Saturday, August 31, 2019

The Curious Adventures of Mr. Wonderbird

The Curious Adventures of Mr. Wonderbird is a 1952 public domain version of the French animated film The King and the Mockingbird dubbed in English with Peter Ustinov, Claire Bloom, and Denholm Elliott. The story is loosely based on The Shepherdess and the Chimney Sweep by Hans Christian Andersen, which can be read online here.

Friday, August 30, 2019

The Dead Letter

The Dead Letter (1866) by Metta Victoria Fuller Victor is the first full-length American work of crime fiction. You can read it online here, and listen to it here. It begins,




I paused suddenly in my work. Over a year’s experience in the Dead Letter office had given a mechanical rapidity to my movements in opening, noting and classifying the contents of the bundles before me; and, so far from there being any thing exciting to the curiosity, or interesting to the mind, in the employment, it was of the most monotonous character.

Young ladies whose love letters have gone astray, evil men whose plans have been confided in writing to their confederates, may feel but little apprehension of the prying eyes of the Department; nothing attracts it but objects of material value—sentiment is below par; it gives attention only to such tangible interests as are represented by bank-bills, gold-pieces, checks, jewelry, miniatures, et cetera. Occasionally a grave clerk smiles sardonically at the ridiculous character of some of the articles which come to light; sometimes, perhaps, looks thoughtfully at a withered rosebud, or bunch of pressed violets, a homely little pin-cushion, or a book-mark, wishing it had reached its proper destination. I can not answer for other employees, who may not have even this amount of heart and imagination to invest in the dull business of a Government office; but when I was in the Department I was guilty, at intervals, of such folly—yet I passed for the coldest, most cynical man of them all.

The letter which I held in my paralyzed fingers when they so abruptly ceased their dexterous movements, was contained in a closely-sealed envelope, yellowed by time, and directed in a peculiar hand to “John Owen, Peekskill, New York,” and the date on the stamp was “October 18th, 1857”—making the letter two years old. I know not what magnetism passed from it, putting me, as the spiritualists say, en rapport with it; I had not yet cut the lappet; and the only thing I could fix upon as the cause of my attraction was, that at the date indicated on the envelope, I had been a resident of Blankville, twenty miles from Peekskill—and something about that date!

Yet this was no excuse for my agitation; I was not of an inquisitive disposition; nor did “John Owen” belong to the circle of my acquaintance. I sat there with such a strange expression upon my face, that one of my fellows, remarking my mood, exclaimed jestingly:

“What is it, Redfield? A check for a hundred thousand?”

“I am sure I don’t know; I haven’t opened it,” I answered, at random; and with this I cut the wrapper, impelled by some strongly-defined, irresistible influence to read the time-stained sheet inclosed. It ran in this wise:

“Dear Sir—It’s too bad to disappoint you. Could not execute your order, as everybody concerned will discover. What a charming day!—good for taking a picture. That old friend I introduced you to won’t tell tales, and you had not better bother yourself to visit him. The next time you find yourself in his arms, don’t feel in his left-hand pocket for the broken tooth-pick which I lent him. He is welcome to it. If you’re at the place of payment, I shan’t be there, not having fulfilled the order, and having given up my emigration project, much against my will; so, govern yourself accordingly. Sorry your prospects are so poor, and believe me, with the greatest possible esteem,

“Your disappointed Negotiator.”
To explain why this brief epistle, neither lucid nor interesting in itself, should affect me as it did, I must go back to the time at which it was written.

Thursday, August 29, 2019

Criss Cross

Criss Cross is a 1949 crime film/film noir. Directed by Robert Siodmak, it stars Burt Lancaster, Yvonne De Carlo, and Dan Duryea. The double-crossing gets 'em coming and going. You can't trust anybody, can you?


You can watch it online here.

The New York Times says, "In many ways "Criss Cross" is a suspenseful action picture, due to the resourceful directing of Robert Siodmak." The New Yorker calls it an "exemplary film noir". Film Noir of the Week says, "this is THE FILM NOIR that I recommend to all noir neophytes as the place to start".

Rotten Tomatoes has a critics score of 100%.

