In praise of Autumn

Those who know me also know that I don’t like Fall much, mainly because it leads to winter, which I really, really don’t like. But there are some things about Autumn that I do love. So, as the last of the leaves are falling to the ground, it is time to celebrate Autumn.

  1. The temperatures:  Summer’s humidity and high temperatures tend to get a bit tiresome by September, so I welcome the lower temperatures of the season. I love “sweater weather” and sitting in the stands watching a soccer (football, too, on occasion) game when the weather is cooler. There’s nothing better than a watching my favorite team (win of course) with a blanket over my lap, and a mug of hot chocolate in my hands. Go, Quakers!
  2. Nature’s beauty:  Autumn in Kentucky is so beautiful! Every year we hear from the media that this year we will not experience the pretty colors of Fall like in years past. There numerous excuses — drought,  rain,  wind, heat, whatever. Yet, year after year, the colors of Autumn amaze me.  This year is no exception. I love the oranges, the yellows, the reds of Autumn, and marvel at the divine plan of it all. I know that there is a great scientific explanation about why the colors change, and why they change to red or yellow or orange.  But I like to think that God made it thus so we would experience the enjoyment of the change of seasons.  I believe the same thing about flowers. They could all be one color and be pollinated just the same, but they aren’t. Why? For our enjoyment, that’s why.
  3. Apple Season: When October arrives, I must go to an Apple Orchard to get some apples. It is a ritual that I cannot miss! A fresh apple straight from the orchard just tastes better than any other apple, whether eaten raw or cooked. I love to bite into my first Orchard Apple of the season. Then I make stewed apples, apple crisp, apples with brie, and any number of other scrumptious dishes as the mood strikes and the apples hold out. Yum!
  4. Thanksgiving: I just love Thanksgiving. I love cooking my family’s favorite dishes (and mine). I love the time we spend together doing nothing in particular. I love that once the eating is done, there is no pressure.  No presents to buy, no religious sensitivities to tread, no rushing to this party or that. Just time to spend together, and maybe taking in a football game or two on television.  And I like the leftovers, too!

I may hate winter, but for now I will relish these last few weeks of Autumn. Anyone care for an apple?


I achieved my undergraduate degree from the University of Kentucky (a long time ago). I came to UK as a transfer student, so I didn’t get to partake in all the freshman stuff. But still it was a great experience. The shear size of UK overwhelmed me, coming from a small

town as I did. I vividly recall walking from my dorm on the edge of campus (Blanding Tower, if you know UK) to central campus, where most of my classes were.  That walk was long, took forever, especially in the winter. The expanse between buildings was wide and the buildings were all huge.

That was how I remember it, anyway.

Then, this week, I had the time and opportunity to walk that same route again. The memories that came flowing out were rich and rewarding.  But the revelations about all the time that has passed since those daily walks were even better. Here are some of the more significant of those revelations:

  1. What seemed huge at 20, now seems rather normally sized. Those huge buildings with wide lawns separating them? They now seem rather small. It is experience that changed my perspective. Growing up in a small town, my world experience at 20 was of small buildings and small spaces. Everything seemed big and scary as I headed to the big university. Now, having visited many of the world’s largest cities with its large buildings and expansive lawns, UK’s central campus seems very quaint and welcoming.
  2. I felt a certain kinship with all the students I passed on my trip through campus. I was a bit embarrassed as I realized I expected to see someone I knew. I became a 20 year old student again during that walk, remembering my days on campus, the classes I took (and skipped), the friends, the football games, the weekend parties. All of a sudden I was transported to that time in my life, but with the perspective of a 50 something professional, and I liked what I saw.
  3. The things that seem scary will soon become familiar, even comfortable. Experience teaches us to lose the fear and embrace the adventure. I am still not a particularly adventurous soul, but I am less afraid of the unknown than I ever have been.  Perhaps I know I will survive, despite my fears. And perhaps I have begun to appreciate the rush that comes with fear conquered.
  4. We should stop and appreciate our experiences more often. I had meant to walk through that campus for many years, but just never found the time. Why is that?  A half hour out of my life is a small thing, but that half hour brought me much pleasure.  I won’t wait another 35 years, and I will be more likely to “waste” time with other simple pleasures, too.

