Sunday, May 31, 2015

My May Reads, 2015

Only six books read this month; half my usual amount. Two 3.5's, a 4 and three 4.5's. Another Irene Kelly mystery, Kidnapped, by Jan Burke was one of the 3.5's. The other was Mrs. Grant and Madame Jule by Jennifer Chiaverini. I see I rated this Chiaverini book slightly higher than I did The Spymistress.
I really enjoyed learning more about Southern sympathizer, slave-owning Julia Dent Grant and her relationship with her Northern abolitionist husband, General Ulysses S. Grant. I did hope that by the end of the book she might have once again seen her former slave, the successful Madame Jule.

Kidnapped, as noted, is another Irene Kelly mystery, this one about missing and/or kidnapped children. Our library has two more Jan Burke books, neither of them featuring Irene Kelly. I may or may not read them, just wish they had more of the Irene Kelly series.

A Fireproof Home For The Bride by Amy Scheibe is my 4.0 rated read. I could really relate to this late 50's story about a sheltered young woman expected by her family, neighbors, church members and every one else to marry the neighbor boy upon graduating from high school thus uniting two ancestral farms.
When one of her high school teachers encourages Emmy to open her eyes to the wider world around her she begins to wonder what else might be 'out there'. She breaks her engagement which causes her mother to kick her out of the house. Emmy starts working as the telephone receptionist for the Fargo, ND newspaper. Her natural curiosity about some fires makes her suggest to one of the reporters that the fires may be related and eventually leads to the identity of an arsonist. Emmy moves up to being a reporter, too. Her investigation of a murder endangers her own life. Like I said, I related to this story which may be why I liked it so well.

My 4.5 ratings are all by favorite authors and all have dream in their titles. First, the one by my adopted author, Elizabeth Berg:

 I did not even know Berg had a new book out this year so I was surprised when the library called to tell me it was in. I had no idea what it was about, so I was even more surprised that it departed from Berg's usual style of books.
Berg said she became interested in learning more about the French author, Aurore Dupin, better known as George Sand, but that she could not find the kind of book she was looking for, so she wrote it herself. The Dream Lover is Berg's imagined novel of what Sands' life was like. I enjoyed it immensely. Two quotes from Sands' writings: "If we are pained by memories of what we have loved and lost, then we are also gifted by them."
"The light is amber, the air still; the day lilies have folded in on themselves. Soon the hooded blue of dusk will fall, followed by the darkness of night and the sky writing of the stars, indecipherable to us mortals, despite our attempts to force narrative upon them."

The Edge of Dreams is Rhys Bowen's 14th Molly Murphy Mystery. Molly and her little boy, Liam, are back from Paris ready to move back into the home Daniel has had rebuilt during their absence. But Daniel has little time to spend with his family as he tries to find the murderer of several victims who seem to have no links to one another - except the perpetrator's taunting notes to Captain Sullivan.
When the train Molly & Liam are on derails on a curve due to high speed, Daniel wonders if Molly was the intended victim. Someone on the train was, because Daniel receives another note: "next time".
Molly's detective instincts lead her to discover the links between victims which also puts her in danger. It was so ironic that I started reading this book a morning after all the news was about the Philadelphia train derailment due to the same circumstances as in the book - too much speed on a curve.

Not only do they both have titles about dreaming but Laurie R. King's Dreaming Spies is her 14th Mary Russell Mystery. King's writing is so smart; a delight to read. Russell & Holmes are on a steamer bound for Japan after a lengthy case in India. Both are looking forward to experiencing a new culture. They befriend a young Japanese woman who agrees to tutor them in the culture and language of her homeland. Mary appreciates the haiku Haruki quotes to her, but suspects there is more to the young woman than is being presented.
Once they are in Japan, Sherlock & Mary are asked to help retrieve a valuable book for the Emperor of Japan. King's mysteries are just as intriguing, or even moreso, than Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's. Holmes & Russell are a great pair.
Each chapter begins with a new haiku. This is my favorite: "Roads go ever on. Travelers may turn away - But the road goes on." I hope this series goes ever on.

Saturday, May 30, 2015

The Week in Words and Pictures 5-24/5-30

Sunday - Woke up to rain - just as they forecast. 1.15" so far. Going to take Doris' book back to her after lunch, but before I do, another of her family group pictures I scanned:

This one taken in the 40's while Calvin was home on leave from the Navy. Men in back, Uncle Tom, Delmar and Calvin. Don't know the dog's name, but Uncle Tom always had rat terriers. Women, left to right: Darlene, Aunt Florence, Leota, Ester, Doris and Fern. Clyde & Jim in front.