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

How Love Came to Professor Guildea

How Love Came to Professor Guildea is generally considered the best story Robert Hichens wrote. You can read it online here, or listen to it here. It begins,
Dull people often wondered how it came about that Father Murchison and Professor Frederic Guildea were intimate friends. The one was all faith, the other all scepticism. The nature of the Father was based on love. He viewed the world with an almost childlike tenderness above his long, black cassock; and his mild, yet perfectly fearless, blue eyes seemed always to be watching the goodness that exists in humanity, and rejoicing at what they saw. The Professor, on the other hand, had a hard face like a hatchet, tipped with an aggressive black goatee beard. His eyes were quick, piercing and irreverent. The lines about his small, thin-lipped mouth were almost cruel. His voice was harsh and dry, sometimes, when he grew energetic, almost soprano. It fired off words with a sharp and clipping utterance. His habitual manner was one of distrust and investigation. It was impossible to suppose that, in his busy life, he found any time for love, either of humanity in general or of an individual.

Yet his days were spent in scientific investigations which conferred immense benefits upon the world.

Both men were celibates. Father Murchison was a member of an Anglican order which forbade him to marry. Professor Guildea had a poor opinion of most things, but especially of women. He had formerly held a post as lecturer at Birmingham. But when his fame as a discoverer grew he removed to London. There, at a lecture he gave in the East End, he first met Father Murchison. They spoke a few words. Perhaps the bright intelligence of the priest appealed to the man of science, who was inclined, as a rule, to regard the clergy with some contempt. Perhaps the transparent sincerity of this devotee, full of common sense, attracted him. As he was leaving the hall he abruptly asked the Father to call on him at his house in Hyde Park Place. And the Father, who seldom went into the West End, except to preach, accepted the invitation.

"When will you come?" said Guildea.

He was folding up the blue paper on which his notes were written in a tiny, clear hand. The leaves rustled drily in accompaniment to his sharp, dry voice.

"On Sunday week I am preaching in the evening at St. Saviour's, not far off," said the Father.[271]

"I don't go to church."

"No," said the Father, without any accent of surprise or condemnation.

"Come to supper afterwards?"

"Thank you. I will."

"What time will you come?"

The Father smiled.

"As soon as I have finished my sermon. The service is at six-thirty."

"About eight then, I suppose. Don't make the sermon too long. My number in Hyde Park Place is a hundred. Good-night to you."

He snapped an elastic band round his papers and strode off without shaking hands.

On the appointed Sunday, Father Murchison preached to a densely crowded congregation at St. Saviour's. The subject of his sermon was sympathy, and the comparative uselessness of man in the world unless he can learn to love his neighbour as himself. The sermon was rather long, and when the preacher, in his flowing, black cloak, and his hard, round hat, with a straight brim over which hung the ends of a black cord, made his way towards the Professor's house, the hands of the illuminated clock disc at the Marble Arch pointed to twenty minutes past eight.

Tuesday, August 27, 2019

Oh, Mr. Porter!

Oh, Mr Porter! is a 1937 comedy about a man who gets a new job as station master at a remote Northern Ireland railway station where no one will work due to its reputation for being haunted -"Local conditions would appear to be peculiar. We've sent them five station masters in twelve months." Mayhem results as he tries new ways to improve the station.

BFI Screen Online says, "Oh, Mr Porter! is full of moments to cherish". Empire Online closes with this: "Comedy very much of its time but there are worse ways to spend a rainy afternoon." Time Out says, "Some of the humour is rather dated now, but the atmospheric creation of a quaintly antiquated rural Britain - that never in reality existed - holds plenty of charm." Variety says, "the whole thing is amusing." Rotten Tomatoes has an audience consensus score of 92%.

To join in with the bloggers participating in T Stands for Tuesday, I offer this screenshot with drinks on the table:


I'm behind in making ATCs, having been away for a week on vacation, but I hope to have some to post next week.

Monday, August 26, 2019

Scratch Monkey

photo from Wikimedia Commons

Scratch Monkey is a science fiction novel, one of his earliest, by Charles Stross. You can read it online here. It begins,
1: Year Zero Man

As I fasten my crash webbing Sareena looks at me and shakes her head. "What is it?" I ask. She pauses as she pre-checks the heat shield: she looks embarrassed.

"Do you have any last wishes?" she asks, stumbling over her words. "I mean, do you want me to tell anyone if you ..?"

