Sunday, September 30, 2012

Thirty Days Hath September

I have trouble remembering which Mother Goose book we had when I was a child - possibly because we looked at it so often the cover got torn off. But it is probably where I first heard the Thirty Days Hath September rhyme.
The Mother Goose version went like this:

Thirty days hath September,
April, June, and November;
February has twenty-eight alone,
All the rest have thirty-one;
Excepting leap year, that's the time,
When February's days are twenty-nine.

Do school children still have to learn the months of the year and the number of days in those months as did I?
Reciting the mnemonic rhyme was how I was taught the months which had only thirty days instead of thirty-one. So when the teacher asked "How many days are in the month of July?", for instance, I could quickly recite the first two lines, know it wasn't one of those months and confidently say, "thirty-one". It was easy to remember February was the odd month with only twenty-eight days which was a good thing because I couldn't remember the way the rhyme ended.
And I still can't which is why when I looked it up this morning I was surprised to see all the different versions.  For instance:

Thirty days hath September
April, June, and November;
Thirty-one the others date,
Except in February, twenty-eight;
But in leap year we assign
February, twenty-nine.

There is also this other Mother Goose version:

Thirty days hath September,
April, June, and November.
All the rest have thirty-one,
Excepting February alone,
And that has twenty-eight days clear,
And twenty-nine in each leap year.

Did you have to memorize Thirty Days Hath September? Do you remember which version it was?

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Family Reunions - Then and Now

Back when family reunions were fun - in other words when I was a teen - the Ridnour Cousins Reunion was held the first Sunday in October. Family members took turns hosting. With the exception of one family, which lived in Missouri, we never traveled far from home.
This picture of my Aunt Evelyn's family was taken when we hosted the reunion in 1957. I knew my first cousins on Mom's side of the family very well - we saw each other at a family dinner at least once a month at at Grandpa & Grandma Ridnour's.
The reunions included the families of my Grandpa Joe's sisters, Aunt Florence and Aunt Lottie - so those kids we didn't know quite as well, but at least we saw them once a year and got acquainted. Of course there were a few like the Haley boys, Don, Dave & Tom, the Travis kids, Ron, Russ, Shirley & Janiece, the Palmer's, Dale, Marv & Donna, and the Haley girls, Connie, Jolene & Cheryl that we knew well because they were neighbors and/or we went to high school with them.

Eventually no one wanted the extra work of hosting and the reunion site was moved to Grove Park in Corning. Someone was delegated to get there early and nab the shelter. Besides its central location, this was also the Play Park where all the swings, slides, merry-go-rounds and monkey bars were located which gave the little kids something to do while the adults visited after the noon meal.
It got to the point few of the young married with children cousins attended and eventually this Ridnour Cousins Reunion dwindled away. The picture of my Aunt Evelyn, Mom (Ruth), Grandma Delphia and Aunt Lois was taken one of the last times we had the get-together at the park in Corning.

In the meantime some more distant cousins had gotten ambitious and began the 3R Family Reunion. They had done a lot of family research and made the connections between the various spellings of Ridnour, Ritnour and Ridenour. Yes, we were all related. A newsletter was started. More and more distant family members were tracked down. The 3 was dropped and it became R Family Reunion as more spellings of the name were discovered. People came from all over the country - Washington, Oregon, Montana, Colorado, Texas, Pennsylvania (where our ancestors originally settled when they came to America), Arkansas, Missouri, Nebraska, Illinois, Minnesota, Iowa, of course, and some other states I've probably left out.
The gathering place for the two-day event was the community center in Corning. Once again, it was fun -  interesting to meet new relatives from all over, exciting to add to the family tree as information was gleaned from research others had done, fascinating to see pictures of those long ago great-great-great-etc. forebears. Then, too, this group began dwindling down. The picture above is of the last time the reunion was held in Corning.

The following year it moved to one of the churches in Creston which made it convenient for me as we had moved to Creston. This picture was taken two years ago. I didn't attend last year. Since then several more of the regular attendees have died. The people who were the ones who really got us together have had some health issues and would like to turn things over to someone younger, but there have been no volunteers to take on the task.
Few of the descendants of my great-grandparents attend. When I stood to introduce myself two years ago, I had taken along some pictures of my grandparents and great-grandparents which I showed as I gave my lineage. Some guy laughed and said "Didn't know we had show and tell" or something to that effect which may have had a lot to do with my not going last year. I thought I had left being laughed at behind in high school.
Today is the reunion. I had pretty much decided not to go. Then last night one of the cousins called to remind me about the dinner and ask if I was planning on being there. I didn't really say yes or no, but now I'm going to feel guilty if I don't go. I've already decided not to go for the meal, but I do need to go to the library this afternoon and it is just across the street from the church where the reunion is being held. I could stop in long enough to assuage my guilt......
Who knows, this may be the last R Family Reunion......

