Science Museum (take 2) & Harrods #BriFri

British Isles Friday logoWelcome to British Isles Friday! British Isles Friday is a weekly event for sharing all things British — reviews, photos, opinions, trip reports, guides, links, resources, personal stories, interviews, and research posts. Join us each Friday to link your British-themed content and to see what others have to share. The link list is at the bottom of this post. Pour a cup of tea or lift a pint and join our link party!


After our very long day at the Crofton Pumping Station, we went for something easy — a second trip to the Science Museum of London. I was bored taking photos of steam engines, so I got this abstract art out of an old lamp from a lighthouse.

Lighthouse lamp
Colors, curves, and lines of a light from a lighthouse

From the Science Museum, I took a nice walk over to Harrods.

Harrods, London
Harrods, London

The Food Halls were my main destination and I brought back enough for most of our meals for two days!

Food Halls, Harrods
Haul from the Food Halls at Harrods




An Age of License & Displacement by Lucy Knisley #BookReview

Books: An Age of License and Displacement by Lucy Knisley
Genre: graphic travelogue
Publisher: Fantagraphics Books
Publication date: 2014 and 2015

Source: Library

An Age of License
Being 20-something in Europe

Summary: An Age of License and Displacement follow in the vein of Lucy Knisley’s other books, especially French Milk, that was about a trip to France that Lucy took with her mother. Her most popular book, Relish, was more broad than just one trip but had many of the same themes — food, travel, family, friends, and self-reflection through words and pictures.

An Age of License is about a trip through Europe where Lucy thinks about who she is and who she wants to be and gives herself permission, a license, to be a little confused about those things as a 20-something traveler.

Displacement is about a cruise Lucy takes with her grandparents. More than the usual things go wrong, but Lucy is able to find connection with her elders in spite of the barriers.

Thoughts: These two books about two trips, a summer jaunt in Europe followed, a few months later, by a winter cruise in the Caribbean, make terrific companion reads. Displacement even refers to the trip in An Age of License, comparing and contrasting their different themes.

My favorite moment in An Age of License was when the guy she likes wonders how she can she be so revealing in her work. She worries about freaking him out with the thought that he’ll appear in one of her books. At the same time, she knows that writing and drawing memoir is her way of processing the stuff of life. I’ve had similar thoughts about my blog and other personal writing. I wanted to share with her what helped me. I realized that the product is a different entity than the experience was. It’s crafted and molded and something that isn’t quite reality, even when it purports to describe a real event. That’s just enough of a step away to create the distance required to maintain a sense of privacy even when the event actually happened.

Displacement by Lucy Knisley
A Caribbean cruise with grandparents

Displacement had a special feature that really added some depth. Lucy quoted excerpts of her grandfather’s World War II memories, illustrating them in grays and browns and greens like old war photos.

Appeal: Travelers, especially, will enjoy these travelogues. The 20-something set will find an echo of their concerns and experiences. The rest of us can remember our own Age of License. Displacement has concerns about aging and dying that transcend the generation gaps.

Interview: Check out Lucy Knisley’s interview on Fresh Air from earlier this month about Displacement.

Have you read this book? What did you think?

Signature of Joy Weese Moll

Readers’ Workouts — April 21

Readers' workouts
banner designed by Isi

Welcome to Readers’ Workouts, the weekly event where book lovers share workout stories, goals, successes, and challenges.

I’m actually slightly ahead of my monthly goals. That hardly ever happens! But it’s not an excuse to get complacent….I still want 420 minutes, 7 days of 8000 steps or more, and 2 more strength-training workouts before the end of April.

What are your plans for the ten remaining days of the month?

For Readers’ Workouts, talk about your fitness activities on your blog (feel free to grab the logo) and link to your post below or join us in the comments! Be sure to visit the other participants to see how we all did.




Insurgent Departures #Sunday Salon

logo for The Sunday SalonGood morning!

Time: // 8:43

The scene: // Gray and drizzly. I planted seeds yesterday so a little rain (not too much) would be perfect today.

Listening to: // My Hope and Determination playlist on Spotify.