I grin up at her humourlessly. She's little more than a shadow cast by the glare of the floodlights, so I can't see her expression. "What do you think?" I ask, hoping for something to distract me from what's about to happen.

She straightens up and checks over the ejection rail another time. It's ancient, a history book nightmare. Everything on this station is ancient: the planetary colony abandoned space travel, along with most everything else, when they cut themselves off from contact centuries ago. Cold and dark, the station was mothballed for centuries, until the we beamed in and reactivated it. Now it has new owners, and a very different purpose to the one it was designed for. "Okay," she says calmly. "So if you don't come back, you don't want anyone to cry ..."

"Not for me," I say, jerking a thumb over my shoulder towards the sealed airlock bay doors, amber lights strobing across the danger zone to indicate pressure integrity. "But if I don't come back, you can cry for the natives. Nobody else will."

"Yeah, well. Looks like the heat shield's good for one more trip, at least." She finishes with her handheld scanner and hooks it to her utility belt, then turns and waves at the redlit Launch Control room, high among the skeletal girders above us. "Does your your life support integrity check out?"

"Check." A green helix coils slowly in the bottom left corner of my visual field, spiralling down the status reading on my suit; more head-up displays wind past my other eye in a ruby glare of countdown digits. The oxy pressure on my countercurrent infuser is fine but I have a tense feeling like an itch. I can't breathe with my lungs. Got to make this reentry drop immersed in a bubble of liquid. The decceleration on reentry is going to be ferocious.

The comm circuit comes to life: it's launch control. " Launch window opens in two hundred seconds. You should make your modified orbital perigee in two seven nine seconds at one-niner five kilometres. You'd better clear the bay, Sar."

"Okay." She shrugs. "Outer helmet?"

I nod clumsily and she lowers it into place over my head. I cut in my external sensors and sit tight in the frame of the drop capsule, webbed in by refrigerant feeds. The thick aerated liquid gurgles around my ears then begins to thicken into a gel. The pod's active stealth skin tests itself, flashing chameleon displays at the wall. "All systems go," I tell her, voice distorted by the gunk clogging my throat: "you tie one on for me, okay?" I smile, and she gives me a thumbs-up.

" You're go, Adjani," cuts in launch control; Helmut and Davud are in charge. We've been through this all before: they sound professionally bored.

" Pressure drop in one-forty seconds, re-entry window in one-ninety and counting. Repeat, Go for drop in two minutes."

"Check," Sareena calls over her shoulder, then stops for one last word. "Take care, Oshi," she says. "We'll miss you."

"So will I," I say, feeling like a hollow woman as the wise-crack comes out. She half-reaches out toward me, but doesn't quite make it: she pulls back instead, and jogs towards the access hatch. I track her with the capsule sensors, testing the image filters we yesterday. Seen by the light of radio emissions her skeleton is a hot synthetic pink overlaid with luminous green flesh and a thin blue spiderweb of nanotech implants just beneath the skin. It could have been her, I tell myself, trying to imagine myself retreating through that door and sealing it on her; it didn't have to be me. All right, so I volunteered. So why have second thoughts at this stage? The Boss said it's important, so I suppose it must be. There's a very important job to be done and then I'm going to come back okay, no doubt about it. It's going to be good --

"One minute, Adjani. Any last words?"

"Yeah," I say. Suddenly my mouth is dry. "This is --"

The lights on the bay wall flash into a blinding red glare and a spume of vapour forms whirlpools around the air vent: the clam-shell door is opening onto space, draining out the frail pool of air.

"Pulling sockets, Adjani. Good ... "

I don't get to hear the rest. The launch rail kicks me in the small of the back and the head-up display blanks out the starscape in a blaze of tracking matrices. When my eyeballs unsquash I erase the unnecessary read-outs and take a look. The planet is a vast, ego-numbing blueness into which I'm falling. I re-run the mission profile as the orientation thrusters cut in, spinning the drop capsule so that I'm racing backwards into a sea of swirling gas at Mach thirty. The capsule is going to make an unpowered re-entry like a meteor; it's designed to pull fifty gees of deceleration on the way down (far more than any sane pilot would dream of), shedding fiery particles like a stone out of heaven. This is going to happen in about three minutes time.

