Thursday, April 30, 2015

BOOK REVIEWS. Sort Of.




A note about BOOK REVIEWS. Sort Of.:

These are not, in any way, meant to be comprehensive reviews. They are intended to acknowledge that I have read the book, and give my honest core impressions.

If a real review is what you wish, there are many wonderful book blogs available, and I have provided some tools to find them under the tab marked "Useful Stuff."






~ AUDIOBOOKS ~

The American Gun Mystery - (audiobook) - Ellery Queen

Ellery is a bit out of his comfort zone with the wild west show, but it doesn't impair his keen sense of observation.

I on the other hand, missed this one entirely.






~ SHORT STORIES ~

Angle of Investigation (ebook) - Michael Connelly

This is a collection of three Harry Bosch short stories that take place at three different times in his long career. They're not as compelling as the full length Bosch offerings, but they will do fine to tide me over until the next novel arrives.






Switchblade (ebook) - Michael Connelly

This is one short story. It wasn't bad, but compared to Connelly's intricate Harry Bosch novels, it reads more like a story proposal than a fully fleshed out story.

I think that the writing of novels and short stories are two different skills, and no amount of skill in one guarantees skill in the other.



Windy City Blues (ebook) - Sara Paretsky

This is an interesting and well written assortment of short stories, scattered pieces of V.I. Warshawski's timeline, that add to both the back story and mystique of reoccuring characters in the series.







~ EBOOKS ~

Bitter Medicine (ebook) - Sara Paretsky

Another lesson on how greed perverts the systems meant to help us, how it's mostly legal, and how the poor and powerless suffer the most.

On the bright side, V.I. gets the pleasure of irritating her ex.





The First Rule (ebook) - Robert Crais

I like both the Elvis Cole and Joe Pike novels. They both contain the same base cast, but the focus changes.

The writing is consistent and the plots work well.

Hard as he seems, Joe is a sucker for the underdog, when someone is truly in need of help.


Blacklist - Sara Paretsky

"Let me tell you, I saw plenty of that in Europe in 'fourty-four, never thought I watch it in my own country. I risked my life on the beaches at Anzio, I know what real fire feels like comming at you out of real artillary, I saw my buddies cut up in pieces around me. If I'd known I was doing that so you could break into any house in america because you felt like it, they couldn't a got me on that landing boat"

"In these times, any whiff of wrong doing by a prominent progressive would only give the right wing radicals more cause for triumphalism. I couldn't bear to contribute to their jubilant trampling on human rights. I couldn't pursue this investigation further."

This novel positions the McCarthy era against today's 9/11 erosion of rights and governmental overreach in a way that does not preach, but evokes the sadness, loss, and tragedy engendered by fear run rampant.

It is by far my favorite of the series yet, and the saddest.

Serpent's Tooth (ebook) - Faye Kellerman

Ms Kellerman's stories occupy a position between the cozy and the hard hitting, with a generous mix of family and mystery.

As Decker ages his concerns have changed, the least of which is a daughter who wants to join the force.




The Beige Man (ebook) - Helene Tursten

The wait for a new translation can be a long one, and unlike with new publications, is not always predictable. Like the rest of Ms Tursten's novels,  this one was worth the wait.

Do we ever really know the people in our lives?




Total Recall (ebook) - Sara Paretsky

"When not only your family, but your house, maybe even your entire town, has been obliterated - you have no records to turn to. And if you did, the company would treat you the way they did Carl: by denying the claim because you couldn't produce a death certificate. They really were a prize group of bastards, those bankers and insurers."

Still are.