Insurgent by Veronica Roth
The middle book in this dystopian YA series

Reading: // I finally read Insurgent and Allegiant to finish out the trilogy by Veronica Roth. Divergent was my 2nd favorite recently-read book in May 2013. I was slow to get to the rest in part because some reviewers didn’t like Allegiant as much as the other two. I’ll add myself to that camp, so I’m glad I waited until the ebook price dropped to read these. Still, it’s an amazing world and I’m glad that I read the whole trilogy. Should I see the movies? Or, just let that world live on in my mind?

Watching: // We enjoyed Departures, a Japanese film about an unemployed cello player who takes a job in the funeral profession. It’s funny, tender, and charming — not bad for a movie about death.

Blogging about: // I shared what I learned from a Travel Photography workshop in the form of a SketchNote and comments on some of my England trip photos. In the slow recap of our England trip, I got to our favorite day of our whole trip — a visit to see a 200-year old steam engine in action, doing the job it was originally meant to do: Crofton Pumping Station.

Participating in// Well, it looks like I won’t be doing Dewey’s Read-a-Thon this month, but if you’re free on Saturday, check it out! What I really need right now is a Review-a-Thon — fortunately, that’s coming up this weekend, too! I might get one done on Saturday and a few more on Sunday.

What are you up to this fine Sunday?

Signature of Joy Weese Moll

On Travel Photography #SaturdaySnapshot #SketchNote

Travel Photo Sketch Note
Click for a larger, more readable, image

It’s been a while since I posted anything for Saturday Snapshot, hosted at West Metro Mommy Reads, but I thought that crowd would like to know what I learned at a photography workshop last weekend.

I put the bulk of my thoughts on a sketch note. I’m currently taking an on line course called The Verbal to Visual Classroom. I’ve got a lot to learn, but you can see that I’ve improved since the last time I posted a sketch note, a summary of The End of Overeating by David A. Kessler.

I’ll also post some photos from my last trip, to England, and what I learned from the travel photo workshop that will help me take more good photos on the next trip.

Color. The instructor, Stewart Halperin, liked this photo for the color. As he said, “Our job is to find color in the world — not in the computer.” In other words, the saturation adjustment is not the photographer’s best friend.

Pultney Bridge from the Parade Gardens
Pultney Bridge in Bath, England, from the Parade Gardens

Movement. We tend to take static subjects because they’re easier, but motion can make great photos. One of my fellow students in the workshop had a stunning photo of laundry on a line, blowing in a high wind across the plains. She used a fast shutter speed to freeze the movement at a dramatic moment. The other way to capture motion is to let what is moving blur. For this photo of a chain maker, I braced myself against a handy column and took lots of pictures so that I could choose one where the still parts are sharp and only the moving hand and tool are blurred.

making a chain link
Chain maker, working on a link. Black Country Living Museum.

Story. “Tell a story that was never meant to be told.” ~Stewart Halperin

Base of Nelson's Column
One of the four bronze panels at the base of Nelson’s Column, with a young couple

Beyond. I had a question when I went to the workshop that I didn’t have to ask because it came up while we were looking at the various photos that the students took. Most obviously, the issue arose when we confronted a photo of a mural. Is the artistry in the artwork? Or in the photo of the artwork? To make it more truly the photographer’s own, the trick is to wait until a soccer ball rolls by. Or, do what this photographer did and move in closer to turn a detail of the mural into a piece of abstract art.

This photo of the London Eye is powerful, but it borrows most of its power from the London Eye itself.

The London Eye
The London Eye dominates the landscape here.

This photo, also featuring the London Eye, expresses something about me and the way I see the world — with framing, layers, and light. Also, a waving flag (I like waving flags).

St. James's Park, London
The London Eye and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office from St. James’s Park.

That helped me understand why I didn’t love my photo of the Big Ben tower. I like it because it looks like a postcard. I don’t love it because it looks like a postcard. All the beauty is in the light on the tower and I’m not the first to capture that. As Stewart said, “Go beyond the innate beauty.”

Elizabeth Tower, that houses Big Ben, Palace of Westminster
The Palace of Westminster tower where Big Ben, the bell, is housed.

