Saturday, December 24, 2011

Merry Christmas!

I am happy to announce that Rebecca has finished and uploaded her 2011 digital card to our Christmas site,

She has done a very nice job with it! I really like how you have to look for the creatures a bit - and yet they are right there in front of you. If the snow-pack seems a little light, that's the way it really is around here (when we get any snow at all. Its supposed to be in the 50's this weekend), and she thought it would be nice to make a snowy, winter scene the way she really sees them here. She's made the lovely banded sky, the bare trees and all. Can you tell I am proud of her?

No, the image isn't on this post. The pics you see here are just cheery bounty from the internet's largess. For some reason, images on this blog have tended to expand or otherwise distort since I had the blog template changed. They look all right in the 'compose' function but do weirdness when I preview/publish. Even the smileys won't sit right unless I move them next to text. *shrugs* Anyway, I would rather you saw DD's work on our Christmas site where it is properly formatted.

As for us, we are having a simpler Christmas than ever. We are mostly better, but that bad bug stuck around long enough that we didn't visit as many friends or family as usual or even do much decorating, mailing, baking etc. Even finishing my usual Christmas story has been delayed. This was the year I finally tried elderberry extract along with vitamin C, echinacea, and  the other usual immune supplements I grew up with. It was a worthwhile recommendation and really did seem to help. (We needed it all this time!) Even so, William still ended up at the doctor's office last week. He's on antibiotics and resting well. He says he's pretty sure he's up to eating Christmas dinner with us now.

What energy we had in November/December was prioritized towards for finishing our studies for the semester. I have finished the classes for that Arts & Sciences Associates Degree at our local CC.
All A's again too.

Becka and Tom  also did well. Their research papers ate up a lot of December too, come to that,, but they got A's and B' s so I am happy for them. I didn't have as many big papers, though my math requirement made sure I studied just as hard.

Of necessity, this year's theme is peaceful simplicity and gratitude for God's provision. Which doesn't mean we can't enjoy the Grace in what we've been given. We are looking forward to enjoying the prezzies and snacks planned for tomorrow  (We've already started on the snacks. :) Then we'll have a nice meal and a long nap.  I'm looking forward to it already.

Wishing you a

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Kitty's Occupy (absence of) Movement

Louis' sit-down protest over the lack of attention that results when I stare at the math book too long.


Tuesday, November 15, 2011

I'm BBBaaaccckkk

      Well, at least briefly. I am still very busy and will be until the end of the semester. Its not that I couldn't get online since July, but the family's happy comfy desktop died and that made blogging and email discussions a LOT more awkward. I made myself write on the family lappy for school when necessary, but tended to avoid the process otherwise. Its keys are stiff  and the position is awkward :-P

What happened?

      We cleaned the somewhat unstable family desktop system on a very hot day and the can of air malfunctioned, frosting the board. There was a very small, unpleasant snap/crackle....and voila!...time for a new computer. In hindsight, it was sssooo obvious we shouldn't have used cold compressed air on an already overheated system - even after letting it 'cool' in hundred degree weather for half an hour (the usual time). *sigh*

Yeah, I pretty much felt I should turn in my computer nerd badge after that one, but then we had to build  from a New Egg kit (all the budget allowed) and its running great, so I guess we're not completely hopeless.

     Yes, its been several months. It was awhile before we had a replacement budget at all, and by that time the semester was underway. Since I need to excel in one of my toughest subjects to finish, I've been a little distracted by that alone. Then too, the first MOBO was DOA and had to be RMA'd (adding several more weeks to the process.)  After the system finally posted, the real work of saving the last work on the previous one and setting up the new OS, drivers, fave programs, etc began. (One of  Mom's collection of Everett Kaser's licensed logic puzzle puzzles is still MIA, but hopefully it will surface soon.)  The new compy is great! Its great when something turns out to be worth the wait, yes? One of these days I'd love to upgrade this old CRT monitor, but right now I am grateful it still works so well :)

     So, I 've pretty much been doing schoolwork for several months. I didn't even read to relax for awhile. Just felt I had to concentrate, you know? Now that my BIG papers are off to be graded and DS is settled into his routine, I have relaxed a little. It probably helps that I could see this machine coming together as well. I even indulged in some light reading, starting with a published web-comic already very much loved by my daughter and husband. My husband is tickled that I used to look like Agatha (the heroine) and was that spicy too, he says. :) That's okay, I long saw him as being a lot like my favorite adventure game hero (DH looks more like him everyday.)

