August 8, 2014

Home Sweet Home: Garden Photos and Travel Reflections


On the Norway cruise, I met several travelers my age who go from one cruise to another. I couldn't do that. Two weeks away from home, three max, is enough for me. I enjoy my life at home too much to spend a lot of time on the road (or on the ship).

With that in mind, I decided to make this a two-for-one post, alternating photos of my July-August home garden with some reflections on my recent trip.


The New Kindle
I didn't pack it because I hate it. As so often happens these days, the powers-that-be added so many new bells and whistles that it's now difficult for a klutz like me to use the device.

"Keep It Simple, Stupid" never occurs to these guys. This past February, I took the Kindle -- loaded with David McCullouch's excellent John Adams -- on my South American cruise. I enjoyed the book but was ready to throw the Kindle overboard when it kept changing the setting for the last page I had read... which made it a chore to get back to that page again. Dog-earing pages in print books is so much easier.


John Updike's Rabbit Redux
I packed this paperback for the Norway cruise. I read most of the "Rabbit" books -- revered by critics -- decades ago, as they were published. But I gave up on this one a third of the way through. I was getting depressed reading about Rabbit, his family, his friends... and their lives of "quiet desperation." I can deal with novels about people like this if there's some humor to offset the gloom. I didn't find much humor here.


Derek Miller's Norwegian by Night
Because of my cruise, the title drew me to this book, and I loved it. Here are few of the kudos it's received:

  • The Economist's top fiction title of the year 
  • the Financial Times' best book of the year 
  • the Guardian's best crime and thriller of the year 
  • Kirkus Reviews' best crime novel of the year

The Norwegian setting wasn't the only thing I could identify with. The protagonist is an 82-year-old man who may have dementia. The New York Times review summed it up well: "This charming debut has the brains of a literary novel and the body of a thriller.'' Highly recommended.


Bringing Touring Lessons Home 
In Copenhagen, I learned I could rent a wheelchair to tour really spread-out places. In Bergen, I learned I could enjoy a nice day touring... if I did it on my own and at my own pace. In Oslo, I learned that touring by cab was easy. 

Here at home -- after I finally cut back my driving to the bare-ass minimum -- I made a terrific arrangement with a friend who works for a neighbor: He now drives me to my senior bridge games on Mondays and to my Parkinson's support group meetings on Fridays. He also takes me on errands one other day each week. For that third "errand" day, I'll now occasionally have him drive me to some DC touring spot. I'll take a cab home.
 

The gardening column in this morning's Washington Post described the dearth of butterflies this year, and offered suggestions on attracting butterflies. I created my own butterfly garden several years ago, and I'm always looking for new butterfly-attracting plants. The Post piece reminded me that the Smithsonian's Butterfly Habitat Garden on the Mall is a great place to check out these plants. It's near the National Gallery's Sculpture Garden, where there's a pleasant outdoor cafe that overlooks the garden.

Since the weather forecast predicts several nice days next week, I'll ask my driver to take me down there. After touring the Butterfly Garden at my own slow pace -- taking notes on plants I might use -- I'll walk over to the Sculpture Garden, have lunch at its cafe, and cab home. I won't need a wheelchair.


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Here's a photo taken last night at Old Angler's Inn. I'm with two big reasons why Washington is Home Sweet Home.



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