Sunday, January 31, 2016

Taking A Sunday Drive #13

The smallest of our fifty states has the longest name: State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations. It was the first of the original thirteen colonies to renounce allegiance to Great Britain, but the last state to ratify the Constitution. It just seemed appropriate that my #13 blog about the states would be about the 13th state. Rhode Island was one of the last four of the lower forty-eight states for Bud and me to cross off our list together. That we did last fall which is why some of these pictures may look familiar to you.

It was raining the entire trip to and through Rhode Island. Our planned overnight stay, with some sightseeing the next day, was Newport.

A picture of Touro Tower which wasn't shared in my October 22 blog post last fall. The rain really did curtail the plans we had for touring Newport. What was left was a 'driving in the rain' tour. I thought I had taken some pictures of some of the famous Newport mansions when we passed them. Alas, I did not.

Other views not used in the October 22 blog - all are  along Ocean Drive:

For devotees of vampire stories, a final bit of history about our 13th state: In the 19th Century an outbreak of tuberculosis resulted in public hysteria about vampirism, referred to as the New England vampire panic.

Saturday, January 30, 2016

January Book List

Only six books read this first month of the New Year and five of them are pictured here:

My favorite was Paula McLain's Circling the Sun. What I wrote in the notebook I keep of all the books I've read: "Adored this beautifully written book about Beryl Markham's early life in Africa. I expected it to be more about her flying career, but it is almost entirely about her growing up wild - playing with native children, learning to ride and train horses. The descriptions of Kenya in the early 20th Century reminded me so much of Isak Dinesen's Out of Africa. If I could see Africa as it was then, I might want to go there, but not now." Rated this one 4.5.

An Irish Country Courtship is the 5th in Patrick Taylor's Irish Country series and was given to me last month by son Douglas. He and his wife Shelly have been reading and enjoying the series and thought I would like them, too. This book is set in Northern Ireland in 1964-65 in a small town near Ulster. An established, aging, physician has brought in a new young doctor to help in his general practice with the long plan being his eventual retirement if the young doc likes the area and the people of the area like him. I can see this being an endearing series and I may read more since our library does have most of them. I rated this one 3.0.

Laura Child's Tea Shop Mystery Series is one I have been reading from the beginning. Ming Tea Murder is the 16th. These are always good, quick reading little mysteries. I did think that the author had made our main character and tea shop owner, Theodosia Browning, a little more hip in this latest offering - especially in her use of language. As always there is a murder and Theo has to conduct her own investigating. Another 3.0.

I couldn't decide whether to give Twice In A Lifetime by Dorothy Garlock a 2.5 or 3.0. Maybe a new rating, 2.75? I always like her novels. I think mostly because she writes of small towns and farms usually in the Midwest and usually set during the time period I think of as 'the good ole days'. They are always sweet romances with the right amount of struggles and troubles before the couple can finally be together. This book is set in a small Missouri town in 1954.  A black Plymouth plays a major role. What could be any better than that? (Yes, I once had a black Plymouth - two if you count my brother's convertible which he often let me drive.)

Funny how time changes our perceptions about things and books are not exempt. As mentioned last month, I did re-read two books I'd first read about fifteen years ago: David Guterson's PEN/Faulkner Award winning Snow Falling On Cedars and East of the Mountains.
Before re-reading them I would have said East of the Mountains was my favorite of the two. Maybe because I had read it more recently and remembered it better. But after re-reading both, I have rated Snow Falling on Cedars 4.0 and East of the Mountains, which is about a man planning on suicide by gun, made to look like an accident, after he is diagnosed with terminal cancer, a 3.5. I was remembering this novel, set in the fruit growing area of eastern Washington, as being more touchingly beautiful than I found it upon second reading. Still good, though.
And, conversely, I didn't remember Snow Falling on Cedars as nuanced regarding the love between a second generation Japanese woman and an American man as I found it upon re-reading. Still, two very enjoyable books by Guterson worth the second visit.

One of this month's reads has prompted me to re-visit two more books from the past next month. I wonder how they will fare with the way I remember them from the first time?

Friday, January 29, 2016

Bulldogs and National Puzzle Day

According to whoever decides these things, today is National Puzzle Day. One website says: "Whether it's a crossword, jigsaw, word searches, brain teasers or Sudoku, puzzles put our brains to work." Which is why, every day, I do the daily crossword and the daily jigsaw - the online versions.
Word searches don't do much for me, I don't even know what a brain teaser is and Sudoku - forget it. Anything with numbers and my brain goes blank - which is probably why I should try Sudoku again.