I took some old photos of Grandma's along to show her to possibly help me identify. This one is of Aunt Florence, Uncle Tom and my Grandpa Joe fishing at "Trumbel Lake" August, 1941. But is it Trumbull Lake Iowa or Trumbull Lake California? Doris & I decided it must be the one in Iowa. Although both her parents and my grandparents had made trips to California, she did not think they had ever gone on one together.
Doris was doing therapy when I got to the rehab center. She does get to go home Friday. I thought I would stay an hour, expecting other visitors to show up, but none did and I stayed two hours. Had a most delightful visit.

Monday - 'Official' Memorial Day. Up early - 5:15. Cloudy. Wet. Repeat. Another .25" of rain in the gauge.

Stopped to see this year's Freedom Rock on the way to Casey for lunch with Doug & Shelly. Each year the artist repaints the boulder in time for Memorial Day. (Google 'Freedom Rock' for more info about the artist and his freedom rocks.) I wish I had taken photos of this rock years ago when it was covered in graffiti. The only times it was repainted then was when a new graduating class added their "class of" year. I don't think any graffiti has appeared on the rock since Bubba started honoring veterans in 1999.

Back view. The helicopter never gets painted over because ashes of deceased veterans were mixed in the paint. This side gets refreshed each year as more veterans' ashes are added in the paint. So many people were here this morning. (By afternoon when we passed by on the way home, there were even more people there. Dozens of motorcyclists.)

A quieter Memorial Day remembrance - While at my Ridnour great-grandparents' grave Saturday, I broke off this peony. The plant had only buds, none open, and they looked so unusual I wondered what they would look like open. Like this. Did some of Rufe & Kate's children or grandchildren move peony bushes from the Mauderly/Ridnour farmstead to the cemetery after their deaths?

Tuesday - More rain - 1.35" This is the deck two houses down now that someone new has moved in:

 It is something I've often thought about getting for our deck. Then we could be out there rain or shine. But I've always worried that some of the strong winds we get would carry the whole structure away - at the very least tear the top off. But maybe not....hmm...in time for Christmas in July???

Wednesday - Sunny. Just in time for the arrival of our new bed. Yay!

I'm still amazed at how little hassle there was to replace the old bed under warranty. Practically painless. And so nice to have a firm mattress again.

This Grackle looks like he is wondering, "What is the name of those lovely petunias"? (Autumn Mystery) In reality he is eyeing the bird feeder. I thought these iridescent, purple headed black birds might be Brewer's Blackbirds, but I'm fairly certain they are just common grackles.

Thursday - Slept really well on the new bed; much less achy. Mom's coral bells are in bloom:

They seem to do so much better here than they ever did on the south side of her house.

The sage is also blooming. And while I'm at it, let me give some 'sage' advice:

Don't try to mow when it has been raining, and raining and raining. The closer you get to the pond, the wetter it is. The tall grass on the upper right is where the bobcat was stuck last month. Hasn't been mowed since.

Friday - Took a longer way home from the Y:

Parkland southeast of Summit Lake dam. You can see we've been having lots of rain by the amount of water going over the dam. This is the same area where the tornado hit in 2012.

So many places look better than they did before the tornado damage - like this home east of Summit Lake Avenue on 165th Street.

This was the house on April 16 two days after the tornado that caused so much damage to our hospital, the college and our Y. The Y didn't re-open until late September.
There is still a bare slab where the one house which was completely destroyed used to be. It is where the two people who were hurt the worst were at the time of the storm.

Saturday - Heard it raining in the night. I should not complain. What we are having is nothing compared to what Texas and Oklahoma have been dealing with. Years of drought followed by epic flooding. It does seem our weather gets more and more out of whack. Total rainfall for the week according to our gauge is 3.35 inches. I am turning into my mother. She always noted the weather, rain fall, even wind direction each day. (I couldn't do any better than being more like my Mom.)

Wonder if it is edible? The rainy, cool weather is contributing to fungus.....and flowers.....

....bouquet of peonies, sage and fern. The ferns I have are ones I got from the home of a dear neighbor of my youth, Neva Vogel. It is nice to have plants and flowers that remind me of loved ones.

Some first blooms from Pauline's clematis. She the new neighbor when we moved here. Now also deceased. Clematis - representing art in the language of flowers. I'm not very artistic when it comes to arranging flowers - but I don't have to be with these gorgeous blooms.

