Monthly Archives: October 2015

Soaking up Shakespeare

Earlier this year we were invited to attend a formal dinner in Stratford upon Avon and decided to make a long weekend of it. Of course, being Shakespeare’s birthplace, almost everything is geared to a celebration of the Bard of Avon.

We started by taking a leisurely walk around the lovely Warwickshire market town. Beautiful old buildings-many of which would have been familiar to Shakespeare himself since the town dates back more than eight hundred years-exist alongside modern structures which, on the whole, blend in well. As you can see, many of these old buildings have been utilised for present-day needs.Police station

Of course, the most  photographed building in Stratford has to be where Shakespeare was born in 1564.  Some people say the house itself was built in the fifteenth century, while others say it was built around the time of Shakespeare’s actual birth. Regardless of when it was built, it is still a pretty impressive structure. Shakespeare's BirthplaceApparently, the Bard lived here until he was a young man, and even spent the first years of his marriage to Anne Hathaway in this house.

A short walk along the high street is a rather fun bronze statue of The Jester. It was created by Anthony Bird and features a character from As You Like it. Around the stone plinth on which it stands are quotations from other Shakespeare plays, such as ‘Foolery, sir, does walk about the orb like the sun. It shines everywhere‘ from Twelfth Night.The Jester

After all that culture, we were ready for afternoon tea. Being in Stratford, we just had to choose a really special tea shoppe. Where else than Hathaways Tea Rooms? Housed in a building dating from around 1610, the property has a chequered past. It has been an eighteenth-century Inn, a booksellers, an apothecary, a boot and shoe store, until in 1931 it became Hathaways Tea Rooms.Hathaways Tea Rooms

Alas, we didn’t have time for a trip to the theatre to see a Shakespearean play, but that was sort of remedied for me when I got home and a friend managed to get tickets for a much sought-after live screening of Benedict Cumberbatch playing Hamlet at London’s Barbican theatre. So, October was Shakespeare month for me, and now I feel so bathed in culture, I’m sure it will keep me going for a good few months to come.

 

Gallery

Exhibitions

Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness … The opening line to Ode to Autumn, a favourite poem of mine by John Keats, may be familiar to many of us from school days. The words always conjure up this time of year for me, … Continue reading

Iceland is Awesome!

A while ago, we had a discussion about Iceland and how cool a place it is to visit. I’m curious how many people want to visit this awesome country? I got the opportunity to spend a day there as part of a trans-atlantic cruise a few years ago and thought I’d pull out my pictures (thank goodness we had a digital camera by then) and show you the bits of Iceland we got to see.

First off, the cruise was a re-positioning cruise, so it was a once a year opportunity. It was moving from European cruises to the Caribbean. We flew to Copenhagen and boarded, then visited England and Ireland before heading west.

Iceland is the land of fire and ice. Where dark winters are offset by summers with sunshine at midnight and geothermal activity doesn’t keep it from being home to the largest glaciers in Europe (even though ice only covers about 10% of the land). In fact, Iceland is known as the world’s greenest country. It’s diverse countryside shows off green valleys, active volcanoes, black sand beaches, and amazing rivers. Their water is some of the purest around and they are huge environmentalists and conservationists, since they depend so much on natural resources. Over 90% of their heat is geothermal, which helps make them one of the least polluted countries in the world. The flip side to that is that there is quite a bit of volcanic activity.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Geothermal activity outside a gift shop we stopped at.

Iceland sits astride the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, a 40km crack in the ocean floor caused by the separation between the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates. They call this part of Iceland “No Man’s Land” and we got to stand here, between these plates. We’re standing near one plate wall and looking out over the expanse of No Man’s Land in this picture. You can see the ridge (the small rocky fence-like wall just past the river) in the distance that is the Eurasian plate.

As these plates rub together, they release pressure in the form of earthquakes and geothermal activity.

During a one-day, eight-hour tour, we visited an “Old Faithful” type geyser, a crater formed by an explosive eruption, No Man’s Land, Gulfoss Waterfalls, and the capital city of Reykjavik. So we got a good glimpse into this country, but someday, I’d like to see more. To spend more time exploring the rugged countryside and getting to know the people. It’s an expensive place to visit, but well worth it in our estimation. It is still one of my two favorite cruises. (The Panama Canal is the other favorite.) I hope that if Iceland is on your bucket list, you get there someday. It’s worth it.

Of course, the fact that we also got to set foot in Greenland helped make that cruise ultra-special, too. Lots of times, they can’t get close enough due to icebergs. So here’s a couple Greenland pics to finish up with. A very colorful community in a very harsh environment:

 

Sugar

image-37I have a houseguest and a very welcome one. This little lady is the best. Smart… Oh My Gosh, she communicates. Karen has her on a schedule. Breakfast at around 8:00. Sugar is a delightful alarm clock. Almost on the dot she stands up on the bed and stares until I respond.

