Sunday, October 25, 2009

Atchison, Kansas

Well, I need to catch up with this blog! A variety of things have been going on.
First, my good friend and fellow grandmother, Susanne, was here last week with her 3 little doggies. This first picture is Taffy, the oldest, and the second picture is John, playing with the other two, Tulip and Tiki. Taffy was a little too mature for roughhousing with him, but the other two loved it.

Then later in the week John took me on an outing for my birthday. We drove down to Atchison, KS, where we enjoyed looking at the beautiful mansions, like this one, and the gorgeous fall colors. In its hey-day, Atchison had the largest per-capita number of millionaires in the country. That was in the famous days of the Atchison, Topeka, and the Santa Fe railroads. At one time up to 85 passenger trains per day stopped at the Atchison depot. I can hardly imagine that!
This picture was taken along the bluff-lined Missouri river.
We had our first stay at a Bed and Breakfast. The house was built in 1948 as an example of Italianate architecture (if I remember correctly), by Mr. Fred Stein, who invented the first radio which ran on electricity from the wall rather than from the cumbersome battery cells used previously. Go to the following to learn more about a fascinating man

This is a picture of The Professor's Room, our bedroom. Yes, there was a bed and a bath as well!
Part of the reason for going to Atchison was to visit the Amelia Earhart home and museum and see the new movie Amelia. She was born in Atchison and lived with her grandparents for most of her early years. This is a portrait of her in the upstairs of the house.

John and I were the first "official" guests to a special exhibit of some of her own clothes and other items, as well as some from the movie. I don't remember seeing this outfit in the movie, so not sure where it came from.

For the movie, we went downtown to the only theater in Atchison. It was so old I wondered if Amelia had gone to movies there, but never heard anything about that. When you walk into the theater, you're standing under the screen and facing the audience. Although every seat was full for the movie, I wanted you to see how tiny it is. There were only 3 seats on one side of the aisle and 6 seats on the other, for a total of 116. (If you do the math, you'll see that doesn't come out right. Our row had only 2 seats because of a curved jut in the wall.)But, I think they had divided their old theater into two theaters, so the original would have been double this. We were glad we arrived more than a half hour early so we could sit together. Late arrivals weren't as fortunate!

At any rate, we enjoyed all the sights of the small town. I would recommend it as a short jaunt of a trip. And, for those "in the know," we did go to Nell's Hills. If you're not "in the know," as I wasn't, you'll have to figure that out on your own!
Have a great day!

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Finally Some Sunshine

Today was the first day in about two weeks, I think, that we've had some sunshine. I apologize to all the people over the years that I've said, "Fall is beautiful in Nebraska--it is our only predictable season." Well, not this year! We've had damp and gloom for a loooong time. One person said it reminded them of when they lived in Washington state. Now you know we've had it bad!

My reading deprivation lasted for about one week (maybe less). It was just too hard, but I did finish a sewing project during that time, and did some cleaning, and a teensy bit of cooking. But, one day I had to go to the library for something else (it's the library's fault!) and the book The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society leapt off the shelf into my hands. I had never seen the book, but a neighbor had raved about it last year, so I knew it would be good. And I was not disappointed.

It is so funny, you just have to laugh out loud in places, and so touching, you want to shed a tear in other spots. It's all about books and writing and publishing and the World War II Nazi occupation of Guernsey, a small island in the English Channel. I think it is an entirely fictional account, but so believeable. The story is told in letters back and forth among the characters, so you feel like you're privy to every secret in their lives.

The truly inspirational part of the story for me is that it's the first published work of a woman who was 81 years old when she wrote it. Unfortunately, she died before it was released, and her niece, who is a published author, did the revisions for her. The niece applauds her aunt for being the master storyteller of their family. I wonder why she hadn't written a book earlier.

If you haven't already read Guernsey, find a copy ASAP and settle down with it.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Reading Deprivation

Last post I mentioned the book The Artist's Way by Julia Cameron. She talks about how to bring out your creative side, and one of her "requirements" is to write everyday. (She says to write 3 pages, but I'm pleased if I finish 1 page each day.) One thing this writing accomplishes is to "unblock" your creativity. In other words, you're supposed to write about all the things, people, circumstances that are keeping you from being creative, so that once you've written about them, you've moved them out of your way and voila! you're free to be creative.

But, then she goes a little far and says that one thing that blocks creativity is too much reading! So, she recommends a season of reading deprivation so your mind can think about the things you want to create instead of focusing on what other people have created. Actually, I have to admit that she makes a good point. I find that I can really become wrapped up in a good book, or in a series of good books. Like lately! She doesn't say this deprivation has to be long term but until you've spent some time "creating" and you're no longer blocked.

I was giving some serious thought yesterday to trying this, but then because of a new tutoring student starting today I had to read Lord of the Flies last night. (It's amazing I'd never read it before because it seems to be required reading for many high school students. I think that trend may have started in the late 60's after I was out of high school.) But, I was able to finish it in less than 24 hrs. So, now, I'm back to considering the deprivation thing. I'm not going to give up my day-to-day readings that I'm already committed to, but I may have a season (a short season) with no "pleasure" reading. (Not that my day-to-day reading isn't pleasurable--maybe frivolous would be a better adjective--for the reading I'm giving up, that is.)

Hmmm--what will I do with that extra time? Is there something creative I should be working on? We'll see! I do have a sewing project started, or some knitting, or maybe I could do some creative cooking, or work in the yard, or. . . . .

If you have an opinion about the reading deprivation, let me hear it.

Have a great day!

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Two More Books

This week I finished two more books--very different from each other, but were they?

The first was Barack and Michelle by Christopher Anderson. It offers some interesting insight into the early years of our president and his wife and their beginnings as our First Couple.

My second book was The Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell. I had noticed it on the best seller list for some time and had read an excerpt in Reader's Digest. The subtitle is The Story of Success. Gladwell gathers information from others who have done the research and presents their studies and statistics to support his own views about how success works. I'm not usually one to spend time reading about "how to become successful," but this book was fascinating. The examples and the ideas are VERY interesting--in some cases, different than what we would expect. I won't say any more, but give it a try.

I'm also in the midst of Respectable Sins by Jerry Bridges for my ladies' Bible study and Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life by Donald Whitney for Sunday School and The Artist's Way by Julia Cameron for my time with my walking friend. These are all excellent, but I read and study them one chapter per week. Most importantly, in God's Book I'm reading Romans, also very slowly as there is so much to think about.

As you can see, I'm using my extra time to do some reading this fall. The time may become filled with other things soon enough, but for now I'm enjoying!

Have a great day!