About Me

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Recent retiree--35 year's experience teaching reading, English, adult basic education and volunteer leadership skills. Started this blog to exchange ideas and commentary with friends and others having an interest in joining the discussions. Greatest life accomplishments include: 1.organized my 3rd grade class to check out library books for me to get around librarian's weekly limit--Amazon.com, the Mullins Elementary 3rd Grade Class of 1956 is still waiting for "thank you" notes; 2. volunteered in the Peace Corps, island of St. Kitts, West Indies; 3.taught adults to read, earn their GEDs., and speak English as a second language; 4. bought a border collie puppy for $6, got evicted rather than give him up, and began a life-long love affair with all things "Dog"; 5. joined a physical fitness boot camp in my mid-50s--don't mess with someone who's been doing regulation pushups in wet grass at 5:30 a.m.; 6. walked across Northern England with best friend Sally--over 80 miles from the Irish to North Seas; and 7. travelled to many foreign countries for pleasure and work.

Monday, December 31, 2012

2012 in Review - Favorite Photos

Out of the bazillion or so photos I've taken this year, thought it might be fun to choose a favorite for each month as a way to reflect on how 2012 rolled along. Note: the one I've chosen may not be the best photos I took for that month. I just liked it for one reason or another above all the others.

January - sharp shinned hawks roosted in a tree in my back yard long enough for a photo op.

February - Good Old Dog Willie in his twilight.

March - pink dogwood in bloom

April - Chet, aka Bubbles Riley, 3 mos. old and in his new home on his new sofa

May - Chet the Good Eater after 1 cup of pup food and 2 mini  beggin' strips

June - a soft, natural sunset--straight out of the camera, no fiddling

July - 4th of July fireworks display from my deck

August - Garden 9 on the Historic Louisville Garden Tour

September - Moscow, Russia lights on Moscva River from the Red October Chocolate Factory

October - Bernheim Bridge over Beargrass Creek, Seneca Park, Louisville

November - sunset on the Ohio River, Railroad Bridge connects Louisville and Indiana

December - Olivia M, a thoroughbred beauty, on the Offuit Cole horse farm, Old Frankfort Pike, near Midway, Ky

So, that was an enjoyable way to look back at 2012.  I've enjoyed sharing photos with all of you this year.  Happy New Year friends,  and all the best to you and yours in 2013.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

2012 in Review - Books

In this final week between Christmas and the New Year I enjoy thinking about the year that is just about over--what I've enjoyed, experiences great and small, the joys and sadnesses of everyday life. In 2012 I've had some great adventures, developed some new passions, and taken on some new challenges. One thing that has remained constant in my 60+ years is book love--the old fashioned kind with bright covers and printed pages. So far I haven't adopted the new-fangled readers like iPads, Kindles, or Nooks. Still love to OWN my reading, have it stacked on shelves and tables, and be able to re-read, mark and highlight--and loan favorites to friends--at will. So, here you have most of the books I've read in 2012:

And then to break down these stacks a bit further.  First, there would be a lot more books piled on this table, but I love re-reading books that speak to me from the beginning.  Most readers have definite opinions about this, making the point that there are too many good books to keep re-reading the same ones over and over.  For me it's just like visiting dear friends again and again. 

In this category, I'll put these Old Friends:  Diana Gabaldon's Outlander series, a mix of time travel and historical fiction set in Scotland, France, and America.  The action shifts from the 1700s to 1900s and put characters in the middle of English-Scottish conflict over the English throne at Culloden to World War II aftermath and the Revolutionary War in America.

I also put Sara Donati's Into the Wilderness series in the Old Friends category.  This series is also historical fiction set in New York State, Canada, Scotland and New Orleans of the late 1700s-early 1800s.  These novels deal with the settlement of the north, conflict among white settlers, American Indians, Canadians, French and English for control of the rich resources of the northern forests.

In both the Gabaldon and Donati books the characters are strong, the love stories are true and passionate, family loyalties are steadfast.  Even the children and pets are memorable.  Just what you would want from an old friend, so that's why I don't apologize for reading these again and again. 

