Monday, April 24, 2017

2017 Monday's Postcard: Florida Pelicans

Florida Pelicans

If you travel to the Florida coast, you are likely to see some Brown Pelicans. So they are always on postcards....I almost prefer the Pelicans to the Flamingos....the Pelicans are so comical when they dive for fish. And I love to see them fly in formation across the waves. I only ever see Flamingos just standing around looking pretty in pink.

Monday, April 17, 2017

2017 Monday's Postcard: Maine

Inspired by the 100th anniversary of “Maine Postcard Day”, Penobscot Marine Museum presents Wish You Were Here: Communicating Maine, a hundred years of images which have been used to communicate the unique qualities of Maine to the outside world. With photographic postcards, photography, and contemporary art, this exhibit explores the changes which have taken place in the images which have been used to communicate “Maine”.

 In 1916 Maine Governor Oakley C. Curtis proclaimed April 19th “Post Card Day” and issued a proclamation asking all Maine citizens to send a postcard of Maine to friends and family outside the state with the message “Come to Maine.”

These four postcards from Maine are all from the 1980's

Monday, April 03, 2017

2017 Monday's Postcard: San Francisco

From the 1960's, 1970's and 1980's these San Francisco Postcards are always welcome to see in your mailbox. Since we have Arkebauer cousins who live in the Bay Area...a visit to San Francisco was always going to be part of the Arkebauer and DeVries family travels!!

Saturday, April 01, 2017

2017 Reading List March

                                         Gioacchino Toma (Italian)  The Reader, 1870-1875

Sunset City by Melissa Ginsburg (library) The seedy underbelly of Houston. Lots of graphic, yucky stuff, but this is one that I must have gotten from a list of "if you liked Gone Girl and Girl on the Train etc etc"
The Passenger by Lisa Lutz (library) Another from the "if you liked Gone Girl list" about a woman who is on the run after her husband is murdered and she does not have an alibi...Good
Missing, Presumed by Susie Steiner (library) Good book about a woman who goes missing. I think this may be the beginning of more with the detective DS Manon Bradshaw and I will definitely put Susie Steiner on my list of authors to read more of! 
In Cuba I was a German Shepherd by Ana Menendez  (library)short stories by a Cuban American, reading in anticipation of my upcoming trip to Havana.
Under the Harrow by Lynn Berry. (library) A story about a woman who is obsessed with the murder of her sister and she investigates the murder herself when the cops appear to have given up
Today Will Be Different by Maria Semple (library) If you liked Where'd You Go Bernadette by the same author, you will like this one. Much of the same type of thing. Urban Mom in Seattle kind of goes off the rails, has a precocious kid and a long suffering husband. This must be Maria Semple's own wacky genre.
Cuba Diaries: An American Housewife in Havana by Isadora Tattlin (library)True memoir of the time Ms. Tattlin spent in Havana during the 1990's while her European Husband had a job there (he is/was an Energy Consultant) I really really liked this one! Great look at the expat experience from someone in a place where it is very very challenging!
Magic Hour by Kristin Hannah Okay, my friends who are fans...I have given it a go, this is my third Hannah book...and she is not fabulous, a poor man's Jodi Picoult? The only thing that makes me come back is the PNW locales, but I am done with Kristin Hannah I think.
The Deep Six by Randy Wayne White and
The Deadlier Sex by Randy Wayne White both of these books were written by Mr. White when he was a struggling new writer. Under the pen name Randy Striker he wrote six books about an ex Navy Seal living in the Florida Keys and having crazy action adventures. They really are not that bad. Like the Bachman books by Stephen King or the old Harlequin Romances by Janet Evanovich, these are the books that were a training ground for these writers. I find them fascinating. 
The Other Boleyn Girl by Philippa Gregory Henry the VIIIth and the Boleyns, I love getting my English History education from Philippa Gregory. 
Evil Under the Sun by Agatha Christie I brought a bunch of these paperback books to Cuba with me to read and then leave behind. So old favorites like Randy Wayne White, Ian Fleming, Philippa Gregory and Agatha Christie. I never tire of reading them over and over again and I hope someone in Cuba will enjoy them now. 
Thunderball by Ian Fleming This is the Bond book where he has to go to a Spa to improve his health and it also introduces Blofeld as the mastermind of SPECTRE. Lots of action in the Bahamas, so I thought it a good book to leave behind in Cuba. 
Revenge Wears Prada by Lauren Weisberger  The sequel to The Devil Wears Prada, more drama from Andrea...and it is all blah. I was a fan of the movie and read the original book because of that....this is just awful. Don't bother.
Fever Dream by Samanta Schweblin (library) okay, if anyone reads this, could you please tell me what happened? I am still confused. It is definitely a fever dream. It is supposed to be a sort of ghost story and it is translated from Spanish (so stuff could be lost in translation??) But I really had a hard time keeping track of what was going on and it is not a BIG BOOK, it is very short and concise.
I Let You Go by Clare Mackintosh (library) A child is killed in a hit and run and this is the story of the investigation and the trauma surrounding the event. I liked it. It is British, and it is sad.
Celine by Peter Heller (library) This is about a private detective who specializes in missing persons cases. A daughter is trying to find out about her father who may or may not have been mauled by a bear at Yellowstone. So you have the mystery of the bear attack and then you have all this interesting story about the detective, Celine, herself. I recommend
To Have and Have Not by Ernest Hemingway (library) set in Cuba and I had not read it before, so I remedied that situation.

