Saturday, December 26, 2015

The Best Photo-Catch was this one

I love to point a camera in a public place and freeze a second in time in a perfect situation that says it all in one "click". It hardly ever happens, perhaps 6-10 times in the decade I've blogged. It was a slow year at the 'blog. But this photo of the young anonymous woman with flowing tresses and just the right stance, innocently evaluating some used books for purchase in the Public Market in Milwaukee one Saturday afternoon in late winter was perfect. I edited by cropping and framing--that's all. Avid readers will get this instantly.

Thursday, December 24, 2015

A Stack of Books to Mention; a Reading Round-Up.

I discovered Louis L'Amour this year when I found a paperback copy of "Jubal Sackett". An interesting adventure of an early Virginia colonist's travels thru the unknown country to the Rockies to resettle himself, friends and a Native American woman--and oh, his pet buffalo named Paisano.
Why has this story never been made into a movie?

Another of the vintage John LeCarre novels, "Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy". The best of his I've read so far. Deeply layered plot and elegant word smithing. Subtle. George Smiley may be my favorite character in fiction.

"Water for Elephants" by Sara Gruen takes you to a magic place: a curmudgeonly old gent in his nursing home recalls his youth. After an early traumatic tragedy, he runs away and joins the circus in the 1920's and meets the love of his life. the literary enchantment reminded me of the totally engaging and original plot in "the Beautiful Ruins" that I read earlier.

"Who is Conrad Hurst?" by Kevin Wignall was a lean, mean little thriller about a soldier of fortune suffering post traumatic stress disorder after two shocking events. With no emotional ballast, he simply takes jobs as a stone cold killer-hit man in modern Europe until cascading events bring him back to his senses.

"Embers" by a mid-20th Century Hungarian writer Sandor Marai is a story of betrayal. Of course, I was reading a translation; I found it "flattened", somehow. It was readable, by I'm not sure I would recommend the book. I'm old; this story was too old for me.

"And Justice There is None" by Deborah Crombie. The book cover says the author is writing in P.D. James territory; if "London" is what is meant, that is true. The mystery written, Elizabeth George-style, by an American lady from Texas writing a London centered police procedural. For me it was "what to read on the train till I find something else"; a bit light and gimmicky after one is reminded of P. D. James.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

My Father's Birthday. He'd be 96...

A scene from his funeral at Arlington Cemetery with many of his favorite family members from the DC area. Our older son on the right, our in-law Michael in the center.  Being interred at Arlington was important to Dad, he had it all arranged well in advance.

Monday, December 7, 2015

For Cousin David: A Photo of our Mothers, along with thoughts and prayers.

My Cousin David is doing poorly, very sad to say. He is near 90 and very ill, I've heard.

I found this photo, taken about 1923 or so. The little girl is my Mother and the older girl is David's Mother. David was born a few years later.

Monday, November 30, 2015

The Season's First Gift...a great chance to update on The Twins

Sadly, we were napping Saturday afternoon, trying to shake off the effects of a seasonal virus; we missed the knock at the door when the Wonderful Twins, "Micah and Molly"  tried to deliver some Christmas cookies they made. Their Grandmother brought the cookies over later.

Some may remember funny stories of these two precious kids as babies and younger children. They still do pretty funny things, but now they also play trumpet, they are well into the lower grades at school. This is the first year they are in separate classrooms. They like to visit zoos in other cities when they are on vacation. Thanks for the cookies, Kids. Sorry we missed seeing you! (Credit: the photo of the kids was pinched from their Mom's FB; probably from last summer.)

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Man and Wife: 19th Century Beauties:

During a visit to extended family in Kentucky this fall, there was a large family re-union picnic; everyone from my cousin almost 90 and some even older, to a weeks'-old infant. The annual re-union continues to draw family members from the local area and far away. You should have seen the wonderful country food everyone brought! Such wonderful people.

Of course, there were photos: the attractive young couple shown here are the ancestors of most of the people who attended; perhaps before their marriage, since every other photo of them as they aged were posed together. Evocative, they are; photos' probably made around 1880?

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

It is always personal with Detective David Robicheaux...

"Pegasus Descending" by James Lee Burke.

Burke creates readable, moody and atmospheric detective thrillers; in the 'Robicheaux' series, the setting is the deepest US South in Louisiana, which he calls 'an open-air mental institution'. The hero, Dave, is an older police detective, working for the New Iberia Police; he's honest to a fault, though flawed by post-traumatic stress left over from Vietnam and a hard life fighting evil bad guys, along with his PI friend, Clete Purcel (who is lucky he's not in jail, with his free-lance methods). Robicheaux is also a recovering alcoholic who attends AA meetings and has a lot to say about the condition. The characters are richly imagined, with names and descriptions that are entertaining all by themselves: drug dealer Monarch Little looks harmless as a cartoon character but can be a stone killer, or Bellerophon Lujan, thug.  A plentiful array of "suspects" for the reader to 'vet'. I mostly figured out "whodunit" but enjoyed the colorful and flavorful read.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015


   At least 3 times, over a span of several decades,I have tried to read, enjoy and complete a novel by Edna Ferber.
   She was one of the most wildly popular writers of quality mass-market fiction in the middle decades of the 20th Century. Recently, I tried again with her first major hit novel, "So Big", published in 1924. I could not make the story, the writing, the characters, pass my 30-page rule. It made me think a little of books read in the past year: "A Reliable Wife" and "Devil in the White City", with the references to Chicago in the late 1800's, but without the depth and maturity.

