Downtown New Albany, Indiana

These are some photos of downtown New Albany that I took a couple of summers ago. Black and White, mostly buildings and street scenes. As you can see, I’ve modified some of them for my header images.

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    An old tree along the street

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    The tower bells from Holy Trinity Catholic Church, destroyed by fire in 1975

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    A view of the site of Holy Trinity Church, destroyed by fire in 1975.

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    Another view of the site of Holy Trinity Church, destroyed by fire in 1975.

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    A house on Market Street

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    The Sanctuary of Eternal Truth. It's been extensively renovated since I took this picture.

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    The tower facade of St. Paul's Episcopal Church

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    A view of the side of St. Paul's Episcopal Church.

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    The front entrance to St. Paul's Episcopal Church.

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    Another view of St. Paul's Episcopal Church, from the south.

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    Stone wall and flowers.

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    A view of the Culbertson Mansion state historic site.

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    A brick sidewalk downtown.

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    Another house downtown.

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    Sunflowers in a downtown garden.

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    Just a cat.

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    Glass brick wall.

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    The old state bank on Main Street.

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    Main Street storefronts.

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    Just an attractive building on Main Street. No longer exists.

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    The Old Odd Fellows building downtown.

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    View of State Street towards the river.

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    New Albany-Floyd County Public Library featuring Barney Bright's statue, "The Search."

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ebookfling.com

Do you like ebooks? Do you have a Kindle or a Nook? If so, you probably need to know about ebookfling.com. You may already know that you can lend most books in your collection. How often and for how long is up to the publisher, of course, but it’s generally one time for 14 days. ebookfling.com makes it easy to loan books to people everywhere.  You sign up, list your books, and people can browse and select books they’d like to borrow. The site automates the lending process for you and keeps track of which books have been loaned and can’t be loaned again.

There are a few problems. I’ve occasionally had requests for books that Amazon tells me have already been loaned, so apparently the tracking on the ebookfling site isn’t perfect. Also, since requests stay active until they’re either filled or cancelled by the requester, I’ve got a huge portion of my collection on the site that just keep getting forwarded from one request to another. Apparently, a lot of people aren’t actively using the site anymore. It would be nice if the site administrators would build in some way to mark users as inactive so that their requests are removed from the queue. In spite of these problems, though, it’s a good site and I recommend it to anyone looking to expand their sources for ebooks.

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Review: Sworn to Silence by Linda Castillo

Sworn to Silence - coverSworn to Silence is the first book in Linda Castillo‘s Amish Thriller series. It features Kate Burkholder, Chief of Police of the small Ohio Amish Country town of Painter’s Mill. I’ll admit I had started this book with pretty low expectations. I had tried unsuccessfully to read another Amish-themed mystery about a year ago. It didn’t help that the reviews for this book that I read on Amazon weren’t encouraging, either. In fact, some of them were quite brutal. If I hadn’t needed to read the book for an upcoming book club meeting, I likely wouldn’t have bothered. That would have been a shame, because it would mean I had missed one of the best contemporary mysteries I’ve read in some time.

Castillo is a very good writer, and she clearly knows her stuff. Whether it’s modern-day police procedures or life among the Amish, she has a depth of knowledge that I found refreshingly unexpected. Her portrayal of Amish life is particularly well done, showing the complexity behind the stereotypical simplicity. Castillo manages to be both sympathetic toward and realistic about the Plain people, thus avoiding the idolization I’ve seen in some other authors. This was one of the characteristics that drew me to the book.

As for the story itself, I simply couldn’t put it down. The two main characters, Burkholder and BCI field agent John Tomasetti, have both been badly damaged by events in their lives and so are always on the edge of despair. Nevertheless, they remain likable characters. We want them to succeed at their task, as well as in their lives. And what a task they’ve got! A series of horrific (and I don’t use that word lightly) murders are happening in this small country town that exactly mimic murders from 16 years previously. Is it a copycat or the same killer? If a copycat, then how does the killer know details of the killings that were never made public? If the same killer, then why the 16 year break between murders? The investigation is confusing, and is further complicated by local politics and long-held secrets from Burkholder’s past. The author puts a great amount of detail into telling the story of both the investigation and the murders. Sometimes a truly disturbing amount of detail. Much of the book reads less like fiction and more like true crime reporting. After finishing the book you’ll want a long, hot shower to try to wash yourself clean. But you’ll want to put Linda Castillo on your list of must-read authors, too. I know I have.

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I’m Currently Reading…

Like most book lovers, I’ve always got more than one book going at a time. Right now, I’m working on one audiobook, one eBook, and two traditional books. Here’s what I’m currently reading:

Audiobook

Geography of BlissRight now, I’m finishing up The Geography of Bliss: One Grump’s Search for the Happiest Places in the World, written and read by Eric Weiner. I need to have this done for a book group tomorrow evening, so it’s my primary focus right now. I have to say, I love this book. Weiner, an NPR correpsondent, decided to see what makes a place “happy.” Or, in the case of Moldova, unhappy. He visited a number of places and talked to people to see how happy they are. I’ve still got two chapters to go, but so far we’ve been to the Netherlands, Switzerland, Bhutan, Qatar, Moldova (not a happy place), Iceland, Thailand, and Great Britain. Part travel book, part social sciences, this is one of the better audiobooks I’ve listened to recently. My only complaint is that the author (who is also the reader) has a couple of idiosyncratic pronunciations. That’s something I cann overlook. If you haven’t read this book, please do. You’ll enjoy it.

eBook

Earth MagicI just recently started reading Earth Magic by Marion Weinstein. This is the revised edition of a book I read over twenty years ago. Weinstein, who died a few years ago, was a self-professed witch. Earth Magic was the second of her two books discussing what she called positive magic. Positive magic seems to be a kind of combination paganism and New Thought. It makes for very interesting reading, especially if you’re interested in either paganism or New Thought, as I am. This is my first time reading the revised edition, but it seems to have more information than the original. I’m looking forward to reading more of it.

