Monday, July 31, 2017

July Book Report

Only eight books read this month, but I have blogged every day for the first time in ages, so that might explain less reading.

Trajectory by Richard Russo is three short stories and one longer story. All are complex with interesting characters and emotional depth. Even though I am not a big fan of short stories, I am a fan of Russo. Good read.

Dust by Martha Grimes is my favorite Richard Jury novel yet. Wealthy young bachelor, a Henry James devotee, is murdered. What was the motive? Past people in his life? Connection to Bletchley Park? Or Hitler's SS? Frustrating as it may seem, I love it when I can't figure out the whodunnit, let alone, the why? And the ending! Have to read the next RJ/MG book! Dust is my favorite of these first four.

Walking On My Grave by Carolyn Hart is another of her "Death on Demand" series. My liking of her books depends on the subject matter as I have not formed an attachment to any of her characters. My favorite part of this book was the "Classic Crimes" novels she listed at the end, most of which I hadn't heard of. And since they date back to late 19th and early 20th Centuries, I doubt I would ever find copies to read, but I would certainly like to sample some of them.

Full Wolf Moon by Lincoln Child is the fifth in his Jeremy Logan series, but a first time author for me. (Nor have I read any of the Lincoln/Preston books.) This was an okay read; I'm just not that into techno thrillers.

Well, I know I liked Dust, just didn't realize I had put it in two photos. Ha!

The Horse Dancer by Jojo Moyes is not your typical 'girl loves horse' story. A young girl being raised by her grandfather goes into foster care when he suffers a stroke. She does not tell any of her foster families that she has a horse to take care of for fear she will lose her horse if authorities find out. There's so much to love about this book, the history of London's old stable yards, the French Le Cadre Noir, and Moyes' very fine writing.

The Child by Fiona Barton is her second book and based on how well I liked it, I will also read her first novel. Old school journalist Kate Waters and her ilk are slowly being replaced by the changes in print newspapers. She has to follow her intuition on news bytes that might lead to follow-up stories worthy of keeping her employed. When the body of a baby is dug up during a construction project, Kate thinks it bears investigation: "Who is the Building Site Baby?" More than one person fears the answer. A woman whose baby was taken from the hospital more than forty years ago hopes, yet doesn't hope, it is her's, so she can finally have an answer. When DNA is a match, the story seems to be over, until the DNA matches a second woman. Very good read.

Lockdown by Laurie R. King is a new stand alone book by this outstanding author. Right in step with our troubled times, it is about a shooting at a California middle school already fraught with problems of race, staffing and funding shortages, etc. Told in series of short background pieces, we learn the stories behind the expertly drawn characters - several of whom seem to be the shooter. Not until the final pages do you learn who the shooter is. And those final pages are so well written, so tense, you do feel an understanding of what teachers, students, parents and law enforcement go through during an active shooter/lockdown situation. King says she has been writing this story for twenty years, yet it is just as immediate as today's news, unfortunately. My favorite read this month!

The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper by Phaedra Patrick is her first novel. It is a cute little tale of loneliness, compassion and finding one's way back after the death of a beloved spouse. Widower Arthur Pepper is in a staid routine of depression after his wife's death. He is alienated from his children and friends. On the one-year anniversary he decides it is time, he must begin clearing her clothes from the closet. In the toe of a boot he finds a gold charm bracelet that he has never seen before, yet it must be hers. Why did she hide it there? His search for the meaning behind each charm leads him on unimagined journeys toward a wife he never new and new beginnings for himself. Some of the book cover blurbs compared this book to The Little Paris Bookshop, though I did not find it as good. I do enjoy this popular genre of transformative stories, however.

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Third Annual Christmas in July

Our third annual Christmas in July was held at the home of my Granddaughter, Alyssa, in Northern Iowa yesterday. Here is great-granddaughter, Lily, putting some final touches on 'her' Christmas tree. (Three generations: Mom Alyssa, Lily and Grandpa Doug.

