Thursday, June 30, 2016

June Book List

It felt like June just flew by. With many days of high temps and high humidity, inside reading in air conditioned comfort was the place to be....eleven books read this month.

I'll begin with the ones I rated 4.0's because one of those is very special. Earlier this year I blogged about the term Love Lies Bleeding in which I stated that upon looking it up I learned there was a book by that name.

It was an old British mystery published in 1948. I said that it sounded good and if I could find a copy, I thought I would enjoy reading it.
My perceptive, fellow-book-loving-younger son, set out to find a copy. He did - a new paperback edition published in 2015. And he gave it to me as part of my Mother's Day gifts.
I've said it many times, British mysteries seem to me so much smarter than any others. Love Lies Bleeding by Edmund Crispin (pen name of Robert Bruce Montgomery) is not only a fine mystery about a missing Shakespearean manuscript, it substantiates what I believe about British novels. The Words. You can tell this novel was written long before the dumbing down of students everywhere. Words Crispin uses as a matter of course, I even had to look up some of the meanings. (Which I loved, because I love words.)
Thank you, Preston, for this most thoughtful gift. And let me know if you want to read it.

Mary Chamberlain is a new-to-me author. I liked her novel, The Dressmaker's War, about an English woman caught up and confined by the Nazi's in WWII. Her talent and passion for dressmaking saves her during the war, but can't do the same after she is freed and returns to England. Even though it is sometimes hard to read books like this, I do appreciate learning more about that time. One of my 4.0's.

My other 4.0 is another new author, Fredrik Backman. Britt-Marie Was Here is the story of a 63-year-old woman who finally has enough of being taken for granted in a loveless marriage and walks out. She must have a job, but at her age and with no experience, what can she do? After persistent pestering at the employment agency, she is sent to a small, derelict town as caretaker of the activity center which is scheduled for closing. A hopeful story of how an outsider helps transform a hopeless village and finds acceptance and love.

A year ago I discovered a new author, Tana French, at our library when they got book #5 of her Dublin Murder Squad mysteries. Unfortunately that was the only one of her books they had. Fortunately, I found # 2 The Likeness at Half-Price Books and bought it.
Each book in the series features a different member of the Dublin Murder Squad. The Likeness follows Cassie Maddox after she leaves the squad and becomes a member of the Domestic Violence team - which she is realizing was a wrong move.
When a young woman is found murdered Cassie doesn't understand why she is being summoned to the scene until she gets there and discovers the murder victim looks so much like her that she could be her twin. Not only that, but the I.D. on the victim is the same name Cassie had used in one of her undercover roles.
Then Cassie's old UC handler convinces her to go back to the house where the victim and four others lived together pretending to have recovered, knowing that one of the four or all of them may be the murderer.
There was so much mounting tension in this book that I would have to stop and put the book down. Great psychological insight, evocative prose and sense of place. (House description and how they felt about living there.) Diametrical outcomes, but both satisfying. This author is very good.

One of Laurie R. King's Mary Russell books (#10), The God of the Hive, was my other 4.5 book this month. Russell and Holmes are separated and on the run, wanted by the police and pursued by an enemy with powerful connections. Russell has Holmes' young granddaughter with her while Holmes is trying to get his injured son to safety.
The mastermind of all this is trying to discredit and/or kill Mycroft Holmes and take over his place in British Intelligence. My two favorite characters in this novel were the granddaughter and the hermit she thought of as 'The Green Man'. I wish one or the other of my two libraries had all of the books in this series.

Another new author for me was Emily Brightwell. I sampled one of her Victorian Mysteries, Mrs. Jeffries And The One Who Got Away. It was okay, but not great - another of what I call 'quick, little mystery reads'. I already have enough of those that I do read without adding another series. I rated this one a 2.5.

My final five June reads are all rated 3.5. They are:

Time of Fog and Fire, Rhys Bowen's 16th Molly Murphy Mystery. It is 1906 and Molly's husband, Daniel Sullivan is on special assignment for the President and the Secret Service. He can't tell Molly where he is or when he will return. When she receives a coded message from him from San Francisco she takes it to mean he wants her to join him there.
She arrives to the news that he is dead and buried after a fatal fall off a cliff. Just when she discovers he is still alive, the great San Francisco earthquake occurs and they are separated from their little son. I always enjoy the Molly Murphy Mysteries although I didn't think this one was as good as usual. It seemed a little contrived.

