Thursday, July 11, 2013

Vacation Pictures: Patricia, Edith, Leslie


By Patricia Winton

I’ve just returned from a visit to Florence, a city I know well. Some of the things I revisit from time to time are the more than a dozen murals of The Last Supper to be found there. The one above (top), by Andrea del Sarto, has been called the most beautiful painting in the world. Unlike in most others, including Leonardo da Vinci’s, here Judas sits at the right hand of Jesus instead of across the table.

As I continue to look at these murals, I’ve become obsessed with the tablecloths. In the del Sarto one, the cloth hangs in soft folds in a natural manner. Left (Mateo Rosselli) The cloth has been ironed with all the folds pointing out—an ironing impossibility. Center (Domenico Ghirlandaio—Ognisanti) Elaborate embroidery graces both ends of the tablecloth. Right (Andrea del Castagno) Here the slightly patterned tablecloth hangs rigid and narrow with no folds or pleats and provides an ample view of the diners’ feet.

My current work in progress gives a nod to The Last Suppers of Florence. You can keep up with my progress on my website or on my blog at Italian Intrigues

Ralighvallen, Central Suriname Nature Reserve

By Edith McClintock

It is the setting I loved most in my first mystery—the rainforest, the wildlife, and a place called Raleighvallen (Raleigh Falls) in the Central Suriname Nature Reserve.

I think my protagonist, Emma, expresses it best:

“Even with all the frustrations, I fell completely and irretrievably in love with the rainforest that week — the deep rich smells of dirt and decay and teeming, thriving life; the warm soft light of the rocky moss-covered paths hidden beneath layers of climbing and tumbling lianas and roots; soaring tree trunks wrapped in colorful bromeliads, orchids, moss, and lichens; and the canopy of leaves of every conceivable size and shape. Each day was a new adventure, new wildlife (some good, some terrifying) and ever changing forest, from the sunlit traveling palm groves to the dense, swampy marshes near the river; to the rocky, open forests with the towering trees the spider monkeys loved.” —Monkey Love and Murder 

Living in Raleighvallen was hot, itchy, and scary, but also spectacularly beautiful. Something I’m grateful to have experienced. You can experience it too, minus the mosquitos and deadly snakes. Pick up Monkey Love and Murder and enjoy a rainforest adventure from your couch. 

You can also follow my future travels on my blog A Wandering Tale or visit my author website. 

National Parks

By Leslie Hsu Oh 

Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve
I grew up rafting, hiking, spelunking, and riding on horseback through nearly all the national parks in the United States and Canada. On the forgiving banks of Lake McDonald in Glacier, I mourned the death of my mother and brother a few days after I turned 21. At the foot of Denali, beneath the gentle fall of snow, my husband got down on one knee and proposed. 

When my mother died, she asked my father to take me to Alaska and finish visiting all the parks. My father never made it to Alaska but my husband tried his best to complete her wish. While he drove me to Kenai Fjords and Denali many times in the seven years that we lived in Alaska, the other parks were much more difficult to visit due to logistics and finances. A few months before we had to leave Alaska, we captured this shot of the four of us, outfitted in crampons (including the two-year-old), traversing a crevice in Wrangell-St. Elias. I hang this photo in my living room because it encourages me to pursue my dreams no matter how hard it might seem and how many people tell you it’s impossible.

Whenever I feel overwhelmed by my life, like I’m being blown off course or things aren’t going my way, I find strength from the photograph of my daughter in Canyonlands. For my 40th, my dear friend Keilah Frickson, found matching bracelets, each with an aphorism that spoke to us at the moment. This photo reminds me of mine: “Storms just make you stronger.” Stay tuned at
Canyonlands National Park


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