     This fall my husband realized Mom had put online one of the few surviving** pictures of me from that time period that he feels proves the point and shared it. I did like to dress like her - skirts & vest, long hair, and big glasses. Actually, I still do *ahem*  The old picture was from my High School Anatomy & Physiology class so there I am dissecting (something I generally avoided like the plague but my partner, who took the photo, was provably unable to cope.)  Mad Science!

** (My step-father ruined or 'lost' a lot of stuff before she divorced him. Pictures were a favored target.)

      Anyway, I'm glad I finally got around to reading the Girl Genius series. Its fun! Graphic novels sure are quick reads though. I got through the series in a few days, in addition to homework. I finally finished another fun loaner too. I expect I will dig out the paperback cozy I left off reading this summer - sometime this week. Its sitting right on top of the sewing I suddenly quit doing this summer. I can't honestly tell you why I froze up like that. I guess I was worrying about DH's health. He hasn't had to go back to the hospital since the issues we had to address this late spring/summer. I wasn't sure how well he was really doing afterward. The problem could easily recur.  I'm still not sure, but as time progresses, I guess I am getting more hopeful again.  I could have been reading some casual fare during the several days of power outage we had following Hurricane Irene. I didn't. I just read textbooks and my Bible and played card games - hanging out with the family. Which reminds me-

     I said this on Facebook (briefly) and called some folks directly, but never got around to posting it here. Yes, we felt that earthquake that was on the news in August. It was surprising, but  as far as we can tell, it did us no harm. At the time. I was on DH foam mattress, sorting things, and didn't even realize how big it was until I put my feet back on the floor.  A few things shook on the walls, a perfume bottle fell, but landed softly....and then it was over.  Since we have had 'little' quakes in the past years that barely got mentioned but were also strong enough to shake the house, we were surprised it got so high a number and so much coverage!

      Hurricane Irene, about a week later, was a much bigger deal, but did us no direct damage either. The dangerous trees were removed awhile ago. So basically, it was very rainy, it was incredibly windy (about as noisy as Hurricane Isabel years ago), and then the power went out. Actually the power stayed out around the area for most of a week. Even the college was closed! This time we were able to use a generator regularly after the storm passed by, so our food stayed usable until we were able to eat it (aside from some ice cream.) We were able to keep some fun stuff charged, and live almost normally. It was a little too warm for oil lamps, but the battery ones did fine.  Very likely the strain of the experience helped finish off our very elderly refrigerator, as we had to replace that too this fall, but the new (to us)  fridge is a marvel of consistency by comparison. We're loving it!

      We haven't participated in any other major news events. We spent Halloween doing schoolwork. We weren't that interested in this year's local candidates, aside from a pharmacist fella we always liked. He won, which was happy. We're not that big into sports. The closest Occupy group is way off in Norfolk, and pretty much off our radar, aside from News Updates. I am still curious as to what, specifically, they hope to accomplish? Anybody know what legislation they hope to pass or how they want Wall Street to police itself? I read some of their pages online but they seem kinda vague to me, and now there are rumors it's all astroturf anyway. hmmm

      The weather seems pretty extreme this year. Those tornadoes last spring, quick turn to a hot summer, quick turn to cold temps this fall. A lot of days have been nice enough, but its been the kind of year where the good weather forecasters become extremely familiar faces. It was over 80 F today and in two days the high will be slightly over 50 F - cocoa weather again.

Anyway, that's the recent news here.

Good to 'see' you. ;)
Susan M

Tuesday, July 05, 2011

Pagan Christianity ~ book review

Back in the 70's there were many Christians who felt that looking to the way the first churches did things (apostolic and just barely post-apostolic) was the cure for all of the current denominations worldly ways, would set the church back on fire etc.

It was a useful perspective, as otherwise average churchgoers tended to assume that traditional arrangements were set in concrete, anyone who wasn't blessed by them was a heretic etc. The mainline denominations HAD lost a lot of their fire, and while the architecture, hierarchical organizations weren't necessarily responsible for all of it, looking at them again critically as to whether they added or detracted from a true fellowship experience was a good, if not very popular idea.

I haven't heard anyone bring up these issues in person since the 70's - and its kind of a blast from the past to read the arguments again in this book (plus quite a few more!)