Friday, September 28, 2012

I Gave My Heart To Know This

Ellen Baker is a new author for me. A Minnesotan, I Gave My Heart To Know This is her second book. It is a multi-generational story about war, friendship, family, secrets and memories. The war is World War II - an era I like to read about - the era into which I was born.
For some reason when I hear "Rosie the Riveter" I always think of the women who worked in the airplane factories in Kansas. The 'Rosies' of this book however are building ships in Superior, Wisconsin.
 From the book cover:
"In January 1944, Grace Anderson, Lena Maki, and Lena’s mother, Violet, have joined the
 growing ranks of women working for the war effort. Though they find satisfaction in their
 jobs at a Wisconsin shipyard, it isn't enough to distract them from the anxieties of wartime,
or their fears for the men they love: Lena's twin brother,Derrick, and Grace's high school
sweetheart, Alex. When shattering news arrives from the front, the lives ofthe three women
are pitched into turmoil. As one is pushed to the brink of madness, the others are forced into
choices they couldn't have imagined - and their lives will never be the same.
More than five decades later, Violet's great-granddaughter, Julia, returns to the small farmhouse
where Violet and Lena once lived. Listless from her own recent tragedy, Julia begins to uncover
the dark secrets thatshattered her family, eventually learning that redemption - and love - can be
found in the most unexpected places.
Beautifully written and profoundly moving, I Gave My Heart To Know This is a riveting story of
loyalties held and sacred bonds broken; crushing loss and enduring dreams; and what it takes -
and what it means - to find the way home."
Baker's first book, Keeping The House, isn't at our library, but I hope to read it, too, based on how much I
liked this novel.

I've been reading the Dana Stabenow Kate Shugak mysteries that our library has. Unfortunately there is a big gap between the first ones they acquired and the more recent ones. A Fine And Bitter Snow is the twelfth novel in the series.
Via the 'bush' telegraph, Kate learns that longtime Park Ranger Dan O'Brian is in danger of losing his job because he is against allowing the drilling for oil in the local wildlife preserve (ANWR). She decides to rally the park residents to try to save his job and prevent the drilling. Two of her late grandmother's friends, Dina and Ruthe, are longtime environmental activists. Kate visits the couple, remembering how they were the ones who taught her the names of every living thing in the park when she was a child. No one knows exactly how old the two women are, but they have all heard the stories of how they had flown for the WASPs during World War II.
When Dina is killed and Ruthe critically injured in a vicious knife attack, Kate once again finds herself in the company of State Trooper Jim Chopin trying to find the killer. Jim has long been attracted to Kate and now that her lover is out of the picture, he can act upon his interest. Kate, however, considers Jim a serial womanizer and wants nothing to do with him. Besides, she is still mourning Jack.
I've really come to enjoy these Alaska-set mysteries. Even though there have been a number of 'middle' books I haven't read, Stabenow does a fine job of bringing readers up to speed with her characters. I was able to figure out the killer and motive of this one. I can even guess where the Kate/Jim relationship is headed. I'll need to keep reading to see if I'm right.