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Seen So Many Better Days...

Somewhere in Kentucky, on a recent visit, I was able to pay a short visit to one of the extended, historic (19th Century) family homes. This is a classic early-to-mid 19th Century, prosperous farm home. Some of this style have been rescued and restored. Not so this one, I'm afraid. Thanks to my generous and helpful cousins for organizing the visit and being wonderful company.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

"A Taste for Death" by P.D. James

I was sad to learn of the recent death of this fascinating Lady! She was in her 90's when she passed away last year. Her genre was mostly the criminal suspense "who-dun-it", but with so much literary value added: similar to John Le Carre and the spy novel genre. Her hero in this novel (and many others) Adam Dalgliesh is a high-ranking criminal investigator at Scotland Yard; more than that, he seems a proxy for the holistic person in the age of the big bureacracy of the modern age. "A Taste for Death" featured many characters: victims, heros, villians, helpers and hinderers of the process of detecting the evil that committed the bloody murders at the heart of the novel. The violent crime works changes of so many of the people in the book-from the initial victims to the small boy who discovered the crime to the young police woman among the investigators. I couldn't put it down and I was sorry when I finished this book.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Happy Birthday, Mother...

My Mother is the child about 6 years old in the middle of this little 1920's family group, sitting on the steps of their Cincinnati, OH home. This was probably about the summer of 1924 or 1925. Seems a long time ago. A long time gone. The little girl on the bottom step, with her hand hiding a giggle: she recently passed away--as a 93 year old matriarch of a big family of her own.

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Books Books Books Not Great Books, Simply Books Completed.

 My last try at Nelson DeMille: Charm School
And Only to Deceive by Tasha Alexander
 Faithful Unto Death by Caroline Graham (definitely not P. D, James.)

Thrush Green by Miss Read. Interesting little book, actually.

Friday, October 9, 2015

On a Picnic in Kentucky last month...a Sycamore Tussock Moth caterpillar

It was interesting. It was aggressive. I'm glad I didn't touch it because I just learned it's sharp hairs have irritating venom that stings and causes hives.

Friday, October 2, 2015

Not the best photo...but 2 of the best people!

Architect Erin Besler and her oft-time collaborator and husband Ian H. Besler (also known as the kidz) slowed down for a photo in front of one of their friend's exhibits at the Chicago Architecture Biennial which opens tomorrow. Their project is located on the 1st floor of the Chicago Cultural Center.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Marsh Hawk with Prey...

We have lots of flowers whose seeds provide food for several varieties of birds in abundance. In recent years, the situation has provided for a greater population of Marsh Hawks to help prey on the small birds, such as this unlucky Weaver Finch, We had near-encounters with the hawk as it hunted this summer.

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Hybridized Daylillies...the Class of 2015

After the "crosses" are made, it takes a few weeks to know if a seed pod will develop. Then you must wait to collect the seeds; store them in the freezer until March and then start the new plants inside. Once planted in the flower bed, they seem quite hardy; it takes about three years before the plants are mature enough to bloom. Instruction are also to be found on the internet by simply googling.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Thank You, Kennedy!

A very young gardener we know in Kentucky gave us seeds from one of his big, brilliant sunflowers last year. We planted them for the summer past. The flowers were wonderful, though probably not as good as the ones grown in Kentucky soils. Thank you, Kennedy.

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Madison Wisconsin Mifflin Street Co-op long lost Guerilla Cookies! (one of the few things I miss about the '70's)

These were from the batch that was my first attempt. I found the recipe and tried it. Best to reduce the oven temperature to around 325-F and watch the cooking progress.

These cookies were similar to an energy bar, but sweetened softly with honey, molasses and barley malt syrup. It a chore to assemble the ingredients, but if you want a taste of the 1970's, this is it.

The next time I made the cookies, they turned out "prettier".

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Verga in Southern Ohio

                       Rain falling from clouds; it evaporates before it reaches the ground.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

To Read These Three....I must really love to read

Since I have not written a manuscript, gotten it published and had it become a best seller, I can't be too critical of those who have. I get it.

Having mentioned that, I will never even look into another Jeffrey Archer novel after I choked my way through "Kane & Abel". But maybe it only seemed outdated, since it came out more than 30 years ago and wasn't very well written or edited.

Probably I'm the wrong demographic for Laura Griffin's "Unspeakable-A Tracers Novel". Routine, not very thrilling crime novel. With a twist of "chick-lit".

Least offensive was "Omerta" by Mario Puzo; normally I enjoy his novels.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Time to Go Home...Say Goodbye to Maysville...Give some Credit!

 Chandler's is a lovely place to enjoy delicious meals here in Maysville. Long may it prosper!

The graceful sweep of the older bridge between Maysville and Aberdeen, OH on the summer evening.
Tiles created by the hand prints of local students in various shades of terra cotta. Distinctive style!

"Vintage" little Brown's Motel in Aberdeen. Clean, a throwback to the 50's, so cute! For one or two, the older, little rooms were perfect. There is a newer addition with more modern, larger rooms.

Friday, August 21, 2015

Maysville, Ky: Not just a suburban town...

an old river town, built against a hillside, rising from the Ohio River, with many interesting vistas..

 the original foundation of this out dated garage, built of limestone, appears to have a defensive slit window or opening from the days when people may have used such a thing to shoot from?

and just a random view of the river from half way up the bluff.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

The Feeling of Maysville, KY on a Summer Evening...

It's an old river town east of Cincinnati on the Ohio River. It's seen a "hay day" but is not quite finished.

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...