I personally agree that spectator church services do not create a sense of responsibility, personal involvement, or family connection among its members. I do not agree that designating bishops for the different churches was necessarily a negative development in the body of Christ. An ability to designate spokespersons and have community arbitrators necessitated the post. The fact that these positions became 'clergy' - considered much more priestly than the average members - is where it became a problem. The posts got reinvented over time.

I am very glad this book is becoming something of an underground classic (as many 'regular' churches are still opposed to its precepts.)

Frankly your 'average' Christian usually means someone who poses as respectable for a couple hours on Sunday, lets the sermon go in one ear and out the other and lives as they please all week.

[Sometimes they don't even behave in the short weekly visits! I know one church that personally persecutes, judges, and slanders their literal neighbors even while they are still attending as a group. The gospel clearly means nothing to them. Apparently they have had just enough exposure to the gospel in there to vaccinate them from ever catching the Holy Ghost!]

'Fellowship' in these setups is limited to the few friends they chose and is indistinguishable from carnal friendships - outside of any Bible studies they have together. Anyone not in these networks, or downed on by them is not treated as a brother or sister in Christ. Believers in other denominations are not acknowledged as family. To my mind this isn't fellowship at all - and so I do not forsake it by not attending these hypocrisy fests.

This is not to say that 'regular' churches can't be real fellowships or attendees are all fakers, but the setup makes it easy for fakers to slide and for the fires of those seeking to the serve the Lord to be somewhat quenched with no one they can definitely share the passion of their lives with. The Catholic Chrurch talks about the 'church within the church' - which has become a code phrase for the wheat among the tares in their fields. You can still get blessed even at a high mass, but you can't guarantee that you will easily find the other real believers in the cathedral just by showing up one day.

This is true in protestant churches as well. Knots of real believers may gather around the official services, and may be fed a bit by the teaching, but the real work and life of such churches tends to be 'on the side' - in the outreach ministries done by the layfolk, in the discussions of the enthused outside the 'led' Bible studies, in impromptu worship services that began as the prayer before the potluck or party. I think this book brings out very well why this is so.

I strongly recommend every believer read this book with an open mind. You don't have to agree with everything the authors believe to be blessed by a greater understanding of how Christian gatherings, relationships, and worship have changed over time.

Christians need to learn from the past too. We have nothing to lose from it but falsely based guilt trips! (Loved the section on tithing!)

Thursday, June 02, 2011

Recent Mysteries

My summer is a bit busy at present. DH had another visit to the hospital last week due to some complications. I think they are still from the last surgery, but nobody really knows. DS is finally getting over his complications from the oral surgery this spring. He's been through 3 rounds of antibiotic, and still had notable swelling, but the vitamin C (and time) we went to afterward seem to be working at last. Thanks to the early heat wave, I have had to replace our old gauze caftans recently for the ladies of the house. Gauze cotton is the absolute best for beating the heat, but, like many good things, it doesn't last.

I have fit in a few mysteries, and since I promised to list and review at least 12 for that reading resolution thingy (note the sidebar button), here are the reviews I have written since the last time. :)

Crewel World by Monica Ferris (reading now)
[from Amazon] When Betsy's sister is murdered in her own needlecraft store, Betsy takes over the shop and the investigation. But to find the murderer, she'll have to put together a list of motives and suspects to figure out this killer's pattern of crime -

Pick Your Poison by Leean Sweeney ~ 4/5 stars ~ finished May 24, 2011
(Yellow Rose Mystery 1)
Some things I really, really liked about this mystery and its main characters, and some I didn't -  like the way the heroine betrays the trust of her brother-in-law, reflexively fibs, and the way she responds to her sleazy ex.  Crazy number of coincidences too, but it all works out in the end.

A Wedding to Die For by Leean Sweeney ~ 4/5 stars ~ finished May 25, 2011
(Yellow Rose Mystery 2)
Our heroine from Pick Your Poison decides to start a specialized PI business, helping adopted kids find their original parents. Her client invites her to help with the wedding, and claims to be keeping her work a secret - but several of the family already know about it. Its hardly surprising that the adoptive family has some issues after learning of the effort, given the skeletons in their corporate closet, but which of them killed the father of the bride?

The heroine behaves far better in this edition, but the family members she investigates are a pretty big downer. Well written, but not entirely a favorite.

