Sunday, December 28, 2014

A Book You "Miss", Once You Have Finished...

"September" by Rosamunde Pilcher is peopled by characters that, as individuals, are sometimes flat; but once they are assembled, they fit into the story just fine and the plot flows along very well for the entire 600+pages of the novel. The story is a continuation, sequel or "vol 2" of the authors wonderful hit, "The Shell Seekers"; one of Penelope Keeling's children figures as a moderately important character in "September". The wife of a wealthy business man decides to have a hunt ball dance party at their Scottish estate; one by one the central characters are drawn in, either asked to help organize the event or are invited to attend. If you love "Downton Abbey", you will likely enjoy the novels of Rosamunde Pilcher. My only complaint is my usual complaint about many novels: the editing; certain words and phrases occur in her novels like hiccups, for example, characters are too often "dealing with" some chore or situation; characters "eat their way through" too many meals. I feel patronized by clumsy or absent editing--I guess it's just me.

Friday, December 26, 2014

How to Make a "Selfie"

I don't own or want a smartphone, but I asked one of my daughters-in-law (visiting for the holidays) how they make a "selfie". She showed me, but sadly, I was not able to point the camera phone correctly, so she took this one. Happy Holidays and Happy New Year, dear Audience.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

To Detroit, of all places: Favorite Photo

To me, this photo says it all about Detroit: a city of stark contrasts. We spent time early in 2014; the goal was to explore their Art Museum. It was an interesting long weekend. Hubsy "saw" this photo-op and I snapped it.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

"At Home A Short History of Private Live" by Bill Bryson

The author is a popular travel writer, I'm told, though I hadn't yet discovered this books. In "At Home" he takes us on a trip, from room to room, in his current home in England. The house was built as a Rectory in 1851. So first, Bryson explains about the 19th Century English church system; notable accomplishments were achieved by some of these clerics. The book reminded me a bit of the early chapters of "The Devil in the White City" with the explanation of the Great Exhibition of 1851 in London which was as difficult to launch as the Chicago Fair in 1893. No detail of domestic life is too trivial to escape mention: construction, arrangement of spaces, materials, stairs and the changes in life style they enabled, utilities, plumbing, etc. Sounds like it could be boring? No, it is a delightful book, written in a light, amusing and conversational style. Much was familiar to me: I was a Home Economics major in college; but I learned a lot too. I will definitely find other books by this author.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Dad Would Have Turned 95 Today....

Probably it would be better to post a sweet cuddly baby picture, but the nursing center sick bed photo is also a part of reality. Dad made it just past his 93rd.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Light Reflections Paint a Picture...

Underneath the Brown Line on the NW side of Chicago on a snowy evening; underneath the Bean sculpture on a sunny day in May.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

In California, last Spring, We Saw an Auto Commercial as it was Staged...

We were walking back to our hotel in the evening; a block of downtown LA was closed to traffic as production was underway for a car commercial. Small electric lights and little gold disks sparkled, suspended above the black sedan whose praises were sung. Cars all look the same to us now, but we stood and watched for awhile. Turns out, it was a Ford commercial and we've seen it a couple of times during Sunday football games.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Meanwhile, A Dozen Books were Read, Stacked and Waiting for Commentary...

I never stop reading books that I find. I mention them here so I will remember the titles, plots and authors later. By choosing "a book by its cover" last summer, I found Chris Kuzneski's "The Sign of the Cross"; it barely passed my "thirty page rule" (if I can read thirty pages without closing the book in disgust, I finish it). The plot centered on what seemed to be a conspiracy to cast doubt on the divinity of Christ by perhaps revealing that the entire persecution and execution of Jesus was a hoax orchestrated by the Romans for their own gain. A plot which seemed to be riding on the coat tails of the popularity of other recent novels. Though not recent, my favorite on this general subject is "King Jesus" by Robert Graves, it came out in 1946 and was truly mind-blowing for the time. But the writing is sublime. Anyway, Kuzeski's novel is full of crashing cars, high speed, impossible coincidences and testosterone splashing all over the place; blood too. However, Orvieto in Italy was a setting for part of the book. Somehow, I'd never heard of the that place before. I google-mapped and imaged, I used wikipedia, etc. with delight. So, I learned that even in a book I'm not enjoying much, I can benefit if I do research on elements in the story that interest me.

Friday, November 28, 2014

One Last Photo Series from Kentucky...

It seems more common now than when I was growing up to see Dads tending tiny kids', showing tenderness and care. Since the scene happened right in front of me, I had to "grab" it. Perfect for Fathers Day...give or take the smart phone, of course.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Friday, November 14, 2014

Frankfort is Home to Lots of Kitty-Kats...