Next reading category would be by author or subject.  If I enjoy an author, I want to read all they've written.  This year a friend recommended Spencer Quinn's Chet and Bernie Mysteries.  Bernie is a private investigator who has a very able canine assistant, Chet.  Together they run the Little Detective Agency from their home in southern California.  Chet is the very funny and quotable narrator of these tales.  When I adopted a new puppy back in April I named him Chet, hoping that he'd be just as much fun as Chet the Elder.  So far he hasn't disappointed!

In 2012 I got interested in Ken Kollett's books again after his Pillars of the Earth was made into a very successful mini series.  Here are all the Folletts I've read this year, including the sprawling Fall of the Giants and the sequel Winter of the World.  Like his books a lot because they're set in the early to mid-1900s against World War I and II and have enough historical background to make them compelling.  I also like how Follett deals with the different social classes--and clashes--as war and commerce narrows the divide between the have and have nots.

Next big category has to be Scandinavian crime fiction.  For me it began with the Swedish writer Stieg Larsson's Millennium Trilogy (Girl with Dragon Tattoo, . . Played with Fire, . . .Kicked the Hornet's Nest).  I've re-read the books this year and seen Swedish and American versions of the films.  From there I became interested in Henning Mankell's Kurt Wallander Mysteries and the BBC TV series.  Last year I traveled to Sweden, Denmark and Norway which only increased my interest in Scandinavian crime writers.  Each writer uses the police procedural format with the main character being a personally flawed, but deeply committed to justice for the victim, police detective.  In some cases, especially with the women writers, news reporters tell the crime story.

This year I've read Lisa Marklund, Camilla Lackberg, Hakan Nesser, and Stieg Larsson for Swedish crime.  Jo Nesbo and Karin Fossum's works are set in Norway.  And Jussi Adler-Olsen set in Denmark.  Each of the writers fills his or her novels with current societal issues like unchecked  immigration, domestic abuse, conflict over family roles.  I particularly love the books because I've had the chance to see the crime settings like Vigeland Park in Oslo or City Hall in Stockholm. 

Last category would be the No Category.  Here I've included all the other books that I've read this year from recommendations, liking the author or subject matter.  The Bookseller by Mark Pryor was set in Paris and involved crimes against the bookstall owners along the Seine.  Minding Frankie was bittersweet because it was the last work of much loved Irish writer Maeve Binchy before her death this year.  Private Games by old-crank out-book-a-week James Patterson was a great read because it dealt with attempts to sabotage the Summer Olympics in London.  Peaches for Father Francis by Joanne Harris was a surprise sequel to Chocolat which had Vianne going back to help her arch-enemy with some problems that even chocolate couldn't fix.  And finally, a new writer for me, Paul Sussman--I was reading his The Last Secret of the Temple about the Israeli-Palestine conflict the end of November when it looked like there was going to be all out war between the two countries.  Talk about timely and Sussman provided such a balanced look at both sides of this conflict.  I'll read more from him.

And finally!  Out of all the books I've read this year, here are my four Favorites.  I'll remember each of them for a long time.  In each one the story is about strong women in times of conflict doing what they must to protect their loved ones at great personal cost:  The Dovekeepers--The Masada, Israel, 70 C.E.; Island Beneath the Sea -- Saint-Domingue slave revolt,1770; Broken Paradise--Cuban Revolution, 1956; Those Who Save Us--World War II, Germany, 1940s.

A test of a really good book is that you regret when you've finished it, you want others to read it, and you envy them getting to read it for the first time.  I hope to find many more in this category in 2013.  Here's to good reading and I'd really love to have your recommendations.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Macro Monday - Spiraling

Up, up, up!  Great example of Shaker architecture--spiral staircase at Shaker Village--Pleasant Hill, Kentucky.  Merry Christmas Eve to all.