A Deadly Cliche by Ellery Adams  ~ 5/5 stars ~ finished May 23, 2011
(Books by the Bay 2)
Pretty heavy emotional baggage for a cozy mystery, but very well written :)

Olivia is still in a state of personal transition since the last book. She is unsure of her current relationship with the gregarious bookseller, unsure of her feelings for the police chief, and how to handle her increasing closeness with her fellow writers/friends. Into all of this personal questing comes a tropical system, a suspicious letter saying her long lost father is still alive but declining quickly- please send money- and a serial killer/burglar that threatens one of her friends. In a way, Olivia welcomes the challenges these mysteries present (she's not especially worried about the storm.) They allow her room to breathe and stay involved while she tries to decide which way she will move on with her life.

Trouble in Spades by Heather Webber ~ 5/5 stars ~ finished May 5, 2011
(Nina Quinn 2)
Very hectic, but definitely amusing. The main villains of the piece were fairly obvious, but how the story would play out was anything but! Nina's entire clan prepares for her sister's wedding, while trying to solve the fishy disappearance of the groom. Meantime, Nina and her son assist the effort to find the granny panty bandit at loose in their neighborhood.

Busybody by M.C. Beaton ~ 5/5 stars ~ finished April 28, 2011
(Agatha Raisin 21)
Brilliant! Agatha attends a Ladies function for the parish that ends with the murder of an overly officious bureaucrat who has been ruining everyone's traditional plans for Christmas. Several other attempted and successful murders (including - possibly- an elderly beagle) may or may not be related, but with Agatha's talented crew of detectives and friends around, nothing can go unsolved for long.

Glazed Murder by Jessica Beck ~2/5 stars ~ finished April 18, 2011
(Donut Shop 1)
This mystery didn't mesh for me. I never really believed in the characters' interactions or the situation. The heroine didn't seem real. Her actions didn't seem to make sense if you took the situation at face value. It didn't seem badly written exactly, but I just couldn't get into it!

I seriously disliked some of this book's vibes, but as I am unsure as to whether they were intended, I won't go into those undertones here. Besides, any book that paints a 'vicious gossip' as a reliable source of information loses points with me right off.

The Plot That Thickened by P.G. Wodehouse ~ 3/5 stars ~ finished May 12, 2011
 Not one of Wodehouse's best, but good fun just the same. If you ignore when the book is supposed to be taking place (supposed to be the late 60's, but reads like the 20/30's), and the cultural mistakes (the Americans aren't very American at all), it reads just fine. ;)

Night of the Living Deed by E.J. Copperman ~ 5/5 stars ~ finished April 4, 2011
(Haunted Guesthouse 1)
Surprisingly good paranormal mystery. Alison buys a house to fix up and use as a guesthouse but the previous owner (Maxie) and the PI she hired have other plans. They want her to solve their murder, which was passed off as suicide. The killer wants Alison to find the historic deed to the place, which was allegedly signed by George Washington. & Alison just wants her life to be sane again. lol  Its a fun romp of a mystery. Well worth your time!

An Uninvited Ghost by E.J. Copperman ~ 5/5 stars ~ finished April 17, 2011
(Haunted Guesthouse 2)
Improbably busy, ghost-filled fun! Alison is now trying to get her inn off the ground with the help of two unexpected offers. One from a tour group catering to ghost-hunting seniors fills most of her hours and rooms with certified eccentrics. The second offer is from the producer handling four foul-mouthed 'youths' from a cable 'reality' show (plus crew, makeup, extra lights, and emotional baggage.) During a televised seance, a last minute guest is murdered and Alison has her hands full trying to juggle her regular duties and solve the crime. Thank goodness she has help from beyond...

A Crafty Killing by Lorraine Bartlett ~ 5/5 stars ~ March 25, 2011
A definite page-turner! I didn't guess the killer or the reason. Honestly, the bigger mystery was what was going to happen with the Artisans group, Katie Bonner etc. It will be interesting to see where events lead for these characters.

Carbs and Cadavers by J.B Stanley ~ 5/5 stars ~ finished March 24, 2011
1st book in the supper club series. Surprisingly deep! I picked out the villain early on but not entirely the motive. Well worth your time :) Its great to see these everyday people working toward their personal goals while inspiring those around them. :D

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Treating Jack Right

No, not talking about the latest Pirates of the Caribbean film. (We haven't even seen it yet, though we intend to!)

This is a devotional thought inspired by our little dog, Jack.

