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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

Sunday, January 31, 2016

Cincinnati to Pulaski, Tn--Day 3

Another uneventful day in which the Weather Gods have smiled gently upon us. Up once more at 7 and on the road by 8. I prefer to sleep another hour and get on the road at 9 but Bill likes this better. However, because he is up at his usual 5 and drives from 7 he is ready to pull over at 1-130--well, at least that is how early it was today--we did however go into CST so gained an hour, in fairness. Nevertheless, sometimes we can't get a room until 3 because they aren't cleaned yet. Today, we were lucky and got a nice room on the second floor. There is a small lawn directly across from the exit of the parking lot at the motel in Cincinnati, which frequently has Canada Geese grazing on it. Today there was a whole flock--I would have thought they'd want to go farther south than Ohio for winter but I guess they are right across the river from Kentucky. They looked lovely in the early morning golden sunlight--about the only sunlight we saw all day, though the temperature was between 68 and 70 the whole trip. There is something to be said for going through a major city on an early Sunday morning. I cannot ever remember driving this stretch in anything but multiple lanes of bumper to bumper traffic loaded with trucks. This is the first time I've gotten a nice cityscape and an uncluttered shot of the bridge across the Ohio into Covington, Ky. It was a day just like this in Tulsa Oklahoma when the only other car on the road broadsided us requiring the purchase of a new car--Bill's G-5, which he is still driving and which, until last year, served us well on our winter excursions. Once more, today was on a route we've traveled many times. Just north of Bowling Green we started to see the first snow we've seen in many miles. Large remnant patches of Jonas---he must have cut a swath across Kentucky here. Usually, we stay in Bowling Green and were planning on doing so once more. It was 1130 when we reached there--MUCH too early to call it a day. Also Smoky Pig is closed on Sunday and Monday so there really was no incentive to dally. So where to go? Nashville? No, not if we aren't going to linger. Well, then, do the usual--hit the Trace and stay in Tupelo? We didn't get the weather report last night and we had seen discussion of tornadoes heading to the East --resulting from a warm moist air mass flowing north from the Gulf and meeting a cold air mass coming down with the jet stream from Canada. If we are going to dodge tornadoes we decided we'd rather do it in a more populated and active area than the bucolic Trace. So, we have decided to head south through Alabama--hoping to make the Gulf coast before tornadoes hit tomorrow in mid state Alabama and Mississippi. Our course in meteorology seems to indicate that the collision should happen more inland and if all goes well we will get below the line of tornadoes and thunderstorms before they start. Hoping those Weather Gods haven't tired of us yet. So, we are staying the night in Pulaski, Tn just north of the Alabama line and somewhat southwest of Huntsville. Tonight is Masterpiece night so I'm off to change and eat something before nesting in my nice Queen bed, which is all mine. Keep us in your thoughts until we write again tomorrow night. Good night to all, The Valley Vagabonds KandB

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Batavia to Cincinatti--Day 2

So tired last night I turned the light out at 10pm and slept with only two interruptions until Bill woke me at 7 am. Everything was ready to go to the car except the things I needed to get ready, which isn’t much. So, after a quick cup of coffee and the last piece of fresh fruit, a kiwi, we were out and on the road by 8—an hour earlier than usual. What a joy, other than the wind, the drive was. Sunshine and increasingly warm temps. Since we’ve traveled this route so often and most of you have been on this trip before, I didn’t take a picture of every blade of grass or mound of snow along the way. Actually, for the most part, the only snow to be found on the ground was along the Lakes—Ontario and Erie. And that is where the wind was also VERY strong—we were blown all over the road until we turned southward just before Cleveland. I must say I’m enjoying the jazz channel on Sirius radio—big band stuff from the ‘40’s. Bill always plays Willie’s Roadhouse—but I am truly sick of country—though I do like the old stuff. But, I love Big Band and remember the lyrics, the singers, the bandleaders and sing my heart out along with them. Not sure Bill loves my catawauling but after how ever many trips we’ve taken, I just decided it was my time, musically speaking. Love one particularly non-politically correct ditty—Zero Eddie. Have to find it on uTube for Betsy-she’ll have a fit—lol Around noon, Bill did ask to change the station to Fox News and we listened for about an hour before the radio went off—he did it. I had a bit of a lunch of pepperoni, water and some pineapple tidbits. Then about fifty miles from Cincinatti I woke with a start—didn’t remember dozing off but I guess I slept for about a half hour. Funny—guess I’m getting old. The gas prices have dropped as we’ve moved west and south and in Ohio we bought it at 1.499/gallon. Pretty good, though since the car is so good on gas the savings in the overall scheme of the trip is not major. Certainly the pre of gas would never be the deal breaker for us taking a trip. Even so a $50 savings is a savings to be used on something else. Arrived around 3:45 and went to Applebee’’s for dinner before checking in. Bill had Buffalo wings but I opted for the broiled salmon—very good! Now, at a reasonable hour we are ready to settle in with our books and TV. Will need to check the weather tonight—headed for Bowling Green for tomorrow but where are those tornadoes going to be. I’m a bit apprehensive to say the least—this is not the usual time of year for them and I’ve seen what they can do. Oh, as a final note—I’m becoming pretty good at texting! lol Good night from balmy Ohio, until tomorrow. The Valley Vagabonds KandB