We had a small group this year compared to the first two years and those not present were sorely missed. Lily, who just turned five, took most of the photos for me.

She wanted you to see her Fairy Garden.

As well as how Grandpa Doug would look with a green beard. Grandma Shelly was getting a kick out of this.

Lily had all the attention until her little cousin arrived. Brynley and Lily were the only two great-grands there. I love the girls, but really missed the great-grandsons!

Lily showed Great-grandma Ramona her room including how she could rock out playing the canjo her Grandpa Doug made for her last Christmas.

Blowing bubbles. The weather was so much nicer this year than last - no 110° heat index, thank you very much. Some family members camped out in the yard and made a weekend of it.

We've got a tentative volunteer host family for next year which will move the location back to central Iowa and hopefully a full contingent of attendees.

There was MUCH hilarity during the playing of "The Game". With a bit of 'stealing', I came home with a set of three unique towels and a magnet from The Pickers (Antique Archaeology). Oh, but my best present? Learning I am to be Great-grandma again in a few months. Merry Christmas and thanks to Evan, Alyssa and Lily for hosting.

Saturday, July 29, 2017

More On The Way To And Around Lake Binder

Headed toward Corning earlier in the week, I knew I wanted some windmill pictures. I lucked out with this rusty-bladed one with the old sheds in the background and wildflowers in the foreground.

Horses grazing near Prescott. What was it the kids used to do if they saw a white horse? Make a wish? Was there something about spitting in your hand?

I love barns. Old barns. Unusual barns. Falling down barns. Well-kept barns. Just plain old barns. Love 'em.

The Corning Gun Club is at the South entrance of Lake Binder. If my memory is correct, the Gun Club was founded in the early 1950's - or maybe that's just when my Dad joined. I would say he was a founding member, but I'm not sure about that.

What I am sure of is that my older brother, Ronald, had the job of sitting in one of these two trap houses and loading clay pigeons into the machines that flung them out for trapshooting by the Gun Club members and guests. Why did the boys always have the interesting jobs and all the girls got to do was babysit?

Driving around the lake was a favorite pastime. I always liked the west side best. The road curved and dipped through tunnels made by overarching trees. These vines hanging down almost to the roadway are near where a small ravine empties into the lake.

A few weeks ago a friend of ours shared this photo of a 1926 Dodge saying he took the picture at Lake Binder. I've never seen the car and don't know exactly where out there it is. But I had the feeling as I took pictures near that ravine that it was the kind of place an old car would be.

Encroaching ivy working on covering this stump on the east side of the lake.

These berries were another mystery for me. They look like blueberries, but are growing on a tree. So far I haven't been able to determine exactly what they are and no, I didn't eat any. The birds will probably like them.

Another view of the lake from the spillway with milkweeds and cattails. Lake Binder was built as an additional water supply for the town of Corning.

Until Lake Binder was built, the water supply was from what we always referred to as "the old reservoir".

Although, technically I believe its name was East Lake. Now both these lakes are eclipsed by Lake Icaria. For photo ops, I prefer the two older lakes.

My picture taking occurred in the morning hours before it got too hot. But the sunset and clouds that evening provided one more photo - a perfect end for a perfect day.

Friday, July 28, 2017

Lake Binder Wildflowers

Before we had Lake Icaria there was Lake Binder for swimming, fishing, picnicking and camping. A visit there a few days ago was good for simply reflecting on memories of those times and photographing some wildflowers.

Doesn't it seem fitting that Queen Anne's Lace grows around one of the tombstones in the old Queen City Cemetery?

Tiger lilies with the Queen City Memorial marker and remaining cemetery stones. It is believed there were around 200 graves here. The marker was erected by the Corning Civic Department in 1980.

Water lilies near the boat ramp on the west side of the dam.

Milkweed and cattails near the spillway.

Chicory and wild oats. Many Iowa roadsides are adorned with chicory blue now - it is one of the few colors of blue I like.