For more closeups from all over, or to enter your own macros, be sure to check out Lisa's Chaos here every Monday.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Merry Christmas from Chet

Merry Christmas from the Roommate and me.  You may remember that I almost dug to China on this day via the backyard.  Hope you're not traveling THAT far for the holidays.  But wherever you are, have a wonderful time.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Airdrie Stud Farm--Nice Work if You Can Get It

This the entrance gate to Airdrie Stud Farm on Old Frankfort Pike near Midway, Kentucky.  It's where a lucky few thoroughbreds get re-assigned to after they are retired from racing.  Since most of us probably have limited time this week for blogging, and since Airdrie has good barns, fences, and water, I'm making this post my entry for Barn Charm and Watery Wednesday II at Bluff Area Daily and Friday Fences at Life According to Jan and Jer .  Hopefully, this will give more time to visit you all.

The "bachelor pad", aka stud barn, seen through some sycamore branches:

Closeup of "bachelor pad":

Another barn on the property--probably for more mundane uses like feed/equipment storage.  Can you see Black Beauty in the lower right hand corner?

A stream runs through it and examples of classic horse fencing and dry stone walls:

Other side of the entrance to Airdrie with view of dry stone wall from above:

If this is the last time we chat before Christmas,  a merry one to you and yours from Chet and me.  He's already dreaming of a deer antler treat!

Monday, December 17, 2012

Macro Monday - Pretty Papers

In German it's scherenschnitte, Chinese jiahzhi, Dutch knippen, Ukrainian vyxynanky.  You get the idea. Crafts artists from all over the world have the patience to spend hundreds of hours cutting paper into elaborate folk designs, all the patterns held together in one continuous piece. 

This particular work was one of several wall hangings at the Heirloom Restaurant in Midway, Kentucky:

And here are some macros--or at least closeups--of the panel.  Note the tricky cuts on the rabbit's leg:

For more closeups from all over, or to enter your own macros, be sure to check out Lisa's Chaos here every Monday.

Sunday, December 16, 2012


"Every time there was an unspoken promise that this would be the last time, but it would only be the last time until the next time." 
 Tom Upton's Mourning Doves and Other Stories

Saturday, December 15, 2012


"The stars are in shock" December 14, 2012 - Newtown, CT

Friday, December 14, 2012

Friday Fences - More Kentucky Horse Farms

I may be over-estimating your interest in Kentucky thoroughbred horse farms, but on my recent drive along Old Frankfort Pike the photo ops were just too good to pass up.  Today I'll share some examples of classic dry stone wall and plank fencing that is used throughout this area.  Oh, and a couple of equine comedians as well.

Like this redheaded flirt:

Good fences make good neighbors, we're told.  Apparently good butt scratchers as well:

Along Old Frankfort Pike you'll see many handsome gates for the horse farms.  This one had a really nice view of the winding road leading to the barns:

On either side of  the gate you could get some closeups of the dry stone walls that are over a hundred years old--built by slaves and Irish immigrants using stones wrestled out of this prime farmland.  Today the walls are preserved as an important part of the historical landscape:

Now to see more Friday Fences, or add your own, go to our host Janis' site at Life According to Jan and Jer .

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Macro Monday and Barn Charm - Call a Meeting

Photos in this post were taken on Old Frankfort Pike, smack in the middle of some of the most beautiful Kentucky thoroughbred horse farms. These guys were grazing peacefully when they saw me at the fence and. . .

as if they heard "the meeting is about to begin" all five started straight for the fence where I was waiting with the camera.

Ready for the meeting!

They got really close and, as you can see, this one hadn't shaved that morning. :-)

Meet "Sweet Talker". I know that's his name because. . .

His name tag said so!

As with any other meeting, there was a lot to chew over.

Yet another gorgeous barn on Old Frankfort Pike, site of this meeting.

For more closeups from all over, or to enter your own macros, be sure to check out Lisa's Chaos here every Monday. And for photos and stories of charming barns go to Tricia's Bluff Area Daily . Hope our two lovely hosts won't mind my making one post do double duty this week. Busy time of year.