More tips. Here are a few other tips that I took from the workshop that I don’t want to forget to use myself:

  • “Shoot every day for two weeks before a trip because seeing is like a muscle.” ~Jeff Hirsch
  • Talk, in detail, about numbers — ISO, aperture, shutter speed — so they get planted in the brain.
  • “Don’t look at the back of your camera once you know it’s working.” ~Stewart Halperin

Are any of these ideas or tips on target for what you want to know about travel photography? What else have you learned about travel photography that might help me and other Saturday Snapshot participants take better photos on our next trips?

Crofton Pumping Station, Wiltshire #BriFri #Photos #Steam

British Isles Friday logoWelcome to British Isles Friday! British Isles Friday is a weekly event for sharing all things British — reviews, photos, opinions, trip reports, guides, links, resources, personal stories, interviews, and research posts. Join us each Friday to link your British-themed content and to see what others have to share. The link list is at the bottom of this post. Pour a cup of tea or lift a pint and join our link party!


Our biggest adventure of our England trip was to get ourselves out to the Crofton Pumping Station during the Annual Steam Gala, where we could see the 200-year-old steam engines still doing the work that they were installed to do. To get there, we took the Tube to Paddington Station, two trains to get to Great Bedwyn in Wiltshire, and a two mile (or more) walk along the Kennet and Avon Canal to reach the pumping station.

Canal with canal boats
Kennet and Avon Canal, Wiltshire, England
Crofton Pumping Station
Crofton Pumping Station with smoke from the stack indicating that a steam engine is running

The Crofton Pumping Station is at the highest point on the Kennet and Avon Canal which runs between London and Bristol. The problem with a hill for a canal is that you have to pump water to the top so that it can feed the locks on both sides. Before steam engines, canals had to be built around or through hills, an undertaking that might require years of blasting and digging. After steam engines, a canal could go right over the top of a hill. Two hundred years ago, two steam engines were installed at this station to pump water to the top and they still do that same job today!

Crofton Pumping Station
The view out a window of Crofton Pumping Station. The coal yard is to the left and the stream carrying water to the canal locks is on the right.
Beam of Boulton and Watts 1812 Steam Engine
On the top floor of the four stories that house the two steam engines. This is the beam of the 1812 Boulton and Watts engine.

Here’s a video of the Boulton and Watts engine in action:

 

 

And, here’s the point of it all — water gushing out at the top of the hill.

Crofton Pump, Wiltshire, England
The pumped water at the top of the hill at Crofton Pumping Station

One of the reasons we enjoyed this day so much was because we were so far off the beaten track for tourists. There were plenty of visitors, but they were British steam, history, and canal enthusiasts. Do you have fond memories of visiting sites that most tourists never see?



Mid-month Report #ReadersWorkouts

Readers' workouts
banner designed by Isi

Welcome to Readers’ Workouts, the weekly event where book lovers share workout stories, goals, successes, and challenges.

I’m on track to be at the mid-point of all my goals by the end of the day on Wednesday. I’ll get there if I manage 8000 steps and 40 minutes of exercise each of today and tomorrow. I’ll also need to get in a strength-training session tomorrow. Spring is making my exercise easier! I can manage a walk and / or some yard work every day.

How are you doing with your exercise goals in April?

For Readers’ Workouts, talk about your fitness activities on your blog (feel free to grab the logo) and link to your post below or join us in the comments! Be sure to visit the other participants to see how we all did.



Writer Interview #SundaySalon #wschat

logo for The Sunday SalonFor Sunday Salon this week, I’m participating in a blog hop hosted by Wordsmith Studio. It’s been three years since I joined with this wonderful group of writers during the April Platform Challenge in 2012. The group is celebrating with a blog hop this week, asking questions to get to know where we are as writers at this time.

Since this will be a text-intensive post. I’m throwing in a gratuitous goose photo that I took yesterday. I went to a travel photography workshop (more on that coming up on Saturday for Saturday Snapshot). After, I walked with another workshop participant and our cameras. This goose kept us entertained for quite a while.

Canada Goose
Canada Goose at Shaw Nature Reserve. Note how her left foot is tucked under her wing.

On to the questions from Wordsmith Studio:

1. Are you a WSSer (a member of Wordsmith)? If so, sound off about how long you’ve been a member, your favorite way to participate, or anything you’ve missed if you’ve been away. We’re not your mother/father… there will be no guilt about how long since your last call.

