Thursday, July 31, 2014


A note about

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."

The Glass Devil (ebook) - Helene Tursten

"She soon realized, though, that she could forget about devoting herself to tranquil contemplation. People swarmed everywhere. The magnificent domes, arching shockingly high over her head, made her feel like an insignificant miniature."

An abrupt ending caps a frustrating search for the real truth.

In Big Trouble (ebook) - Laura Lippman 

"I hate to think how many minutes of my life I've spent on goddamn hold. I want those minutes back. When death comes for me, I want back every minute I was on hold in traffic jams, and behind people with eleven items in the ten items or less line."

Tess ventures to Texas and challenges entrenched money, entitlement, and power to save someone she cares about.

I'm not sure I could do that.

Texas scares me.

Blood Shot (ebook) - Sara Paretsky

"To entertain myself while I waited I tried calculating the expenses I'd incurred since starting to look for Caroline Djiak's old man. I've always been a little jealous of Kinsey Milhone's immaculate record keeping; I didn't even have receipts for meals or gas."

You can actually go home again; it's just not very healthy for you.

Night Rounds (ebook) - Helene Tursten

"For a moment she imagined that the crisp, sharp air she drew into her lungs was totally pure and clean, like the air near her parents-in-law's summer cabin deep in the forests of Varmland."

There are many kinds of ghosts and ghost stories.

Burn Marks (ebook) - Sara Paretsky

"I don't have a long enough lifeline right now to learn new tricks, Mickey, and even if I did, yours just purely make me throw up."

Politics or family, it's hard to tell which is more dangerous.

Upon the Dull Earth and Other Stories (audiobook) - Philip K. Dick

"The war grew; it didn't begin." 

"I should have had it looked at before it was too late."

In PKD's world, reality and normalcy are always subjective - at best.

I've often thought that those who write Science Fiction have a clearer vision of society's hidden realities that the rest of us.

Lancelot - Walker Percy

"I like your banal little cathedral in the Via care'. It is set down squarely in the midst of the greatest single concentration of drunks, drug heads, hoars, pimps, queers, sodomists in the hemisphere, but isn't that where cathedrals are supposed to be?"

The prattling on of the protagonist (Lancelot) about himself and his thoughts was not engaging or even very interesting to me, and I found no surprises in the story.

Not quite Dead Enough & Booby trapped (audiobook) - Rex Stout

"Wolfe pronounced a word. It was the first time I had ever heard him pronounce an unprintable word, and it stopped me short."

With Archie in the Army and not around to keep Wolfe in line, things get terribly out of whack.

"Archie. I submit to circumstances. So should you."

Fritz works wonders within the constraints of wartime rationing, the sign of a true master.

In the Midst of Death (audiobook) - Lawrence Block

"On the corner an old woman scattered bread crumbs for the pigeons and cooed to them as she fed them. I believe there's a city ordinance against feeding pigeons. We used to cite it in the department when explaining to rookies that there were laws you enforced and laws you forgot about."

This one was not as good as the first two. Scudder just seemed to walk through the story, following behind all the happenings.

It was not bad enough to keep me from moving on to the next one, but I'm not raving.

A Stab in the Dark (audiobook) - Lawrence Block

"The memory is a cooperative animal, eager to please. What it cannot supply it occasionally invents, sketching carefully to fill in the blanks."

Aren't we all powerless at one time or another? (better than the last one)

Cat of Many Tails (audiobook) - Ellery Queen

"This will have to be done from home. I've got to have a place where I can sit and feel safe when, the ax falls. Executions brought to your door - at no extra charge."

Although it was an ingenious idea of how to kill off unconnected people, this was not one of my favorite Ellery Queen Novels. Ellery did a lot more wheel spinning than actual deduction.

But hey, a bad Ellery Queen is still better than the best of many others!

Tunnel Vision (audiobook) - Sara Paretsky

"Let's go see what's in the hanger."
"You are the original action woman, aren't you? If someone is waiting in there to jump us, I'm awfully exposed if I carry this camera."
"Hit him with it. I'll cover you anyway. In fact, when we get there you let me go around to the entrance. If someone jumps me, I'll holler and you can come video us."

One thing is sure, I'm glad I don't live in Chicago.

But if I had to live in Chicago, I'd want Vic on my side.

The Golden Calf (ebook) - Helene Tursten

"If I knew that, we'd know it all."