Dishing The Dirt by M.C. Beaton is her 26th Agatha Raisin Mystery. This is one of those quick little mystery series that I won't give up. They're always good and I don't always figure them out. Only Agatha is intuitive enough and snoopy enough to keep solving all those Cotswold murders.

Sally Hepworth is another new author. I read her first two books, The Secrets of Midwives and The Things We Keep which is about early onset Alzheimer's and my favorite of these two. Rated each 3.5.

Lastly, another Jacquelyn Mitchard book, The Breakdown Lane, about a woman whose husband leaves her just when she discovers she has MS. After all her struggles raising the children, holding onto her job, dealing with the disease, the author decides to give her a break and brings in an old boyfriend who is now a rich, successful doctor, to fall in love with. I felt that was a little far fetched. But still a good read.

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Taking A Sunday Drive #34

In addition to sharing a bit of border in Northeast Iowa, Wisconsin and Iowa share a descriptive name for that location - the Driftless Area - regions of deep canyons and high bluffs - areas where moving glaciers did not flatten out the land. The view from the top of Mt. Hosmer Park in Lansing, IA with the Mississippi River spread out below is one of my favorites of this area.

Many, many years ago there was a billboard west of Creston near the Chicken Inn which advertised Wisconsin's House on the Rock as a vacation destination. For some reason I formed a "wouldn't want to go to that tourist trap" mentality toward it and never ever thought I would go there. Then sometime in the late 90's my Aunt Leona visited it with her son, Don, and his wife, Judy. Aunt Leona loved it. "Have you ever been there?" "No." "Well, you should go. It is fantastic."

So, when Bud and I planned a long weekend in that area of Wisconsin, the House on the Rock was our first destination. Mineral Point would be our base as we toured around the area. I took about three rolls of film that trip. It wasn't easy to pare those pictures down to just a few.

There is really no way to describe the House on the Rock or its many treasures. It must be seen. This ''world's largest carousel" is gorgeous. Notice that it is built on sloping rock. Much of the house on the rock IS built on rocks - on and around Deer Shelter Rock.


Just a few of my favorites things:

Bronze statue.




Lamp, figurine and a wall of fans.





The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse.



One of the many giant flower planters at the entrance.

The outside grounds were beautiful.



After we left we drove down the road to an overlook so I could take this photo back across the valley.
Bud walked out on that cantilevered portion to a glass floor where you could look down, down, down. I started to, but when I felt the whole thing shake, I had to go back and sit down because I was shaking, too!


I followed a nature trail at that same overlook until I noticed this huge wasp nest in the trees. Even though I didn't see any wasps, I wasn't about to take a chance!




We drove to the entrance of Taliesin - Frank Lloyd Wright's house near Spring Green and the Wisconsin River - but did not tour the house. (We had toured Cedar Rock, one of his house designs on the Wapsipinicon River near Quasqueton, Iowa, on the way to Wisconsin.)

Another, closer view of the house. It is said that Alex Jordan, Jr. designed his House on the Rock to "teach Frank Lloyd Wright a thing or two about architecture." (Possibly in retaliation because Jordan's father had been dismissed from the Wright project several years earlier.)

I don't know how we found Hyde's Mill on Mill Creek between Spring Green and Ridgeway, but it was one of my favorite finds. The sign on the side of the building reads: "Hyde's Mill, Stone Dam Built 1850, Theodore Sawle." A google search turns up a resident of Ridgeway by that name who died in 2009 at almost 104 years of age. It does not say if he was once the operator of Hyde's Mill or just the person responsible for posting the signage.

A display of mill stones near the mill.

Blacksmith shop in the same area.

Back to our base in Mineral Point and ready for more exploring. Pendarvis was the name of the community of Cornish lead miners in early 19th Century Wisconsin. The miners built many stone cottages similar to the ones they had left in England.

