Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Nearly 100 Years Ago

There’s nothing better than a good read and, for me, it's more so if the story is about actual events. Yet, some non-fiction books can be boring or difficult to get through. (I've read my share of these.)

Not so when reading a book by Erik Larson, a nonfiction author known for authoring novels dealing with historical events. His recent bestselling novels include: Issac’s Storm, In the Garden of Beasts, Thunderstruck, The Devil in the White City.

Dead Wake: The Last Crossing of the Lusitania, released March 10, is a fascinating and engrossing read, currently topping the best seller lists. (Luckily, I read about its pending release before it arrived at the public library, and as able to check out a copy within a week.)

On May 1, 1915, the British Cunard liner, RMS Lusitania sailed on its 101st eastbound crossing from New York to Liverpool, England, carrying a record number of children and infants (including 128 Americans). The liner sailed even though Germany had declared the seas around Britain to be a war zone.

As we know, Lusitania never reached its destination. After six days and 11 miles off the Irish coast, the 787-ft liner was struck by a single torpedo from the U-20 German submarine and sank in 18 minutes. In one of history's most catastrophic maritime disaster  over half the passengers and crew on board died—1,198 out of 1,962.

(Three years earlier, the White Star liner, the 882-ft Titanic, sank in 160 minutes claiming 1,523 out of 2,228 passengers earlier.)

The U-20 captain, Walther Schwieger, learned that the Lusitania had no naval escort and, following the German government’s new policy of unrestricted warfare, fired a single torpedo (not two as reported in some news accounts) into the Lusitania’s hull. Soon afterwards, a second explosion rumbled from inside the liner; she quickly listed to starboard, preventing many lifeboats from being launched.

Controversy has long surrounded the Lusitania's sinking. Larson provides no ready answers, yet discusses many of these issues, including:
  • Why had the British Admiralty which in wartime had control over Cunard liners failed to provide a military escort in the Irish channel, despite knowing that deciphered codes, of U-boat activity in the area?
  • Did the Lusitania's Captain Will Turner, fail to follow Admiralty precautions, notably its advocacy to zig-zag as a submarine-eluding maneuver?
  • What caused the devastating second explosion, observed by passengers and crew and by the U-20 captain through his periscope?
  • Did the ship have war munitions on board as widely rumored?
  • Why was a British cruiser sent to rescue the Lusitania’s victims suddenly called back to port?
  • Why did Winston Churchill, first lord of the Admiralty, leave for France before the sinking — did he know anything?
Larson is not the only author to write about the Lusitania. Other books include: Lusitania: Saga and Myth (2001) by David Ramsay. Diana Preston, authored Lusitania: An Epic Tragedy (2002), which was recently released as an e-book and re-titled Voices of the Lusitania

For myself (and others) curious to know more about the Lusitania, there's the online, The Lusitania Resource, with information on the ship, its passengers, crew and more.

Did I enjoy this book and would I recommend it — a resounding YES. Dead Wake has already been optioned as a film, just like Titanic. But, as most people know, the book is always better than the movie. For example, the 1955 nonfiction, A Night to Remember, by Walter Lord is considered a definitive resource about the Titanic

FYI , today, marks the 103rd anniversary of the RMS Titanic sinking.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Friday Funnies

Now we know the holidays are rushed more and more each year. One hardly ends and stores have "stuff" for the next celebration. Easter candy was still out when I spotted these in a "dollar" type store last weekend. but July 4th seems a bit too early.

Doesn't it seem just a bit way too early planning for July 4th? We had snow flurries in New England this week!

No kidding.

OK, I'm not sure if these were meant for Memorial Day holiday at the end of May, but they sure looked like 4th of July decorations. 

After all, Christmas in July is getting closer than you think; it's here in under 258 days according to this countdown.

Eggs-cellent Easter

Thanks for all your Easter wishes and we hope your holiday was celebrated with family, friends or both. Our Easter road trip included a RI visit with grandson Bobby, granddaughter Ellie and mom, Shannon. Coloring eggs is a family tradition.

Also at Easter, we celebrated several April birthdays with family members in CT. Bobby and Ellie joined their young cousins in helping to blow out candles

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Easter Greetings

Wishing everyone a joyous celebration . . .
(Dorothy & Patrick aka Beatrice & Grenville)

Friday, April 3, 2015

Grand Time

The grandkids recently attended a performance by the world-famous Harlem globetrotters (lucky kids). We were not at the show, but their mom, Shannon, shared a few photos. 

Bobby happily shows off his basketball.
Ellie posed with her mom and brother. Smiling faces all around. 
We will be seeing all of them on Easter weekend and looking forward to the visit!

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Showing the Green

The Mystic (CT) Irish Parade is a major event in this small New England village. It was a first time attendance for Grenville and myself as we joined other family members on a very chilly parade day.