Another interesting story featuring people solving crimes instead of plot points dropped in between action sequences.

It is the puzzle solving that most attracts me to murder mysteries, I think, and these novels focus on the puzzle.

Stalking the Angel (ebook) - Robert Crais

"There were several ways to locate the Sun Tree Gallery. I could call one of the contacts I maintain in the police department and have them search through their secret files. I could drive about aimlessly stopping at every gallery I passed until I found someone who knew the location, then force the information from him, Or I could look in he Yellow Pages. I looked in the Yellow Pages."

Occasionally, stereotypes turn out to be just masks to keep others from seeing what is really inside.

This series has fast turned into one of my favorites.(dark, yes, but also intriguing)

The Sugar House (ebook) - Laura Lippman

"The truth was, she couldn't imagine any assignment more dangerous than being a teenage girl, at large in the land with an overripe body and a face full of yearning. Bring on the globe trotting psychopaths. They couldn't be anywhere near as terrifying as adolescent boys."

The appeal of this series has actually increased with each new novel. Tess is growing and evolving as a character, as are the people who surround her.

In a Strange City (ebook) - Laura Lippman

"It doesn't ring a bell, but I am an old woman. There are many bells that don't ring in my belfry anymore."

Just a thought, but I think Tess would benefit from reading Mastermind: How to Think Like Sherlock Holmes.

But if she did that, maybe the novels would be reduced to Novellas, or even Chapbooks.

Never mind.

The Last Place (ebook) - Laura Lippman

"But at the time, everything had made sense. Sort Of."

These novels seem to get better with each new offering.

This one is more personal than the earlier books, and brings together a number of strings we didn't know were connected.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Quote of the Day

When it comes to atheism, I'm an atheist too when it comes to those folks that say God is on the side of bigots and on the side of those that hurt people. That kind of God? I don't know him either.

- Rev. William Barber (video)

Someone Else Who's Reality is "Aug(De)Mented"

Marty Cooper

Brings us his doodle-ramblings.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Quote of the Day

Comedy is about taking down the bullies. Traditionally in a carnivalesque way, the lowly, marginalized people would get to have their say and ridicule those with power: The fool is King for a day. … The whole thing falls apart when comedians kick down, and attack the most vulnerable members of society. It’s lazy and hack to use derogatory slurs instead of punch-lines, and not in the original spirit of comedy.

Smile. At Least it Isn't Monday!

Monday, July 28, 2014

Kilt Monday!

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

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Love In The Asylum

- Dylan Thomas

A stranger has come
To share my room in the house not right in the head,
A girl mad as birds

Bolting the night of the door with her arm her plume.
Strait in the mazed bed
She deludes the heaven-proof house with entering clouds

Yet she deludes with walking the nightmarish room,
At large as the dead,
Or rides the imagined oceans of the male wards.

She has come possessed
Who admits the delusive light through the bouncing wall,
Possessed by the skies

She sleeps in the narrow trough yet she walks the dust
Yet raves at her will
On the madhouse boards worn thin by my walking tears.

And taken by light in her arms at long and dear last
I may without fail
Suffer the first vision that set fire to the stars.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Saturday Farmer's Market - Thy Days Go On *

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

Man, is it hot! 
My garden has been happier, but it is still hanging in there.

I didn't realize that our area's notorious hard water was going to cause problems with my soaker hoses, but it has.

I had been scouring gardening books and web sites trying to find what was wrong with my roses, when I realized that the soil around them was bone dry when it should have still been moist from the hose.

I've taken steps to remedy the situation, but I may have lost three bushes. Time will tell.

My twenty-one year old garden cat, probably senile and most definitely incontinent, has moved indoors for the duration and I miss her company.

But one of my "cowts," Joon-bug, moves from window to window while I'm outside and tries to keep a close eye on me. (She follows me around inside the house too.)

 The only Rose bushes blooming right now are the two that my husband gave me for my birthday last year. 

They are really beautiful, smaller than the Floribundas with only a few flowers at a time, but steady bloomers.

One has sweet Yellow Roses

And the other has White Roses

The B.L.T.s were delicious!

Our first two Tomatoes of the season, and well ahead of the rest.

I started the plants inside my little Conservatory this year.

This variety is called "Boxcar Willie."