Friday, January 29, 2016

Day 1 Post Mills, Vt to Batavia, NY

Awake at 5am ! Tried to go back to sleep but just wasn’t going to happen so reluctantly left my warm bed, combed my hair, washed up and donned the clothes laid out last night for fast prep. Most of the luggage etc had been loaded last night except those things that could not handle freezing temps. Always have last minute items, not sure why, I’ve been getting ready for at least two weeks, have made more lists and checked and crossed out more things than I can count but still,,,,,After a cup of coffee, hugs to my Attila and pats on Shadow’s head by Bill, it was off by 7am. By the time we reached the intersection of Rte 4 and the Interstate the sun was breaking through, though that was the only time we saw any solar brightness for most of the day. Heading up to Killington it was amazing how little snow there is on the mountains and fields for the end of January. At the rest area in Fair Haven we hit a squall but the snow, though falling thick and fast with a few large flakes, did not stick to the road and by the New York line it was all over. Arrived at Barb’s at 3 minutes after 10—I’d called and said we’d be there at 10 and stay an hour. Charlie had driven up from Rotterdam so we five had a wonderful breakfast while Sunny and Damien frolicked in the yard and the porch. After having both run up to us quickly, off they went together never to return for doggie pats. After eating the guys went out onto the porch to smoke and Barb and I exchanged Christmas gifts, looked at family pix to decide on reprints and picked over my bin of books—she decided to keep them all—just like Sally last year—thank you, ladies!!! We would have been out the door at 11 but actually left around 11:10 since the fellas turned on The Weather Channel and we had to evaluate whether to stay the night or head west, since the map looked pretty snowy. Decided to take a chance and get as far west as possible. Hit maybe three very minor squalls that lasted less than 10 minutes each and arrived at Batavia at 3:15. Unloaded the car into the room, Bill went to Applebee’s, I changed, opened some wine and got out cheese, an apple, club crackers and pepperoni and did my virtual things. TEXTED Betsy as I had this morning to tell her we were on our way and now were safe in Batavia. Called Barb and also reassured her that we arrived safely with no weather surprises. Bill returned and verified what the desk clerk told us—storm coming tonight. Barb said she heard the same thing. Oh, well, being smart retired teachers, we built in snow days and we’ll just stay put. One last item, I have my emails all okay but Snapfish has messed around with address books. So, it may be I sent some of you the link to the small album of today’s pix twice while others may not have gotten the link at all. Please contact me if either of these happened. If you got one link and it is okay, don’t bother contacting me. I will fix any problems tomorrow night. For now, it is time to read the Week-end edition of USA Today—I LOVE getting that paper at the motels---and check out what’s on TV with another glass of wine. So, until we meet again, take care—The Valley Vagabonds--BandK