And this is the week that was.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Honky Tonk Angels?


I love this old photo of my mother (right), her sister and two of their cousins. I've used it in a blog before and my daughter, who also loves the photo, shared it on Facebook this week. Her husband had made a comment about her family being 'plains billies' because there were no hills in Iowa or she would have come from hillbilly stock. There was a bunch of funny and lively remarks before it finally quieted down.

I'm using the photo to illustrate this post about Honky Tonk Angels even though my mother was probably the furthest example of  a Honky Tonk Angel (women who hung around bars [honky tonks] dancing with anyone who would buy them a drink) as you could find. Mom wouldn't even go into a bar. When the ten-o'clock whistle blew on a Saturday night signaling time to go home and Dad was still in the pool hall, Mom would send my little sister and me in to drag him out. I think she sent us innocent little girls instead of my older brother just to embarrass dad in front of his friends.

Following World War II it was generally accepted that life would return to the way it was before the war interrupted. The women, who had taken on the jobs and roles traditionally held by the men while they were off fighting, were expected to go back to being housewives, mothers, "the little woman" waiting patiently at home with supper on the stove. But after a taste of independence from the male-dominated era, not all women were content to return to their domestic, submissive ways.

There were more divorces and delinquency than ever before. Someone had to be blamed and it was women - the honky tonk angels Hank Thompson sang about in his 1952 hit song, The Wild Side of Life. The Billboard Country Charts hit, written by Arlie Carter and William Warren, spent fifteen weeks at #1. It contained these lyrics: "I didn't know God made honky tonk angels. I might have known you'd never make a wife. You gave up the only one who ever loved you and went back to the wild side of life. The glamour of the gay night life has lured you to the places where the wine and liquor flows - where you wait to be anybody's baby and forget the truest love you'll ever know." 

If ever a song was begging for a rebuttal by a woman, this was it. But the country music scene of that time was dominated by male singers. There were no female super stars.


Then Jay Miller wrote It Wasn't God Who Made Honky Tonk Angels in answer to The Wild Side of Life and Kitty Wells recorded it. The song was considered so controversial it was banned by the NBC radio network and Wells was prohibited from performing it on the Grand Ole' Opry. But the song became a hit anyway and spent six weeks on Billboard's country charts. Kitty Wells was the first female singer to top the country music charts.

I never asked my mom why the song was one of her favorites; I was just aware that it was. Whenever it came on the radio she sang along:

"As I sit here tonight the jukebox playin'
The tune about the wild side of life 
As I listen to the words you are sayin'
It brings memories when I was a trusting wife

It wasn't God who made honky tonk angels
As you said in the words of your song
Too many times married men think they're still single
That has caused many a good girl to go wrong

It's a shame that all the blame is on us women
It's not true that only you men feel the same
From the start most every heart that's ever broken
Was because there always was a man to blame."

There were some parallels in their lives: Mom & Kitty both born in 1919 and married in 1937; both had a son and two daughters (Mom added a second son later). I would guess that Mom liked the song so much because it did question the male-female double standard. Or maybe she just liked the tune or Kitty's voice.
I only know It Wasn't God Who Made Honky Tonk Angels became a favorite song of mine, too. I rarely hear it anymore, but when I do, I sing along just as Mom did - and think about both Mom and Kitty.   ....it's a shame that all the blame is on us women.........

Saturday, May 23, 2015

The Week in Words and Pictures 5-17/5-23

Sunday - Almost three inches of rain overnight. Flooded fields and full rivers seen on the way to Des Moines for a belated Mothers' Day Brunch and shopping.


The Middle River south of Stuart.


Where the Middle Raccoon River and the North Raccoon River meet just East of DeSoto.

Brunch was at Perkins; most of the shopping was at Kohl's. Finally found a new fragrance I like, Calvin Klein's euphoria. TJ Maxx didn't have any Ahmad English No. 1 but they did have a 50 bag box of Ahmad's Earl Grey tea. A successful shopping trip before heading to Winterset for Dominique's high school graduation party.


Dominique with her display of track and cross country ribbons and medals earned during high school.


Ki proudly introducing his son, Ayden, to his great-aunt Pat.


Naturally just as soon as I could get a hold of him, my turn with great-grandson Ayden.

Preston with his Aunt Pat.

And finally, a group family shot with the honoree in front.