The Garlic didn't do so well, though. The sun on the west side of the house is just too intense for many of my vegetables.

I think I need to put it in a completely different spot next year.

At least what I got tastes good.

How about some Bird pictures? 
I need to invest in a telephoto lens to get really good pictures of them, but these aren't too bad.

We have tons of fat little brown birds. I think they are several different species but I haven't gotten a good close look.

It's time to invest in a good Bird Guide.

Hope is the thing with feathers
- Emily Dickinson

Hope is the thing with feathers
That perches in the soul,
And sings the tune without the words,
And never stops at all,

And sweetest in the gale is heard;
And sore must be the storm
That could abash the little bird
That kept so many warm.

I've heard it in the chillest land,
And on the strangest sea;
Yet, never, in extremity,
It asked a crumb of me.

This, I believe, is a House Finch.

And this is a Western Scrub Jay.

These are in addition to the Anna's Hummingbirds, Lesser Gold Finchs, and Ring Neck Doves I've featured in past posts.

We also have an incredibly verbose Mockingbird. He sits atop the phone pole and runs through his repertoire, which includes several different bird's songs, frogs, and a car alarm (the entire catalog of car alarm sounds).

I planted the Bananas I ordered from the shopping channel.

I have three plants and if they survive they will provide a tropical hedge of sorts in front of the back gate.

They will also provide some summer shade for my kitchen window.

Not to mention . . . Bananas!

Most of the Pomegranates are about the size of baseballs, but the plant is still blooming and setting new fruit.

They are such a beautiful color.

And finally, the Butterfly Bush I rescued is perking up and has some small flowers.

* from: De Profundis by Elizabeth Barrett Browning.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Richard Feynman Wrote a Poem

There are the rushing waves
mountains of molecules
each stupidly minding its own business
trillions apart
yet forming white surf in unison.
Ages on ages
before any eyes could see
year after year
thunderously pounding the shore as now.
For whom, for what?
On a dead planet
with no life to entertain.

Never at rest
tortured by energy
wasted prodigiously by the sun
poured into space.
A mite makes the sea roar.

Deep in the sea
all molecules repeat
the patterns of one another
till complex new ones are formed.
They make others like themselves
and a new dance starts.

Growing in size and complexity
living things
masses of atoms
DNA, protein
dancing a pattern ever more intricate.

Out of the cradle
onto dry land
here it is
atoms with consciousness;
matter with curiosity.

Stands at the sea,
wonders at wondering: I
a universe of atoms
an atom in the universe.

The Value of Science, public address at the National Academy of Sciences (Autumn 1955)

Thursday, July 24, 2014

This Guy Has Some of the Best Sound Bites on FaceBook . . .

"If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. 
If you want to be happy, practice compassion."
 - Dalai Lama

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

A Refusal to Mourn the Death, by Fire, of a Child in London

- Dylan Thomas

Never until the mankind making
Bird beast and flower
Fathering and all humbling darkness
Tells with silence the last light breaking 
And the still hour
Is come of the sea tumbling in harness

And I must enter again the round
Zion of the water bead
And the synagogue of the ear of corn
Shall I let pray the shadow of a sound
Or sow my salt seed
In the least valley of sackcloth to mourn

The majesty and burning of the child’s death.
I shall not murder
The mankind of her going with a grave truth
Nor blaspheme down the stations of the breath
With any further 
Elegy of innocence and youth.

Deep with the first dead lies London’s daughter,
Robed in the long friends,
The grains beyond age, the dark veins of her mother,
Secret by the unmourning water
Of the riding Thames.
After the first death, there is no other.

from: The Poems of Dylan Thomas. Copyright 1952.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Kilt Monday!

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

Sunday, July 20, 2014

I saw a man pursuing the horizon

- Stephen Crane
I saw a man pursuing the horizon;
Round and round they sped.
I was disturbed at this;   
I accosted the man.
“It is futile,” I said,
“You can never —”

“You lie,” he cried,   
And ran on. 

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Saturday Farmer's Market - Garden Therapy

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

How is everyone today? Well, I hope. 

Some days I have to drag myself outside, overwhelmed and unmotivated. 
Some days it hurts to move, let alone tackle the maintenance of even an "adaptive" garden.

But I keep trying, and I believe wholeheartedly that each day that I make it outside helps keep my future just a little bit brighter than it might be otherwise.