Books

Sideways on a ScooterThe first of the two traditional books I’m reading is Sideways on a Scooter: Life and Love in India by Miranda Kennedy. The story of the author’s time spent living in India, it’s part travelogue, part social commentary, and part memoir. Kennedy is a good writer (another NPR correpsondent), with a good eye for the details of life and society in a very different culture. I particularly like the way she describes her upbringing by two peripatetic souls from the Sixties. As you can probably tell, I like this type of book (travel, commentary, memoir) very much. Probably because I’ve always wanted to travel myself.

Two For the DoughThe second book is Two for the Dough by Janet Evanovich. I enjoy mysteries, but I’ve never read any of the wildly popular Stephanie Plum series except for the relatively short Visions of Sugar Plums. I finally decided it was time to read some of them. They are good, if a little chick lit. Whether or not I’ll finish the entire series, I don’t know. I believe I will, but it may take me some time — I’ve got so many other books on my list

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Free Audiobooks

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If you like audiobooks, and I know lots of people do, then Random House Audio has an offer for you.

To promote their Car Share Program, they’re offering 5 free audio downloads. All you have to do is sign up for their monthly newsletter on the website, and they’ll email you a link to the downloads. Pretty easy. You don’t get really weird titles, either.

  • The Geometry of Sisters by Luanne Rice (10 hours 48 minutes)
  • The Alibi Man by Tami Hoag (6 hours 2 minutes)
  • “Percy Jackson and the Sword of Hades” from The Demigod Files by Rick Riordan (1 hour 17 minutes)
  • “Including One Called Hell” from Fraud by David Rakoff (35 minutes), and
  • “Mercy Watson to the Rescue” from The Mercy Watson Collection, Volume 1 by Kate DiCamillo (20 minutes).

Not bad for a little time. Thanks, Random House!

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Bill Bryson Reminds Me …

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I’m reading Bill Bryson’s The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid in preparation for next month’s book discussion. Although I’m about seven or eight years younger than Bryson, his memoir of growing up in Iowa in the fifties is bringing back some memories for me. It really was a much simpler time: less crowded, less technologically advanced, and stupid people were allowed to do stupid things all the time.

One thing I’ve remembered: It was the late 60’s or early 70’s. We were burning trash in an open fire in the back yard (yes, it was still legal, even then). My brother (although he’s not stupid – anything but!) heard a ticking sound, and went to see what it was. Turned out it was an aerosol can someone had pitched in the trash. Well, needless to say, the can exploded just about the time he got there. He had the extremely good sense to drop and roll, which is more than I would have done.

So, did anyone learn anything from this experience? Well, my parents learned not to put aerosol cans in trash you’re going to burn. I think my brother learned not to get too close to an open trash fire, because you never know what’s going to happen. Me? I learned that you don’t wear shirts made of synthetic fabric.

Like Bryson’s stories, this one ended well, with no lasting harm to anyone involved. If you haven’t read his book, you really should. And if you can come to our book discussion, we’ll be very glad to have you.

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Today’s book discussion, and memories of past times

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Well, we had our book discussion of The Tender Bar by J.R. Moehringer today. It went quite well. Lots of discussion, very lively. There were myself and ten or eleven women present. I did learn one thing today: Even when men and women are reading the same book, they’re not reading the same book. I enjoyed The Tender Bar very much, which surprised me. I don’t usually like memoirs.

It did bring back memories of when I was living in Florida. Alcohol was never a part of my family life, but when I went to Florida, I also started drinking a little. Later, I started going out after work every night with my boss. He was going through a really bad time with his wife, and we’d get totally messed up. For some reason, the bars we went to were never like Dickens/Publicans. Maybe a regional difference? After a while, I decided that wasn’t something I wanted to do, so I just stopped. Since then, I hardly ever drink alcohol.

Sometimes I miss those days.

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The Tender Bar

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(Crossposted from Book Talking)

On March 17th at noon, we’ll be discussing The Tender Bar by Pulitzer Prize-winning writer J.R. Moehringer. The Tender Bar is the author’s memoir of growing up in a household of mostly women with an absent father. He tells about his search for a father in his life, and how the men of the neighborhood bar become surrogate fathers.

“The Tender Bar is a beautiful, gravelly love letter to [an] amorphous father, a melancholy romance between a boy and a corner saloon that’s as smoky and heart-crackling as a Sinatra 78.” – The New York Times Book Review

This best-selling and award-winning book is a fascinating, highly entertaining look at growing up with a big piece of your life missing. Come join us at noon on the 17th to learn more.

We meet at the New Albany-Floyd County Public Library.

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