Weekly Photo Challenge: On Top

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Two fluffy, grey and white brothers named Jesse and Sam joined our family almost two years ago.  They spend a lot of time on top of things.  It’s what they do.  The photos for this challenge are of Jesse, who is the bigger, lazier, and my kids would say dumber brother.  I don’t know about dumb, but goofy?  Definitely!

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See what else is “on top” at the Weekly Photo Challenge.

 

Weekly Photo Challenge: Monument

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The National Memorial Arch in Valley Forge National Historic Park stands as a testament to the fortitude and perseverance of George Washington and the soldiers of the Continental Army during the winter of 1777-1778.  That winter was a deadly but pivotal time for the men of The Revolution.  Even in the midst of bitter cold and near starvation, they were able to rally under the passionate direction of Baron Otto von Steuben.  Because of the time spent at Valley Forge, the Continental Army ultimately defeated one of the most powerful forces in the world and finally gained the freedom they suffered and fought so long and hard for.

The Memorial was designed by Paul Phillipe Cret to resemble the Triumphal Arch of Titus in Rome (81 AD).  Originally, arches were planned for von Steuben and Washington, but lack of funding kept von Steuben’s memorial on the drawing board.   The remaining arch that honors Washington and his army is an impressive monument on its own.  It’s made all the more imposing by it’s situation on a hill and the open fields, gentle woods and tiny huts that surround it.  We visited the park on one of the hottest, most humid days of last summer so the irony of our situation was almost too much too bear.  We were actually praying for just a flake or two of the snow those soldiers endured for months so long ago!

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For more information about the National Memorial Arch or Valley Forge National Historic Park, wander over here.

And, if you would like to see other impressive monuments, wander over here.

Happy browsing!

Where I’m At…

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You might have noticed that Whimsey Pie is turning into a compilation of  book reviews for The Eclectic Reader Challenge and a gallery for Weekly Photo Challenges.  This is not what I originally envisioned for my blog but it will have to do for the moment.  To be honest, I’m more than a little overwhelmed with life so the fact that I’m posting anything at all feels like an award-worthy accomplishment.  And, I guess I could be doing a lot worse by this little corner of the Internet than talking about books and sharing some of my photos.

I don’t think I’ve shared this directly, but I began full-time work on an on-line Masters degree in August.  It’s been challenging, to say the least.  I don’t think I’ve ever doubted my life choices and intellectual capabilities or struggled with time management issues so much in my life.  I’m discovering that working a full-time job that requires constant creative and critical thinking and taking graduate courses which demand more of the same drain me completely.  I have nothing left to offer here at Whimsey Pie or anywhere else.  I’ve been wondering a lot lately if creative energy is physiologically like will power - a finite reserve that runs out and must be replenished often with relaxation and novel experiences.

Anyway, I’m not writing this to whine.  I’ve made my choices and am living out the consequences the best that I can (although whining about it occasionally does make me feel better).  No, I’m writing all this simply to say I haven’t had much to say lately, and certainly not much of anything that any of you lovely readers would want to read.  So for now, I hope you enjoy the book reviews, the Photo Challenges, and the occasional inspired post. I anticipate that things will eventually turn around.  Thanks for sticking around while I get my feet back under me!

 

 

 

A Celebration of the American West at the Denver Art Museum

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A few Sundays ago, I found myself alone in Denver, Colorado with a few free hours on my hands.  Not wanting to waste such a perfect opportunity for adventure, I made my way downtown to the acclaimed Denver Art Museum for an afternoon of cultural edification.  I spent an entire afternoon wandering the galleries of the fortress-like North Building.  Security basically had to kick me out at closing time.  Cultural edification accomplished.

What a great museum!  I enjoyed all the exhibits I encountered – Asian, European and American, Pre-Columbian, Spanish Colonial, American Indian, and the Northwest Coast.  The pottery collections, in particular, are outstanding.  My favorite galleries by far, though, are the Western American exhibits.  Perhaps because I was in “The West” (Colorado is quintessential western America after all), I was in a frame of mind to be particularly drawn to the subjects and settings.  Or, maybe it was just the passion, creativity, and artistry displayed in the pieces.  Whatever the reason for my fascination, I spent a great deal of time in the Western galleries, admiring and photographing what I saw.

I thought I’d share a tiny sampling of the artwork from the Western American galleries with you.  Personally, I believe the artists represented here pay creative and beautiful homage to the unique history and culture of the American West.  What do you think?