Milkweed blowing in a soft, summer wind. This patch was on the opposite side of the lake and at the opposite end. The Monarch butterflies are going to love this area.

This little beauty is a new one for me. I had to come home and search and search and search before discovering it is Prairie Petunia. I had never heard of it before nor remember ever seeing it growing.

Here is another specimen I could not identify. No amount of searching helped. So for now, this one is "unknown".

Field Thistle with white flowers. I don't remember ever seeing white thistle flowers before, just purple ones. One site says white flowers occur in about ten percent of the thistles. And yes, these are listed on the Minnesota Wildflowers Field Guide.

A Japanese Beetle lunching on one of the thistle flowers.

Standing on the bridge over the spillway, looking across Lake Binder.

Two years ago water was pouring over the spillway. You can see the end of the bridge I was standing on when I took this year's dry spillway photo.

This is the swinging bridge that used to cross the spillway. Very few "kids" now in their 60's or 70's don't fondly remember the thrill of crossing this.

It was a good day to capture the beauty of some wildflowers as well as some memories of Lake Binder.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Brooding Over A Brood

What a delightful surprise to see this mama wood duck and her brood headed for the pond this morning. I have often wondered why, when we see the adult wood ducks all spring, have we never had baby ducklings on the pond.

I tried counting the little ones, which is hard to do, and came up with either 12 or 13.

Here they are in a semblance of a line. How many do you see? So far they have stayed in the shallows at the corner of the pond. I'm hoping to see them swimming further out on the water. (And get photos)

I have Hubby Dearest to thank for alerting me to these babies. If he hadn't spotted them I might not have seen them - at least not this morning. What a fun start to a lovely summer day.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

My Great-granddaughter's Morning?

I had to wait almost five years for another great-granddaughter. Only two girls among six great grandsons, eight, counting two older step-great grandsons. So Brynley's birth in March was extra sweet. With three older brothers, you might suspect she is going to be 'Daddy's Girl' which is why a poem I read this morning made me think so much of her and her daddy.

My Daughter's Morning by David Swanger

"My daughter's morning streams
over me like a gang of butterflies
as I, sour-mouthed and not ready
for the accidents I expect

of my day, greet her early:
her sparkle is as the edge of new
ice on leafed pools, while I
am soggy, tepid; old toast.

Yet I am the first version
of later princes; for all my blear
and bluish jowl I am welcomed
as though the plastic bottle

I hold were a torch and 
my robe not balding terry.
For her I bring the day; warm
milk, new diaper, escapades;

she lowers all bridges and
sings to me most beautifully
in her own language while
I fumble with safety pins.

I am not made young
by my daughter's mornings;
I age relentlessly.

Yet I am made to marvel
at the durability of newness
and the beauty of my new one."

(For my granddaughter Katrina, great-granddaughter Brynley and especially her Daddy, Brad.)

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Like the Circles That You Find

"Round like a circle in a spiral
Like a wheel within a wheel
Never ending or beginning
On an ever spinning reel
Like a clock whose hands are sweeping
Past the minutes of its face
Like the circles that you find
In the windmills of your mind

Like a tunnel that you follow
To a tunnel of its own
Down a hollow to a cavern
Where the sun has never shown
Like a door that keeps revolving
In a half-forgotten dream
Like the ripples from a pebble
Someone tosses in a stream

Keys that jingle in your pocket
Words that jangle in your head
Why did summer go so quickly
Was it something that you said
Pictures hanging in a hallway
And the fragment of a song
Half-remembered names and faces
But to whom do they belong

When you knew that it was over
You were suddenly aware
Like a circle in a spiral
Like a wheel within a wheel
Never ending or beginning
On an ever-spinning reel

As the images unwind
Like the circles that you find
In the windmills of your mind"

(Words from the song The Windmills of Your Mind.  Lyrics by Alan Bergman and Marilyn Bergman and music by composer, Michel Legrand. Photos by ril 25 July 2017 and September 21, 2016.)