As we strolled to lovely residential streets and lanes of Frankfort, with many historic homes to admire, we kept noticing tame, calm cats everywhere. My cousin's wife later told me the cats are all over. Especially on the quiet streets that dead-ended at the river; locals fed the strays; some had collars, some not. Smartcars always make me smile.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Interesting Frankfort, KY...a rustic little state capital town.

Ghost signs, reflections and the strange old-fashion rail tracks that are built into the busy street near the "old State Capitol" in Frankfort, Ky. The small city nestles in a deep valley on the bend of the Kentucky River. It sets the place "back in time", it feels like. We did not visit, but the town has it's own bourbon maker. You can visit if you want. On one of our previous visits to Kentucky, we toured the Woodford Reserve distiller.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Reveal: Restoration of the Original Structure

At its core, the farmhouse was a one room, one story storage depot and safe house, constructed in no windows and one door; built during the 1790's. Over the past centuries, successive generations changed and added elements: new rooms, a second floor, addition parlor room and bedroom, kitchen house separated by the classic Kentucky "dog-trot" and more. Before revealing the original log construction in one of the main rooms, my cousin consulted experts and used select construction teams. It was quite a project.

Friday, October 24, 2014

What Would (Great-Great) Grandmother Say?

This is a photo of an old photograph that hangs now in the house that you see in the picture, currently occupied by my cousin and his family. The house on the farm we visited. (it has a glaring reflection, I know). The baby is my Grandfather, whose boyhood home this was. His father is the younger man, standing. The older couple are my 2g-gp's and they all lived in the house. Lots of family members were conceived, born and died in that house. The baby is two or three years old--making the year 1897 or 98. The older gent passed away in 1899. Family lore says the widow wore Victorian black mourning til she died about 1931. Certainly, she rode in automobiles and trains, but lived quite well without all the modern conveniences. She was a teenage girl at the time of the Civil War.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Ancient log barn...

Like the farm house, additions were built onto the 18th Century log barn; the tool marks are still visible on the original supports; the other side of the structure on the lovely fall day, somewhere in Kentucky.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Almost like an excursion in time...

The gentleman on the right is an extremely distant cousin of mine, in Lexington to meet again and gain knowledge of the family lore. My Mother's 1st cousin, a venerable gentleman farmer of many decades in the area was his focus. Mom's cousin (90 years old) lives quite near the old "home place" farm, and visits regularly. Recently, he was seriously injured in a hair-raising farm accident; out of the hospital and back to his regular work schedule, he took time to walk around the farm property (originally, an 18th century log cabin with associated log out-buildings-some standing)to give us an oral history of the days when the farm was a working complex of many operations, grain crops, tobacco, hogs, meat smoking, an orchard and cidar making and so much more. He was a small child in the 1920's on the farm and could quote the words of his grandparents, etc. He spoke of the tobacco wars, for instance. Except for the internal combustion machine (tractor and auto) and some electrical power they generated, life on the farm in the 1920's was much as it was in the 1800's. Indoor plumbing was added about 1970.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Window Shopping in downtown Lexington..

Heritage Antiques, housed in an old brick church building downtown, caught Hubsy's attention. Good way to repurpose an out dated building, rather than demolish it for another parking garage. A bright, eclectic mixing of various old furnishings and decor. I loved the light from the stained glass windows and the massive organ pipes.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Visiting Family...

Early in our visit we stopped at the lovely local cemetery, a garden spot and full of the memorials for famous Kentucky citizens-- and our family too. By now I can remember where the section is located, but somehow the family plots always seem to hide from me. When I was much younger, this area was in pounding sunshine all day long; after all these years the trees have certainly grown tall.

Friday, October 3, 2014

Breakfast at the Track Kitchen and One Last Photo of Keeneland, for now.

I should add that the Track Kitchen at Keeneland is meant to provide great, plentiful and economical cafeteria-style food service for handlers, trainers and "horse people" in general; it is open to the public (if you can find it: it's near the big black water tower near the rear of the lot). But it's special: the aura of the racing world surrounds you, the staff is very warm and inviting and the food really is good.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Safety First

A modern equine ambulance on hand in case a horse is injured or gets sick; tiny dog felt right at home; The Noble Pair-young horse and steady handler.

The Butterfly Hotel is open for business--and packed!

We started, several years ago, to assist the butterfly population by nurturing the young specimens indoors. It was slow going. But this...