Again, V.I. is drawn into the past, and learns more of the devastation suffered by those closest to her.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Ulysses

- Alfred, Lord Tennyson
 
It little profits that an idle king,
By this still hearth, among these barren crags,
Match'd with an aged wife, I mete and dole
Unequal laws unto a savage race,
That hoard, and sleep, and feed, and know not me.
I cannot rest from travel: I will drink
Life to the lees: All times I have enjoy'd
Greatly, have suffer'd greatly, both with those
That loved me, and alone, on shore, and when
Thro' scudding drifts the rainy Hyades
Vext the dim sea: I am become a name;
For always roaming with a hungry heart
Much have I seen and known; cities of men
And manners, climates, councils, governments,
Myself not least, but honour'd of them all;
And drunk delight of battle with my peers,
Far on the ringing plains of windy Troy.
I am a part of all that I have met;
Yet all experience is an arch wherethro'
Gleams that untravell'd world whose margin fades
For ever and forever when I move.
How dull it is to pause, to make an end,
To rust unburnish'd, not to shine in use!
As tho' to breathe were life! Life piled on life
Were all too little, and of one to me
Little remains: but every hour is saved
From that eternal silence, something more,
A bringer of new things; and vile it were
For some three suns to store and hoard myself,
And this gray spirit yearning in desire
To follow knowledge like a sinking star,
Beyond the utmost bound of human thought.

         This is my son, mine own Telemachus,
To whom I leave the sceptre and the isle,—
Well-loved of me, discerning to fulfil
This labour, by slow prudence to make mild
A rugged people, and thro' soft degrees
Subdue them to the useful and the good.
Most blameless is he, centred in the sphere
Of common duties, decent not to fail
In offices of tenderness, and pay
Meet adoration to my household gods,
When I am gone. He works his work, I mine.

         There lies the port; the vessel puffs her sail:
There gloom the dark, broad seas. My mariners,
Souls that have toil'd, and wrought, and thought with me—
That ever with a frolic welcome took
The thunder and the sunshine, and opposed
Free hearts, free foreheads—you and I are old;
Old age hath yet his honour and his toil;
Death closes all: but something ere the end,
Some work of noble note, may yet be done,
Not unbecoming men that strove with Gods.
The lights begin to twinkle from the rocks:
The long day wanes: the slow moon climbs: the deep
Moans round with many voices. Come, my friends,
'T is not too late to seek a newer world.
Push off, and sitting well in order smite
The sounding furrows; for my purpose holds
To sail beyond the sunset, and the baths
Of all the western stars, until I die.
It may be that the gulfs will wash us down:
It may be we shall touch the Happy Isles,
And see the great Achilles, whom we knew.
Tho' much is taken, much abides; and tho'
We are not now that strength which in old days
Moved earth and heaven, that which we are, we are;
One equal temper of heroic hearts,
Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will
To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.
 

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Quote of the Day

Have you ever read Victoria Magazine? It's the only magazine subscription I have and I look forward to each new issue. Any way, while reading the latest issue I came across these words. I'm not sure why they struck me, but they did. 



"I feel sorry for mockingbirds," she said.
"They are doomed to sing every other bird's song but their own."




Monday, April 27, 2015

Kilt Monday!

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


Sunday, April 26, 2015

Spring

- Edna St. Vincent Millay

To what purpose, April, do you return again?
Beauty is not enough.
You can no longer quiet me with the redness
Of little leaves opening stickily.
I know what I know.
The sun is hot on my neck as I observe
The spikes of the crocus.
The smell of the earth is good.
It is apparent that there is no death.
But what does that signify?
Not only under ground are the brains of men
Eaten by maggots.
Life in itself
Is nothing,
An empty cup, a flight of uncarpeted stairs.
It is not enough that yearly, down this hill,
April
Comes like an idiot, babbling and strewing flowers.


Saturday, April 25, 2015

It's A Garden Party - Herbs, Anyone?



This feature, originally known as Saturday Farmer's Market, was created by Heather at Capricious Reader, and then hosted by Chris at Stuff as Dreams are Made on.


I've moved my herbs into a contained area. Instead of being spread all over the garden, they now line the walk from the front door to both the sidewalk and the driveway in an aromatic "L" shape.

It's more organized & easier to use. The bed still needs to be mulched, but they all took the move well, and by mid-summer they will make a wonderfully scented hedge.

I keep looking for interesting herbs to add to the garden, but variety is not the hallmark of nurseries these days. And some of those I'd like, even though a keystroke away online, aren't practical either for their climate needs or size.

