Saturday, January 31, 2015

Book Club of Two

The past few years I have had the pleasure of getting to know my older son as a fellow adult. While we still have the occasional parent-child tension that will probably never entirely go away, it is turning into a fun relationship for both of us.  I am trying to take up backpacking again which is the subject of another post, and the photo here is from my most recent foray into the mountains around Seattle. 
Another recent source of bonding is that my son has become a reader.  Although he liked to read when younger he was too often distracted by school and computer games to put in much time.  A year or two ago he suddenly and surprisingly, to me, got the reading bug and more recently still, we have begun to exchange books.  His tastes are varied and he is consciously trying to educate himself so he is seeking recommendations from me and some of his friends.  I am overjoyed since I haven't had a fellow reader in the family to chat about books with for some time.
Over the holidays my son sent me a copy of Cry, the Beloved Country which he had read and liked.  I challenged him to share book reviews with me on Goodreads just for fun and here is the text of my first review:

This is a book often assigned in high school but I managed to miss it at the time. My son read it recently and shared a copy with me so I made up for lost time. Cry, the Beloved Country is a beautiful and highly readable book. Most people probably know that it is about race, injustice and inequality in South Africa. Equally though it is about love for one's homeland, the kindness of strangers, the importance of family ties and hope for change in difficult times. "Wise men write many books, in words too hard to understand. But this, the purpose of our lives, the end of all our struggle, is beyond all human wisdom," writes Paton. I judge Paton well worth reading and his novel contains considerable human wisdom.

I hope more reviews will follow, along with the usual photos and miscellaneous rambling.  Happy reading.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Elephant Car Wash

Elephant Car Wash
A great sign seen in Seattle, Washington.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Monkey Puzzle Tree

Monkey Puzzle Tree

Very old tree seen on University of Washington campus where we had a college tour for my younger son.  I love the French common name (learned from Wikipedia) which is desespoir des singes (monkeys' despair).  It could also be a monkey's delight for it looks like it might be fun to climb, if prickly.

For Thursday Challenge: Trees

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Doing Something New and Scary

My older son is in town. He is currently living and working in Seattle and since he moved there he has taken up bouldering. This is like rock climbing but without ropes or other equipment and in his case, he only does this at a gym. This makes me happy because the floors are deeply padded and I don't need to worry about him breaking his neck falling off a rock somewhere. Last year during a trip to Seattle he talked me into trying it. As a kid, I was always clambering up a rock or tree somewhere although I never had any climbing experience and when climbing walls became popular I thought it would be fun to try. I never got the chance so I was willing to give bouldering a try. What I discovered was that it is hard. No surprise there perhaps but no matter how deep the padding on the floor it proved quite difficult for me to get over the fear of falling even on the easy routes. At the place in Seattle the very easiest routes (which are marked by colored plastic hand holds) are not that much harder than climbing a ladder. Sadly, I found it hard to go much farther than that. It is very hard on my arms and upper body which are not all that strong and my hand grip is not the best either. I have since been twice more with hardly any more skill or less fear. Most recently I went here in Chicago. That was two days ago and even typing hurts! I still have not overcome my fear of falling whatsoever. It makes me think how rarely we deal with actual fear of harm (as opposed to stress, fear of failure, performance anxiety, etc which are more common in modern life). I feel quite chicken but am also proud of myself for trying. At 53, being daring comes harder. My son took the pictures and his hands were shaky from fatigue or hunger so one of them came out pretty blurred but I wanted the living proof I did this.

Me on a Climbing Wall

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Tree Reflected

Tree, Reflected For Weekend Reflections

Thaw Day

Blue Skies and Skyline We had our snow days earlier this month and now is the January thaw. The past two days we've had highs in the 40's and a sort of vague spring fever hits us when this happens. I managed a walk on the lake, skirting mud, slush puddles and snow to get these photos. The skies were just stunning. Lake Michigan and Chicago Skyline Shades of Blue, Chicago

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Red Rake

Playing at macros. For Thursday Challenge: Red Red Rake

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Bad weather makes for interesting photos

Looking on the bright side in January gloom: Purple Umbrella

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Auto Bokeh

Auto Bokeh A snowy windshield and unusual focus makes for an interesting abstract image. Here is a second image: Auto Bokeh 2

Monday, January 12, 2015

Snowy Afternoon

Street on a Snowy Afternoon I have been taking pictures from my car. It turns out the windshield doesn't obscure the image all that much. It has the advantage of not requiring me to look for parking or get out when it is cold or blustery. Occasionally it might be a stupid move but anything for a good shot (or maybe not).

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Looking Up

Happy 2015. I am trying to convince myself to post more regularly but every time I think I will I let it slide. Here is a picture of the ceiling of the train station in Limoges, France. It is a lovely place and makes one want to depart on an adventure. In the Round For Photo Sunday: Circular