Shalea's parents, Pete & Helen, Kathryn holding Ayden, Preston, Shalea, Ki and April. Me and Bud, seated, with Dominique in front. (Devin and his girlfriend had left to attend some other graduation parties. Deise was MIA.) A very good day.

Monday - Windy, sunny and cool (only 47° when I got up). Took this photo on my way to the Y:


Until a couple of weeks ago you could not see more than a glimpse of this house. There was a large tree on the southwest corner (you can see the stump) which blocked a good view of the house. It isn't in bad shape, but I like to imagine it fixed up and painted in some new Victorian colors. What colors would you choose? The downstairs porch and the sleeping porch above it both wrap around to the east side of the house, too. Wouldn't it be fun to take a tour? I just love seeing what houses are like on the inside - especially when they are this interesting on the outside.

Tuesday - And I thought yesterday was cold. It was 39° this morning with a wind chill of 31°. Brrr. Yes, the furnace is running.


Managed to get a photo of both the male and female Rose-Breasted Grosbeaks. Papa is waiting patiently for his turn at the feeder. You know, the male is pretty, but I much prefer the coloring of the female.

Wednesday - Rainy & cold again. Another .30 rain. I wasn't even out and about so no photos. So I will share another one I took Sunday:


Beautiful Iowa in the springtime. I love this scene - pastureland east of Creston. I used it on Facebook for my cover photo. Had 14 'likes' and several comments.

Thursday - He's baaack! And this time I got a picture:


I'm really hoping that some day this guy and I will be arriving or leaving the Y at the same time just so I can see who he is so I can then watch him to see if his personality matches his vanity plate. So curious.


A different female grosbeak at the feeder. She is so dark she is almost black. Very pretty.

Friday - The 'path not taken' on the way to the Y:


Some very inviting walking trails at Lake McKinley. This one starts opposite the spillway.


Which does have some water going over it. I imagine there was much more Sunday morning.

Stopped at the Rehab center to see Mom's cousin Doris. I hadn't seen her since she left the hospital and went to rehab after breaking her leg. She looks great and is doing very well. Waiting to take her first visit home since surgery. She was definitely looking forward to it. If all goes well, she will be going home in one week.
We had such a nice visit. She let me borrow her 90th Birthday book her niece made for her so I could scan some of the photos. This is my favorite:


That's Doris' mother, my great-aunt Florence, standing in back next to her eldest son, Delmar. Aunt Florence was a younger sister of my Grandfather, Joe.  Next row is Doris, kneeling, Calvin, Leota, Ester, Jim and Fern. Darlene has her arms around her Dad, my Great-uncle Tom, and the boy standing is Clyde. Imagine, nine children in fourteen years. They may not have had much, materially, but a closer, happier family you wouldn't have found. They might even have put The Walton's to shame. Doris is the last survivor.

Saturday - My eldest grandson's 34th! birthday! (Yes, I was a Grandma at age 37.)



My Mom & I went to the hospital the day after he was born to see Brock. A nurse came in and looked at Mom and then me and told me I would have to leave - "only grandparents are allowed, not aunts". I said "I am the grandmother, (pointing at Mom) she is the great-grandmother."

Because tomorrow is supposed to be 90% chance of rain and today was only 30%, we made our 150 miles, 5 hours, and 7 cemeteries pilgrimage.


This is the cemetery where my maternal grandparents and a great-great grandmother are buried. A few days ago I read in someone's blog that she did not appreciate the meaning of Memorial Day until she had visited the American Cemetery at Normandy. (To be fair, this was a fictionalized story she was posting. I am certain the blogger was well aware of the meaning.)
For me the annual Memorial weekend visits to the cemeteries is a privilege and an honor. It is precisely because I saw first hand the importance of placing flowers and remembering our departed loved ones by being with, watching and then helping my grandmother Delphia each year that I am so determined to do the same as long as I am able.

An un-decorated grave site is a sad grave indeed.  
And this is the week that was.....

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

My Kinsale Fisherman's Smock

Back in the 70's before there was shopping on the internet, mail order catalogs were everywhere. Because of my interest in all things Irish, I received several catalogs form purveyors of goods from the ould sod. There were many, many items offered that I wished for and one I finally got.


It was sometime in the 80's before I felt 'rich' enough to order my own 100% cotton, Made-In-Ireland, Kinsale Smock. They were a traditional garment worn by fishermen when mending nets or gutting fish which is why they were also known as gut coats. Colors available in the wind resistant, heavy brushed cotton were navy, rust, royal and tan. The price was forty dollars and I opted for rust. Denims in colors of chambray blue, red, navy or blue and white stripe were also available at that price.