I'm busy for a few seconds, heart in my mouth as I scan for search radar and missile launches, but no-one's detected me and by the time I can look up the black-surfaced station is invisible against the thin scattering of stars above me. I could almost be alone out here -- but I'm not, quite. Someone is down there: someone dangerous. Otherwise Distant Intervention wouldn't have seen fit to send a team through the system Gatecoder, fifteen light-years from anywhere else; otherwise it wouldn't have rated a visit of any kind, let alone the attention of a Superbright like the Boss. Because if nobody lives here, why the hell is it pumping out so many uploaded minds that it distorts Dreamtime processing throughout the entire sector?

A Year Zero event, that's what. I'm told we've run across this sort of thing before, but rarely, less than once a century in the whole wide spread of human settlement; and that's why I'm here.

That's why everyone's afraid I'm not coming back ...
I am posting this even though I haven't finished it yet. It was longer than I expected, and I got distracted by something else. I'll get back to it, but not today.

Sunday, August 25, 2019

In a Lonely Place

In a Lonely Place is a 1950 film noir directed by Nicholas Ray and starring Humphrey Bogart and Gloria Grahame.


You can watch it online here.

Slant Magazine gives it 4 out of 4 stars and calls it "one of Ray’s smartest and most devastating masterpieces." The Guardian gives it 5 out of 5 stars and calls it a "noir classic". The New Yorker has a glowing review.

Roger Ebert gives it 4 out of 4 stars and says,
"In a Lonely Place" has been described by the critic Kim Morgan as "one of the most heartbreaking love stories ever committed to film," and love is indeed what it's really about. It has the look, feel and trappings of a film noir, and a murder takes place in it, but it is really about the dark places in a man's soul and a woman who thinks she can heal them.
Empire Online gives it 5 out of 5 stars and says, "Bogart outdoes himself". Rotten Tomatoes has a critics rating of 97%.

Saturday, August 24, 2019

The Squire's Story

The Squire's Story is an 1855 gothic short story by Elizabeth Gaskell. You can read it online here. It begins,
In the year 1769 the little town of Barford was thrown into a state of great excitement by the intelligence that a gentleman (and ‘quite the gentleman’, said the landlord of the George Inn) had been looking at Mr. Clavering’s old house. This house was neither in the town nor in the country. It stood on the outskirts of Barford, on the roadside leading to Derby. The last occupant had been a Mr. Clavering, a Northumberland gentleman of good family who had come to live in Barford while he was but a younger son; but when some elder branches of the family died, he had returned to take possession of the family estate. The house of which I speak was called the White House, from its being covered with a greyish kind of stucco. It had a good garden to the back, and Mr. Clavering had built capital stables, with what were then considered the latest improvement. The point of good stabling was expected to let the house, as it was in a hunting county; otherwise it had few recommendation. There were many bedrooms; some entered through others, even to the number of five, leading one beyond the other; several sitting-rooms of the small and poky kind, wainscoted round with wood, and then painted a heavy slate colour; one good dining-room, and a drawing-room over it, both looking into the garden, with pleasant bow-windows.

Such was the accommodation offered by the White House. It did not seem to be very tempting to strangers, though the good people of Barford rather piqued themselves on it, as the largest house in the town; and as a house in which ‘townspeople’ and ‘county people’ had often met at Mr. Clavering’s friendly dinners. To appreciate this circumstance of pleasant recollection, you should have lived some years in a little country town, surrounded by gentlemen’s seats. You would then understand how a bow or a courtesy from a member of a county family elevates the individuals who receive it almost as much, in their own eyes, as the pair of blue garters fringed with silver did Mr. Bickerstaff’s ward. They trip lightly on air for a whole day afterwards. Now Mr. Clavering was gone, where could town and county mingle?

