Monday, April 12, 2010

Spring Has Sprung!

That's a hellebore up there, and down below too. I jammed my camera into the dirt and pointed up to the sky to get those shots. Hellebore blooms face the ground, for the most part, which is really a shame, because they are so beautiful! And the best part is, they bloom in early April!
These cherry blossoms are on my sister's cherry tree. Click to enlarge these...they all look better bigger. Heh. Just sayin'.

I'm pretty sure the below pic is apple blossoms. Or crabapple. Not sure. The tree was on the edge of the town park, and I just pulled over to start snapping pics.

For winter's rains and ruins are over,   And all the season of snows and sins;   The days dividing lover and lover,   The light that loses,  the night that wins;   And time remembered is grief forgotten,   And frosts are slain and flowers begotten,   And in green underwood and cover   Blossom by blossom the spring begins. 
Algernon Charles Swinburne (1837–1909)
Atalanta in Calydon (1865)

I went to a memorial service this weekend for an old college friend's husband. They were married ten years ago. He took his own life after many tumultuous years battling alcohol addiction, and left two young kids behind. The memorial service was held in the little theater where the two of them had been married (a VERY fun wedding, performed like a play with Act I and Act II and everything...awesome!)

It was a wonderful tribute to him, from all of his acting friends, and friends of friends. His son even put on an impromptu play about a grasshopper and an exterminator, with volunteers from the audience, which was absolutely hilarious. The whole gathering was very casual--people just stood up in their seats to say a few words about their friend. It was a wonderful tribute, and just what a memorial service should be about, IMO. I hope that when I die, people will want to get together and talk about all of their happy memories of me, and not be moping about being somber. Life is short. Get on with it! :)

Oh, and I also got to see my friend Laura, who showed up from Ithaca out of the blue. She's an army wife, and they've been all over the place. I hadn't seen her for 8 years, and it didn't seem like a day had passed. I love having friends like that.

So...all in all...a great weekend. OH! And Kathleen arrived home safe and sound yesterday too! She has a few extra freckles from her trip to Florida, and I'm SO happy to have her back!

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Monday, April 05, 2010

I've Been Reading....

....and of course I've also been playing with Lightroom and Photoshop. I went for a drive a couple of weeks ago, and drove right by this horse with his head poking out of a small barn. I turned around and went back, and got this shot:
It's like Mr. Ed, right? Too funny. I then took a picture of the clouds in the sky, because I knew it might come in handy with some of my PSE8 editing:

...and I snapped a few pictures of this great old barn not far from me. The sky was all blown out in all the shots: with the magic of Photoshop, I merged the two, and came out with my final image, which looks sort of vintage, doesn't it?:
So like I said, I have been reading. It all started back in January with "The Mermaid's Chair" by Sue Monk Kidd. I absolutely adore that woman's writing. My friend Jennifer had let me borrow it. Then when I finished that, I was looking for another book. An old friend of mine suggested "The Road" by Cormack McCarthy. I had never read any of his stuff before, although I had seen the movie "No Country for Old Men" and was a little apprehensive to say the least.

Well, let me tell you, that book is something else! This excerpt from a review in the Sydney Morning Herald explains it best, I think: "McCarthy maintains the pace by keeping each scene barely more than a paragraph long. This accentuates The Road's impressionistic power, adding to its rhythm, as if the book were not composed of sections but stanzas in a poem, the metaphysical footsteps of his characters, beat by beat in a terrible dream." It's a story about a father and son in a post-apocalyptic world. The writing is beautiful, the story intense, and there really is a rhythm to it. It has stayed with me all this time. My sister Marjorie couldn't even read was too much for her...too sad, I guess. I enjoy a book that can really reach down and grab me where it counts, and "The Road" definitely did that.

So after I read the road, I thought, "Gee, maybe I should read another book by Cormack McCarthy!" So I borrowed "Blood Meridian" from the library, thinking "Ok, maybe I'll learn something about our American history that I haven't read in a text book." Uh, yeah. I ALMOST got through it, but I just couldn't finish--lots of blood and gore, no regard for human life, that sort of thing. The writing was amazing, but I really couldn't stomach the story, and it seemed to be never-ending. I hate not finishing a book, but I had to give that one back.

As a reprieve, I read "The White Queen" by Phillipa Gregory, because I had heard a review and interview on WAMC. I love stories about England's monarchy, so this one was a good choice. It's about the Pantagenets, who came before the Tudors. Have any of you watched "The Tudors"? I've rented every season from Netflix. I just love that Jonathan Rhys Meyers--he's perfect for Henry VIII--sexy and Great series. I ordered "The Other Boleyn Girl" and "The Boleyn Inheritance" from the library, and have them on queue. I may save them for my Florida trip.

In between, though, I ordered "Lies My Teacher Told Me" by James Loewen. (Thanks, Mark.) I'm reading it now. I think you should all go out and get it. Read it. You'll be amazed. I always knew that I was missing huge chunks of knowledge about our country's history, and of course this book proves it. (It also helps me justify why I was practically asleep in my history classes as a kid.) Its subtitle is "Everything Your American History Textbook Got Wrong." And let me tell you, you will be astounded. I'm going to make Kathleen read it before her junior year American History class. It'll be interesting to see if one of the textbooks they use in her class is one of the ones Loewen lambasts. I think it's a must-read for everyone. I got sunburned yesterday while reading it outside. :) The weather in NY has been incredible.

So there you have it! If anyone has any good book recommendations for me for summer reading, let me know!
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