After two of her stand alone mysteries I finally read my first Barbara Holloway series novel by Kate Wilhelm. And based on how much I liked A Wrongful Death, I will be reading all our library has.
This is the tenth in the series featuring attorney Barbara Holloway and her father Frank. Apparently it is unusual in that it is set outside the courtroom.
Barbara has taken time off to sort out her personal life. She has received an offer to teach as well as an offer of marriage. A remote cabin and a lonely beach offer her the solitude she needs in order to contemplate her next move. She is walking on the beach when a terrified young boy runs to her for help. "Mama's hurt!" is all he says as he tugs Barbara toward the trail leading to a cabin on the other side of the beach from where she is staying. The boy's mother lies unconscious in the mud and rain. Barbara gets her into the cabin, does what she can to stop the bleeding from a head wound then leaves to find a telephone and summon an ambulance and law enforcement.
When she gets back the woman and little boy have both disappeared. The deputies question her involvement then decide it must have been a domestic case where the woman's boyfriend beat her up before they all fled the area.
Barbara continues on up the Oregon coast to Astoria where she is surprised to be met by the investigator who works for her father. He is there to escort her back to Eugene before the cops issue and APB for her. She's wanted as an accessory to kidnapping, aiding and abetting and miscellaneous criminal charges. The little boy is the grandson of a wealthy and prominent family. They have accused his mother of kidnapping him.
With her father's help, Barbara delves into the mystery of the missing child, only to realize the kidnapping is a ruse for a more sinister plan involving millions of dollars. The child's grandmother thinks Barbara helped the mother and is in touch with her. She demands Barbara tell her where her grandson and ex-daughter-in-law are hiding. But Barbara was only 'in the wrong place at the wrong time' and doesn't know anymore than she has already told the law officers until the woman contacts her and asks her to meet with her at her apartment. Barbara arrives too late - there is a dead woman on the apartment floor - and no sign of a child.
This was a rather complicated and intricate plot and I enjoyed it very much. Eighty-four year old Wilhelm is a very good mystery writer. I'll definitely keep reading her books.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

High Wire Act - Local Version

On the first lap of my morning mile a week ago this guy was just climbing a nearby billboard and starting to put up a new ad. It gave me the idea for this blog so I stopped for my camera before the second lap. By the time I got back, he already had the panels up - much quicker than in the old days where the strips had to be pasted and it was a two-man job.

The outdoor advertising employee made me think of all the jobs that require workers not afraid of heights (acrophobia not vertigo which is mistakenly commonly used) - window washers, tightrope walkers, construction workers, TV and cell tower installers, anyone who works (or lives) in a skyscraper, etc.
I can remember learning about the Native American  iron workers called Skywalkers and thinking how neat it was that they could walk on those steel beams high above the city. Now it bothers me to watch the opening scenes of any TV show or movie taken from a helicopter looking down on skyscrapers.

My acrophobia has developed with age. In the 1970's I thought it was so great to go up in a glass elevator. I remember enthusing about the one at Hallmark Crown Center in Kansas City - being excited to introduce my parents to the ride. And while I was saying, "Isn't this wonderful?", my Mom was standing as far back as she could and not looking down. She didn't like it one bit and I didn't understand why.
The last time I rode in one of those elevators was about seven years ago at the Hyatt Regency in San Antonio. I had to do the same thing my Mom did - stand at the back and not look down.

Climbing fire towers whether in Northeast Iowa, Eureka springs or out West was something Bud and I did until my knees started bothering me too much. I wasn't worried about how high up I was.

Except for the heat and the two+ mile hike, being atop Bear Butte didn't bother me. Of course I was looking more out than down.

Even sitting in the nosebleed section at the top of one of those wings at Arrowhead Stadium wasn't a problem from the fear of heights standpoint. It was a problem seeing the game, though, and the wind made it pretty cold even though it was a nice 60 degree December day in Kansas City.

I thought I was going to be able to walk out and look down through the glass floor in the Infinity Room at the House on the Rock as Bud did until I got far enough out to take this picture of him. I could feel that cantilevered tunnel moving! I practically ran back to the entrance saying, "It's moving, it's moving!" I think my obvious fear kept a few other tourists from walking out there. And to think I once rode one of those express elevators to the 94th floor observatory of the John Hancock Center in Chicago! Of course I was only thirty-two when I did that - no acrophobia then - just thrills. Feeling the 100 story skyscraper sway was nothing and the views were amazing.

Once again, it was my arthritic knees that bothered me climbing all those stairs at Seven Falls in Colorado Springs, not the height. I really wanted to get to the top and the former grave site of Helen Hunt Jackson - author of Ramona. (I made it and have a picture of me sitting under the Ramona sign.)

It was only the desire to see the cliff dwellings at the top of about five sets of these ladders that kept me climbing at Bandelier National Monument in New Mexico. I couldn't imagine actually standing in the ruins where Ancestral Pueblo people lived hundreds of years ago. No fear of heights could keep me from seeing it for myself. It was one of the most awe-inspiring experiences I've ever had. Bandelier is one of those lesser known places that I would recommend to anyone who loves archaeology - especially Native American.

