard enough. There were some scary dudes around back when I was growing up, back in the day when fighting was sort of de rigeur as a rite of passage for some boys.

I always felt excellent about wearing the Owensboro High School colors. I still do and I am delighted to be a part of something quite special.


A Note On Friendship – Life’s Passages, Love And Nature

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Bobby’s freshly unceremonious ceremony…………. Perfectly-held for the man who may have been the least pretentious person his friends and acquaintances will ever meet in their entire lives.

We really and truly had a great crowd……..there were some tears, some grateful and comforting and oh-so-human hugs and lots of laughter in an absolutely captivating series of loving memories. If I had to capsulize my impression of things, I would probably say the day was an utter delight – in spite of its function – which was also served.

Saying goodbye.

Bobby’s daughter Morgan and her friends and equally gorgeous soccer mates were there to provide the perfect splash of youth, beauty and the caring spirit which Bobby was always so instrumental in somehow manufacturing in a world which seems not to value that as much as it once may have. His touch was everywhere, in the modest and grateful spirit of his wife, Kim and in the freshly-bereaved Morgan, whose support system is the envy of the English-speaking world. (She is the beauty on the left in the picture below). Let me be as clear as possible – these are some of the nicest persons on the planet.

Let me add this, in praise to the arrangers – of whom there were so many. If food were a measure of a man, judging by what was given at this event, Bobby Miller was a daggone Giant. Suffice it to say, the comfort food was off the charts – not only in quantity, but in quality.

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And so the weekend ends………………

I just drove back from Owensboro after attending this nicely informal ‘wake’ for my great friend Bobby Miller who passed away last week. The party was held outdoors and indoors, enduring torrential rainfall a couple of times during the affair and even the sounds of tornado warning sirens in the distance more than once. It was sort of a revelation – In this iPod, Blackberry world, we were able to access more specific local weather events immediately and we did hear of a twister which landed not so far away, just to make things more exciting. Man, it is also truly an rather severe April to remember, weather-wise, with more electrical storms than many natives have ever seen – all in a non-stop series of storm  events, tumbling along one after another.

Crossing the Ohio River and dropping down into Owensboro from the Indiana side revealed a cresting river, spilling over it banks into nearby fields, the farmer’s plains, as it were. This area is so flat near a river which – like the Yangtze or The Nile – is quite famous locally for its Spring Time flooding and dropping some rich silt onto these fields which, in 5 months, will be sporting corn or soybeans in a vast green swath of agricultural Plenty.

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But for now?  You can’t see much dirt, can you?  😉  That, for the record, is those afore-mentioned fields – they are just a bit underwater currently. The river itself is a good 3 miles North of this, in the distance..

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But it was gorgeous, too – warm, sultry air, the humidity completely off the charts in 73 degree weather – the Springtime features like the profusion of young lime green leaves maturing in this deciduous forest, dogwoods and other ornamental blossoms bursting out with even some shrubbery nearly ready to join the horticultural party.

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As I mentioned, my friend Bobby was quite an amateur landscaper, having done all his landscaping work himself as well as building the home. He used the local flora to augment his planning, making this gorgeous green expanse butt up next to the forest in a seamless, natural way, transitioning the parking area to domestication up a small set of stairs and surrounding his home with absolutely luscious perennials and azaleas.

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I’m kicking myself for not getting a picture of the Columbines which were just beginning to act out, but then, there was so much compelling interaction to be had on the human level, I would go hours before remembering I had a camera. Low tech Man!

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Here’s a glimmer of the activity above, complete with the dead White Pine in the rear yard to the left which someone asked my analysis of.

“The Pine? Oh, it’s dead.” (I kept it short and sweet  😉  )

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It was especially deeply rewarding for me in that I had grown up with so many of these folks and then moved so far away for so long. What was so especially rewarding for strictly selfish reasons was the sense of “return” on such a deeply emotional and thoroughly “connected” basis.I was seeing old friends I’d known when I was 12 years old and who surrounded me and influenced me all those long years ago. These people are a part of me, embedded so deeply they can’t be peeled away. They are the statues, the icons in my own native experience and they all make up who I am this very day.

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The amazing sense of unconditional love, of friendship and of our human commonality on this day filled me with a religious type of spirit. I turned away with a couple of tears more than once as I saw others breaking down on their own, over a story, a memory or simply just because of the overall sense of the moment itself. This was a very religious event, in the end, our bidding goodbye to our precious friend, father and relative. Bobby Miller sooo got the send off he would be so proud of.