Until my daughter introduced me to online jigsaw puzzles, I enjoyed spreading out the jigsaw pieces on the dining room table and putting them together. This is one I did six years ago last October. I would still enjoy working jigsaws if I had a space I could do them other than having them on the dining room table for as long as it took to put them together. Plus, working them on the computer is so much faster. I like that I can do a complete puzzle in a short time. I believe they refer to that as 'instant gratification'.

"Studies have found that when we work on a jigsaw puzzle, we use both sides of the brain, and spending time daily working on puzzles improves memory, cognitive function and problem solving skills." (Again from the same website.)

The daily online jigsaw Wednesday was of two Boston Bulldogs, technically Boston Terriers, one white and black the other black and white. I am so often surprised when something that I have just been talking about or reading about comes up again in a different form a day or two later. This was the case when I saw Wednesday's puzzle.

In some back and forth electronic conversations with my younger brother last week the subject of the white bulldog, Trixie, we had when he was little came up. He asked me if we had once had a black bulldog too. He thought he remembered seeing a picture of our older brother with a black bulldog. I had absolutely no memory of ever having another bulldog besides Trixie. (Shown here with my little sister, Betty.) I went through all the old photos I have and no black bulldog.

Tuesday I was talking with my older brother and asked him if he remembered ever having a black bulldog. Like me, Ron worries about how forgetful he is becoming. He had no problem whatsoever of remembering that we had a brown bulldog (which would show up black in a black and white photo) for a short time.
He went on to remind me that someone gave us the brown Boston Terrier, probably thinking if we had one bulldog we'd surely like having two. Everything was fine until the two dogs were left alone and got into a fight. Trixie ended up with a leg chewed up and the other dog, named ?, had its ears chewed. Trixie's leg got infected and we had a heck of time getting her healed up. The other dog went to a new home.
As Ron was relating all this, suddenly my memories of that time began coming back. To which I say: "Funny how selective our memory can be."

Betty, Ron and me with a 'tricked out' Trixie. Les wasn't born yet. I'm thinking getting together with my brothers more often and combining our memories might benefit all of us. In the meantime I'll keep doing my daily crossword and jigsaw - and hoping this final comment from the website I'm quoting is true:

"The bottom line is, puzzles stimulate the brain, keeping it active and practicing its skills."

Happy National Puzzle Day!

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Trying Some New Arthritis Exercise

You've already heard about my arthritic knees ad nauseam. You know I'm trying to delay knee replacement surgery as long as possible. You know I have had one shoulder replaced already - a combination of childhood injury (trying to ride a cow) and arthritis. So what's left? The hips.
For the past week my right hip has been giving me fits. I've even considered going to a chiropractor because it feels like my hip is 'out'. But I haven't injured it or done anything to it, so maybe it is more arthritis showing up?

I've known for a long time that exercising in a pool is one of the best ways to work out when troubled by arthritis. It is gentler on the joints and the water gives you the benefits of resistance training. So Tuesday I finally decided to try the Arthritis Aqua class offered at the Y. It genuinely was a good, mildly strenuous workout for the whole body. Bonus: I really liked the instructor.

But how would I feel the next day? By Tuesday afternoon I could already tell I'd done more than usual. I wondered if I would wake up in the night with leg cramps - a common occurrence for me when I do something different.

Wednesday morning I woke up feeling pretty good. No leg cramps in the night - well, one slight foot cramp. I figured if I was going to be doing two days in the pool (class is on Tuesdays & Thursdays) I'd better add another day of walking on the treadmill, so I went to the Y yesterday - my usual day off.

Today it was back for the second pool exercise experience. Again, a good work out. There were about twice as many people today as there were on Tuesday. It was actually a little crowded. I am planning on continuing with these classes.

I didn't get a picture of our class, but here's one of the class following ours: Aqua Interval. It is a bit more strenuous. I did notice some of the ones in Arthritis Aqua stayed for this class, too. There's also Aqua Power, Aqua Boot Camp, Wet-N-Fit, Aqua Zumba, Early Bird Aqua and Aquacise. Who knows, maybe I will try some of these other classes in the future.

The Y was one of the contributing factors in our retiring to Creston instead of our home town. Much as I complain about having to go to the Y, I'm really grateful for its closeness and all the classes on offer.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Remembering A Cousin

Those sixteen cousins I wrote about last November 4, they all began with these five people:

Grandpa Joe, Grandma Delphia, Aunt Evelyn, Aunt Lois and Mom. In that November post I wrote that we had lost only two of the sixteen, my sister, Betty, and Aunt Evelyn's oldest, Larry. Yesterday I learned that the first of Aunt Lois' sons died Monday. Gary Alvin M. would have been 74 on March 30.