What have you been meaning to do and have just not “had the time” for?  Is now the time?

The Seven Deadly Sins

I was on my way to work this week, listening to NPR, as is my practice every morning. The local portion of the news came on, announcing yet another development in the Fen-Phen Case that has been captivating Kentucky for years. For the uninitiated, this was a class action suit brought by people who were harmed by the drug combination, fenfluramine/phentermine, usually called fen-phen. Fen-phen was an anti-obesity treatment that was popular for a time in the 1980s. At the time, many thought that this was the great magic cure for obesity. Trouble was, it was soon linked to heart problems and some people got sick, so a bunch of people sued.

Why has this case captivated Kentucky? Well, three Lexington attorneys joined together for a class action law suit, representing hundreds of victims, and achieved some humongous verdict on behalf of their clients. Trouble was, they decided not to tell the victims the magnitude of the settlement, and devised a plan to keep the money for themselves. Nice, huh? Well, they got caught, and a bunch of other folks were implicated, too, including a judge and a prominent attorney in Cincinnati. Two of the attorneys are now in jail, one is facing disbarment, the judge resigned, and maybe is in jail, too, I can’t remember.

Back to the radio story, though. The two attorneys are being required to turn over their homes to be sold to compensate the victims. They already had to sell their race horse (yeah, I know, right!), but now the court is seizing SOME of their other property in payment of an amazing $127 MILLION they owe in restitution. The list of property: six homes (who needs six houses?); seven (!) vehicles, and a dozen financial accounts. Hard to say whether this will satisfy the debt, but since they are in jail for a bunch of years, they certainly don’t need this stuff (nor deserve it, BTW). Presumably the victims do, since it was supposed to be theirs in the first place.

This whole piece, and the hundreds of stories I have heard in the five years this case has been proceeding through the courts, got me thinking about the Seven Deadly Sins. You remember them, don’t you: Lust, Greed, Sloth, Wrath, Envy, Pride, Gluttony.

At least half the items on this list figured into the Fen-Phen saga. Greed, obviously. (Six extra houses. Really?) Gluttony, of course, which created the demand for Fen-Phen in the first place. The victims, most of them anyway, simply could not stop eating and get moving to lose that weight, so they sought the easy, take-a-pill, route. Kinda relates to Sloth, too, doesn’t it. Envy certainly played a role, wanting what others had – houses, money, a thin body. That’s four of the seven.

So, I am going to look for the “seven deadlies” in my news browsing over the next several weeks. I bet I will find at least a couple in most news stories. I imagine if I look, I will find some version of them in misbehavin’ I witness, too. Do management problems have their root in the top seven? What about our nation’s political problems? Or our current economic mess? Worth exploring, so stay tuned.


I love snow. But I don’t like the mess it creates in my life – getting the 25 miles to and from work, dealing with canceled appointments or events, whiny babies who are afraid of a little snow on the roads. Since I live in Kentucky, people have problems with snow. People here just act stupid when it snows. Period. Predict snow and watch the crazy people clean out the grocery shelves.  Why someone needs to buy 20 cans of corn and beans for a 2 inch snow is a mystery to me.

Birds waiting their turn to devour the seed in our feeders during one of last winter's snow storms.

I like snow the most is when it snows on a Friday night, after I’ve gotten home for the weekend.  I can watch it show from the comfort of my kitchen, see the birds eat us out of house and home, and admire the beauty all while staying off the roads and out of the grocery stores.

I also like it when it is not too cold so I can go out and play in it a bit.  I love taking snow pictures, but just will not do it if it is cold and windy.  I’m a woos. But I also love to come back inside and curl up near the fire with an adult beverage of some sort.  Mighty fine.