Here is a picture of the tag showing the shape of the garment and a bit of the history behind it:


And here is a photo taken at Doug and Shelly's wedding in October, 1988 of me wearing my smock.



When my son and daughter-in-law celebrated their 25th wedding anniversary at this same location, I knew immediately what I would wear:


Holding great-grandson Sawyer. Which reminds me of one of the first times I wore my smock back in my hometown a few months after Bud and I were married. I ran into one my girlfriends from high school days. And after the "Hi's and how are you's" she looked at me and said "are you?" "Am I what?" "Are you expecting?" I was surprised she would think that since I was 42 years old and already a grandmother, but I suppose the smock I was so proud of could have been mistaken for a maternity top.
Maybe that is why I have never worn my Kinsale Smock as much as I thought I would, though I think it has more to do with its boat neck. I imagine I would have liked the open neck model better, but I wanted the one which was most traditionally worn by the seafarers leaving Kinsale Harbor in their fishing boats.


Another photo from the 25th anniversary party, this time holding great-granddaughter Lily. I may not wear it much but at least I still can wear it. Perhaps if I wore it more it would obtain that softer when washed status and be even more comfortable.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

The Week in Words and Pictures 5-10/5-16

Before posting Sunday, a picture to finish out last Saturday:


We left late morning to pick up our two youngest grandchildren and take them with us to Cedar Rapids for their sister's college graduation on Sunday. (Their parents were already up there.) We picked up Devin at home and then drove to Huxley to pick up Dominique where she was running in a conference track meet. We got to watch her run her last event of the day the 4x100 relay. Then on to CR.

Sunday - So proud of Kathryn. After four years of hard work, she graduated from Coe College with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree.

Here she is smiling toward us after the graduates filed in. We had gotten there early and saved some good seats.

Her decorated cap.

Displaying the diploma after the ceremonies. Rain had threatened the outdoor commencement exercises, but held off. The speaker's address was even good.

On the way to Cedar Rapids we had spotted this interesting looking tree.

And stopped on the way home to take a photo not only of it, but also this one:

Bud was the one who noticed the gate and barn while I was intent upon the tree. He got better pictures, but mine wasn't too bad.

The day ended with a cold front moving in. It brought tornadoes with it but none close to us.

Monday - Cold and windy. This year's Blackberry Winter?

On the way to the Y, just before the RR underpass, Sweet William in bloom. Or is it Sweet Rocket? Or Dame's Rocket? So many names for this sweet smelling wild flower. Could the yellow flower below it be wild mustard?

Tuesday - This is a tree I pass each morning on the way to the Y. I can't tell you what kind of tree it is.

 I will have to stop some day and look at the leaves. With this tree and the one from Sunday and that redbud awhile back, I am thinking of finding a few more unusual specimens and then posting a blog entitled tortured trees.


Across the street is this beautiful bridal wreath spirea hedge.

Wednesday - Did a couple loads of laundry.

My friend Donna (in the middle) called last night to tell me she won't be having her third surgery nor any more chemo. She and Ellen (right) and I have been friends since high school - 57 years. Donna lives in Kansas City, but each May she comes up to decorate for Memorial Day. Ellen and I go with her almost every year. This year she will not be able to do it. I will be taking flowers there for her parents' graves.

Thursday - The heron was at the pond for the second morning. Usually he is at Lake McKinley.

Went to the Y and then the library for some new reading material.  Ironic that the novel I started reading this afternoon had a scene eerily reminiscent of yesterday's news.

A train had derailed after taking a curve at a high rate of speed. I can't help but think about the crash in Philadelphia when I see Amtrak go by.

Friday - A damp, foggy morning. 80/100's inch of rain overnight.

Ethereal - delicate and light in a way that seems too perfect.

I thought the dew draped spider webs on the eaves were pretty until I went out to my car and saw this rain drop sprinkled web fastened to the antenna - one of those little moments in nature to savor.

Saturday - Another 20/100's inch of rain for a total inch in two days.

Doug and Shelly came down late morning and brought my Mother's Day flowers. (They knew we weren't home last weekend.) Doug always gets me a hanging basket every year and Shelly brought me the little bouquet of lily-of-the-valley, which you know I love. 

It is always interesting each year to see what colors Doug chooses. 

Aren't these gorgeous and unusual?  

And this is the week that was .....