Monday, June 30, 2014

Kilt Monday!

'Cause let's face it,
Mondays can be so rough, hard, difficult.



Twenty-Five Years, and You're Still Here.


The words that echo in my mind today are not the immortal words of some classic love poem,
but the the simple words of a humble bear:




"If you live to be 100,
I hope I live to be 100 minus 1 day,
so I never have to live without you."

 - Winnie the Pooh


Happy Anniversary Sweety. It seems like only yesterday . . .

Sunday, June 29, 2014

BOOK REVIEWS. Sort Of.


In the Best Families (audiobook) - Rex Stout

"I'm the only woman in America who has necked with Nero Wolfe. Nightmare, my eye. He has a flair."

I knew who did it from the beginning. Well, I suspected but couldn't quite flesh out the chain of events.

But man, Wolfe does a whole lot more than leave his house this time.


The Overlook (audiobook) - Michael Connelly

"‘Let me tell you something, Jesse. My partner is good and he’s going places in the department. No doubt about that. But right now he’s a baby. He’s been a detective about as long as you’ve been growing that peach fuzz on your chin. Me, I’ve been around and that means I’ve been around a lot of liars. Sometimes I think all I know are liars. And, Jesse, I can tell. You’re lying to me and nobody lies to me.’"

Compared to the preceding novels in this series, this one was a bit stilted. It wasn't bad mind you, but it seemed to have distracting explanations that didn't really need to be there. Originally published as a serial and fixed up a bit, it was still a little clunky.

Harry rises to the occasion in his new job though, and continues to irritate the FBI. So how bad could it be?

If anybody is interested, the 'Lincoln Lawyer' makes an appearance in this one too.

The Brass Verdict (audiobook) - Michael Connelly

"There is nothing you can do about the past except keep it there."

This book is a departure for the Harry Bosch series. Bosch shares the spotlight (among other things) with the lawyer, Mickey Haller. (The Lincoln Lawyer)

Mickey Haller is Matthew Mcconaughey. Or would that be the other way around? Sometimes seeing a movie before you read a book can be a real drag.

Whose Body? (audiobook) - Dorothy L.Sayers

"Here am I, sweating my brains out to introduce a really sensational incident into your dull and disreputable little police investigation, and you refuse to show a single spark of enthusiasm."

A murder mystery with the flavor of P.G. Wodehouse's Jeeves series, finds a stubborn and unimaginative police Inspector bested by a privileged and entitled peer, Lord Peter Wimsey, in the quest for a solution to the mystery.

Also, much more talk and far less action than modern murder mysteries.

The Sins of the Father (audiobook) - Lawrence Block

"Cain said he wasn't Abel's keeper. Are those our only choices, keeper or killer?"

I think I can safely say that this novel brings into question the idea of redemption, and just who is and who isn't worthy.

It is a complex and compelling story, though definitely not light reading.


9 Dragons (audiobook) - Michael Connelly 

"He knew one day it would come to this, that the darkness would find her and that she would be used to get to him. That day was now."

Loss has been a defining feature of Harry Bosh's life. But then, so have persistence and determination, and new beginnings.




Black Irish (audiobook) - Stephan Talty

"They called South Buffalo the Twenty-­Seventh County, or the County for short, a patch of Ireland in the wilds of America. Blacks need not apply; strangers, be on your way; and faggot, can you outrun a bullet? Back in high school, her neighbors the Sheehans hadn’t even let that poor redheaded kid John Connell come on their porch to pick up their daughter Moira for the freshman dance. Not because he was Italian or German or, God forbid, Puerto Rican, not because he was too poor or addicted to alcohol or sexually suspect or pockmarked by acne. No. It turned out his family was from the wrong part of Ireland, Abbie’s friends patiently explained to her afterward."

Excellent first novel by Mr. Talty. However, like Dennis Lehane, (whose Kenzi & Gennaro series I just completed) somewhat dark and brutal.

Once again, not for those with weak constitutions.

Detective Inspector Huss (ebook) - Helene Tursten

"The sky was not blue, but a silvery white circle above the mountains dispersed a strong light that became a warm pink at the outer edges. It was not the sun and not the moon. It was the light."