      Jack has turned into a decent pet, though we still have to watch him around strangers. I don't think I mentioned that Jack was the alpha puppy in a less socialized setting. He was actually brought to us a little early because he tried to challenge his father and they had to break up the scene when they realized that more than correction was going to follow. Every so often Jack still kids himself that he can be dominant pet (that position is firmly held by our biggest cat, Louis) or even higher... We read the pet books while training him, and watched a lot of Cesar Milan, and we are doing fine now, but only because we make sure that he has to ask to come sit with us, check his obedience levels often - even over his dinner bowl, get him lots of exercise, and make him earn goodies by doing what tricks he can.

We had a ham roast last month, and Tom wanted to give him the meaty bone, as it looked thick enough to be safe for his size to chew on (not easy for him to fracture.) It took us hours of working with him before we were confident about letting him have the last of the leftovers and the big ole bone.  Even then we had to work him afterward when he started jump up on the couch uninvited....

      Another dog would simply have gotten the scraps, but you do that with Jack and he gets stupid within hours, sometimes within minutes. He takes it as tribute to his awesomeness if not made to beg and recognize his dependence OFTEN.

     People are like that too, with God. We complain about our trials, but they make us ask God for things we too easily take for granted, or somehow think we are entitled to have. Reversals drive us back to our knees to check what is really okay with the Almighty, and not just equate what we are physically able to manage with heavenly permission. We haven't always offended God when trials come. Many trials happen just because we live in a fallen world, but from God's point of view. it does us good to come before Him often, even if its only because we are continually asking Him for what we need and want. Many years of dependence on God builds a healthy habit of talking to God continually, seeking His company, wisdom, grace, and reassurance. We need God ALWAYS, everyday. Everything good about us comes from walking with and before Him, but we are not often able to internalize this wisdom until we have survived a lot of trials and pains, and seen God's calm descend on the storms of our lives. If we persevere, we learn gratitude and appreciation of the awesome power of God, and one day we will know what a generous gift has been given through our current circumstances.

In the Bible, especially in the Old Testament, God complains many times about how people seek Him earnestly in their need; but once they are full of food and well off, they forget to stay close to the One who gave them everything. In fact, He warns Israel prior to entering the Promised Land that they will be tempted to this behavior, but that disaster will follow if they allow themselves to forget His warning. The following history then shows Israel fighting to become established and talking to God often, but then falling away from God toward other idols and carnal appetites during the good times. Eventually invaders come or plagues strike and they beseech God's mercy and help again. He relents ~ and within some years, they start falling away again. wash. rinse. repeat.

Read any of the Old Testament prophets for very long and you will see this problem attitude of humanity discussed. See Jeremiah 3, Ezekial 16-24, Hosea, Isaiah, even Micah!

The New Testament doesn't discuss this inbuilt failing of human nature as explicitly, but it is mentioned as a carnal attitude to avoid...

1 But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. 2 People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, 3 without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, 4 treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God— 5 having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with such people. 2 Timothy 3:1-5

"He said, 'In a certain city there was a judge who neither feared God nor had respect for people. In that city there was a widow who kept coming to him and saying, “Grant me justice against my opponent.” For a while he refused; but later he said to himself, “Though I have no fear of God and no respect for anyone, yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will grant her justice, so that she may not wear me out by continually coming.” ’ And the Lord said, ‘Listen to what the unjust judge says. And will not God grant justice to his chosen ones who cry to him day and night? Will he delay long in helping them? I tell you, he will quickly grant justice to them. And yet, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?"
Jesus - Luke 18:1-8

Will He find faith on the Earth when God is always Faithful? What a question! Why would He not, unless we have already forgotten His benefits, chosen to believe we gained whatever we have by luck or skill, or taken a daily sufficiency (or even larger blessings) for proof we are a superior bunch who don't need to check back with the author and source of goodness to remain good? People aren't that daft are they? Are we all like Jack? One decent hambone and we think we rule our world again?

