Saturday, November 26, 2016

We Took Her to Keeneland...The Racecourse of Lexington,

 Our niece found every other animal there to love---besides horses. She inquired if the cat could be adopted....

 the puppy was a favorite, too.

She loved the goat.  Probably kept as a comfort animal/companion for one of the race horses.

 We walked the length and breadth of the stables and stalls area of the race course. I do this every time I visit; this day, it was "farrior day" for the horses. It seemed the farriors were set up in every barn, tending to the various horses. It seemed intrusive to photograph those activities, but it was interesting.

It was a lovely day. The weather the entire weekend was beautiful.

Monday, November 21, 2016

In Louisville, later that afternoon, a stroll through St. James Court

The Conrad-Caldwell Mansion

A 2nd-Great Grandfather of mine was a principal partner in a construction company/stone masonry in late 19th Century Louisville. Though the family lived in the Cherokee Park area of the city, the firm was among builders who worked on many of the many mansions constructed in Louisville in the later decades of the 1800's. So, late in the afternoon of our arrival, we took a long walk the the St. James Court-Belgravia Historic District to give our niece a flavor of the old city. She is only 12 but I'm sure the images will be alive in her memory. We stayed at the Seelbach Hotel to provide some additional old Louisville context for her adventure.

Friday, November 18, 2016

More "Americana" on a Trip to Kentucky Last Month...

But first, a stop at Schlimff's Candy in Jeffersonville, IN. It's a 19th Century candy shop, old fashioned soda fountain, tea room, candy factory and museum, all housed in two store fronts in the little river town, directly across from Louisville.

The little girl is our niece. Half of her ancestry comes from Poland; someday, no doubt, she will visit. But she also has "Kentucky Roots", so the theme of the extended weekend was to give her a flavor for the life and times of her American Cousins.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

I Always Enjoy His Books: "Our Game" by John LeCarre'

Where is Larry Pettifer? The former double agent has gone missing along with the girl he stole from Tim Cranmer, his friend, former school mate, rival, former spymaster, narrator and main character of this novel. Governments (both the UK and the Russians) and the police search for him; Tim is suspected of collaboration with the missing man, but he has conflicted emotions and motives swirling, as he works independent of his former bosses to locate Larry and the girl. At issue is the theft of tens of millions of Russian cash by forgery and wire fraud. How is the money to be used?

The writing is superb, as usual for the his author. I loved the satiric feeling of the scenes with the police, his old bosses at the Office, his ex-wife. The plot is complex, like "The Night Manager" and set in the post-Soviet era of the 1990's when the Russians were waging campaigns of ethnic cleansing against groups in the Caucasus. One interesting "prop" used was a hiding place for Tim: a "priest hole" concealed in a tower of the medieval church on his estate.

I "google-researched" the Caucasian Mountain countries of the Russian Federation; beautiful, brutal places with ancient stone towers and evocative landscapes.

The young woman, Emma, the love interest was the weakest link. Like the heroine in "The Night Manager": mystically beautiful but otherwise shallow and unworthy of having so much of the action in the novel directed at trying to "save" her. Meanwhile, this author able to create such deep and compelling characters out of "little grey middle-aged men" with bureaucratic jobs in spy agencies like Tim and like George Smiley (who does not appear in this novel).

Eventually, given enough time, I suppose I will read all the this author's fictional works. He is a wonderful writer who chose to work on espionage and crime thrillers.

Thursday, November 3, 2016

A Poignant "Cubs Win": Hubsy said "This is for your Dad."

The photo above shows my Grandfather (the Dad in the photo) and his infant son (my Dad). It's a rough little snapshot, made early in 1920. Grandpa (born 1885 in Sicily, came to Chicago as a baby) was a Cubs fan. He'd have celebrated the 1908 win as a young man; but never again would he see a World's Series Win for the Cubs. He took my Dad to games whenever possible, so Dad grew up loving the game and the team.  Dad was in Europe in the War for the 1945 series. Though he avidly followed the Cubs; lamented the losses and poor results, he was never discouraged. He lived for 93 years and 20 days; passed away in January 2013.  Like so many other life-long, loyal fans who didn't live long enough to see the Win they longed for.  Bitter-Sweet.

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...