Standing atop the scenic lookouts at the Grand Canyon was something I could still do when we were there in the early 90's. The Skywalk had not yet been built. Would I have been able to go out on it if it had been there twenty years ago? I don't know. I do know there is NO WAY I could walk around and look down through the clear floor to the bottom of the canyon 4000 feet below now. Just looking at pictures of it and thinking about it makes me nauseous. What if someone offered me a million dollars to do it? Hmm m, interesting thought.

I believe I have figured out why the fear of heights gets worse as one ages. It is the realization, conscious or unconscious, that the older you are the closer you are to going into that final abyss.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

There Really Was An "Aunt Lettie"

Many times in my 'growing up' years I would hear Mom refer to someone as Aunt Lettie. I had no idea if there really was an Aunt Lettie or if it was just a name she came up with. If you were called Aunt Lettie, it meant you were shirking your job. Mom said after a big family dinner, when it came time to do the dishes, Aunt Lettie always had something else to do - usually holding the nearest baby. (And if there wasn't a baby available it was needing to use the outhouse.)
So, in our family, if it was time to do the dishes and you weren't around Mom would say, "Oh, Aunt Lettie's holding the baby." (Picture of Mom with 2-week-old Dominique Danelle Fleming.)

Looking through some old pictures I found this one of a group of women (and one small boy). Luckily my grandmother was good about putting the names on the back of photos or I would have no idea who they were. Back row, left to right: Laura, Mother, Rosa - and there she is - Aunt Lettie! Front row, l-to-r: Aunt Myrtle, Elva Means, Aunt Zoah, Jessie. The little boy is Marvin Means. He was born in 1914 and looks to be around six in this picture, so I would guess the picture to be from around 1920. I would love to know the occasion. Was it just a family dinner or an outing for these women? (No men in the picture.)
Laura (Brock) was the wife of my grandmother Delphia's brother, Orphas Means. Marvin was their son. 'Mother' meant Grandma Delphia's mother, Matilda Lippincott Means. Rosa Hardisty Means, standing next to her mother-in-law was married to Lettie's son, Harrison Henry Means. Lettie Crist Means was the wife of Melvin Means the brother of Delphia's father, George. I wonder if she ever knew her name was part of our family's sayings.
Aunt Myrtle Olds Means was the wife of Harrison Winchester Means. Elva Freshour Means was the wife of  Peter O. Means. Aunt Zoah Ann was a sister of Grandma Delphia's father, George. She married Simpson Robison. They lived in Onawa, Iowa. Jessie Means Miller was Grandma's first cousin, daughter of George's brother 'Bing' (Isaac Bingsley Means).

This picture of cousins was taken around the same period as the photo above, though not the same day as Jessie has on a different dress. Back left, Zoah Means Mangels (daughter of Harrison & Myrtle Means; niece of Zoah Ann). Back right, Blanch Means Taylor (daughter of Melvin and Aunt Lettie Means; wife of George Taylor). Front left, Ethel Means (Darrow is crossed out - Shannon written in. Haven't traced her yet.) Ethel was the daughter of Daniel and Clara Means. Middle, our grandmother, Delphia Means Ridnour (daughter of George Robert Means and Matilda Naomi Lippincott) married to Joseph Ridnour. Right, Jessie Means Miller (daughter of Bing and Susie Means) married to Harry Miller.

I can get a little carried away when I get into family history. The point I want to make is that whenever there is a baby around - like Rodney in this picture of us taken almost three years ago --

you may just call me Aunt Lettie because I'm going to be the one holding the baby (here with Lily in June this year) - NOT the one helping do dishes!

(The Aunt Lettie reference lives on in my immediate family. Son Douglas called me Aunt Lettie when I took his granddaughter, Lily, away from him at his birthday party last month.)

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

The Old Homestead As A Casino?

Before going to bed last night I heard a brief blurb on the news that there was talk of a new casino/hotel complex being built in Urbandale. "Where in the heck would they put that?" I wondered. "Urbandale is just about full up with development already."
This morning, reading KCCI online I discovered where - the 80-acre farm where my children and I spent nine very happy years in the 70's. I rented the area of about three acres which included the house, garage, barn, chicken house (where I raised my first hogs), an orchard and lots of play area for the kids.

Several years ago the Longview indoor golf 'bubble' was erected just west of where our house was. You can see the grove of trees which were our west property line to the right of this picture. It didn't bother me when that was built because our house and the trees were still there.
Now the owners of Longview want to retire. The men who have the agreement option to buy the 80+ acres have filed a request for rezoning for a hotel, casino and entertainment complex.