Friday, May 20, 2011

Personality Quizzes

Advanced Global Personality Test Results
Work ethic||||||||||||50%
Need to dominate||||||30%
Change averse||||||30%
Peter pancomplex||||||||||40%
Take Free Advanced Global Personality Test
personality test by

Big Five Word Test Results
Extroversion (47%) medium which suggests you are moderately talkative, outgoing, sociable and interacting.
Accommodation (55%) medium which suggests you are moderately kind natured, trusting, and helpful while still maintaining your own interests.
Orderliness (67%) moderately high which suggests you are, at times, overly organized, neat, structured and restrained at the expense too often of flexibility, variety, spontaneity, and fun.
Emotional Stability (58%) moderately high which suggests you are relaxed, calm, secure, and optimistic.
Inquisitiveness (55%) medium which suggests you are moderately intellectual, curious, and imaginative.
Take Free Big Five Word Choice Test
personality tests by

Cattell's 16 Factor Test Results
Warmth |||||||||||||||||||||||||||| 82%
Intellect |||||||||||||||||||||||||||| 86%
Emotional Stability ||||||||||||||||||||| 70%
Aggressiveness |||||||||||||||||| 58%
Liveliness ||||||||| 22%
Dutifulness ||||||||||||||||||||| 62%
Social Assertiveness ||||||||||||||||||||| 70%
Sensitivity ||||||||||||||| 50%
Paranoia ||||||||||||||||||||| 62%
Abstractness |||||||||||||||||||||||||||| 82%
Introversion ||||||||||||||| 42%
Anxiety ||||||||||||||| 42%
Openmindedness ||||||||||||||||||||| 70%
Independence ||||||||||||||| 42%
Perfectionism ||||||||||||||| 50%
Tension ||||||||| 26%
Take Cattell 16 Factor Test (similar to 16pf)
personality tests by

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Saturday, April 02, 2011

Martin Hayes and Dennis Cahill

As the weather warms, I am thinking of the neat festivals that bloom with the flowers...
This guy is one my Mom's favorites. He came to an Irish music festival in our area awhile ago. :D

This snippet of wonderfulness was recorded at the Richmond (VA) Festival in Oct, 2009 :D

Sunday, March 06, 2011

March Mystery Reviews

I expect will have to add to this post as the month progresses. I have 2-3 cozy mysteries going now (not sure if Wodehouse counts), and one I hope to read ASAP, as you can see on my Shelfari page

Carbs and Cadavers by J.B. Stanley
(still reading)

Excellent so far!

A William & Mary Professor moves back into the small Shenandoah town from whence and takes a job as the local librarian. He came in order to care for his widowed father, but the lack of his usual involvements leaves him too much time to indulge in his favorite snack(s). He joins the local dieting supper club to make some friends and lose some weight just as a big mystery overshadows the little town of Quincy Gap.

 A Crafty Killing by Lorraine Bartlett

also great so far :))

Kate Bonner finds herself stuck with a majority ownership of Artisan's Alley, her husband's dream business, after both her husband and his partner pass away unexpectedly. (Kate's dream was to run a Victorian B & B.) Her husband's partner turns out to be only the first killing in Artisans Alley. Kate finds herself suddenly involved in trying to solve the crimes and save her husband's business.

The Plot That Thickened by P.G. Wodehouse
 aka Pearls, Girls, and Monty Bodkin (still reading)

This one's more cozy than mystery, but is very good.
A library was giving it away and I was tickled to get a new--to-me Wodehouse :D

Poor Monty Bodkin found his inherited wealth insufficient to win the familial approval of Gertrude, his lady fair. To fix this Monty served a year to prove himself to the prospective father-in-law, only to be disqualified by how he had gotten the job. He decides to persevere and finds fresh employment as secretary to his old boss in England, since the American family happens to be visiting for an extended period. Monty's erstwhile secretary has also taken employment with the Llewellyn's, in order to pursue him. A trio of shady sorts have set their sights on Mrs Llewellyn's pearls, and Gertrude's father is now close enough to hope to botch Monty's hopes of marrying into his family...

A Killer Plot by Ellery Adams 5/5

A terrific debut mystery! Surprising twists and turns in this cozy about a wannabe author who finally joins her local writer's group and finds she has to face her own ghosts while helping find the killer of a new friend. Very good!

Revenge for Old Time's Sake by Kris Neri 4/5
 (finished 2/2/11)

This is the third 'act' of Tracy Eaton's exciting life. This time her husband Drew has been framed for the murder of a colleague he had just socked in the nose, after, ironically, they had just won an unlikely case together.

Tracy calls on every friend and family member available to her, which includes her prickly mother-in-law, Charlotte. Charlotte and Tracy's Mom, Martha, do NOT get along, which makes every outing with one or both of them an even larger adventure. :)

There is a lot of 'action' in their efforts to free Drew and catch the real killer. It wasn't hard to picture this one on T.V. or even in a movie. I found some elements a bit over-the-top, but given as it is set in Hollywood's backyard, maybe that's just how it should be!