What is Paradise?
But a Garden, an Orchard of Trees and Herbs, full of pleasure,
and nothing there but delights.

- William Lawson









Rosemary














Sage














Lemon Balm














Thyme














Oregano














Chives














Feverfew














Lemon Verbena













Basil
















Curry













Lemon Grass















Mexican Oregano








The Nine Herbs Charm
                   (An Olde English Poem In Modern English)

Remember, Mugwort, what you made known,
What you arranged at the Great proclamation.
You were called Una, the oldest of herbs,
you have power against three and against thirty,
you have power against poison and against infection,
you have power against the loathsome foe roving through the land.

And you, Plantain, mother of herbs,
Open from the east, mighty inside.
over you chariots creaked, over you queens rode,
over you brides cried out, over you bulls snorted.
You withstood all of them, you dashed against them.
May you likewise withstand poison and infection
and the loathsome foe roving through the land.

'Stune' is the name of this herb, it grew on a stone,
it stands up against poison, it dashes against poison
Nettle (?) it is called, it attacks against poison,
it drives out the hostile one, it casts out poison.
This is the herb that fought against the serpent,
it has power against poison,  it has power against infection,
it has power against the loathsome foe roving through the land.
Put to flight now, Venom-loather, the greater poisons,
though you are the lesser, until he is cured of both.

Remember, Chamomile, what you made known,
what you accomplished at Alorford,
that never a man should lose his life from infection
after Chamomile was prepared for his food.

This is the herb that is called 'Wergulu'.
A seal sent it across the sea-right,
a vexation to poison, a help to others.
it stands against pain, it dashes against poison,

A worm came crawling, it killed nothing.
For Woden took nine glory-twigs,
he smote the the adder that it flew apart into nine parts.
There the Apple accomplished it against poison
that she [the loathsome serpent] would never dwell in the house.

Chervil and Fennell, two of much might,
They were created by the wise Lord,
holy in heaven as He hung;
He set and sent them to the seven worlds,
to the wretched and the fortunate, as a help to all.
It stands against pain, it fights against poison,
it avails against 3 and against 30,
against foe´s hand and against noble scheming,
against enchantment of vile creatures.

Now there nine herbs have power against nine evil spirits,
against nine poisons and against nine infections:
Against the red poison, against the foul poison,
against the white poison, against the pale blue poison,
against the yellow poison, against the green poison,
against the black poison, against the blue poison,
against the brown poison, against the crimson poison,
against worm-blister, against water-blister,
against thorn-blister, against thistle-blister,
against ice-blister, against poison-blister,

If any poison comes flying from the east,
or any from the north, [or any from the south,]
or any from the west among the people.
Christ stood over diseases of every kind.

I alone know a running stream,
and the nine adders beware of it.
May all the weeds spring up from their roots,
the seas slip apart, all salt water,
when I blow this poison from you.

Mugwort, plantain open form the east, lamb's cress, venom-loather, camomile, nettle, crab-apple, chevil and fennel, old soap; pound the herbs to a powder, mix them with the soap and the juice oaf the apple.

Then prepare a paste of water and of ashes, take fennel, boil it with the paste and wash it with a beaten egg when you apply the salve, both before and after.

Sing this charm three times on each of the herbs before you (he) prepare them, and likewise on the apple. And sing the same charm into the mouth of the man and into both his ears, and on the wound, before you (he) apply the salve.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Sorry for Being MIA the Past Few Days . . .


But I had a fall the other day
 and have been hard pressed to keep up with all my responsibilities since then.

Right now I'm playing catch up at half speed and feeling overwhelmed.


It's not real serious - that is, no permanent damage was done (I hope). But I have a sprained wrist, badly bruised knee, and feel generally like I was hit by a truck (which then reversed back over me).

I think my pride received the worst injury, but my sense of independence has been shaken thoroughly also, leaving a permanent feeling of impending disaster.

Thank you for being patient; I will recover and I hope to be back on top soon.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Kilt Monday!