She loves naps, definitely my kind of dog. She’s made herself at home on the spare bed except at night when she seems to know it’s big bed time.
image-36
I’ve been slacking on the walking and Sugar has gotten me back to it. Again almost on the dot she starts telling me its walk time around 3:15. Karen and Sugar moved to Jubilee around February and the neighbors know her and stop to talk on the walks. I’m for sure feeling better with the exercise.

We have had dogs my whole life. My dad coming from old school never wanted them in the house. When I was dating Jack, he bought me a little Pomeranian and dad not only gave his consent, but came to love her. Minx started our indoor dogs. Dad and Mom even went on to get a toy poodle.

When Abby, our little Jack Russell, died six months after Jack, I made the decision to not have another dog. It was a big decision and as you can guess has it’s plus and minus. I know Sugar is only visiting and I’m enjoying every minute. For now and at this time of life maybe an occasional visitor is the best way for me.

Gallery

AUTUMN IS HERE!!!

Cold mornings and warmer afternoons and then cool soccer games—it must be fall. We certainly can’t complain about not getting ready for winter this year because it has been an amazing fall season. We finally finished Fall Softball and have … Continue reading

I’m Back and Then Gone Again

Jillian here. Now that I’ve wrestled the computer out of Hobbes’ hands, I can tell you all about the fab time I had with Laurie, Lavada and Laurie’s husband. We had a wonderful visit. Mark is a master at making his own apple cider- he even built the press- how cool is that? I very much enjoyed the taste of it and killed a two liter of it while I was there.  He also has a superb garden and we ate fresh from it as well.

Speaking of gardens, I have to tell you, Lavada has shared pictures of hers with us but man, those do not to the place justice. She has created a beautiful outdoor oasis and she should be very proud of it. It has a definite wow factor.

They fed me so much good food while I was there, I got quite spoiled. Lots of great meals and laughter around the table. It was an easy visit and just like home. Except the cooler air was much appreciated. I’m glad they arranged that foe me. 😉

Highlights (as Hobbes said) were the fish market- with beautiful flowers- the space needle, Mt. Rainier (where I got super car sick- bleh), the capitol building and the awesome scenery and the old houses we looked at.

The weirdest thing about the trip was meeting so many people from Florida and even a guy from Alabama who’s dad is best friends with someone I know. How wild is that?

A great trip and now it’s time to plan one where we can all meet up!!

I am in Rhode Island as you read this. Visiting my son and daughter-in-law. Hadn’t  been anywhere in a year and now two trips in two months. That’s how I roll.

Two Buddies, a Russian Spy, and an Intern Walk Into a Bar In Transylvania by Valerie J. Patterson

Two buddies, a Russian spy, and an intern walk into a bar in Transylvania.  Sounds like the start to a good joke, right?  It could have been if I was a comedian and wrote my own material.  Instead, I offer you a couple movie reviews.

A Walk In The Woods stars Robert Redford and Nick Nolte, and was a very entertaining movie.  It was good to see these two men on the big screen again, too.  Barely recognized Nick Nolte, but without him the movie wouldn’t have been as good as it was.  His and Redford’s characters are as opposite as any two humans could be.  One is refined, the other not so much.  But, opposites often make the best pairs.  Redford plays a character who has spent his whole life in the career/family lane of the road of life.  He’s been successful in writing and in love, and everything about his life speaks fulfillment…until his friends begin dying and there’s one funeral too many, causing him to take stock in his life and what became of his dreams.  One night he makes the life-changing decision to hike the Appalachian Trail–the entire trail.  He goes through his phone book of friends and colleagues and invites each of them to accompany him.  One by one, they all turn him down, and he’s beginning to think he’ll have to do it alone.  One last call comes in.  Nolte’s character–whom Redford never called–asks if he can go on the trip.  This pleases Redford’s character’s wife and the two set of on an unforgettable adventure that resonates with any person at any stage of their life.  If you missed this one in the theaters, it’s worth the rental price.

The Intern stars Anne Hathaway and Robert DeNiro, and the two have exceptional chemistry and comedic timing.  Hathaway plays an over-stressed work-aholic who started her own Internet company that exploded into a huge success that leaves her reeling between work life and home life.  Enter DeNiro’s character as an intern in the company’s new initiative “Senior Interns”.  DeNiro’s character is living life after retirement and the death of his wife.  After traveling everywhere he’s ever wanted to go, he finds himself with wide open days and tons of time on his hands.  Boss and intern need one another–even if they don’t see it, don’t want it, and don’t accept it, which leads to laughs and lessons learned.  Again, if this is not still playing–as it is here in one or two theaters–it’s worth the rental price.