If you could call a murder mystery calm and sedate, this would be the one - definitely in a different class than Connelly & Lehane. It was a nice change of pace.

Don't get me wrong. It has all the elements that usually make up a murder mystery.

The Universe Doesn't Give a Flying Fuck About You (ebook) - Johnny B. Truant

"That means that although what you do doesn't matter to the universe, it should matter one hell of a lot to YOU."

"What matters is what you do."

This small book started out as a blog post and, has some positive thoughts. The author, however, embraces a Randian philosophy.

Sorry. I find Ayn Rand's beliefs to be repugnant and, if carried to their logical conclusions, outright cruel.

Indemnity Only (ebook) - Sara Paretsky

"All mourning takes a long time, and you can't rush it along. "

A competent, independent woman forging her way in a man's world, and solving murders: noir, with a twist (and some likeable characters).





The Reversal (audiobook) - Michael Connelly

"Chambers!"

Family. What can I say?

(I think this qualifies as my shortest review, ever. It's probably my most accurate, too.)



Deadlock (ebook) - Sara Paretsky

"Women exist in a world of first names in business. Lois, Janet, Mr. Phillips. Mr. Warshawski. That's why I use my initials."

This is the second book in the series. Vic is a bit stubborn, and maybe she should be a little more forthcoming about the progress of her investigations.

It might lower her medical bills.


The Monkey's Raincoat (ebook) - Robert Crais

"Janet Simon said, "You look like John Cassavetes twenty years ago."
"Who do I look like now?"

This is the first time I've encountered someone in fiction who has the same sick sense of humor as myself.

I'm not sure if that is something to recommend.


Time to Murder and Create (audiobook) - Lawrence Block

"I rolled over and closed my eyes and thought about the phone call that hadn't come. I decided he hadn't forgotten and he wasn't drunk. The spinner was dead."

Scudder is just doing a favor for a friend, and once again scaring up a fair amount of trouble.



The Drop (audiobook) - Michael Connelly

"But sometimes you have to go the wrong way to find the right way."

A kinder, gentler Harry Bosch emerges as he comes closer to retirement, and he's certainly grown more introspective, but his core beliefs still stand.





The Black Box (audiobook) - Michael Connelly

"Little more than a day earlier, he believed the investigation was going nowhere, and that he would soon be repacking the archive boxes, and sending Anika Jesperson back to the warehouse of unsolved cases and forgotten victims. But now there was a spark. There were mysteries and irons in the fire. There were questions to be answered, and Bosch was still in the game."

Things have changed a lot for Harry over the years - but not really.


The Torso (ebook) - Helene Tursten

"When she returned to her office she sat for a long time and looked out at the summer twilight. Her window faced east so she couldn't see the sunset itself but she could watch the sun paint the clouds a violet-red against the dark sapphire blue sky,"

Not one to read with dinner (unless you like that sort of thing), which is funny you know, because I view this series itself as a sort of 'palate cleanser' after some of the others.

Yes. These tales of murder, mayhem, and mystery are somehow more uplifting than many others I've read.


Mimesis

- Fady Joudah
 
My daughter
                        wouldn’t hurt a spider
That had nested
Between her bicycle handles
For two weeks
She waited
Until it left of its own accord

If you tear down the web I said
It will simply know
This isn’t a place to call home
And you’d get to go biking

She said that’s how others
Become refugees isn’t it?

from: Alight. Copyright 2013.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Saturday Farmer's Market - Plums! and Some Other Stuff



Created by Heather at Capricious Reader, and now hosted by Chris at Stuff as Dreams are Made on.

Things are slow in the garden right now.

My cool weather veggies have been eaten and composted, and the Summer heat has set in with a vengeance.

The Tomatoes are making a good show, and the Peppers are soldiering along.

The heat and wind have played havoc on the Onion and Garlic greens, but they are about ready to be harvested. 

I did manage to plant a few new things in the big bed (under the Crepe Myrtle) with the expansion in mind.

I have the new dimensions in my head but haven't actually installed the edging yet, so it looks kind of like I'm planting haphazardly around the lawn.