I mention these things that you may have an idea of the desirability of the letting of the white House in the Barfordites’ imagination; and to make the mixture thick and slab, you must add for yourselves the bustle, the mystery, and the importance which every little event either causes or assumes in a small town; and then, perhaps, it will be no wonder to — you that twenty ragged little urchins accompanied the ‘gentleman’ aforesaid to the door of the White House; and that, although he was above an hour inspecting it, under the auspices of Mr. Jones, the agent’s clerk, thirty more had joined themselves on to the wondering crowd before his exit, and awaited such crumbs of intelligence as they could gather before they were threatened or whipped out of hearing distance. Presently, out came the ‘gentleman’ and the lawyer’s clerk. The latter was speaking as he followed the former over the threshold. The gentleman was tall, well-dressed, handsome; but there was a sinister cold look in his quick-glancing, light blue eye, which a keen observer might not have liked. There were no keen observers among the boys, and ill-conditioned gaping girls. But they stood too near; inconveniently close; and the gentleman, lifting up his right hand, in which he carried a short riding-whip, dealt one or two sharp blows to the nearest, with a look of savage enjoyment on his face as they moved away whimpering and crying. An instant after, his expression of countenance had changed.

‘Here!’ said he, drawing out a handful of money, partly silver, partly copper, and throwing it into the midst of them. ‘Scramble for it! fight it out, my lads! come this afternoon, at three, to the George, and I’ll throw you out some more.’ So the boys hurrahed for him as he walked off with the agent’s clerk. He chuckled to himself, as over a pleasant thought. ‘I’ll have some fun with those lads,’ he said; ‘I’ll teach ’em to come prowling and prying about me. I’ll tell you what I’ll do. I’ll make the money so hot in the fire-shovel that it shall burn their fingers. You come and see the faces and the howling. I shall be very glad if you will dine with me at two; and by that time I may have made up my mind respecting the house.’

Mr. Jones, the agent’s clerk, agreed to come to the George at two, but, somehow, he had a distaste for his entertainer. Mr. Jones would not like to have said, even to himself, that a man with a purse full of money, who kept many horses, and spoke familiarly of noblemen — above all, who thought of taking the White House — could be anything but a gentleman; but still the uneasy wonder as to who this Mr. Robinson Higgins could be, filled the clerk’s mind long after Mr. Higgins, Mr. Higgins’s servants, and Mr. Higgins’s stud had taken possession of the white House.

Friday, August 23, 2019

Bonnie and Clyde

Bonnie and Clyde is a 1967 crime film starring Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway. It also has Michael J. Pollard, Gene Hackman, Estelle Parsons, and Denver Pyle. This has Gene Wilder in his first film role. It's based on true events.

The Hollywood Reporter has a review from the time of the film's release. Variety faults its inconsistency.

Empire Online gives it 5 out of 5 stars and calls it a "Brutal crime romp with a pair of charismatic central performances." Roger Ebert considers it a Great Movie and says, ""Bonnie and Clyde," made in 1967, was called "the first modern American film” by critic Patrick Goldstein, in an essay on its 30th anniversary. Certainly it felt like that at the time. The movie opened like a slap in the face. American filmgoers had never seen anything like it." Rotten Tomatoes has a rating of 88%.

Thursday, August 22, 2019

The Diamond Lens

The Diamond Lens (1858) is the best and best-known story of Fitz James O'Brien. Wikipedia reports that "It was one of the favourite stories of H.P. Lovecraft". The SFF Audio site says, "James Gunn writes:
“[The Diamond Lens] is the first known story in which another world is perceived through a microscope… [this story] opened up another world, not just for readers, but for writers as well.” Gunn goes on to praise O’Brien’s “realistic treatment of the fantastic” and says that “‘The Diamond Lens‘” may be the first modern science-fiction story.”
You can read this story online here. It begins,

FROM a very early period of my life the entire bent of my inclinations had been toward microscopic investigations. When I was not more than ten years old, a distant relative of our family, hoping to astonish my inexperience, constructed a simple microscope for me by drilling in a disk of copper a small hole in which a drop of pure water was sustained by capillary attraction. This very primitive apparatus, magnifying some fifty diameters, presented, it is true, only indistinct and imperfect forms, but still sufficiently wonderful to work up my imagination to a preternatural state of excitement.

Seeing me so interested in this rude instrument, my cousin explained to me all that he knew about the principles of the microscope, related to me a few of the wonders which had been accomplished through its agency, and ended by promising to send me one regularly constructed, immediately on his return to the city. I counted the days, the hours, the minutes that intervened between that promise and his departure.

