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Random words, pictures and thoughts of one who always wishes to be on the mind's road to discovery!

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Connecticut River Valley, New England, United States

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Memoirs of Mary Queen of Scots by Carolly Erickson(***)

Never read anything by Erickson before though there are several on my to read list. Hopefully, the others will be more engaging. Described as an entertainment rather than historical fiction the reader should bear in mind that it is truly a piece of cotton candy--sweet but full of air and easily deflated. Found myself saying, over and over, but that isn't true. Found it very distracting, the conflicts between what I've learned of this situation and the picture drawn here. If you can get beyond that conflict this is an entertaining, quickly read, imagining of what Mary, Queen of Scots was thinking from her marriage to Louis to her beheading in London.

Friday, April 19, 2013

The Good Sister by Diana Diamond ( ****)

Two girls raised by an innovative pioneer in telecommunications and left as two rich heiresses upon his death are fiercely competitive in every aspect of their lives. Each with a third interest in the burgeoning empire he developed and in partnership with the man he designated their advisor and balancing vote in any business decision made. One woman perfectly in charge of the technological aspect of launching the satellites that will make them even richer, the other as perfectly in charge of seducing the investors necessary to make it happen. And in the middle, the man who is able to keep their almost pathological jealousy and rivalry in check. That is until a sexy, fading movie star enters their life and marries one of them. Even then things continue without change until the newly married sister loses control of her sports car on the curving roads of the Amalfi Coast and almost loses her life.
Who is the good sister? Was the accident an accident and if not who was responsible for the attempt to eliminate one of the women? Is she the good sister being destroyed by the evil sister or is it all a contrived hoax to make it seem that way. Did the new husband try to eliminate a very rich wife in order to gain access to her money and a third of the business?  Or, perhaps, the man in the middle orchestrated everything to eliminate one by death, the others by establishing their guilt in that death?
Back and forth, the story weaves. One solution as plausible as the next. The reader as confused as the characters,trying to sort out the mystery and the motivations for each scenario--right up until the final destruction of the plotters and the happy ending for the good sister---or is she? Even with all the threads neatly tied into place, as one closes the book, the question remains--Who is the good sister?

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Home At Last --When Are We Leaving Again?

 Tuesday April 9,2013  Kitchen Counter Vermont Homeplace 5:00 PM

Well, Roadies, the trip has come to an end and I'm doing the clean up that always comes when the traveler tosses the hat on the hearth peg. The trip from Maryland to Binghamton was the same as always--that is to say the landmarks and terrain were all very familiar. We did manage to take a picture of the first toll booth on the National Road--our motel was just on the next block. We'd forgotten to go there before leaving to return to Hagerstown in February. The day was nicer for pictures this time!

 There were some differences, however. For the first time in many years we traveled the Pennsylvania highlands on dry roads with a somewhat clear sky. No snow, no rain in Ravine or at Mountain Top. It was a pleasant change. I was able, after many years of trying, to get an almost clear shot of the beautiful double spired Church I've always admired in Wilkes-Barre. The Econolodge sign is somewhat distracting but when I crop it out the Church will look lovely on the page. There was some road construction, since the weather was so good and though I tried to ignore it the icy waterfalls on the ledges reminded me that Spring in the Northeast is NOT the same Spring found in the rest of the country.

We had quite a nice room in Binghamton, as always and went to Applebee's for dinner where we met two nice young men--brothers from Buffalo as it turned out. They work for the railroad--the younger shorter fellow the engineer and the older one his conductor. They make the run from Buffalo to Binghamton, stay the night and return the next day. Stay home two days and make the run once more. Freights. We chatted about Italy Yard and how difficult it is to even imagine how to find contraband on the freights or in the engine. They told me the trains are x-rayed now. Interesting. Still, there are lots of places to hide things even then. We all bemoaned the loss of cabooses and then ended our evening.

I awoke at about 2:30 in the morning and was astonished and then depressed to see the snow that was swirling and blowing in the light of the Comfort Inn sign. I like light in the bedroom and so always keep the curtains open when we sleep. The next morning the whole ground and the cars were covered in about a quarter inch of dry blowery snow. Too much for me!

I slept for part of the way to Amsterdam--it is one of the most boring parts of the trip. I do like Scotch Bush and the little towns once we get off I 88 however. Took pictures there too to compare with the conditions each year coming and going. Hardly any snow this year--four years ago you couldn't see where driveways or paths were to the houses we passed.

