Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Evocative Sights in the New River Gorge

 Rustic old and newer bridges across the New River

 A turn-of-the-last-century cemetery alone in the forest...
And an Amtrak stop in a ghost town, in Thurmond, WV.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

More Scenes From the New River Gorge

 The best angle I got on this wonderful butterfly; I will edit this post once I've ID'ed it.

 On a hot, humid afternoon, the air that poured from the cleft in the rocks was as cool as on air conditioner.
Another sweeping view of the New River from on the bluffs; with Mountain Laurel in bloom! This New River is very, very ancient, brimming with history.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Two by John LeCarre

Earlier this year I read "The Russia House". First, I will say that I did not like the movie, which I saw when it came out years ago. That may have colored my enjoyment of the book? The plot seemed "routine" and not very interesting.

More recently, I finally got around to reading the classic, epic "The Spy Who Came in from the Cold", published in the early 1960's. I can't tell you what a block-buster novel that was! This was the book that introduces the best "little grey man" master spy character ever, George Smiley, in a supporting but vital role. (I love the character. George Smiley. He's not.) The writing is pure and clean and tightly edited. It is not a "feel good" cozy book; but any tangled, confused emotion you have as you read seems perfectly intended!

With "Russia House", if I were a skeptic (and I am) I'd suppose it was written to inspire a screen play to employ Sean Connery one more time.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

More Photos to Remember my Aunt, who recently passed away.

 My Grandparents, my Mother (the older girl in the center) and my twin Aunts. Later, a baby brother was added.
 The twins were not identical. The toddler with straighter hair is the one who passed away Friday.
 Sadly, the other little girl died in the early 1950's; her children were lavished with love by her devoted twin.
 I can hear my Grandmother saying: "yes, they are twins; no, they are not identical; yes, they are handful; no, you can't have one...." there was not internet in 1925. (Mom, giggling on the left)
Little matching playsuits...chubby little cheeks...more fun than a box of kittens.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

A Special "Rest in Peace": More Music in Heaven!

My Mother's younger sister (in her mid-90's now) passed away last night. A wonderful lady, a wife, a mother, an aunt, a teacher, a pianist who could have turned pro, and fine qualities beyond number!

Thursday, July 16, 2015

The Magnificent New River Gorge...

though West Virginia is only a "big" day's drive away from our area in Chicago, I am surprised how few people in the Midwest are aware of this place. Over the millions of years, the river has cut a giant channel through the mountainous, rugged land. The roar of the water tumbling over rocks can be heard all over the valley all the time.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

I Did Not Expect to Like this Book: "Orange is the New Black"....

..but at the core of it, Piper Kerman authored the book with the voice of a very likeable young woman on a mission which includes increasing the reader's awareness of the life of women in the Federal Correction system. She repeatedly accepted responsibility for the errant crime she committed: helping to smuggle drugs and cash to and from the US. She was a small cog in the giant illegal drug industry, she pleaded "guilty" and agreed to help the government in prosecuting other members of the ring. She says that every crime has, at it's heart, lack of empathy (among other things). As a very young woman, without a clear direction and seeking adventure, she fell in with an older woman who gradually recruited her into the drug smuggling ring; after a year or so of travel and wild living, Piper managed to break up her relationship with the woman and move on. Ten years later, the Feds came calling; Piper served an interesting though difficult 13 months in minimum security prison; the book details her experiences and the lessons learned. There was a fascinating chapter on the experience of transport via "Con Air" and incarceration in the Chicago Metropolitan Correction center; from an office window at my work, I can look down on the sky-high prison recreation space at that facility.

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...