Obviously that means Our House (which is what I called our acreage) where my children celebrated so many birthdays, would no longer be there.

Nor would the trees - including the old maple at the end of the lane where Doug built his tree house.

The clothesline in the back yard may already be gone as well as this old tile I rolled there and filled with dirt for a flower planter - but I very clearly remember the kids playing here. And Doug, when he was a teenager, climbing on the roof over the basement steps to get onto the roof over the breezeway and then slip into the upstairs stairway window which he had earlier used to sneak out of the house.

But of all that will be lost if their casino plans go through, what will bother me the most, will be that my Three Pines will no longer exist. The Three Pines of my mystery story; the trees I commissioned a charcoal of; the objects of so very many pictures taken in all the seasons.

There was always a mystical majesty about these three trees. It was as though they were the keepers of the history of that land. Just as I hold the memories of that time in our lives, I believe the trees have held memories of us. No casino is ever going to do that.   

Monday, September 24, 2012

Husbandry Came Naturally To Our Mother

Husbandry doesn't have anything to do with being a husband. It is the practice of cultivating crops and breeding and raising livestock. Our mother excelled at animal husbandry. She kept detailed records on each of her cows, when they were bred, when the calves were due, whether the calf was a bull or heifer, what she named it, if it was kept or sold, including for how much and sometimes to whom.
She had a cow from the time she was a teenager until she was 80 years old. By then she had run out of ideas for names and let us and her grand-kids name them. For instance there was the year I came up with the idea of naming all the heifers something that rhymed with one of the mother cows, Blackberry. So there was Merry, Gerry, Cherry, Kerry, Sherry. Mom kidded that she had to be careful about talking about her cows when she went to club because one of the members was named Gerry. And we assured my daughter, Kari, that the cow wasn't named after her because it was spelled differently.
The black cow in the picture might have been Funny Face while the red one was another Tootsie. It happened some of the names got re-used. She had a Beauty I and a Beauty II, but only one Ugly and one Spot-Nose. As well as the one, the only, DUMBO. Dumbo was one of the cows I always milked. I don't remember a specific reason why we called her that - only that her name just fit her in general.

I've always loved this picture of my Mom and her cows - possibly the last spring she raised calves before selling her small herd June 8, 1999. We were there living on the farm the last three years she had cows and were able to help her with them. Even before that I would help when there for a weekend. I remember one time a cow had her calf down in the corner south of the house and Mom wanted to get the cow and calf into the barn for the night. I half-carried, half-pushed the calf all the way to the barn. The whole time the old cow was eyeing me suspiciously. Just as I got almost to the barn, the cow decided to take me. I remember getting down and putting my arms over my head, expecting to be bunted or run over any second. Luckily the cow stopped before hitting me and we got them both on into the barn.

My younger brother and I were talking about the cows when he was here. I said something about April being one of the cows I used to milk and he said, "No, not April, she was my cow." Meaning I couldn't have milked April when I was a teenager because I'm ten years older than Les and April wasn't born yet. She was his 4-H dairy cow. It seems I remember him having one heckuva time getting her to lead.
True to form, Mom kept track of all of April's calves beginning in 1968 with Maynard; '69 Marne; '70 Julie; '71 Colonel; '72 Macy; '73 Gus; '74 Joshua (died); '75 Cane. In 1976 April had a "nice big bull calf". "Dead."

Mom's animal husbandry extended to her Hampshire hogs (Sally Ann and Henrietta were two of them), keeping track of them in her book just as she did the cows. She helped me get a start with my own when she gave me four gilts, Faith, Hope, Charity and Grace. I loved my girls and their babies. Nadette being a Border Collie wanted to herd them, but pigs are pretty hard to herd.

Mother kept track of her crops, too - what she planted and when. The date she picked her first mess of asparagus and rhubarb; April 11. She even noted April 26 - "Barn Swallows returned."

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Definitely Frost On The Pumpkin

The first frost of the season - on the grass - not on a pumpkin. I never tire of taking pictures of the pond. Especially when there is something reflected in it.

After seeing yesterday's post, my daughter asked if I would go back out to Windy Acres and get some of the Halloween decorations she saw in my picture. So here are the candlesticks, crow and scull that are going to be a part of her scene in Portland next month. I set them down to take a picture of them and of the desk/vanity & chair that are for sale. Red is not usually my color but if I had more room in my house, I might be tempted. Love that vanity!