Meantime, I was not idle. Every transparent substance that bore the remotest resemblance to a lens I eagerly seized upon, and employed in vain attempts to realize that instrument the theory of whose construction I as yet only vaguely comprehended. All panes of glass containing those oblate spheroidal knots familiarly known as “bull’s-eyes” were ruthlessly destroyed in the hope of obtaining lenses of marvelous power. I even went so far as to extract the crystalline humor from the eyes of fishes and animals, and endeavored to press it into the microscopic service. I plead guilty to having stolen the glasses from my Aunt Agatha’s spectacles, with a dim idea of grinding them into lenses of wondrous magnifying properties — in which attempt it is scarcely necessary to say that I totally failed.

At last the promised instrument came.
The author was born in Ireland but immigrated to the U.S. in 1852, changing his name to Fitz James. He died of tetanus after being wounded during a Civil War skirmish in 1862.

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Star Wreck: In the Pirkinning

Star Wreck: In the Pirkinning is a 2005 Finnish dark parody film, a wonderful parody of the Star Trek and Babylon 5 franchises.

Den of Geek says,
Altogether, this movie is fun, light entertainment that will amaze you even more when you see just how it was made. If a bunch of university students can do this on a limited budget over several years, just imagine what they could have done with a million pounds or more? It's a triumph of ingenuity, dogged determination and imagination.
Moria praises it and calls it "an extraordinary example of the fan film."

Tuesday, August 20, 2019


Hyperion is the first book in Dan Simmons' award-winning 4-book Hyperion Cantos series. I've loved these since they came out starting in 1990, and this is, iirc, my 3rd re-reading.

from the back of the book:
On the world called Hyperion, beyond the law of the Hegemony of Man, there waits the creature called The Shrike. There are those who worship it. There are those who fear it. And there are those who have vowed to destroy it. In the Valley of the Time Tombs, where huge, brooding structures move backward through time, the Shrike waits for them all. On the eve of Armageddon, with the entire galaxy at war, seven pilgrims set forth on a final voyage to Hyperion seeking the answers to the unsolved riddles of their lives. Each carries a desperate hope -and a terrible secret. And one may hold the fate of humanity in his hands.
beverage-related quote:
"The Consul turned down the other lamps and poured more coffee for those who wanted it. Sol Weintraub's voice was slow, careful in phrase and precise in wording, and before long the gentle cadence of his story blended with the soft rumble and slow pitchings of the windwagon's progress north"
And with that quote I join the friendly, welcoming group at the weekly T Stands for Tuesday blogger gathering hosted by Elizabeth. Share a post with a drink reference, and join us for a nice visit.

The New York Times has a positive review of Hyperion. Prometheus Unbound opens with this: "I found Hyperion to be the kind of book I hope every book will be when I first crack it open." Tor says, "it’s beautifully written. It’s deeply absorbing, one of those books you don’t want to put down."

Best Fantasy Books concludes, "Hyperion is almost flawlessly executed, whether as a single coherent story, a series of novellas or a set of incredibly compelling character portraits." SF Book Reviews calls it a "masterpiece".



After completely ignoring ATCs for a couple of weeks it feels like I'm starting all over again. *sigh*

I've been looking for stencils sized for the ATCs and can't find any that small. I'm particularly looking for all-over designs and shapes and not figures of animals and such, if that makes sense. I can find 4" x 4" stencils but nothing smaller. Are there stencils out there that are 2.5" x 3.5"?









Random (not from a prompt):

Monday, August 19, 2019

Othello (1951)

Othello is the 1951 Orson Welles film adaptation, much abridged, of the Shakespeare play. You can watch it online at this link.


Sunday, August 18, 2019

Wear Flowers in Your Hair

Today is the anniversary of the death in 2012 at age 73 of Scott McKenzie, whose best-known song was San Francisco (Be Sure to Wear Flowers in Your Hair):

The song was written by John Phillips of The Mamas and the Papas. Ah, that music! It brings back such sweet memories from my childhood.

Saturday, August 17, 2019

The Shadow of the Cat

The Shadow of the Cat is a 1961 British Hammer studio horror film. The cat is the only witness to the murder of her mistress. While the murderers try to kill her, she seeks revenge. This one is a good film for folks who like a touch of horror and suspense but don't want blood, gore, or "jump" scenes. And the cat as the main character is a delightful concept.