I don't imagine the neighbors are at all surprised.

The first is a White Rock Rose, which promises to cover about five feet of ground.






Under that is a bad picture of a White Butterfly Bush.

Last, is Purple Fountain Grass.








All three plants are drought tolerant. (Hey Chris. We could use some of your rain. I'll trade you some Plums!)

 

Meanwhile, Indoors:

What a week it's been! I'm still up to my elbows in Plum guts, and I've been at it for days. This year's harvest (it's second) was impressive for a young tree.

We heard that we should pull off about half of the young fruit to make the remaining fruit larger. It's also supposed to be less stressful for the tree. We were also told to protect the fruit from the many birds I've been luring to the garden to eat the pests (They're doing a wonderful job, too!).

I've heard it said that we should share our harvest with those that helped us achieve it. If we leave all the fruit, then there is more than enough for us and the birds.

Where was I? 
Oh!

Plums



The first morning after the harvest we had Plum Clafouti for breakfast with our caffeine.

I had never even heard of it before. It was unexpected, kind of like a quiche and a crumb cake had a baby.



Next up was a batch of Plum Jam. I only have one done so far.

I have so much fruit, and my abilities are somewhat limited, so I decided to concentrate on processing the Plums rather than risk losing them.

Those that are still firm enough to slice readily are frozen on a sheet pan and stored in a freezer bag.

Those that are not, become the guts for my jam. After I fill my bowl I measure 5 cups into a freezer bag. This way I can make my jam as I am able, and avoid losing delicious fruit.


These are actually Nectarines.

We lost one of the trees and the other is not well, but it managed to give us a gallon bag full of fruit (plus what we've eaten).

They were scarred and ugly, but delicious, and we feel bad that we will be tearing out the three at the end of the season.

You need two varieties for fruit, and they are prone to so many diseases, so it is the best decision for us.








Say, "Hi!"







 

Mmmm . . . Yummy Blackberries!

Last year we only got about five total before they bolted from the heat.

The master gardener said that it didn't matter about sun, water, or soil, if there are extended periods of triple digit temperatures (hello! CA summer!)

I decided to give them one more year.

Well, here we are, the next year. We pop a few here and there when we go out. But they are starting to bolt without even being halfway ripe.

And the real heat hasn't even hit yet (It's due this weekend.).

I'm conflicted. The bush takes up a lot of space and requires maintenance to maximize fruit and keep it from taking over the garden, but gives us very little edible fruit.

I will probably pull it out as well.







This is blooming right now!


Say hello to my little friend. 
I think he's Hammy's cousin.

(Two movie references in one!)


These little guys hang out in the mature trees around the neighborhood and kick up a fuss if you (or a cat) get too close.


Everyone hates them, but I think they're little cuties. I guess that's because they haven't actually caused me any problems (yet?)








The Kumquat has a few flowers, but not many.











The Pomegranates are growing fast.

One thing this tree does that I've never seen before, is continue blooming and setting new fruit after the first fruit starts growing.

You can see this in the picture, and the tree still has beautiful blooms.





Roses! Still.








Believe it or not, there is a bush under those Morning Glories.

The vines are taking over, but I don't seem to have many actual flowers right now.











On the other side, the Morning Glory
winds around a budding Onion -
so sensual.









Of course, the remaining blooms are such a cheerful color.











The Garlic is blooming too.








I'm sorry this post is so long. I actually started it expecting that I hadn't much to share. I think it was just a nice excuse to stop playing with Plums for a while! Have a wonderful Fourth, hug the ones you love, and stay safe.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Tendency toward Vagrancy

- Philip Nikolayev
 
I’ve long had what Soviet psychiatrists
called “a tendency toward vagrancy.”
At four I would run away from home
repeatedly for a whole day, alone
or sometimes with a friend named Boris
of like age. Knew full well we “just can’t do this,”
but nudge for nudge and wink for wink,
we’d board the trolleybus #10, I think,
buy tickets at four kopeks each
from our gleanings and savings of the week,
stick them into the ticket punch on the wall,
watch the chad fall as you pulled,
and ride all across Kishinev in half an hour
to get off near that unforgettable restaurant
built in the likeness of a huge wine barrel.
We peered inside, it was cool.