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{ The Open Range by William Herbert Dunton, 1911(?) }

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{ Jack Knife by Ed Mell, 2009 }

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{ Cowgirl and Bronco by Regina Winifred Mulroney, 1945 }

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{ Wide Lands of the Navajo by Maynard Dixon, 1945 }

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{ Two Champs by Harry Jackson, 1974 }

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{ Orion by Deborah Butterfield, 1988 }

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{ Flight by E. Martin Hennings }

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{ Ranch Near Rocky Ridge by Howard Post??? - I’m not sure about the title or artist… }

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{ Big Horn Sheep by Carl Clemens Moritz Rungius, n.d. }

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{ Buffalo (Monarch of the Plains) by Henry M. Shrady, 1900 }

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{ Buffalo Hunt by Charles Marion Russell, 1897 }

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{ Chief of the Multnomah Tribe by Hermon Atkins MacNeil, 1905 }

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{ Eagle Fan by Ernest L. Blumenschein, 1915 }

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The Rendezvous by E. Martin Hennings, about 1930 }

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{ The Stone Age in America by John J. Boyle, 1886 }

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{ A gallery in the Hamilton Building – Andy Warhol’s The American Indian (Russell Means), 1976 is in the middle of the wall }

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{ Young Plains Indian by James Bama, 1980 }

If you are ever in the Denver area and if museums are your thing, I highly recommend a visit to the Denver Art Museum.  You will not be disappointed.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Inside (Wynkoop Brewing Co.)

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DSC_9290The Wynkoop Brewing Company is a legendary brewpub in Denver, Colorado.  It’s housed in an old public building with massive timber support beams, stamped tin ceilings, and creaky wood floors.  This photo was taken on a quiet Sunday evening while enjoying fish and chips, macaroni and cheese, and Railyard Ale.  A delicious and relaxing way to end the day.

This post was inspired by the Daily Post’s Weekly Photo Challenge.

Bridget Jones’s Diary

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I’d like to talk about Bridget Jones’s Diary by Helen Fielding.  I read this book back in the dark, frigid days of January to fulfill the Romantic Comedy requirement for The Eclectic Reader Challenge.  Since it is now the dark, frigid days of March, it’s about time I offered my thoughts about Bridget and her alcohol-infused, smoke-shrouded year of self-improvement and almost desperate quest to find Mr. Right.

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{via goodreads}

To be honest, the book was a bit of a let down.  However, this state of affairs has nothing to do with Helen Fielding.  She crafted a story that was exactly what it was supposed to be – a funny, easy-reading piece of fluff that relentlessly pokes fun at just about everything.  I also realize that doing this well is a lot harder than it seems.  The fault of my disappointment lies solely in my over-inflated expectations.  I believed the hype that has been following this book around for a decade or so and it set me up for disappointment.  Add to that error of judgment the fact that romantic comedy isn’t my cup of tea and I was bound to be underwhelmed.

It’s not that I don’t like romance.  Far from it, actually.  Pride and Prejudice (by Jane Austen), Jane Eyre (Charlotte Brontë), and Katherine (by Anya Seton) are some of my favorite books and no one would argue the romance angle of any of those stories.  However, I like my romance to be wrapped up is something equally compelling (i.e., astute and witty social commentary, gothic drama, history, etc.).  When it comes right down to it, I prefer meaty, complicated stories with strong female characters which seem to be the antithesis of romantic comedy.

The best aspect of Bridget Jones’s Diary is the loose parallels to Pride and Prejudice and I enjoyed comparing the characters from the two tales.  It’s particularly interesting that Ms. Fielding chose Bridget’s mother for the role that mirrored Lydia, Elizabeth’s wayward sister.  On the other hand, Bridget is no Elizabeth Bennett.  Instead of being witty and demonstrating personal growth throughout the story, Bridget stagnates in her whininess and foolishneess and can’t seem to move beyond shallow sexual relationships with men to more meaningful intimacy.  I did enjoy when she waxed philosophical about topics like Christmas and friendship but those moments didn’t seem to fit with the rest of her personality.

For me, Bridget Jones’ Diary was a relatively fun but easily forgotten book.  I didn’t feel that I wasted my time, but I wouldn’t take the time to read it again.  Marissa, a member of Goodreads.com, sums up my feelings perfectly:

A novel by, say, Edith Wharton is like a twelve-course meal. By comparison, Bridget Jones’s Diary is like a single potato chip: tempting and kind of amusing but not satisfying, fluffy rather than substantial–and quickly forgotten. 

Bridget Jones’s Diary didn’t sell me on romantic comedy. However, the style of writing was engaging and Bridget was, if not “screamingly funny”, funny enough to keep me going.  I think the book deserves a 3/5 stars.

My progress in The Eclectic Reader Challenge:

  • Award Winning
  • True Crime (Non Fiction)
  • Romantic ComedyBridget Jones’s Diary by Helen Fielding  3/5 stars
  • Alternate History Fiction
  • Graphic NovelPersepolis by Marjane Satrapi  5/5 stars
  • Cosy Mystery Fiction
  • Gothic Fiction
  • War/Military Fiction
  • Anthology
  • Medical Thriller Fiction
  • Travel (Non Fiction)
  • Published in 2014

A Summer Afternoon at Hopewell Furnace: A Story in Three Pictures

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Hopewell Furnace is a National Historic Site situated about 30 miles from Valley Forge in Elverson, Pennsylvania.  It was an iron plantation (all paid labor, no slaves) that played a vital role in the American Revolution and assisted in laying the foundation for America’s Industrial Age.

My family has visited several times but on this particular sweltering summer afternoon, it was just my daughter and me strolling the deserted grounds.  The peaceful, picturesque surroundings belie the fact that at one time the furnace operated twenty-four hours a day and was accompanied by a bustle of activity throughout the village.

