Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Wordless Wednesday

Roxana Saberi


Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Teaser Tuesday

OK, here are the rules. Pick up your current read. Open to a random page (just let the book fall open to any page). On that page, between lines 7 and 12, pick two sentences. Share the sentences with the rest of us (avoid "spoilers"). Finally, tell us the name and author of the book.

My "teaser" is:

"He borrowed twenty thousand dollars from the bank to buy his diesel engine, clutch, shaft, and propeller, going heavy-duty on everything. His life was a blur of work, but also immensely pleasurable."

"The Good Pirates of the Forgotten Bayous" by Ken Wells.

This is a book about shrimp and oyster fishermen who lived through and helped others survive Hurricane Katrina. I am on page 33 and enjoying the book very much.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Wordless Wednesday With Words

This amazing picture of Racetrack Valley, near Death Valley, was taken by Dan Duriscoe, who is the physical scientist for the National Park Service's Night Sky Team. Sent to me by a friend, he noted the bright center of our galaxy in the night sky.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Magical Muse

I picked up a book that had been sitting around in C's "unread" pile. After a few pages, I realized this might be a good one. After a few more pages, I realized it might provide some deep background for the book I am writing. I grabbed my "main" reference book to follow along and am happily back into the creative process.

My Muse...she leads, I follow.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Royal Anne


Our poor old Royal Anne cherry tree is putting on quite a show this year. Today was the warmest day we have had since spring really got going and the blooms were very happy to see it! This tree is really two trees. The original tree is a "wild" cherry with little dark fruits hardly bigger than the pit. My aunt grafted the Royal Anne to it, probably 25 years or more ago. The Royal Anne is losing the battle for dominance though. Every year the wild cherry gains a few feet of canopy over the Royal Anne. We need a tree surgeon...but for now, it is all glorious!

Trouble With Comments

Several readers have said they are unable to get the comment feature on this blog to work. I have checked the settings within Blogger and it appears I have an "open" comment system in place. Some readers can use comments and some cannot. The trouble, I fear, may have to do with browser settings on my side (Firefox) combined with settings on other computers.

Rather than try to problem-solve every situation, I will just ask for your patience. Please bear with me. My computer-genius son has promised to sit down with me to revamp my blog and move it to Wordpress. Hopefully commenting will be more user friendly in Wordpress.


Every time I set out to post a blog entry or look for comments, I see the introduction at the top of my home page. "An ongoing conversation with myself and others about a book I am writing..." and I feel an immediate thud in my stomach. "A book I am writing" should more aptly be "A book I started but pay scant attention to nowadays". There are many excuses. One of these is that I love to read books. So, the latest "diversion" is a tidy little mystery from Poisoned Pen Press, "The Coffin Trail" by Martin Edwards.

I read about this mystery on my favorite book blog, "Books Please". I looked for it in several used bookshops but no luck. A quick search on netted a used copy in good condition. So, earlier this week I took a little imaginary trip to England's Lakes District in an effort to slay the "blue mood" dragon (the bane of my existence, I am sorry to say).

From the back cover:

"When author/professor Daniel and journalist Miranda decide to abandon their hectic big-city lives for bucolic bliss at Tarn Cottage in England's Lakes District, they come under the spell of an old murder. Unbeknownst to Miranda, the alleged perpetrator of a bizarre, bloody killing involving the nearby Sacrifice Stone lived in said Tarn Cottage and was Daniel's friend.

Soon Daniel's helping the Cold Case Squad's Hannah Scarlett, who worked with Daniel's recently deceased estranged dad on the original case. With its twisty plot, atmospheric setting, and typical English-village characters, this new series from British crime novelist Edwards will appeal to Peter Robinson and Reginald Hill devotees."

So you see, we have the academic playing amateur detective with personal connections to the suspected murderer and to the investigating officer, all in a storybook setting. Perfect diversionary material! I was on to the murderer about halfway through the book but totally missed the motive. Actually, I think it was just a lucky guess on my part because the reason behind the murder and how it all played out was quite unexpected. I will definitely look for more books in this series and for Peter Robinson and Reginald Hill mysteries too.

A note about Poisoned Pen Press (I love the name!)...founded in 1996 by Barbara Peters, owner of The Poisoned Pen a Mystery Bookstore and More in Scottsdale, Arizona, this publishing house is dedicated, according to their website, to "making available books, whether originals or reprints for today's mystery audience." Peters started Poisoned Pen Press as a response to consolidations in the publishing industry that, in her view, "represented a threat to cultural diversity and to the survival of the independent bookstore--ultimately becoming a subtle form of censorship. Besides, she wants to sell books she likes."

Good for her! If you are a mystery fan, you have probably already run across Poisoned Pen Press. If not, be on the lookout, I know I will.

So, another happy diversion. Perhaps, at this stage in life, I should not think of these as "diversions", but as "doing what I like". Is "writing the book" what I like? Good question.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Boring Week

Not much going on here except work and plumbing problems. For now, the plumbing issues are over (thank the gods). Neither subject inspires so not in a blogging mood. Maybe the warm weather this weekend will snap me out of the doldrums.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

An Insult to Spring

Proof that April is the cruelest month. Awoke this morning to snow. Good grief.

Monday, April 13, 2009

April Poem

April is the cruelest month, breeding
Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing
Memory and desire, stirring
Dull roots with spring rain.

--T.S. Eliot

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Easter Weekend

Lovely views of the beach in Bandon, Oregon. Above is "Face Rock", named such for obvious reasons...