Then we had options:
go and splash in the local artificial lake
(I couldn’t swim yet),
wonder in between along the banks,
catching frogs to take home in a glass jar
to populate a small construction pond (why
did we always use my shirt to do this?),
or go and explore the local flea market,
which was not at all safe to do,
but even at four it’s nice to have options.
(One guy sold what we thought was a gun,
we asked him and he confirmed it.)

Those were days of cholera epidemics
in Moldova. We’d buy peasant-cooked
fodder corn on the cob when we got hungry,
haggled with old ladies over pennies.
We wouldn’t catch the return trolley until sunset.
Then it’s always the same picture:
the wicket creaks open, the landlord’s mutant
barks through froth, my wet shirt clings.
I step out of the dark
toward my mother waiting by the door
of our “temporary house” on Kaluga Street,
which was a bit of a dirt road, probably still is.
She has been crying, takes me inside.

Room and kitchen (no bathroom
or running water): the room
had a brick stove, the kitchen
a dirt floor (with mice and sometimes grass)
and a white washstand — these lines
are all that has survived of them.
There was great beauty in their squalor.

She has been crying, takes me inside,
says she will scold me later.
I know it will be soon. First she must call
the cops to tell them I’ve been found.

Of course, back then I didn’t understand anything:
neither how a poet harms his mother,
nor how alienated (thank you, Marx, for that term)
one can be from the start, and free
in the grip of that greatest paradox of all —
a happy Soviet childhood.

from: Letters from Aldenderry. Copyright 2006.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Stenciled Memories

- Lorna Dee Cervantes

                            for Gra'ma
 
There was always fabric in your lap
and a whistle in your heart. A sweet
sap to be sucked waited in the garden.
Nymphs of newts nestled under rock,
your role as She Who Brings the Waters
intact. Between the trilling of the crickets
educating into the night and the sad sack
of cans in the mornings something grew,
flourished in the dark — vines as sturdy
as telephone wire writhed in the breezes.
You patched together a blanket of us,
sewed together the mismatched and lopped
off edges. And anger grew a twin, ripped
through the bermuda grass, something stubborn
and determined: Me, in a leather patchwork skirt,
the bitter lemon song returning to its beginning
over and over on the Howdie Doody phonograph,
a handful of bandages, a faceful of ghosts
delivered from the mirrors. How did you stand it?
All of it. Us crunching through your set life,
kids scuffling through the mounds of leave.
Always making do. Your sunshine eyes,
those stenciled memories where
we still live.

from: SueƱo. Copyright 2013. 

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

A Question

- Xochiquetzal Candelaria
 
The woman in the building across from me
hauls onto the fire escape a yucca plant
and squeezes it between a crate
of herbs and a sapling fern tree.
She looks a lot like me from twenty feet away.
A forelock lies sweaty against her cheek
as if she’s forgotten to fix herself.
I put my thumbs and forefingers
to my eye and frame her. I am reminded
of those Chinese boxes made of red paper,
inside one is another holding another,
until at the center sits the tiniest mockery
and celebration of the cell itself.
She looks haggard but happy here, five flights
up, bending over a fat leaf as if admiring herself
in the waxy surface. Then she opens up
the jewel-case of her voice,
and I remember how once my sister asked
my mother which one of us sang better.
My mother paused from sewing as if adding
seventeen to seventy-five and said we sounded
the same. Good or bad, who knows.
Each of us now watches the empty,
open mouth of the other.

from: Empire. Copyright 2011.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Quote of the Day


An investment in knowledge always pays the best interest.

- Benjamin Franklin

How About a Little Slam

What Guys Look for in Girls
- Savannah Brown



Monday, June 23, 2014

Kilt Monday!

'Cause let's face it,
Mondays can be so rough, hard, difficult.