As well as ones built from logs like these preserved on Shake Rag Street. We did tour these as well as the stone Pendarvis House and Trelawny House. In the interest of cutting down the number of photos, I have not shown the many interior shots I took during the tours.

A familiar name among the shops in Shake Rag Alley - Ridnour's Antiques. A visit with the owner did not turn up any mutual ancestors.
The shop next door was a tea room where I had the most delicious strawberry cream cake with my tea. Years later and I still remember its marvelous taste and texture.

We did the self-guided tour of the hillside where the Merry Christmas Hill Mine was located and where some of the mining equipment is still displayed.

Most of the site has been restored to native prairie with paths cut throughout.

It was here we learned that the nickname for Wisconsin, The Badger State, came not from the animal but from the miners who were too busy mining to build houses and resorted to living in abandoned mine shafts or digging makeshift burrows for shelter - not unlike badgers.

Orchard Lawn Mansion as seen from the gazebo. This is now home of the Mineral Point, WI Historical Society.

With my love of pottery, discovering the Brewery Pottery Studio in these old brewery buildings was possibly my favorite place of the whole weekend.

Seeing this table of pottery from their website reminds me that this must be where I purchased my favorite flower frog.

Now that I have been reminded, I hope I will remember that I got it at this very special pottery studio.

Wisconsin is a state that I could go back to over and over - beautiful and chock full of history.

Saturday, June 25, 2016

What A Wonderful World


"I see skies of blue and clouds of white
The bright blessed day and the dark sacred night
And I think to myself
What a wonderful world."

"Clouds are not the cheeks of angels you know
They are only clouds."

"If you wanted the sky
I would write across the sky in letters
That would soar a thousand feet high."

"Gonna go to the spirit in the sky
That's where you're gonna go
When you die."

(Some pictures of clouds taken early a.m. 25 June 2016 ril)

Friday, June 24, 2016

Finishing That Rowan Walking Stick

It has been almost four years since I cut that Mountain Ash limb in order to make that elusive Rowan walking stick I had long wanted. (You can read about it here.) It was certainly time I got it made! Maybe it is because I've been thinking about getting and using a cane that finally motivated me.

I started by stripping the bark yesterday morning. Before I could decide what knife to use, I picked up my trusty Old Hickory butcher knife that I use more as a gardening tool than anything else. (I keep it handy just inside the door to the garage.) My thinking was that I would try it and if it was too big then I would find something smaller. It worked great.



Most of the bark removed.











In the process of sanding it down. I don't know what caused these circles to form, but I knew I wanted to preserve them, so not too much sanding in this area.



This morning I oiled the stick and added a strap and other embellishments.









Another view. I mentioned in that October 12, 2012 blog post that this would most likely be the last walking stick I ever make and as long as it took me to finally make it, I'm sure that will be the case!

The hiking medallion is from Seven Falls in Colorado Springs, CO, a very meaningful hike for me.




I have another hiking staff medallion purchased at Multnomah Falls several years ago. The package it came in says it is a "Collector's Edition" made by L. W. Bristol Classics, Bristol, TN. (The price was $3.99.)
I haven't decided whether to put it on my Rowan stick - would two on the same stick look okay? Or maybe I will save it just in case I do decide to make another walking stick someday now that I'm in the mood again. Hmm, there's a willow tree down by the pond with some dead branches in it.....

Addendum:

Using my new walking stick on the new walking trail at Green Valley Lake State Park yesterday. (Sunday, June 26, 2016)

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Do Feathers Appear When Angels Are Near?

For several days now I have been thinking about feathers - specifically about how I used to find feathers on my daily walk or when I was working around the farm. I had a little medicine bag hanging on the wall with all the feathers I had found tucked into it. I came to think of finding a feather as a gift with special meaning. If only I knew what its meaning was!

Lately I have been thinking about how long it has been since I found any feathers.

Then, this morning, there it was! Someone had left me a gift! A reminder that I am still worthy? Still appreciated because I feed the birds every day? I still don't know the meaning(s) of finding a feather, I just know a feeling of elation when I do! Is it from one of my favorite doves?

It has been eleven months since I found this tiny little iridescent feather. Might it be from a hummingbird?

