19 August 2015

Contemporary Longrifle Association Show

The 2015 CLA show was held last week at its usual venue in Lexington, Kentucky. There were, as always, many talented artists although it seems like in the past few years, fewer new artists of note. The attendance was down considerably from say four years ago, when you could barely squeeze through the aisles. Long time attending artists such as Shawn Webster, Steve Lodding, Jeff Bibb and Jeff Bottiger were absent. They not only brought their artistry but their unique personalities to the show.

It was, nonetheless, a great time. My main goal is to visit with rarely seen friends, like my brother of a different mother, Ron. Share meals with Lisa and Carroll. Learn from Brian, Steven, Mark, Mitch and others. It may be on the down hill slide but its still better than anything else out there.

Brian Anderson's traditionally forged weapons

John Schippers engraving and restoration

Mitch Yates trade silver

Giclee prints of David Wright paintings

Alec and Matt
 Certainly one problem is the average age of both the artists and the buyers - maybe 60 or greater, very few young people. There are some talented young makers such as Alec Fourman and Matt Fennewald who will hopefully keep up their artistry and carry forward the tradition.

Many of the objects for sale are far too expensive for young persons to purchase although the Gray Hair Mafia was buying unabated. There seems to be a trend to make every day objects, such as knives, artificially precious by having multiple artists of note construct them. The emphasis has moved from utilitarian but historically accurate items to highly elaborate collectibles, never meant to be taken down from the wall. Personally, I think this does nothing to move the art form forward and forces out folks lacking deep pockets, and creating huge collections in only a few hands.

12 August 2015

A Year Later II

I maintain that it should cost as much to get married as it does to get divorced. Make it look like marriage is worth as much as divorce, even if it ain’t. That would also make the preachers financially independent like it has the lawyers.    Will Rogers

The blog entry (July 2nd) citing Frank's deposition testimony has been viewed than any entry in Stratheden's 605 postings. I assume that is because it answers people's questions about how & why of the divorce settlement, as it was intended.

 One year ago today, at 12:50 p.m., my lawyer, Mr. Campbell, and I, walked into the Floyd County court room for the divorce trial. We instantly knew something was up because April and the witnesses were not present. About five minutes before court was due to convene, April walked in with Anne Armistead, but they sat back in the gallery. Then April & Frank's lawyer, Dalton, (Frank had used the same lawyer to complete his divorce/custody several years earlier) came over to our table and dropped a "notice of appeal" on it to challenge a ruling the judge had made that April could not hide behind the Fifth Amendment when it came to answering a question about adultery. In other words, Dalton would tie up the divorce proceedings for at least another year, perhaps as many as three more years, all the while I would be paying $1,000 per month in support to them as they laughed all the way to the bank.

A minute or so later, Dalton came back over and spoke to Mr. Campbell; they adjourned to the hallway. Mr. Campbell shot back in and said "they want to know if you would offer a settlement." So, instead of possibly paying another $36,000 in support AND legal fees, I offered $30,000. Of course they accepted it. Had the trial gone forward, April would have had to answer to the judge why she told him two major lies in a prior hearing: (1) no one lived with her [my private investigator had proof otherwise, as did witnesses] and (2) she was destitute [actually she had two bank accounts, each with four figures deposited]. There were six other 'discrepancies' as well but not as key to the issues as those two.

Due to a lack of trust on our part, Mr. Campbell immediately hand wrote the settlement on a sheet of legal paper which was signed by both parties and witnessed by the sheriff, baliff and others present. The 21 month ordeal was ended, finally.

Last month, a little more than three years after Frank moved in with April, he asked her to marry him; they are now officially engaged although no date has been announced for a wedding. He is a far better match for her than myself and I wish them many years together.

04 August 2015

Summer has peaked

  Saturday morning at sunrise, the temperature at sunrise was 55F, Sunday morning it rose to 57F. Although a bit warmer today, the nights have become more pleasantly cool even though the days remain toasty in the low to mid 80s. The problem is the lack of rain - the garden is powder dry and needs supplemental water every few days. Even the weeds have ceased germination.

  It was premature to write in the prior post that the day lilies were exhausted; they perked back up and enlivened the patio for a while longer but today certainly marks the final blooms from them. It has been a brilliant season for them. Three new varieties were purchased and planted that should make their showing even more spectacular in 2016. Stay tuned.

No chemical pesticides have been used at Stratheden since its acquisition. One benefit is allowing beneficial
insects to help with controlling the problem bugs. Most years, maybe a dozen praying mantis can be seen on a given day at this time of year; much like the bees and butterflies, their numbers are down this summer. nonetheless, this mantis was hoovering pesky critters from the zinnias this morning before posing for an informal portrait.

It is always a delight when friends come to visit. Last weekend, brought the delightful company of a friend from a very long time ago and her husband of forty years. They brightened my day immensely and it will great to have them return soon. Its true that real friends can pick up where the conversation left off, even if decades ago. Here are some photos of Carolyn taken about 45 years apart. She's still the same fine human being - or more so.

26 July 2015

State of the Garden

   This was an odd weather year right from Day One. The temperatures oscillated all winter and into the late
 spring. The summer has been mostly temperate with most days around 80F. Precipitation has foresaken the immediate area, nonetheless, there have been numerous mornings with dense fog until the sun burns it away. At the moment, its quite dry; the patio plants and garden need frequent watering (the patio plants are largely watered by the condensation gathered in the house's two dehumidifier units which milk about six gallons of water a day from household air).
   The other two food gardeners along the road are experiencing most of the same problems plaguing the garden here. Generally speaking, the annuals are far behind in their maturity. There are six types of peppers in the garden and only the banana peppers are producing fruit; the others are small and just beginning to flower. They are perhaps three full weeks behind the stage typical for this date. Germination, even in special media, was slow and erratic (they certainly were not slow due to lack of warm germination temperatures!).