Gary, on the far right, and his wife Marilyn, far left, were our best friends in the early years of my marriage to Kenny. As you can see, they were part of our wedding party. We had a lot of good times together. We would go to Guss where Gary's family lived when his dad ran the blacksmith shop or they would come to our little apartment in town. Like with most young couples, money was tight so we played cards, joked around and, eventually, watched our young sons play together.

Gary and Marilyn bought Grandpa and Grandma's farm after they were gone. I've always liked this picture taken there near the barn. Gary holding the goat so my brother Ron's twins, Andrew and Lorrie could pet it. (Ron's wife, Ruthie on the left.)

Another photo taken at Grandpa & Grandma's when Gary was around four and Lloyd was about two.

This picture was from October, 1953 before the last two family members were born. Stair-stepped on the left, Uncle Alvin, Gary, Ronda. On the right, Aunt Lois, Lloyd, Darol. Monica would be born the following year and baby Joe in 1960.

I admit that even as I wrote about the cousins in that November post, I wondered who among us would be the next to die. Now I know. Rest in peace, Gary. Cousins, our first friends.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Kansas City Dawg For Lunch

When I was young the only difference in the way you ate a hot dog was whether you preferred ketchup or mustard on it. Until I was past my teen years, I preferred ketchup. Then I learned better and switched to mustard.
Hot dogs were a staple when my kids were young. Easy, quick, inexpensive and, bonus, something they would all agree on and eat. Again, before I learned better, I bought whatever brand was on sale, which meant 49 or 59 cents a package. Then I had hot dogs at my brother's house. My sister-in-law, Ruthie, would buy nothing but Oscar Mayer weiners - the expensive 99 cents a package hot dogs! It took me a while but I finally realized she was right - they were much better and worth the price.
But lately I've notice that not even the regular Oscar Mayer's are good enough any more, even if they are now $2.00 a package, on sale. I've started buying the all beef O-M's which are almost $5.00 a package!

Some time ago I learned you can tell where a person is from by what they eat on their hot dogs. Which is how I learned that I like mine Kansas City style, topped with Swiss cheese and sauerkraut. (To be correct I should use thousand island dressing instead of mustard, but I still use mustard.)

I had already started eating before I thought to take a picture. Beneath the hot dogs, sauerkraut and Swiss cheese is a split cheese roll. A little pasta salad, a few chips and a glass of raspberry lemonade. Yum.

We didn't try any while there, but a New York dawg is topped with onions sauteed in tomato sauce and spicy brown mustard.
Chicagoan's top theirs with fresh tomato, pickle, hot peppers, sweet onion and green relish.
Detroit comes the closest to my second favorite way to eat hot dogs - Coney Island style with chili, shredded  cheddar cheese and raw onion.
Atlantan's add chili, also, along with spicy mustard - but then they top it with coleslaw. I'll take my slaw on the side, thank you.

Other areas have their own unique ways of eating the All-American Hot Dog, too. No matter how you top them or what brand you swear by, they are still a quick, easy lunch time staple.

Monday, January 25, 2016

Bubble Wrap Appreciation Day?

It's National Bubble Wrap Appreciation Day. Who knew? I always thought it was Ruth Voneta Ridnour's birth day.

I never need a reason to think about my Mom, hardly a day goes by that I don't think about her. But this morning when I woke up and thought, "It would be her 97th birthday", I calculated that she would have been conceived in April. What better month to begin life?

"And Spring arose on the garden fair,
Like the Spirit of Love felt everywhere;
And each flower and herb on Earth's dark breast
Rose from the dreams of  its wintry rest."
(Percy Bysshe Shelley)

I'm not sure why we need an appreciation day for bubble wrap which was invented about the same time as this photo of our family was taken.
I do know it was several years later before Mom would have had any bubble wrap. It would be from a package someone sent to her or left over in all the detritus of Christmas wrappings.
It would be something she would save to reuse. That was her nature - never throw anything away.

All the memories I have of Mom, whether of her birthday or all the other 364 days a year, are good ones. Even the memories of being disciplined I now think of fondly. They are precious.

And what do we do with that which is precious to us?
We wrap it in bubble wrap!

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Taking A Sunday Drive #12

Illinois, Land of Lincoln, state of some of my earliest visits as a child to relatives in Quincy and Plainville, but it was probably 1992 before Bud and I made our first trip there together.
We attended Todd & Teresa's wedding in Dubuque, where Mark served as best man, then crossed the river to Galena for a little vacation.
After some shopping and sight seeing in Galena including U.S. Grant's home, we went in search of a place to pitch our tent.