Bridge of Spies stars Tom Hanks as James Donovan, an American insurance attorney who’s chosen to represent a Russian spy arrested on American soil.  Donovan takes the case, and Hanks shines!  Donovan takes his job seriously and Russian spy or not, his client deserves a fair trial.  Too bad the judge and the jury don’t share the same thought process.  This true story shows humanity at its best and its worst.  When Joseph B. Wirthlin said, “The true greatness of a person…is evident in the way he or she treats those with whom courtesy and kindness are not required.” he was not speaking of James Donovan, but it certainly applies to him.  Catch this one in the theater or via rental, but catch it nonetheless!

And finally, Hotel Transylvania 2, the second installment written by and starring Adam Sandler.  The first movie was adorable and appealed to adults and children alike.  This offering–in my humble opinion–was just disappointing.  Steve and I actually apologized to the couple we had with us!  Dracula is waiting to see if his grandson is a vampire or–gasp–a mere mortal like the baby’s father.  The first movie was all about acceptance of those different from ourselves.  This offering seemed less so, though Dracula does become more accepting in the end, but only after…well, I won’t post a spoiler here on the off chance you have a burning desire to see Hotel Transylvania 2.

So, two buddies, a Russian spy, and an intern walk into a bar in Transylvania…

Until next time, may the movies you chose to see entertain you, warm your heart, and tickle your funny bone.

Roller Skating Rinks – Are they extinct?

Lately, I’ve had several occasions to travel down a road that was a huge part of my childhood. It’s a nondescript, busy city street, but it housed the place that I spent loads of time at…a roller skating rink.

I skated all through my childhood and into my teen and young adult years. I looked back through my pictures and I don’t have a single print of me in skates, which is a bummer. So it’s all memory pictures. Of school skating parties. Of Mom dropping me off to skate for the night. Even overnight skates.

I skated in the races for a free pop. I did the Hokey Pokey with everyone else. I met my first husband there.

The coolest thing about this particular rink? My mother skated there when she was a young woman. And I had the opportunity several times to take my daughter skating there. In fact, one of my funniest stories is hers. She’s very outgoing and was even more so as a child. I was divorced at the time, so she’d decided it was her job to find me a new guy and proceeded to tell one of the regulars there all about our lives and that I was looking for a new husband. Mortification, anyone? It’s something we laugh about to this day.

But time marches on, and before my daughter hit double digits, the rink was torn down in favor of a lot to sell cars. To this day, I refuse to step foot on that property and will never buy a car from that business (which has changed names several times, but I can hold a grudge with the best of them.) And it’s still bittersweet to drive by there. Mostly sweet because I have so many happy memories of that place. I miss it still and it’s been 30 years since it closed.

Skating rinks are slowly dying off around here, much like drive-in movies. There’s now only one local rink left. Do you have a skating rink in your area? Or a drive-in movie, for that matter? Any places from your childhood that fill you with fond memories?

And, since I don’t have a skating picture, here’s a picture of teenage me, maybe on a night when I’m getting ready to go skating? By the way, aren’t those some lovely olive drab drapes? Hard to believe those were ever popular, but they were. lr 2

Gallery

Halloween Time

It’s October and all the ghouls are out (big evil laugh).  Its Halloween time. It’s one of the reasons I like the fall.  Halloween had been my favorite time of year for a long time.  While my neighborhood stays fairly … Continue reading

Dude, Where’s My Mom?

Hobbes here. On the prowl for Dude. My human mom, Jillian, went missing the week of September 21st and I heard a rumor (and even saw photographic evidence) that she was hanging out with Laurie’s cat, Dude.

the evidence

the evidence

This did not make me happy. I was kind of glad to hear when Laurie and Lavada took Mom (a/k/a the can opener) to the Space Needle and the fish market that Dude had to stay home. Too bad, so sad, Dudester, no fish for you. 011

Hey, wait one second. You know what? She didn’t bring me back any either. Hmmm. I may have to go claw a piece of furniture over that slight.

I also heard no cats got to make the trip to Mount Rainier. Mom said it was gorgeous and I sure would have liked a chance to loll in front of the fireplace in the lodge there. But at least Dude didn’t get to either, right?061

I’m sure when Mom, Laurie and Laurie’s wicked cool husband visited Lavada’s house, they would’ve had to sneak Dude past the home owners association – his fur is probably the wrong color, right? My black and white color scheme would surely pass approval. Poor Dude. He’s pretty but you know how those associations can be.

Mom says the state Capitol building was beautiful and the old houses were really nice. She really liked downtown Olympia and dining near the falls. In fact, she was fed pretty nicely the whole trip. Bet she never thought of poor ole me starving to death at home. The man who lives here isn’t such a softie when it comes to me needing a snack.089

Mom had a great time on her trip but I can’t help but think it would’ve been better for her to stay here and make sure I had enough to eat. Dude and I have that in common. We don’t like it when the can openers leave town.IMG_20150926_050352075

Mom told me that despite my opinion to the contrary, I  am NOT the boss of her and she will go wherever and whenever she pleases.

We’ll just see about that. Won’t we?

Hobbes out!

The trio

The trio