But the cherry on the top is your appreciation the end results.

Thank you for your support.

Now, here is this week's round up of my Garden Therapy results: 

This is my favorite sight in the garden. 
The California Poppies look especially delicate and airy mixed in among the Lavender spikes. 
The Bees seem to agree, and signal their agreement daily by frequenting the bed en mass.

The single best pest control I've established in my garden has been feeding the birds.

"Come for the seed. Stay for the bugs."

With just one feeder containing seed and one containing nectar, the whole garden was transformed to a joyful, song filled place.

It has, however, gotten to the point where the crowd can easily decimate the feeder, and the larger birds also tip the hanging feeder.

Well . . . I had seen home made feeders somewhere in the interwebs and set about making something similar from Dollar Store ceramics and some odds and ends we actually had on hand.

The hardest part was drilling the holes in the plates and bowls, and that wasn't hard (for my husband).

By the next morning the word was out and I had lots of happy birds singing, bathing, and eating heartily.

I have to get a telephoto lens for my camera.

The camera takes great pictures, but I can't convince the birds to pose as I get closer.

Now I know how the paparazzi feel!


I read somewhere that Bees will drown in regular water sources such as ponds and bird baths. 
Since they still need to drink it is suggested that you put out a shallow dish, like a pie tin or planter saucer, and fill it with marbles. This gives them solid footing to reach the water.

I have two kinds of Praying Mantis in the garden, the familiar green one I already pictured, and this one.

S/he is a mottled brown like old leaves and branches, and tends to be larger.

With all the wisdom of the interwebs at my fingertips I could easily do the research needed to find out all the particulars on these little guys, but I won't.

I just like their company and what they do for my plants.

I wish I could keep Bees; I think the honey would be delicious. 
But when you live in the center of town, some of your choices are limited.



This one has a smiley face. Can you see it?


They are all bowing their heads and the smallest one broke and fell over.

I put the heads under the Crepe Myrtle and as they dry, the birds will start to eat them.

This plant is about as high as my chin, and each flower is about the size of a luncheon plate.

This cute little 'shroom was not there one day and there the next.


. . . and this is what I saw the next day.

The White Grandiflora Rose is still blooming. 
Each perfect flower is about the size of a fifty cent piece.


I finally pulled up the Onions.

They're now hanging in bunches upstairs.

Our spare bedroom is sewing room, library (one of them), and drying room.

It will soon be full of Lavender as well.

The Pansies are still hanging on.

The Pomegranates are still doing fine . . .

  . . . and so are the Tomatoes . . .

. . . but not so the Lilac.

The leaves are turning color, curling, and have brown spots.

I'm pretty sure their next trick will be to fall off.

More research to do!

- Walt Whitman
                    from: Leaves of Grass

Warble me now for joy of lilac-time, (returning in reminiscence,)
Sort me O tongue and lips for Nature’s sake, souvenirs of earliest summer,
Gather the welcome signs, (as children with pebbles or stringing shells,)
Put in April and May, the hylas croaking in the ponds, the elastic air,
Bees, butterflies, the sparrow with its simple notes,
Blue-bird and darting swallow, nor forget the high-hole flashing his golden wings,
The tranquil sunny haze, the clinging smoke, the vapor,
Shimmer of waters with fish in them, the cerulean above,
All that is jocund and sparkling, the brooks running,
The maple woods, the crisp February days and the sugar-making,
The robin where he hops, bright-eyed, brown-breasted,
With musical clear call at sunrise, and again at sunset,
Or flitting among the trees of the apple-orchard, building the nest of his mate,
The melted snow of March, the willow sending forth its yellow-green sprouts,
For spring-time is here! the summer is here! and what is this in it and from it?
Thou, soul, unloosen’d—the restlessness after I know not what;
Come, let us lag here no longer, let us be up and away!
O if one could but fly like a bird!
O to escape, to sail forth as in a ship!
To glide with thee O soul, o’er all, in all, as a ship o’er the waters;
Gathering these hints, the preludes, the blue sky, the grass, the morning drops of dew,
The lilac-scent, the bushes with dark green heart-shaped leaves,
Wood-violets, the little delicate pale blossoms called innocence,
Samples and sorts not for themselves alone, but for their atmosphere,
To grace the bush I love—to sing with the birds,
A warble for joy of lilac-time, returning in reminiscence.