And found the Wooded Wonderland on Devil's Ladder Road.
If I had a means of time travel, this is one time and one place I would go back to.

Just above our campsite I found a spring fed pool of water. I've always been enamored of springs.

Galena the town was named for galena, the natural mineral form of lead sulfide. Also known as lead glance, galena is the most important ore of lead and an important source of silver.
The mining of lead in the areas near Dubuque and Galena began in the early 1700's.
When I took this photo it was with the certainty that it was an old lead mine.

Trails through this wooded wonderland led past abandoned machinery and old vehicles, like the 1947 International pickup with the name Albert still decipherable in the faded paint on the passenger side door.

The dusty road led down to a corral of horses. Were they kept for trail rides? If so, what a gorgeous area to ride in.

I tried making friends with this little beauty and came very close until she realized I didn't really have a treat in my hand.

Near the corral was this deserted 1963 Jeep Wagoneer. I was so excited to take this picture to have for reference. You see, it was the exact model Annie was driving in the novel I was writing - right down to the luggage rack. I could use the photo for descriptive accuracy and for inspiration!

Other Illinois trips have included Nauvoo, Illinois, twice. The first time to visit the restored Historic Mormon Village as well as the Icarian Museum*; the second to see the rebuilt Mormon Temple. (* The Icarians moved into Nauvoo and took over many of the homes and buildings abandoned by the Mormons when they left for Salt Lake City. Bud's ancestry includes the Icarians.)
Grand Detour, named for an odd turn in the Rock River, to visit the home and rebuilt blacksmith shop where John Deere built the first successful steel plow which led to the giant implement company we know today.
And Kickapoo State Park - site of our last tent camping and memorable for lack of sleep. First because of the heat, second because of the all-night noise of someone opening and closing their cooler. I did not know until the next morning when I saw their little paw prints that it was raccoon's raiding our cooler which I had left setting on the picnic table outside our tent. They ate everything except the ketchup and mustard!

On a later trip to Illinois, 2004 or 05, we overnighted at Quincy.
Where, for all the times I had been to Quincy, I noticed for the first time, this replica of the Mosque of Thais high on a cliff overlooking the Mississippi River.

Villa Kathrine was the residency of George Metz modeled after Moorish Castles after his trip to Morocco in 1900.
It is now Quincy's Tourist Information Center.

The next day we journeyed on to Cahokia Mounds State Historical Site near Collinsville. It was a place I remembered hearing my grandparents talk about and always wanted to see.

Especially as I got older and more interested in the Mississippian Culture. The mound in the center of this photo is Monks Mound, the largest in the U.S. and one of about 80 mounds at this 2,200 acre site.

 Cahokia Mounds Interpretive Center and Museum. One day was not enough at this historical site. The exhibits are fascinating, the artifacts, amazing.

Bud standing in front of the heavy bronze doors in the Center. Each door weighs about 800 pounds. The bas-relief panels depict birds in flight over Monks Mound.

If you are planning a trip to the St. Louis area, you might want to include Cahokia Mounds in your itinerary.

Illinois, Land of Lincoln and in all my times in this state, I have yet to visit Springfield. I would still like to go there - to see Lincoln's Home and Presidential Library as well as other historical buildings in that area, but most especially to see ....

Saturday, January 23, 2016

The First Month of Winter In Photos

Solstice Morning
December 21, 2015

Snow falling on Christmas Eve day, December 24.

A foggy, frosty start to Christmas Day, December 25, 2015.

Christmas breakfast for Papa and Mama Cardinale.

Downy Woodpecker enjoying the suet. Christmas Day.

Oh, my beautiful Ringneck Dove - the first time I had seen it this winter. December 29, 2015

The Flicker had been on the deck picking up seeds. Now he is either hiding them for later or studiously opening a sunflower seed.
December 29

New Year's Eve 2015. The sun sets on another year.

A squirrel tries to gain access to the feeders but ends up sliding head first down the pole. January 3, 2016

A return visit by the lovely dove. January 5. Can you tell this is one of my favorite birds?

Ah, the first deer sighting of the new year. January 13, 2016

The evening sky so lovely I could not stop taking photos.
January 13, 2016

The winter sunsets really are spectacular. January 15, 2016

Snow again on Tuesday, January 19. Even though we had cleared the deck and put seed down, the snow came so heavily the little snow birds (Juncos) had to search for breakfast.

As did one of the squirrels.

A tree full of birds waiting for the breakfast buffet special.
January 20, 2016

The Flicker making a return visit. Wednesday, January 20

A soft, serene close of day January 21, 2016 for a month of winter photos.