I’ve been there from the beginning. I blow hot and cold on my participation, but I enjoy the Facebook group and, occasionally, join the Tuesday night Twitter chats.

2. What medium do you work in? For our writing folks, are you currently working on fiction, poetry or nonfiction, or a combination? Anyone YA or mystery or thriller or…?

Blog posts! Also, memoir and fiction (the latter mostly in November for NaNoWriMo).

3. What’s the name of your current project (ok multitaskers, give us your main one)?

TRD. It’s too early to share more than the initials!

4. What is your favorite detail, sentence or other bit you’ve written lately?

Did anyone else like “gratuitous goose?” It made me smile.

5. Any obstacles or I-hate-this-chapter moments?

Allergies! I haven’t written a word on my project in three weeks. My motivation dries up and I spend my time doing anything that feels productive but isn’t writing. It’s been good for the Verbal to Visual on-line class that I’ve been taking, but not good at all for my writing. Come to think of it, I probably did so well on the April Platform Challenge in 2012 while avoiding work on this same project.

6. What’s the biggest thing you’ve learned lately from your writing?

It doesn’t get done if I don’t do it. Sigh.

7. In what ways do you hope to grow in the next 6 months/year?

It would be really great if I could invent a work pattern that doesn’t get disrupted by allergies, jet lag, or other sources of malaise. I keep inventing patterns that work — until they don’t.

8. In what ways do writing friends and communities help you do that?

Examples and models help!

9. What else should we have asked you, or what would you ask other writers?

How do you get yourself to write through the blah times?

Signature of Joy Weese Moll

Trafalgar Square on Sunday Morning #BriFri #Photos

British Isles Friday logoWelcome to British Isles Friday! British Isles Friday is a weekly event for sharing all things British — reviews, photos, opinions, trip reports, guides, links, resources, personal stories, interviews, and research posts. Join us each Friday to link your British-themed content and to see what others have to share. The link list is at the bottom of this post. Pour a cup of tea or lift a pint and join our link party!


Our final Sunday morning in England, I had one more opportunity to listen to English change-ringing. Even an amateur, like me, was able to tell the difference from Bath to Birmingham (St. Martin in the Bullring) to London. Each was better than the last, with crisper, faster sequences. The cities, obviously, draw from a larger pool of potential bell-ringers and can put on the flashier show. Bell-ringing, by its nature, though, is a joyous experience any place in Britain. If you want a sound track for this post, choose one of the BBC episodes of Bells on Sunday.

As I was taking these photos of Trafalgar Square, I listened to the bells of St. Martin-in-the-Fields.

St. Martin-in-the-Fields, London
Fountain in Trafalgar Square in front of the steeple of St. Martin-in-the-Fields
Lion in Trafalgar Square with St. Martin-in-the-Fields
Another view of St. Martin-in-the-Fields with one of four lions at the base of Nelson’s Column in Trafalgar Square
Base of Nelson's Column
One of the four bronze panels at the base of Nelson’s Column, with a young couple
Marching band
This military band marched past Nelson’s column while I was there.
The Fourth Plinth, Trafalgar Square
The Fourth Plinth on Trafalgar Square holds a temporary contemporary art piece (the other three plinths have conventional generals and kings). When I was there, the display was Hahn/Cock by Katharina Fritsch. A new sculpture was revealed just last month.

I was surprised how easily the bells were drowned out by modern noise pollution — with traffic, a jackhammer, and that marching band — the bells could only be heard a block or two away. Amazing to think that they used to call entire regions to church.

More photos from Trafalgar Square and the rest of our England trip on my Flickr photostream. I’m going to a travel photography workshop this weekend. The ten Trafalgar Square photos are among the ones that I sent in for review, so I’m interested to see what else I can learn from these.



April Showers #ReadersWorkouts

Readers' workouts
banner designed by Isi

Welcome to Readers’ Workouts, the weekly event where book lovers share workout stories, goals, successes, and challenges.

I got another long day of gardening in yesterday to get me a little ahead of the game on my exercise goals this month. That’s good because we’re expecting rain, on and off, for the rest of the week so I may be scrambling between storms to get in my steps and minutes.

How is April going for your exercise?



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