Saturday, January 16, 2016

The Marauders by Tom Cooper

By definition a marauder roams around looking for something to steal. In the Barataria of the Louisiana Gulf Coast, destroyed by a BP oil spill there are several marauders, some of whom are merely looking for a way to make a living now that the major industry of shrimping is all but ruined. They range in age from an eighteen year old, Wes, whose father is angry and guilt ridden after the death of his wife in Katrina. He demanded they stay and she perished. Needless to say the added worry of making ends meet when the shrimp hauls are so diminished doesn't make their relationship any better. Wes leaves his father's boat and links up with a pill popping one armed somewhat crazed dreamer who sees his escape in finding the buried treasure of Jean Lafitte out on the islets of the bayou. This shrimper, Gus ( though I cannot remember anyone calling him that anywhere in the book ) Lindquist is also a shrimper whose daughter only comes around for a handout and whose ex-wife, a teller at the local bank, has given up on him though he dreams of reuniting with her. Into this mix comes a couple of low lives who met up in prison after several petty crimes. They scrounge around the town of Jeanette looking for old widows to rob. The funniest moment in the book occurs when these two mismatched clowns decide to buy a boat and raid the isolated island plantation of pot grown by a couple of twisted sociopaths who also happen to be twins. Tweedledee and Tweedledum these two are not--though in some ways their relationship is a warped piece of humor as well. Lastly, there is the home-town boy who left and made good. He works for BP now and has been sent by the company to get releases from the locals so that BP for a small payout can avoid the suits these people might file for damage to their livelihoods, their property and their health. He's even going to get his mother to sign off on one of these waivers. As each of these characters seek to secure their futures and their dreams they become entangled with each other and many more of the area's residents. Their stories and how the future paths open before them is riveting. This is not the Louisiana of Mardi Gras or Jazz Fest. This is the gritty, day to day existence of the swamp and its people and it is heart-breaking and uplifting at the same time. I spend time in Louisiana every winter--traveling all over the State. It will never look the same to me after this book. It took awhile for me to get into it, being a lover of James Lee Burke. I found the writing too different and at first less satisfying. After about the first few chapters, each of which focuses on one of the main characters, I was hooked. I received a copy of the book from Blogging for Books to read and to write an unbiased review.

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Where is Rosalind Russell When You Need Her?

White Collar GirlWhite Collar Girl by Renee Rosen
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Having grown up during the period the book covers and having worked during that time it was easy to identify with some of the storyline. Nevertheless, though the historical events described were pretty accurately portrayed, there was a nagging in the back of my mind--this isn't the way it was for me. Maybe because my Mom worked in offices in lower Manhattan, maybe because my aunts all worked there, too, maybe because my Father always encouraged me and my sister to study and seek careers and maybe because we didn't have a brother who was considered somehow more gifted than us, the whole description of discrimination and lack of appreciation for a woman's place in the office was alien to me. Not to say these attitudes weren't present but I either was so self confident that I missed it or I was lucky enough to work in places where it wasn't so prevalent.
Whatever the reason, I found Jordan to be immature and impulsive. Driven, for sure, but lacking in focus. There are things that I do recognize--girls like M who didn't have self-assurance and who saw themselves as adjuncts to whatever male was present in their lives. I never understood those women and in truth, had more male friends than women because of it. Yet, the tone of the author in describing Mrs Casey and her perfect home and family really rubbed me the wrong way. I felt a mockery in this woman's choice of life-style. Many women then and now opt to keep a beautiful home and focus on their children and husbands comfort and nurture. That is a choice just as much as the choice made by Jordan to place her career before everything and everyone. I didn't see her striving to succeed as a journalist any more gratifying for her own self than any other woman portrayed.
M wanted to impress Mr Ellsworth, and Jordan wanted to impress her father. What is the difference? They were both more concerned about the men in their lives, as was Jordan's mother, despite the mantra they purported to follow. The advice given to Simone de Beauvoir by Jordan's mother was laughable in the context of the female characters in the story" Never put a man first--Ever" Really. Not only is M made to dress like Marilyn Monroe in her effort to express herself but the story line of her life is parallel to that sad woman's in so many ways.
As a matter of fact, the whole dropping names such as the twins, soon to be the advice columnists, Ann Landers and Dear Abby, Studs Terkel and across the bar room glimpses of Mike Royko were nothing but filler and served to create a blurb on the back cover of the book.
Did I find anything positive about the book--oh, yes, I did. As stated before the historical events were incredibly interesting, especially those involving the Daley machine in Chicago. The running down a story in the period before cell phones and computers was fun to remember--imagine, having to find a phone booth to call in a scoop. The meetings with informants was exciting. These things kept me reading the book, despite my impatience with the woman protaganists--here as in real life, I liked the guys better.
Yet, in the end, after finishing the book, I yearned to watch Rosalind Russell once more in His Girl Friday I received an uncorrected proof from Goodreads in exchange for review.

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