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


Saturday, April 18, 2015

It's A Garden Party - Water & Roses & Other Things



This feature, originally known as Saturday Farmer's Market, was created by Heather at Capricious Reader, and then hosted by Chris at Stuff as Dreams are Made on.

Japanese Maple

The Water Conservation Corps sent emails outlining the new water CA restrictions. In a nut shell, our 'goal' is to cut back to 25% less than our 2013 usage.

I've changed the garden quite a bit over the past few years with a view to conserving both effort and water, and still have some intensive work to do. I need to build edgings for most of the beds and the rows of fruit trees that will hold a thick layer of mulch in place over my soaker hoses.

Hopefully this will help me hit my target.

The Lavender is beginning its season.

I have, four different kinds, the first of which you see here.

It was salvaged by my husband from a clearance bin and though it seems to be a Spanish cultivar, I don't know any specifics.

One thing I do know is that it is very happy this year - and I have not given the Lavender bed a drop of water since last summer.

Once established, it tends to be quite drought tolerant.






We had two days of gale force winds, not uncommon for this time of year, and this was the result.

I'm always amazed at how much fruit we can lose and still have a huge crop.












I transplanted three Peonies last month and they hardly noticed!

This is the first bloom.













The Columbine also transplanted well.

Here it is getting ready to bloom.











Curious.

The yellow Iris never bloom until after the purple ones are finished.

But bloom they do.












And then we have . . .
 Roses!











A Red, Red Rose
- Robert Burns

O my luve’s like a red, red rose,
That’s newly sprung in June;
O my luve’s like the melodie
That’s sweetly played in tune.

As fair art thou, my bonnie lass,
So deep in luve am I;
And I will luve thee still, my dear,
Till a’ the seas gang dry.

Till a’ the seas gang dry, my dear,
And the rocks melt wi’ the sun:
O I will love thee still, my dear,
While the sands o’ life shall run.

And fare thee weel, my only luve,
And fare thee weel awhile!
And I will come again, my luve,
Though it were ten thousand mile.

Friday, April 17, 2015

The Cat

- Lawrence Ferlinghetti

                The cat
                              licks its paw and
        lies down in
                            the bookshelf nook
                                                                 She
                                    can lie in a
                                              sphinx position
        without moving for so
                                         many hours
and then turn her head
                                to me and
                                          rise and stretch
       and turn
                       her back to me and
              lick her paw again as if
                                    no real time had passed
                     It hasn’t
                                    and she is the sphinx with
                        all the time in the world
                                             in the desert of her time
             The cat
                    knows where flies die
                               sees ghosts in motes of air
                                                   and shadows in sunbeams
She hears
                  the music of the spheres and
       the hum in the wires of houses
                           and the hum of the universe
             in interstellar spaces
                                                      but
                prefers domestic places
                             and the hum of the heater


from: These Are My Rivers. Copyright 1993.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

BLACKLISTED - Thomas McGrath

I recently read Sara Paretsky's Blacklist, in which she treats incidents that seem to some of us like ancient history. To others though, they are still ever present. It was then I decided to take on blacklisted writers for National Poetry month, not an easy task.
"After 10 actors refused to testify in front of the House Committee on Un-American Activities, the blacklist was created. Hundreds of actors, actresses, directors, screenwriters and other entertainment professionals were barred from working."
 Obviously, some fared better than others, but all suffered under the inquisition known as the "red scare." No more than 10% of those blacklisted ever returned to their vocations.

Thomas McGrath was one of the lucky ones. He was dismissed from his position at at Los Angeles State College, in connection with his appearance, as an unfriendly witness, before the House Committee on Un-American Activities in 1953. He recovered and went on to write 20 books of poetry and fiction.

 
All the Dead Soldiers
 
In the chill rains of the early winter I hear something—
A puling anger, a cold wind stiffened by flying bone—
Out of the north ...
                               and remember, then, what’s up there:
That ghost-bank: home: Amchitka: boot hill ....