Sunday, June 22, 2014

Going Home: New Orleans

- Sheryl St. Germain

                                       for my grandmother, Theresa Frank
 
Some slow evenings when the light hangs late and stubborn in the sky,
gives itself up to darkness slowly and deliberately, slow cloud after slow cloud,
slowness enters me like something familiar,
and it feels like going home.

It’s all there in the disappearing light:
all the evenings of slow sky and slow loving, slow boats on sluggish bayous;
the thick-middled trees with the slow-sounding names—oak, mimosa, pecan, magnolia;
the slow tree sap that sticks in your hair when you lie with the trees;
and the maple syrup and pancakes and grits, the butter melting
slowly into and down the sides like sweat between breasts of sloe-eyed strippers;
and the slow-throated blues that floats over the city like fog;
and the weeping, the willows, the cut onions, the cayenne, the slow-cooking beans with marrow-thick gravy;
and all the mint juleps drunk so slowly on all the slow southern porches,
the bourbon and sugar and mint going down warm and brown, syrup and slow;
and all the ice cubes melting in all the iced teas,
all the slow-faced people sitting in all the slowly rocking rockers;
and the crabs and the shrimp and crawfish, the hard shells
slowly and deliberately and lovingly removed, the delicate flesh
slowly sucked out of heads and legs and tails;
and the slow lips that eat and drink and love and speak
that slow luxurious language, savoring each word like a long-missed lover;
and the slow-moving nuns, the black habits dragging the swollen ground;
and the slow river that cradles it all, and the chicory coffee
that cuts through it all, slow-boiled and black as dirt;
and the slow dreams and the slow-healing wounds and the slow smoke of it all
slipping out, ballooning into the sky—slow, deliberate, and magnificent.


from: Let it Be a Dark Roux. Copyright 2007.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Saturday Farmer's Market - Change



Created by Heather at Capricious Reader, and now hosted by Chris at Stuff as Dreams are Made on.

The garden is in a period of change as we roll into Summer. Spring started early this year, and not all at once. It kind of rolled through the beds and across the yard.

Right now I'm in the process of pruning, pulling up spent blooms, and tending to what ever I can. With my physical limitations it's a slower process than I like, but it keeps me out of trouble.
(At least that's what my husband believes. Shhh ...)

  • The Tomatoes are now tied up and growing well. 
  • We've eaten all the Peas and the vines are spent, so I pulled them up. More Lettuce took their place. 
  • The Squash / Zucchini are still thinking about their next move.
  • My pickle plans have been dashed, as something trampled the Cucumber plants. I tried my best to nurse them, but they are beyond saving. Sometimes stray dogs come around, but I haven't seen any in quite a while. Could it be squirrels?




I do have a kitchen table full of Plums that I have to deal with - and quickly!

They filled both of my harvest baskets and a laundry basket. That's about triple last year's harvest

There will be jam, I'm sure. At this point I don't know what else, but I will certainly let you know.


 


My Hens & Chicks have just about filled in the planter. 
I've read that they like to be crowded, and they seem to be pretty happy about it.


A pair of Collared Doves visits regularly. Their cooing is soothing, and they make me smile.

I have a Macro adapter for my camera. It's not as sensitive as an actual macro lens, but it's also not as expensive. I did some playing around with my camera and what flowers are blooming right now. Some are new, others are fading, but they still look pretty good, no?






Fortnight Lily against a background of Coreopsis: a happy sight.









Pansies
Some of them have faded and died already, but a surprising number of them are still thriving.






















































Yet marked O where the bolt of Cupid fell.
 It fell upon a little western flower,
 Before milk-white, now purple with love's wound,
 And maidens call it love-in-idleness.
                                           - William Shakespeare,
                                    A Midsummer Night's Dream
                                                  (Oberon at II, i)







































































Shasta Daisy
 (and that's a pink flamingo in the background)














 Yellow Rose
Florabunda









The Lavender and Lantana bed with California Poppies and Agave. In it are some stumps left from the old shade trees we had to cut down. They were mature when we moved into the house more than twenty years ago and we were sorry to lose them. As I've already said, I plan to expand the bed to probably about double the size it is now.


(I didn't build the bed around the stumps.
I moved them into the bed and arranged them artistically so it looks like I built the bed around them.)