We met some new members of the family this weekend too. :)

Fantastic trip down in our new (used) car. We're thinking of naming her "Jacqueline" since she is quite the elegant lady. Good visit with extended family. My face is still sore from smiling for hours on end. Life is good.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Easter Bunny Fun

We're off to the southern Oregon coast to visit family for Easter. Good quality time with our little Ducky and all of her assorted relatives. Many thanks to our host and hostess, in advance.


OK, I'm feeling a bit crabby tonight...a long week at work...TGIF, and all that. My "daily literary quote" on Google Home Page is from Norman Mailer. Here is what he says:

"Writing books is the closest men ever come to childbearing."

Give me a break. I think Carol Burnett's definition of a man giving birth is more apt. Paraphrasing:

"Imagine pushing a watermelon out of your butt".

Norman Mailer, all due respect to the dead...YOU DID NOT HAVE A CLUE.

My rant is now over.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

It's Tuesday...Where Are You?

I am almost in Sardinia. I say "almost" because I am still slogging through the INTRODUCTION. Immensely helpful in theory, INTRODUCTIONS, especially if the author is an icon, as is D.H. Lawrence, can be tedious, overlong, insightful only if you have already READ the book, and frustrating due to the aforementioned. Nearly finished, I have given up the temptation to skip ahead to the actual book. By tomorrow, I should be in Sardinia.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Spring Cleaning, Seed Planting

Very tired tonight, but it is good tired. As usual, I embarked on two big jobs at once.

First, this morning while it was still chilly out, I started a deep clean in my study. There is so much dust, my poor books. I barely got started but at least it is a start!

This afternoon, I planted seeds in the new raised bed garden. Bed #1 now has chard, Nero Di Toscana cabbage, spinach, broccoli (two kinds), and radishes. "Ced" will put together a frame for floating row cover over this bed. Bed #2 has garlic, planted last October. Garlic suffered much frost damage at the tips this winter, but in the last two weeks has added new growth. The bed needs to be cultivated to loosen the soil. Winter rains really packed it down. There is a mossy green sheen to the soil too, so it needs some ventilation. Bed #3 will get some scallions, more radishes, shallots, carrots a little later, but will mostly have assorted tomatoes at the end of May. Ced will start the warm weather veggies in our little mini greenhouse later this week. Nights are still pretty cool so we will see how this goes. We're planning to fill the garlic bed with peppers after July 4. Potatoes could have gone in a little sooner, but will get the first of three wine barrels full planted Wednesday. The flat ground garden area needs to dry out a bit more before tilling in a few buckets of compost and a bit of lime. Beans, squash, cucumbers there the end of May. The herb bed is ready for planting. True marjoram, French thyme, reseeded Italian parsley, and chives are perking along as they do year after year. I love herbs. Leeks and chervil go in this week. I am looking around for a dwarf culinary sage. Will plant ornamental pineapple sage, an African blue basil, "regular" basil, and cilantro later. Will be nice to have herbs in the herb beds again instead of vegetables. Asparagus tips are showing up on schedule. Slugs chewed the first two but a dose of Sluggo will hopefully keep them at bay. Front flower beds...another day, maybe.

My poor recliner-bound body is feeling today's physical activity. But, it does feel good to know I am tired because I was up and about for a change. Back feels pretty good considering...those high raised beds and my little "bench" really help!

Thank you so much, Ced...

Sunday, April 5, 2009

The Knowledge

In another life, I would be a London cab driver. Always an Anglophile, I went over the edge in 1997, in London. My sister and I were heading to Gatwick to catch a plane to Marseille. The night before our departure, we made arrangements with the hotel desk clerk (an interesting Russian woman who disparaged our complaints about the lack of hot water as "oh, you Americans, you expect instant hot water...this is an old building, it takes time") for an early morning cab to take us to Victoria Station for the train to Gatwick.

So, there we were, the next morning, bright and early, standing in front of our hotel on Norfolk Square, bags at our sides, waiting for our cab. Before long, a cab pulls up, the driver hops out and begins to load our luggage into the trunk. I should say here that the driver was of middle Eastern heritage, and the cab was not a traditional "black cab", which we did not think much the time. We ask him a about the cost of going to Gatwick by cab (too expensive) and generally hang about as he is busily piling our bags into the trunk. About the time he was finishing up, and we were getting into the back of the cab, a traditional black cab pulled up and yelled my last name as a question. I told him "yes" and he started haranguing the other cab driver and telling us he was our driver and this guy was an illegitimate cabbie, unlicensed, an opportunist, and we would be wise to get out and send him on his way. My sister and I, wide-eyed and a bit flustered, got out, asked for our luggage to be removed, and headed for the black cab.

Once safely ensconced in the black cab, and on our way, the driver began giving us what, in retrospect, was a lecture. Here is my best recollection:

"A licensed London cabbie has to pass a number of tests to qualify for a license. To pass these tests, the driver must have an encyclopedic knowledge of London's streets, alleyways, lanes, and bypasses. I spent two years driving around London on a motorbike to learn every street name and landmark. I sectioned the city off into grids and concentrated on one grid at a time. All the while, I was working a regular day job and had family responsibilities. The information required to pass these tests is called "The Knowledge" and it is no mean feat to learn it all. This is why I get very upset when innocent tourists are lured into unlicensed cabs. These cab drivers do not know the city, are uninsured, and they charge exorbitant fares. In general, to be safe, always take a 'black cab'." Or some such...

After that, I became quite fascinated with the geography of London. I bought a London street atlas and keep it by my side when reading anything set in London. Every street name is looked up and located on the various maps. When reading the Pepys Diaries, I trace Sam's movements using the atlas. This has become kind of an obsession.

So, as I said, "in another life"...

Wednesday, April 1, 2009