Arrived at Barb's for brunch and as usual one could starve--Bill bemoaned the fact that there is never enough to eat at Barb's table. LOL  This year we had Easter dinner leftovers--fresh ham, stuffing, smashed potatoes, gravy and red cabbage. Since she felt there wasn't enough she also tried a new recipe out on us--we are always her guinea pigs--Sauerbraten and gravy. It was good and she and I had that for dinner a few nights later. Since we hadn't had a family Easter there was a chocolate rabbit on each of our dinner plates--LOL

It is always very difficult for me to return to this house--where there are no lights outside and it is so dark. Also the high pitched ceilings make it even darker and claustrophobic. Usually I have my own bed or we share a king bed so returning to the queen bed is also an adjustment. Even more stressful is the fact that I've just enjoyed flowers and warm breezes and there is little if any evidence that Spring will reach us here. Add to this the fact that Bets was panicked at our arrival and didn't feel she had time to clean the house. And that the refrigerator freezer was frozen so tightly shut that Bets was afraid she was going to pull the appliance over on herself. AND, our brand new TV seemed to have bitten the dust. The stress was in danger of destroying any serenity I'd gained on the trip. So, I decided to remain at Barb's for awhile and allow Bill to be my ramrod.

It was such fun. She get METV there and so the first day we didn't even dress--just slept in and then watched Perry Mason, Rockford Files, Gunsmoke, etc----so much fun.  God, how we loved Bonanza!--the guys are still cute on the show--but heavens, those sets!  And we thought they were so terrific--even Gunsmoke. Top shows and so terrible in comparison to today--lol

The next day we dressed and I did my laundry from the trip--then we went to my nephew's. We let the dogs play and the three of us played Mille Bournes. Norm Lavallee taught me and Charlie, when Charlie was little and used to spend school vacations with me in Vt. Charlie always remembers that and how much he liked Norm. Makes me and Barb a little sad because we miss Norm alot.

Another day we went to the Triangle Diner for breakfast--our Dad used to take us there when we were kids--hasn't changed much though the ownership has. Then Barb took me over to the park around SPAC. We used to go there, too, as kids but I totally forgot how extensive and beautiful it is.

On Saturday we seemed to just wander back roads around the canal and the Hudson River--no maps --just turning here and there. Wound up in Bacon Hill three times, I think. That was particularly funny because the first time a wedding party had just arrived at the little church --the bridesmaids were getting organized having just left a stretch limo. We admired their pearl gray,one shoulder strap, draped bodice gowns as we passed. The next time we arrived, the bride and groom were just exiting the Church. Of course, we'd driven by several times looking at different things each time. Decided that if we'd known where the reception was they would probably never batted an eyelash if we crashed the party. By now they must have recognized us and probably thought we were ding-bat guests. Wonder which family would have claimed us? 

For some reason we made the rounds of cemeteries, too. At one point I said to Barb we might as well visit Mom and Dad and have lunch at Massies. After visiting them she decided she wanted to see where her friend Ronnie was buried last month so we went off to St Mary's just up the road from our parents. That led her to decide that she wanted me to see her friend, Stan's, stone so off we went to St Mary's in Hudson Falls. Then we decided to try to find the farm Dad had wanted to buy in Gansevoort 57 years ago!! By that time the sun was setting and we were back in Saratoga so we went home and had Marie Callender's pot pies for dinner--with a good merlot, of course.

On Sunday we had lunch at the Indian buffet at Karavalli's in Saratoga with our friend, Ceil. Being ladies who lunch we spent about three hours there and then it was home and Call the Midwife and Masterpiece.

Although there was no rush to come home as such and there were still things we wanted to do, I decided it was time to get home to see Betsy and Misty, both of whom I missed. Barb had planned to bring me home but she really wants to get her gardens uncovered and raked before lilies etc get to high and she runs the risk of breaking off tips. She will come up to visit for a few days in a couple of weeks. Bill picked me up and I was home and finished sorting all the mail by 6 last night.

The freezer is fine, the house is lovely, the TV is a quandary. I got local service people paid for plowing etc, sorted out the over billing by our fuel company and stopped any further delivery of propane until fall, and put lots of things away--clothes etc. Betsy is super busy working full time at school now and still caring for Owen after school. She also has some house sitting scheduled so we won't be seeing much of her for the next few weeks.

Tomorrow I sort out the hospital bills from my heart scare before we left and I'll, perhaps, tackle talking to a Vizio techie--please let him be American! In the meantime, I'm really home and though I was up until 4 am unable to sleep last night, I know it'll get better and I'll get back into the swing of Spring in Vermont. I'll also get organized enough to call friends and get going doing things with them once more. Maybe next week--LOL