Classic Horror calls it a solid film and says it's "perfectly paced".

Friday, August 16, 2019

Chattanooga, part 7

We had a completely uneventful trip home, which is always a good thing. We had decided to stop for lunch at Jack's, a short order restaurant chain we'd never heard of.

I had a sausage and biscuit:

Our daughter had taken good care of the patio during our absence. This is what it looked like before we left town:

and it was thriving when we returned to it. Home Sweet Home.

Thursday, August 15, 2019

Chattanooga, part 6

We decided to make our last full day in Chattanooga relatively low-key. We took the free downtown shuttle across the river to the North Shore and walked from the station to Coolidge Park.

We wandered around North Chattanooga a bit. There were dance instructions for all kinds of dances embedded in the sidewalks:

I already knew how to do the Hokey Pokey and was unable to talk The Husband into trying the Rumba with me, but he did sit here to "play":

After exploring for a bit, we took the shuttle back to the hotel. We'd walked around more than the photos might suggest, so we propped our feet up and rested for a bit before we decided to have lunch at the Pickle Barrel Restaurant, which is in one of the unusual wedge-shaped buildings I don't see often. Back onto the free shuttle, and the driver dropped us off at a stop right across the street from the restaurant.

You can read their menu here. So hard to decide! But I had the Bacon Mushroom Swiss burger with a side of onion rings:

It was delicious!

Here's the view from our table:

Saying goodbye to our last Chattanooga restaurant, we rode the shuttle back towards the hotel but walked the last few blocks just to soak up our last taste of Chattanooga. Back at the hotel, having rested for a while, we decided we weren't quite ready to stop exploring. We headed back out on foot and found dessert:

I wandered across the crosswalk towards the art museum:

and then back towards the pedestrian bridge:

We both went out onto the Walnut Street pedestrian bridge but not all the way across it.

We headed back to the hotel by a different route and saw these four season statues:

Back at the hotel, we were truly ready for some down time before the drive home the next day.

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Chattanooga, part 5

There's a history in our family going back to when the kids were little of us trying without success to ride a train. Either they only offered them on alternate weekends, or they leave the station at 2 in the morning, or there's a random "closed" sign in the window when we show up, or some other scheduling complication arises, but we finally made it. I rode a train! Here's proof:

We bought tickets here:

It was a short ride, but I got such a kick out of it:

The station at the other end:

had a snack shop and a repair shed where they do renovations, reconstructions, and repairs:

We got to see the engine turned around:

The return trip was, of course, the same as the trip out, but I did get a better shot of coming out of the tunnel:

It's quite a narrow space. You can see the TVRail video of the train coming out of the tunnel here:

They had a number of train cars on display:

and you could enter this old dining car:

Now I'd like to ride the Orient Express, please.

On the way back to the hotel we passed the Boathouse restaurant and stopped in for lunch.

The parking lot was all but full and we thought we'd have a wait ahead of us, but we gave them our name and sat in the little entryway:

In no time at all we were seated on the covered deck overlooking the Tennessee River:

They have a pretty extensive menu, but I had the catfish, of course, with a side of fried okra:

We rested at the hotel for a bit before heading up the mountain by car to go to Ruby Falls:

It's a private attraction, and quite touristy, with much less emphasis on geologic formations and history and more emphasis on "cute," but we'd been before and knew the history and what to expect and have been in enough caves to know about the formations we'd see. People come from all over the world to see this, and since we were in Chattanooga I wanted to see it again. It is a dramatic sight. You can read a short history at the Wikipedia article here. The website Only In Your State says, "It's the largest underground waterfall that's accessible to the public, and many consider it to be one of the most beautiful in the world."

One visitor has posted a 6-minute video overview of their trip:

The tours are crowded and move quickly down the narrow path to the falls, but I had no trouble getting some photos along the way. You take an elevator down to this point:

and begin the tour there.

and the Falls:

The way back was along the same route but offered another look.

Back down the mountain's narrow, curving road we went, headed back to the hotel. We had a snack supper in the room and watched the second night of the Democratic presidential debate. While the first night could well be summarized as "Centrist candidates use Republican talking points to pick at Sanders and Warren," this second night was "Let's dig through the candidates' ancient history files for actions that are no longer considered politically correct".