I was hoping to photograph some more of Mother Nature's Autumn decorating, but there's just not that much color in our trees yet. So here is a picture I took four years ago while on the Blue Ridge Parkway. Bud is looking back at the famous Linn Cove Viaduct. It is the double-S curve elevated bridge that clings to the side of Grandfather Mountain and the last piece of the highway to be completed.

Of all the beautiful roads we drove and scenery we saw, it was the one place Bud wanted to be certain to drive on though I think he liked the Cherohala Skyway just as much.

Lastly, remembering my sister on what would have been her 67th birthday, a picture of all the blackbirds that were in the yard last week. I've always remembered Mom telling how the blackbirds were singing the day Betty was born.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Time To Decorate For Fall

My daughter has been busily pinning ideas to her Pinterest Halloween board lately, so naturally I thought of her this morning when I saw this display at Windy Acres Antique's Holiday Jubilee. Now that Autumn is officially here, it is time for mums, colored leaves, gourds, corn shocks and pumpkins.

My husband helped with interior fall decorating when he brought me these gorgeous roses yesterday.

I really don't decorate much for any season or holiday, but I certainly like this Autumnal vignette courtesy of my brother and sister-in-law. They brought me the beautiful mum plant and the wine when they were here last weekend. The mums go with my patio set perfectly, don't you think?

Both wines are new to me, which I appreciate because I love wine tastings. The one on the left is J.M. Fonseca's Twin Vines Vinho Verde (green wine). Not to be confused with Washington State's Columbia Crest Twin Vines, this winery is located in Portugal. The green wine reference is to its 'youthful character'. It is a crisp white wine with a slight sparkle.

Twenty days ago I wrote about the New Zealand Sauvignon Blancs being my favourites, specifically Starborough. The wine on the right is Kono Wine of New Zealand, my brother's new favorite Sauvignon Blanc - mine too, now. The label says "Quality is the hallmark of KONO - created, owned and operated by our indigenous community." In Maori, Kono means food basket. This would be an excellent choice of wine to pack in a picnic basket.

I always love the label descriptions of a wine: "Our Kono Sauvignon Blanc showcases great aromatics of citrus, gooseberries and passionfruit within a typically powerful and flavor filled palate. Packed with juicy, ripe fruits, this wine has focus and purity with fresh natural acidity and a long, crisp and dry finish." Both Starborough and Kono wineries are located in the Marlborough region (northeast area) of New Zealand's South Island.

The slight effervescence of the Vinho Verde reminded me of a new Rose' I tried. It was one I bought when we 'toured' the big new Hy-Vee store in Urbandale - the one where I said their wine selection was disappointing. When I asked if they had any Rose' wines, the young lady said "We have this Spanish one." When I looked at the label, I saw that it is a Portuguese wine. Really? Spain. Portugal. Whatever. They're both on the Iberian Peninsula. Right?

The Gazela wine also had a slight sparkle. It reminded me of the Mateus and Lancer Roses' as the Vinho Verde made me think of the Lancer White. Much as I like the design on the Gazela bottle, I don't think I'll be going back to those wines of my younger days.

To my way of thinking, Mother Nature does the best job of decorating for fall. Here she has created a rainbow from the pond fountain, set against a backdrop of ripening crops. I toast her and celebrate the Autumnal Equinox with a glass of Kono vino.

Friday, September 21, 2012

The Keys To The Street

It's probably fitting that the picture for this book is larger than the other two - it is a heavy 585 page read full of itself. In other words, another one of those books I wish I could have made myself quit reading. A blurb on the back cover says: "Nobody writes smart, page-turning commercial women's fiction like Vincenzi." And I say, "thank goodness".
More Than You Know is about: "A privileged girl from a privileged class, Eliza Clark has a dazzling career - and the sleek Vidal Sassoon-style bob to match - as a fashion editor in 1960's London. High-fashion means a high life, jetting to Paris and Milan to take in the latest by Chanel, Balenciaga, Dior and Pucci."
I think it is the writing style I found most objectionable - that and the shallow development of characters. The book is written in very short paragraphs which jump from one character to another with no sense of continuity and seemingly no reason. You can be reading about Mark and Scarlett on the island of Trisos, jump to Sarah and Adrian Fullerton-Clark at Summercourt, their country estate, in the next paragraph and then on to Giovanni and Mariella Crespi at their palace on Lake Como.
There were some instances I enjoyed recalling London in the 60's & 70's - Twiggy, The Beatles, the fashions - but most of the time I was angry - reliving what it was like to be a woman in what was still a man's world. No more Vincenzi for me.