To Be Read:
Maigret and The Death of a Harbor Master by Georges Simenon
Justine by Lawrence Durrell
Steinbeck's Ghost by Lewis Buzbee
Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel
Stalking the Blue Eyed Scallop by Euell Gibbons

Monday, March 27, 2017

2017 Monday's Postcard: Holland

More postcards from the 1980's this time from Holland. I always like to visit Amsterdam this time of year, when the crocus and flowers are starting to come up!

Saturday, March 25, 2017

80 years later: Trying to recreate family photos in Havana

Once I heard that we could go to Cuba, that my airline would be flying to Cuba, well of course I wanted to go see it! I have always been fascinated with Cuba. I am one of those people who when you tell me I can't do something, that is exactly what I want to do. There were ways to go to Cuba in the past on Educational trips or with a Church Group, but you had to fly through Mexico or Canada and it just seemed like too much trouble. Even today, you still have to jump through a few hoops, but with direct flights from Miami, FL and Charlotte, NC on American Airlines. It is so easy to just GO.

They have Hop On Hop Off Bus tours!

Transtur is HUGE we saw their buses everywhere full of German, French and Italian Tourists
What we forget in the USA is that everyone else in the world has been able to go to Cuba for the past 50 years when we could not. The rest of the world has had the opportunity and they have gone to Cuba. Tourism is one of the biggest, if not the biggest source of income for the island. Unfortunately, Cuba has had to compete with flashier Caribbean Islands for that tourist dollar. Why go to Cuba where you might not have toilet paper or even a toilet seat, when you can lay on the beach just as easily in Jamaica or Barbados.

In November of 1937, my Grandmother Arkebauer traveled to Cuba with my father who was only 15 months old at the time. I have photos from that trip and I thought it would be fun while we were in Havana to try to find the places where the photos were taken and try to recreate those scenes. Luckily two of the photos had information written on the back about where they were taken. So I knew that I had to go to the Plaza Hotel and El Morro.

The Plaza Hotel became a hotel in 1909. In the 1930's Albert Einstein was there for a banquet! My Grandmother and Father were there in 1937. In the 1950's a casino was put in and in the 1960's the casino was shut down and the hotel became part of the National Tourism Sector after the Triumph of the Revolution. You can still stay there today if you want to pay $100-200 a night for a room.

El Morro is actually Castillo de los Tres Reyes Magos del Morro, it was named after the Three Wise Men or Three Magi. The fortress guards the entrance to Havana Harbor.  Built in 1590, El Morro served as a prison and as a defense protecting the Havana Harbor. To close off the harbor to pirates and invaders, a huge iron chain would be spread across the water to the smaller fort on the Old Havana side of the mouth of the harbor. The lighthouse was built in 1845. We paid 6 CUC to tour the fort. 

We had a lot of fun scrambling around the fort trying to find the locations from these photos. I think we did a pretty good job recreating them. After all, it has been 80 years and there have been some changes to the areas.