Snow days are great for cooking, too. I love to spend the day in the kitchen cooking and eating bunches of new things that I don’t typically have time for. One snow storm a few years ago, when they actually shut down the Interstates, I cooked so many new things,. That winter, I developed an entire  bunch of new “standards” that we still enjoy regularly.

Bring on the snow! But wait till Friday night, please.

Down in Kentucky

I live in Northern Kentucky, and have for about two years.  Before that, except for a brief time in Missouri (Go Mizzou!) I spent my adult life in Central Kentucky, and grew up in South Central KY.  I have fond feelings for each of these places, many pleasant memories and dear friends.

Northern Kentucky is different, though.  People here can’t really decide where they actually live.  Sometimes it’s in Greater Cincinnati, sometimes it is in the town or county they live in, usually it is just Northern Kentucky.  As in, “Where are you from?” “Northern Kentucky.”  or “Greater Cincinnati.” Never “Kentucky.” In fact, most people seem to be embarrassed that Northern Kentucky is part of Kentucky at all.

img_0209.jpgIn my two years here, I have heard the phrase, ‘down in Kentucky’ so many times, I can’t even count them.  The definition of ‘down in Kentcuky’ is anywhere not in Boone, Campbell or Kenton counties. It’s kinda like that old New York poster (from New Yorker magazine?) that had Manhattan with all it’s buildings and landmarks, a little detail for Queens, Long Island, Brooklyn, etc.  and none for the rest of the country.  Northern Kentuckians think about the rest of KY that way.

Down in Kentucky is such a generic term, it could mean Lexington, Louisville, Lake Cumberland, the Appalachian region or anywhere in the state, really.  A friend of mine referred to the movie Elizabethtown as taking place near where her own father’s family lives.  Since I have spent a lot of time in and around E-town, I commented, “oh, really, where are they from?” To which she replied “Floyd County.”  The two places are like night and day in culture, terrain, population, and are probably about 5 hours apart.  Northern Kentucky is closer to either than each is to the other.  Yet, because they are both ‘down in Kentucky’ they are practically the same in her mind.

And the rest of Kentucky often forgets that Northern Kentucky is even up here, too, despite the fact that the region is responsible for much of the state’s sales tax revenue, job growth and economic development.  Development that helps the rest of the state.

I get so confused with it all. I have started calling this region the great state of Northern Kentucky.  There’s a WEST Virginia, a NORTH and SOUTH Dakota and Carolina, so why not a NORTH Kentucky?  Makes as much sense to me as ‘down in Kentucky’ ever will.

This land

I live in Kentucky.  Beautiful, green, terrain that goes from flat in the west to rolling hills then to mountains in the east.  peaceful lane

See?  This picture was taken by my talented daughter  in my driveway  last year just as the leaves started to turn.

.peaceful drive

I love to travel, but I think Kentucky is about the prettiest place on earth.

I just returned from Nevada – Las Vegas, actually.  Now, Las Vegas has it’s share of lights and glitter and glamour.  It sure impressed me! But it doesn’t have much green.  It has desert.  Lots of desert.  See?

Land of Fire

If it wasn’t for the red rocks in Nevada’s Land of Fire state park, the entire landscape would be gray.  Most of the rest of the area we saw was like the background in this photo. Not green.  No trees, hardly any plants at all, and most of those were rather gray-green.. It was pretty in its own way, I suppose, but it was rather uniform.  The mountains were nice, but they were just a darker shade of gray.  The red rocks at the park  were nice, but it sure was hot. Desolate.  I kept waiting for someone like John Wayne to meander up on his horse looking for water, and then the director to yell, “CUT!”

It made me think about the kid who grows up in Nevada and goes to the east for the first time ever.  What would he think of all that green? And trees? And ample water?  We tend to think of people coming to America from foreign countries and wondering what they think of this land, but what about our own?  We are just as diverse, landscape wise, and experience wise. Yet we assume, unwisely, that we are alike, because we are Americans.

It’s cool to live in a county with so much diversity.  Now if we could just start to appreciate it in all its forms.  From culture, to landscape.  From skin color to economic circumstance.  What a wonderful place this would be.