I wish our library had all of Dana Stabenow's Kate Shugak mysteries so I could read them in order.  Midnight Come Again is the ninth in the series which means a lot has happened in the lives of the characters since the last one I read (the third). Most significantly, in the book before this one, Kate's love, Jack Morgan was murdered, apparently while trying to save her, and her grandmother has died. So, in this book, Kate has disappeared. Deep in mourning and unwilling to be around her friends as she decides whether or not she wants to go on living, not even her best friend, Alaska State Trooper Jim Chopin, can find her and he needs her help solving a case he is working on.
A friend recommended this series to me. She enjoys it because the books are set in Alaska while I would possibly have dismissed them for that reason - just not one of my favorite states to read about. However, I am discovering that learning more about our 49th state and especially the native people living there is very interesting and Stabenow does write some very good, intense mysteries.

Every once in a while our library does some clearing out and sells some books. I usually find a few to buy. Last time it was a couple of Ruth Rendell's I hadn't yet read. I had been slowly reading my way through her novels so if I was going to get to read these, I'd better buy them.
It has been awhile since I read Rendell and this one is one of her best, I think. "Set in and around London's Regent's Park, where the city's wealthiest, poorest, kindest, and most vicious citizens all cross paths, The Keys to the Street tells of the deadly thanks a young woman risks receiving in return for an act of selfless generosity."
 This author is a master at interweaving seemingly disparate lives. Mary Jago is the compassionate young woman who has donated bone marrow to save the life of a young man, Leo Nash. She has taken a house-sitting job which allows her to leave her abusive boyfriend with whom she has been living. Bean is the uppity dog walker Mary deals with twice a day when he comes to walk the homeowners' dog. Hob is the drug addict who beats people up for money. Roman Ashton is one of the street people Mary extends kindness to.
After two of the homeless people are murdered and then impaled on the spikes of the park railings, police believe they have a serial killer on their hands. There is suspense because the reader just knows there is going to be another murder - but who will it be? And part of the mystery is who is the killer?
Rendell's characters are brilliantly written. They are fascinating as is the way they touch one another's lives. It is amazing how deeply she sees into her characters and the psychological insight she has as well as how neatly she pulls all their lives together. The identity of the killer at the end of the book is almost an after thought. I'm glad this is a book I don't have to return to the library because I want to read it again.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

The Weekend - A Wedding, A Class Reunion and Remembering Uncle Friskie

This past weekend was a busier than usual one for us. On Saturday afternoon we attended Brock and Paullina's wedding at Ledges State Park near Boone which is where I took this picture of the groom, (our grandson) and his sister, Katrina.

We stayed at the reception for awhile but left early because I wanted to get home (2+ hour drive) and do a few more things in preparation for the overnight stay of my brother Les and his wife Susan. They were in the area for Les' 40th high school class reunion. (This picture of them is one I took at their wedding almost three years ago.)

When I told Katrina that we weren't going to stay too late at the reception because Les & Susan were coming to stay, she said "You mean Uncle Friskie? How is he? Tell him I said hello." I said, "Uncle Friskie?? Why do you call him Uncle Friskie?" Katrina replied that she didn't know why; it was just what they had always called him since they were little.
The next morning over coffee I told my brother Katrina said to tell Uncle Friskie hello. Les said, "She still remembers that?" We had a few laughs over the sobriquet and then I asked him why Doug's kids called him Uncle Friskie.

It seems many years ago when they were about the ages they were in the above picture (Douglas, 31; Zachary 8; Katrina, 7 and Alyssa, 4), or even a little younger, we were all at Mom's for a July 4th weekend. When Les and his family arrived they had their new dog with them. Katrina said, "What's his name?" meaning Uncle Les, but Doug thought she meant the dog so he said, "I dunno - Friskie?" From then on Doug's Uncle Les became Uncle Friskie for him and his kids.

It was a story I had probably known at one time, but forgotten. Luckily my brother has a good memory and now I've written it down so the family can always remember Uncle Friskie, pictured above as he may look in his later years.

 (Hopefully my brother will still be speaking to me after this post.)