 So now I have two feathers in this old perfume bottle. I hadn't thought about it before, but the name on this little bottle is appropriate - Obsession. I am a bit obsessive about feathers I find.

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Taking A Sunday Drive #33

♪ Indiana wants me, Lord, I can't go back there... ♪ (R. Dean Taylor)

Indiana is one of those states we've been through many times with a few stops along the way.

Brown County was one of those earlier stops many years ago. I had read about it in a magazine - probably Country Living or Midwest Living - and wanted to go there. It is a lovely area and would be a great place to spend more time.


New Harmony on the Wabash River in Southwest Indiana was another. This one, I think, on our way home from Louisville.
New Harmony was the location of two attempts at communal living, similar to our own Icarian Colony which Bud's Great-grandparents were members of.

(My photos of both those stops are around somewhere.)

The one place I do have some of my photos from is the Auburn Cord Duesenberg Automobile Museum in Auburn, IN. It was one of those serendipitous discoveries. I mentioned in my second Sunday Drive post about our trip to the NASCAR race in Michigan for Bud's 50th birthday that we hadn't made reservations and had to drive down into Indiana to find a place to stay. That place was Auburn. And since we had time to kill, we were looking for something to do. We could not have found a more fascinating stop.

I love that yellow car above, but must have decided this one was my favorite since it is the one I had my picture taken with.
There's just so much romance about these old beauties....Clark Gable and Carole Lombard....even the facility housing the collection was built in Art Deco style.

Bud tried on one of the race cars for size.

There are more than 125 cars on display.


I remember Mom saying her folks once had a Hupmobile. I wonder if it looked like this 1936 version? Their's was probably older. The Hupmobile was built from 1909 through 1940.

A Duesenberg race car. August and Frederick Duesenberg operated a bicycle and motorcycle shop in Des Moines before turning to building cars. I used to walk past the building at 915 Grand in Des Moines where a plaque proclaimed it the site of where their first car was built.

This was definitely one of our best unplanned destinations.


As much as I loved those beautiful old cars, I adored the Lalique glass hood ornaments (mascots) on display.

This museum has something for everyone.



Saturday, June 18, 2016

Thinking About Greeks

Almost straight south of us, nearly to the Missouri border, there is a little town (population 25 in 2010) named Delphos. (In mythology, the son of Apollo. Delphi was named for him.) I drove through there yesterday and the friend with me commented that the town name was similar to my grandmother's name.

So, today, I am thinking about Grandma Delphia, her brother, Orphus, and sister, Drothel.

Left to right: Lloyd Perryman, Orphas Means, Drothel Perryman, Joe Ridnour, George Means, Delphia Ridnour, Matilda Means, Howard Roberts, Evelyn Roberts (holding Glen Roberts), Lois Mitchell (holding Larry Roberts) and Ruth Lynam.

If you look up the name Drothel in the names lists, nothing comes up for a first name and only a few mentions of Drothel as a last name. What does come up is information on Grandma's sister, Drothel Velma* Means Perryman. How, where, why did my great-grandparents, George and Matilda, name their daughter Drothel?

And why did their son and another daughter have names that relate directly to the Greeks? Orph(e)us was a musician, poet and prophet in ancient Greek mythology. Delphia means woman from Delphi.

Delphi, now a World Heritage Site, was the ancient seat of the Oracle. It was considered the center of the world by the Greeks.

Granddaughter, Alyssa, visited Delphi during her trip to Greece five years ago. Did she feel a strong connection? An extra sense of déjà vu? Was there more to the naming of my grandmother and great uncle than we knew?

*Velma is also a Greek name.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

The Tree





Eight years I passed this tree
     Almost daily
Never once noticing it

Until the morning sun struck
     Just right
Lit up its orchid-like blossoms



Catalpa memories flooded back
     My wishing tree
Beans canned in a playhouse

Memories of intoxicating fragrance
     Buzzing bees
Carefree summers roaming the farm



 Red-winged Blackbirds warned me away
     From their marshy homes
I remembered, too, their dive bomb attacks

As we followed the cow paths
     Down the lane
Fetching bossies for evening milking