They must be very tired, those ghosts; no flesh sustains them
And the bones rust in the rain.
                                              Reluctant to go into the earth
The skulls gleam: wet; the dog-tag forgets the name;
The statistics (wherein they were young) like their crosses, are weathering out,

They must be very tired.
                                     But I see them riding home,
Nightly: crying weak lust and rage: to stand in the dark,
Forlorn in known rooms, unheard near familiar beds:
Where lie the aging women: who were so lovely: once.


from: Selected Poems 1938-1988. Copyright  1988.
The Hollywood Blacklist - Dan Georgakas
More on the Blacklist.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

If You Forget Me

- Pablo Neruda

I want you to know
one thing.

You know how this is:
if I look
at the crystal moon, at the red branch
of the slow autumn at my window,
if I touch
near the fire
the impalpable ash
or the wrinkled body of the log,
everything carries me to you,
as if everything that exists,
aromas, light, metals,
were little boats
that sail
toward those isles of yours that wait for me.

Well, now,
if little by little you stop loving me
I shall stop loving you little by little.

If suddenly
you forget me
do not look for me,
for I shall already have forgotten you.

If you think it long and mad,
the wind of banners
that passes through my life,
and you decide
to leave me at the shore
of the heart where I have roots,
remember
that on that day,
at that hour,
I shall lift my arms
and my roots will set off
to seek another land.

But
if each day,
each hour,
you feel that you are destined for me
with implacable sweetness,
if each day a flower
climbs up to your lips to seek me,
ah my love, ah my own,
in me all that fire is repeated,
in me nothing is extinguished or forgotten,
my love feeds on your love, beloved,
and as long as you live it will be in your arms
without leaving mine.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Kilt Monday!

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


Saturday, April 11, 2015

It's A Garden Party - "I Am Restored by My Decline."



This feature, originally known as Saturday Farmer's Market, was created by Heather at Capricious Reader, and then hosted by Chris at Stuff as Dreams are Made on.


As I Watched my Japanese Maple go from kindling to flame in just a matter of days, I thought of the terminally ill Clive James and his wish to live long enough to see his own tree, a gift from his daughter, in flame once more.

Diagnosed with leukemia (among other maladies) in 2010, and not expecting to live much longer, he wrote his valedictory farewell, "Japanese Maple." But as of this post Mr. James is still with us - and still working hard.
 
QUOTE of the DAY:


Japanese Maple
- Clive James



Your death, near now, is of an easy sort.  
So slow a fading out brings no real pain.  
Breath growing short  
Is just uncomfortable. You feel the drain
Of energy, but thought and sight remain:
 
Enhanced, in fact. When did you ever see  
So much sweet beauty as when fine rain falls  
On that small tree  
And saturates your brick back garden walls,  
So many Amber Rooms and mirror halls?
 
Ever more lavish as the dusk descends  
This glistening illuminates the air.  
It never ends.  
Whenever the rain comes it will be there,  
Beyond my time, but now I take my share.
 
My daughter’s choice, the maple tree is new.  
Come autumn and its leaves will turn to flame.  
What I must do  
Is live to see that. That will end the game  
For me, though life continues all the same:
 
Filling the double doors to bathe my eyes,  
A final flood of colors will live on  
As my mind dies,  
Burned by my vision of a world that shone  
So brightly at the last, and then was gone.


Friday, April 10, 2015

the message of crazy horse

- Lucille Clifton
 
i would sit in the center of the world,   
the Black Hills hooped around me and   
dream of my dancing horse. my wife

was Black Shawl who gave me the daughter   
i called They Are Afraid Of Her.   
i was afraid of nothing

except Black Buffalo Woman.   
my love for her i wore
instead of feathers. i did not dance

i dreamed. i am dreaming now
across the worlds. my medicine is strong.   
my medicine is strong in the Black basket   
of these fingers. i come again through this

Black Buffalo woman. hear me;   
the hoop of the world is breaking.   
fire burns in the four directions.
the dreamers are running away from the hills.   
i have seen it. i am crazy horse.


from Next. Copyright 1987.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Talking Back to the Mad World

- Sarah C. Harwell
 
I will not tend. Or water,
pull, or yank,
I will not till, uproot,
 
fill up or spray.
 