 On the other hand, most perennials are out doing themselves this year, from echinacea, iris & lilies to roses. And in the case of the zinnias and cosmos, even the annuals are at the top of their form. The iris are long past but they were outstanding in the spring, not only in prolific and sizable blooms but in generating new rhizomes. The early and mid-season lilies are bloomed out and the last two late season varieties are coming to the close of their annual performance on the patio stage.

The corn did very poorly, probably not a single edible ear from 80 stalks. The garden here does not seem to favor corn of any variety, based on seven summers worth of trials.

If the blasted squash bugs and vine borers can be controlled, the winter squashes may make a decent yield. The cucumbers are just coming on, also quite late.

We will have to see how the remainder of the summer plays out. Much will depend on the timing of the first killing frost.

Warm regards from Stratheden's flora to yours.

19 July 2015

and now back to our regularly scheduled programming

   Summer continues unabated at Stratheden Farms, some weeks of weather more pleasant than others. Last week was a relatively mild week but beginning today, temperatures in the 90s are expected to prevail through this week. Rainfall has been below normal in the immediate area although the far ends of the county have received plenty. The inundating rains that have flooded friends' farms in Indiana and Kentucky have followed the typical seasonal pattern of weakening just north of Floyd county then reforming with a vengeance once skipping over the Blue Ridge mountains. Then there are the "spot showers" which probably don't rain on ten farms for fifteen minutes but bring great happiness to the weeds; one has just passed over, dropping the temperature for an hour or so.
   The Farm had an esteemed return visitor last week, an old buddy from the 1970s, now living in the Caribbean and rarely seen in the last couple of decades due to geographic distance. One definition of friendship is that, no matter the length of separation, you can pick up the conversation right where it was left off - that certainly applies with Gary. Considering how different we are, its amazing how very much we have in common.
Momma loving on Gary 
   On the last trip here, Gary discovered another commonality - sort of - or it discovered him. He has always been a canine type of person and loves dogs -and they love him. Until his prior pilgrimage to Stratheden a few months ago, cats were not on his 'like' lot. The crew here converted him. Even Momma, who is very, very particular about her human company, absolutely doted on him. By comparison, Momma never let her previous human of 15 years love on her.

Her boys, Grover and Chetworth, also were very fond of Gary, especially the latter. Within a few minutes of sitting down, Gary's lap would be covered by Chetworth. He's been in "a mood" since Gary departed for home.

For a long list of reasons, it was good to have a quality visit with my old pal. One unexpected reason: he is a good nurse. During the visit, your humble correspondent seems to had had a long waltz with a kidney stone. The pain was excruciating and rendered driving impossible. Gary took me to the doctor's office, picked up my prescriptions and made a grocery run, none of which were within your author's ability at the time. Living alone is a preferred state but can get a little scary when illness strikes.

The next post will largely be photographs of the day lilies on the patio; they have been sterling performers this year and the last season bloomers are lighting up the entire area. Until then, stay well and treasure your friends.

02 July 2015

One Year Ago Today

It was an interesting day precisely one year ago - depositions regarding the divorce were taken in April and Frank's lawyer's office. In the presence of a court reporter who recorded the conversations, their lawyer questioned me and my lawyer had the opportunity to question them. The images in this blog are direct scans of the official deposition; should you wish to, you may order a copy of the complete transcript from Terry's Court Reporting at the address shown on the cover page (above).

This blog post is an attempt to answer questions that many friends, especially during the recent visit to Scotland, have asked regarding the outcome of the divorce case. Generally, people wonder how the divorce became a settlement that involved little money and nothing else lost on my part. The explanation lies in part in the depositions of April and Frank D'Amico made a few weeks before the scheduled trial date. Herein is part of Frank's testimony.

Bear in mind that these three depositions were taken in a small room with the six of us seated around a small oval table just big enough for six chairs. Counterclockwise: the court reporter, then myself, my lawyer, Frank, their lawyer, and April.

On the prior page to the one shown below, my lawyer, Mr. Campbell, asked Frank, "Okay. Do you know April Young?" Frank's answer is denominated "A" below; "Q" is a question by my lawyer, Mr. Campbell.

Mr. Campbell's reply continued on page 9, "with Judge Long [who would hear the divorce trial] about this so we can force Mr. D'Amico to answer some questions." 

For the non-Americans reading this, the Fifth Amendment protects a witness from self-incrimination in a criminal case, which does not apply in a divorce since no law is being broken that could result in prosecution. As Mr. Campbell and I departed the premises, he observed he had never seen such a testimony in his lengthy career. The balance had tipped irrevocably. I am forever indebted to you, Frank.

01 July 2015

Northern smoke

The National Weather Service satellite made this image at 2:45 EDT today. They marked the smoke blowing down from the 200 Canadian wildfires currently raging in Alberta and Saskatchewan with the blue arrows showing the direction of motion. The thick smoke was not yet here at 2:45 but arrived within half an hour, looking like an extreme case of air pollution. Within about twenty minutes, the solar disc could not be seen through the thick smoke, now having drifted 2,400 miles from its sources.
This view was made late in the afternoon looking toward Black Ridge, which is nearly obscured from view. The light is yellowish, has no contrast because it is totally non-directional, and has cut the light intensity greatly. As this is being written, it should be about time for sunset but there is absolutely no clue where the sun is located in the sky. There will be no view of the conjunction of Venus and Jupiter tonight! Thunderstorms are due tomorrow which may precipitate the smoke particles.

Stay curious.