This year's event was the 12th annual celebration with more than 90 different groups and organizations participating. It was a first time attendance for Grenville and I.

According to parade organizers, this event draws more pipe bands than any other state parade. There are also many fife and drum groups and several high school marching bands representing various CT cities.

Seating was first-come along the Mystic, CT sidewalks as the downtown was closed off a couple of hours in advance of the festivities. Many folks were colorfully attired.

The weather was clear and very chilly as participants kept the crowds entertained.
There was no shortage of colorful characters. 

"St Patrick" made at least two appearances; patriots and pirates marched as well.

Friday, March 27, 2015

Friday Funnies

Well connected — or wired well?

Enjoy your weekend, everyone
(Look for the fun side of life as there's usually one.)

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

PEM: A Salem Surprise

Whenever we visit a museum, there's usually one exhibit we go to see as on a recent trip to the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, MA where we viewed Audacious.

But there's a lot more to see in the PEM which dates to the 1799 founding of the East India Marine Society, an organization of Salem-based sea captains who had sailed beyond the Cape of Good Hope (Africa) or Cape Horn (South America). Their charter included a provision for the establishment of "a cabinet of natural and artificial curiosities" — in modern terms, a museum. 

It was surprising to learn that not only is the PEM one of the oldest continuously operating U.S. museums, but ranks among the top 20 art museums measured by gallery space and endowment. It holds over 840,000 works, one of the major U.S. collections of Asian art with total holdings of about 1.3 million pieces, 22 historic buildings, and two large libraries with over 400,000 manuscripts. 

The PEM combines the collections of the former Peabody Museum of Salem (which acquired the East India Marine Society's collection) and the Essex InstituteThe Peabody was named for its benefactor, philanthropist and entrepreneur, George Peabody, a Massachusetts native. In the late 1860s, the Essex Institute refined its mission to the collection and presentation of regional art, history and architecture and transferred its natural history and archaeology collections to the East India Marine Society's descendant organization, the Peabody Academy of Science. 

In the early 20th century, the Peabody Academy of Science was renamed the Peabody Museum of Salem and focused on international art and culture. The Essex and the Peabody museums merged in 1992 forming the current PEM.

The museum hosts special exhibits throughout the year. On our brief visit, we toured In Plain Sight which displayed furniture crafted by Salem's top 18th century cabinet maker, Nathaniel Gould, who died at age 47 in 1781. His built desks, bookcases, chests and tables from imported mahogany. The pieces have a distinctive style; Gould carved pinwheels and scalloped designs into them; many feature claw feet legs.

Other exhibit rooms have models of various sailing ships, including this 20-foot replica of the Queen Elizabeth, the second largest cruise ship constructed by the Cunard Line (exceeded only by the Queen Mary 2). According to an information card, this model was formerly housed in the main offices of the Cunard LineThe very detailed model fills most of an exhibit room which also has posters for various steamship lines.

We enjoyed our mid-week visit, which made for light crowds in the exhibit rooms. It's definitely worth a return trip to a city infamously known for the 1692 witch trials.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

What the %&*#$ is this?????

This unknown object has been rumored to be just around the corner. Of course we are not sure which corner, or how far away it really is, since many of our corners are still obscured. We are hoping that our loyal readers will be able to ID this.


We have been diligently watching out our window for the first signs of Spring, and can report that the ice on the river has finally broken up. Fewer icebergs have been sighted floating East, AND the Mergansers are making their annual migration stopover.

The Boys are all hoping to "get lucky"

These folks are heading North to their summer breeding grounds, and boy are they excited. Except for the poor female in the middle of all those males!!!!!!

And although some people are proposing that winter is over just because today is March 21, and are proclaiming that we should be celebrating Alban Eiler, the view from our window indicates that this is a preposterous idea.........

Alpine vista across the river
Maybe celebrating with skiing or Alpine Yodeling would be better than dancing nekid under the full moon for this years celebration.

On a more serious note (probably a b flat), Beatrice and I hope you all have a wonderful

 "First Day Of SPRING"!!!!!


Spring UPDATE!!!!!!

So what is this?????? It is what is happening outside our window this morning. The background is the river and those pesky white flakey things are ........... You Guessed It
First official day of spring and we have SNOW!!!!!

Might be a little hard to see but that is NOT FOG outside our window.... No sireeee it is 

BUT the forecast says it will end this afternoon and we should be less that one inch. 

Trying to put a good spin on this snowy morning, i have to say ..... 

This little dusting (New Englandese for less than 3 inches of accumulation) will put a nice cover coat on the piles of dirty SNOW that are found all over the place here. 

YES folks, that is SNOW behind me as of yesterday.... 
This morning it will have a nice white cover... just in time for SPRING??????

Grenville, Still looking for Spring....
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