Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Rock the Boat, Baby

The free online dictionary defines "wake" as follows: "The visible track of turbulence left by something moving through water."

And near our anchorage and close to all marinas, there is a sign like the one to your left. It's common courtesy not to fly by certain areas or near boats on the waterway at maximum speed causing turbulence and a general discomfort to others.

Eric and I get waked all of the time and actually enjoy it. A little rocking at night can be soothing while asleep and an occasional heavy hit can be fun. This morning, however, Clementine was rocked like never before. Things were falling off the shelves. We were getting slammed from side to side and it didn't stop for quite some time. I managed to save my laptop and remain standing. Eric got by with a small cut when he was thrown face first into a bronze portal. He may even have a black eye. A little taste of the ocean right in the middle of the Potomac River.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Farmer, Cowboy, Soldier, Spy

Everyone should write a book like this one. Farmer, Cowboy, Soldier, Spy is the story of Eric's Dad's youth and working life with a glimpse into his current retirement and winter trips to Mexico.

Born in America, Bob was raised in New York City and Sweden. He shows us what it's like to work on a farm in Marklunda and a ranch in Wyoming. His quest for knowledge and security eventually lead him to join the Army where he is finally recognized for his intellect. He sees the world, both on assignment and through extensive travel. He finds his soulmate and together, he and Ans, raise their six kids while establishing their careers.

I have spent hours and hours researching my family's history. In the end, through wills and other documentation, I can pull together a very slight idea who someone actually was. While a book like this one allows us to see our parents more clearly, the value it will have to our descendants is immeasurable.

Sunday, June 26, 2011


I like stone sculpture, in particular angels in grave yards and near churches. The photo on the left was taken near the Greek Orthodox Church of St. George in Coptic Cairo and the one on the right was taken this past weekend when Eric and I wandered around St. Mary's Catholic Cemetery in Old Town Alexandria (Virginia) on our way to the hardware store.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

The Shape Shifter (2006)

Joe Leaphorn is a coffee-drinking, doughnut-eating lieutenant of the Navajo Tribal Police. He is adjusting to retirement, the world of technology, and still feels the loss of his wife, Emma. When a tale teller rug, thought to be lost in a fire, appears intact on a rich man's wall, Leaphorn becomes interested in an old case, one of the first he worked on as a young man. His research uncovers events in Vietnam, CIA involvement, a few poison-filled cherries, and eventually comes back to two missing buckets of pinyon sap.

The Shape Shifter is a straightforward story. There's very little mystery in how all of the facts tie together and the culprit is known early, primarily because unlike in classic detective fiction, there's no pool of suspects to mask the killer's identity and keep the audience guessing.

What makes this book worth reading is the insight it provides into Navajo culture. The supernatural and mythological references build suspense. The differences between the Navajo people and the bilagaana (the white man) are thought provoking, and the story of the Long Walk, woven into the tale teller rug, led me to read more online.

Here's what I learned:

In 1864, the Navajo people were forced at gun point to walk 450 miles over the course of 18 days. They were dislocated from their home in the Arizona and New Mexico territories and resettled in Fort Sumner. Approximately 9,000 people were moved to an area sized 4o square miles. Their walk was one full of sorrow and tears. Finally, in 1868, the Navajo people were allowed to return to their homeland at which time they were given 3.5 million acres inside their four sacred mountains. This is one of the few times the Indian people were recompensed fairly.

The Shape Shifter, published in 2006, is author Tony Hillerman's last novel in the series. He died in 2008 after publishing 18 novels about the American Southwest.

Genre: Crime Fiction

Sub-category: Regional Mystery

Sub-category: Police Procedural

This is my interpretation of a "regional" mystery. While there are other authors whose books are categorized this way, there's very little discussion online about the traits that encompass them all.

  • Story takes place in a specific region or city and the site is more than just a setting in the novel. It is instructional about the society and its traditions in addition to providing ambiance.

  • The people and culture become an important part of the story, in some ways overshadowing the mystery itself.
The Shape Shifter can also be categorized as a Police Procedural, although a true example would probably include technical elements about how the crime is solved.

  • Police officers are central characters, men or women with ordinary abilities, whose "real" lives play a part of the story.

  • The story is told from the police point of view.

  • The criminal is often known or thinly disguised.
I will expand on this list after reading a more complex Police Procedural. If you have input, please post a comment or email.

Saturday, June 4, 2011


If you read my blog regularly you know that my family has an affection for cats. My sister - who was living in Egypt at the time of the revolution - was recently able to return and bring back Starlight, one of the street kitties she was feeding while living there. My mom has decided to adopt him! So now Cheezecake (aka Noot), Moo, and Starlight have all found forever homes in America. Don't you love his fuzzy black tail?

Friday, June 3, 2011

Back to Belle Haven

And then back to Belle Haven, where the air is healthy, the pace is easy, and the water is rolly, just the way we like it.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Titanic Memorial

My favorite day of the long weekend was Monday. Eric and I woke early, as we often do, and after a breakfast of cheese, bread, and fruit, took a stroll down to the Titanic Memorial. I'd discovered this site several years ago when I worked in the area and wanted to see it again. The 13-foot high granite statue is positioned along the waterfront and is surrounded by shady trees and old stone benches. Thank you, Eric, for indulging me. xxoo.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Maine Avenue Fish Market

Right next to the Capital Yacht Club is the famous Maine Avenue Fish Market, in operation since 1805. It's a busy smelly place and throngs of people stand up and eat generous portions of food and then leave piles of garbage behind them. Eric and I bought our dinner there Sunday night but took it back to the Yacht Club for a more civilized sit-down meal in air conditioning.

I'm glad to have gone to the Wharf, but it brings back memories of the one and only time I was on jury duty. This was a case where two of the workers had an altercation after putting in 12 or more hours a day for six days straight. Tempers flared, threats were made, and one of the two men - the one on trial - charged at the other with a gaff in hand and hit him on the head. While we wanted to find extenuating circumstances, there were none and the man was ultimately found guilty.

(A better place to eat if you are in the area is Jenny's Asian Fusion directly above the Capital Yacht Club. The food is fresh, light, and very satisfying.)