The rain comes.
Or not. Plants: sun-fed,
moon-hopped, dirt-stuck.
 
Watch as flocks
of wild phlox
 
appear, disappear. My lazy,
garbagey magic
makes this nothing
happen.
 
I love
the tattered
camisole of
nothing. The world
runs its underbrush
course fed by
the nothing I give it.
 
Wars are fought.
Blood turns.
Dirt is a wide unruly room.


from: Sit Down Traveler. Copyright 2012.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

DROUGHT

- John Guzlowski

See my little girl?
She can read a book

make change for a twenty
tell you what star is what.

She doesn't need
school or love or dolls.

She knows winter is hard
and beds are soft

pumpkins
grow on vines.

She knows
what's useless:

the soft spade
the easy turn.

Maybe in Mississippi
somewhere

the soil is wet and sweet
ready for asparagus

or juicy fruit
but not here.

Here the ground is clay
more clay than dirt.

Here, you see a dog
you know he's leaving.



from: New Verse News, 7/31/2012

HERE ARE SOME INTERESTING LINKS YOU MUST CHECK OUT. (Honest)

Lightning and Ashes. Everything's Jake. Living in Partial Light.

Monday, April 6, 2015

Kilt Monday!

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


Saturday, April 4, 2015

It's A Garden Party - Welcome!



This feature, originally known as Saturday Farmer's Market, was created by Heather at Capricious Reader, and then hosted by Chris at Stuff as Dreams are Made on.
 
Today is a rechristening of sorts.

 
I decided that since I seem to have killed the original Saturday Farmer's Market feature, it was only fair that I finally relinquish their title and graphics. The new masthead is a photo taken in my own garden last summer, and I have rechristened the feature on my blog It's A Garden Party!

I plan to continue posting about my own gardening ups and downs and sharing my photographs. If anyone would like to share their own gardening adventures - large or small, inside or out - I would love to see them. You can tell me what's happening in the comments, or just leave a link to your own post.

Most of all, I would just love to have you stop by, relax a few moments, and enjoy my garden - smell the flowers, as it were - and go back to your own life renewed.



My Roses are starting to fill in. 

I expect a relatively sparse bloom this year because of last year's irrigation mishap, but when you are talking Floribundas and Grandifloras, that is still considerable!

The three Rose pictures are, in order: Yellow Floribunda, White and Yellow Grandifloras

The latter two were birthday presents from my Sweety, and are starting their second summer.




This tiny Johnny-Jump-Up was a total surprise. 

It came up between the Roses and the front walk. 

I had planted some ages ago, but the California summers are brutal on them so I never replanted.
 





This is White Rock Rose, a ground cover, and yes, I badly need to weed.




Just a few weeks ago I would have bet money that my Coopertina Ninebark was dead. 

The winter frost was hard on it and it was fried black and crumbly. I only waited to pull it out because I was deciding what to replace it with. 

It's a good thing I waited. 

Because of the sun the photo doesn't do it justice, but it has what I call Fall colors, shades of brown and copper mixed in with the green. 

 




And . . .


Although there are not many flowers, it is also getting ready to bloom. 

This little cluster is about the size of a nickle.



Remember the California Poppies in the middle of the patio? 

They get no direct water and have been trampled a number of times, but they're still going strong and blooming away. . 

What a persistent plant!
 Ugh!

I went out to water the revamped Herb bed the other day and this is what I found. 

A quick internet search told me it was harmless to both plant and animals, but ...

It looks disgusting. In fact, it lives up to its name - Dog Vomit Fungus

It is actually a slime mold found growing in mulched areas, not a fungus, and it disappears in a few days (only to show up in greater mass next year no doubt).


Here are some large California Poppies against the silver grey backdrop of the Lavender bed. Once the Lavender blooms this makes for a stunning display.


I thought this was an apt poem for my garden in California, at the end of the driest winter in over sixty years. We are facing the worst drought in our recorded history, and since the bulk of our economy is agriculture based, the future is uncertain.


The water is deep
In the ocean;
Drought in the land


- Takahama Kyoshi