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This post was inspired by WP Weekly Photo Challenge: Threes.  If you have time, take a look at some of the other storytelling taking place through pictures here.

University of California, San Diego: A Photoessay of Contemporary Architecture, Natural Beauty, and Sunshine

Stephany:

I must have sixteen inches of snow outside my window and more is on the way. I’m in need of a bit of sunshine, so I wrote a post for my travel blog about the University of California, San Diego. I thought it might brighten the day here at Whimsey Pie, too. Is anyone else ready for Spring to show her lovely face?!

Originally posted on Wandrin' Round:

Winter has been rather intense around here.  As much as I love the snow (I really do), I’m growing weary of the frigid temps and piles of fluffy white stuff that refuse to melt.  I didn’t realize just how much I’ve been missing the sun until I began putting this post together.  (It’s rather difficult to look at photos from a trip to San Diego and not reminisce about the glorious sunshine.)

Anyway, I realized I’ve never shared any photos of The University of California, San Diego on this blog.  Shame on me, because it a uniquely beautiful campus with regard to architecture, landscaping, and situation.  Won’t you join me on a rather self-indulgent tour?  Even though the Vitamin D will be missing, seeing the sunshine will be good for all our winter ravaged souls.

University of California, San Diego

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[ The Geisel Library, named after Theodore Geisel, a.k.a. Dr. Seuss)

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[Dr. Seuss and The Cat in the Hat]

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Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood

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Before I get to the good stuff (i.e., the book review), I feel compelled to offer a brief disclaimer about my reviews.  When I discuss a book, I make no effort whatsoever to be highbrow and intellectual.  Whimsey Pie is too light-hearted and chill for that kind of nonsense.  Ultimately, I read for pleasure and emotional satisfaction.  Cognitive stimulation is always appreciated but is not usually my primary motivation for picking up a book.  As you can guess, then, my reviews are fluffy and based on my feelings about and reactions to the style of writing and the story itself.  There will be no in-depth discussions of theme(s), setting, character development, symbolism, etc., etc., etc. This is meant to be fun! You’ve been warned – no whining allowed.

Now, let’s get down to business.

Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood (Persepolis, #1-2)

{via goodreads }

For the first book of The Eclectic Reader Challenge, I chose Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood by Marjane Satrapi.  This book fulfills the Graphic Novel requirement of the reading challenge.  Even though it is my first experience with a graphic novel, I have a feeling it may be a bit unusual for the genre.  It is a witty, poignant, and often disturbing memoir of Marjane’s life in Tehran, Iran during the Islamic Revolution and war with Iraq in the early 1980′s.  (Marjane is 12 to 14 years old at the time.)  Minimalist black and white drawings, also created by Marjane, accompany the text and perfectly compliment the content and feel of the book.

It took me less than an hour to read Persepolis – deceptively easy reading that dishes out heavy stuff to digest.  I consider the return on my investment of time to be quite substantial.  As equal parts history lesson, autobiography, and commentary on the dark side of human nature and existence, this little powerhouse packs quite an unexpected wallop.  Marjane’s voice is so authentic and original.  I laughed out loud, became so angry I wanted to throw the book across the room, and cried. That’s covering a lot of ground in an hour, don’t you think?  I couldn’t help rooting for this smart, funny, and slightly rebellious girl as she struggles to remain true to herself among the restrictions, turmoil, and terror of Iran’s religion-infused and deadly political power struggle.

Some quotes about the book from sources who hold more sway than I do:

A brilliant and unusual graphic novel.  ~ Vogue

Prescient…Unexpected…Totally unique and utterly fascinating.  ~Time

One of the freshest and most original memoirs of our day.  [Satrapi's] is a voice calling out to the rest of us, reminding us to embrace this fervent child’s desire that human dignity reign supreme.   ~Los Angeles Times

Persepolis is one of the most unusual coming of age stories I have ever read.  I highly, highly recommend it.   5/5 stars.

By the way, I think the point of this Eclectic Reader Challenge is to expose participants to the charms of genres we would normally overlook.  Graphic novels would be that kind of genre for me.  Since reading Persepolis, however, I’ve discovered two more graphic novels that I’m confident I would enjoy.  I’ll let you know what I think when I get around to reading them.  (I’ve read both of the original books already.)  They are:

  • Madeleine L’Engle’s A Wrinkle in Time: The Graphic Novel adapted and illustrated by Hope Larson
  • Miss Peregrine’s School for Peculiar Children: The Graphic Novel by Ransom Riggs

My progress in The Eclectic Reader Challenge:

  • Award Winning
  • True Crime (Non Fiction)
  • Romantic Comedy
  • Alternate History Fiction
  • Graphic Novel – Persepolis - by Marjane Satrapi  5/5 stars
  • Cosy Mystery Fiction
  • Gothic Fiction
  • War/Military Fiction
  • Anthology
  • Medical Thriller Fiction
  • Travel (Non Fiction)
  • Published in 2014
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