It takes Tracy quite a while to get the information she needs to make progress. I solved it way ahead of her this time, just by recognizing a cliched character. The nature of that cliche is why it lost a star and favorite status with me, but I will say I thought it was otherwise very well-written and well worth your time

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Looking Forward to Spring

Oh,  I am so looking forward to spring. There are so many flowers that I look forward to seeing again.

Soon we will have the yearly profusions of pansies and daffodils stretched down the village main-street, the farmer's market, and the roadside nurseries. They are the favorite flowers here. I especially love the way the yellow daisies seem to bring the fresh spring sunshine back into the fields, as if announcing the sun's warmth has returned from some long southern migration. I look forward to the rich sweet-smelling mulch we will need to spread again, and glorious velvet pink and purple petunias that will again brighten our backdoor. I love the pansies too, even if they do remind me of that Alice in Wonderland 'flower song' every time I see them, a brain worm that can wriggle around all day.
Marigolds are cheerful too, and I especially enjoy the way they discourage mosquitoes from guarding the backdoor!

My mother bought me one of those hyacinths in a dutch planter thingy as a kid. I loved that plant. I loved its beautiful spire. I loved the strong scents that covered the decidedly un-awesome scent of the bayou outside my window (my step-father had a good job in Louisiana that winter). I looooved its bright cheerfulness when all else was gloomy brown moss. That was the year I learned how much difference an indoor plant can make!

I haven't planted a hyacinth in the outside flower garden yet, but I keep thinking about it.

Closest we came was the gladiolas we planted last year. Unfortunately they fell over instead of standing straight and tall and blooming hugely. A heavy rain largely unburied them when they were still bulbs. We didn't notice until too late. I have to admit, their silly little flower faces planted square in the mulch gave me quite a few giggles, but weren't quite what I was looking for in a flower.

I love tiger lilies and day lilies. The most loving, most Christ-minded church I have ever attended was several hours west of where we live now. Sadly, I have been told they are now gone. But, when I was young,& they had glowing mobs of them all around their front porch, and even straggling off in pious lines towards the woods. This one is love by association, but it counts. To this day, seeing a tiger lily anywhere lifts my spirits and sets my heart singing those old familiar hymns.

I love buttercups, honeysuckle, daisies, violets, and dandelions. I picked many wild bouquets for my own mother. I wore them in sweet-smelling tiaras, long necklaces, and fragrant belts. I rejoiced when in my turn my young children brought their mommy-love bouquets to me from our meadow. I am looking forward to the wildflowers blooming again and bringing with them the sweetness and beauty of those memories.


I also love roses. 
I admit it. I especially love the ones my daughter has planted year after year in honor of
mother's day and my birthday. She has so faithfully tended them outside the house ever since. They have grown far more quickly than I expected! The scent on warm evenings lightly tinges the house with her kindness and dedication.

I remember too the time when my husband I were still courting. He wanted to get me a dozen roses but could only afford one. So - he brought that one....and when he could manage it again he brought another, and then another. Eventually he managed the whole dozen, and I loved every single one until the last petal fell... and I never forgot.

~ and now, thanks to you, I have written today's blog. Great post, Lorna!

Sunday, February 06, 2011

Cozy Chicks: Yes, I'm Giving Away A Kindle!

Cozy Chicks: Yes, I'm Giving Away A Kindle!: "A Deadly Cliché Kindle Contest! Ellery AdamsThe purpose: To generate early sales for A Deadly Cliché and to thank the readers who’ve made ..."

A very good cozy author has a new book coming out this month, and in its honor she is going to give away a Kindle. Obviously, I'd love to win it as I still don't have an e-reader of my own, but even more I'd like to let my readers know about her new book & contest ~ hence the blog :D

Mystery & Suspense Reading Challenge 2011 - Update

I mentioned I had joined the list of people who promised to read 12 mysteries this year. How am I doing? Just fine! I didn't really think I'd do 12 in a month in which I have other books I need to study. I didn't mean I'd do 12 in January, just that I have read that many in one month before. Here's my current list, plus the reviews for each I wrote on my Shelfari page.

I did receive a book from the group, The Survivor by Sean Slater,  but as it isn't my type of mystery, Tom is reading it first. So far he says its decently written but the author's lack of familiarity with firearms really shows.

Here's the current list ~

Aunt Dimity and the Duke by Nancy Atherton Finished 1/3/2011
Its a fun book, but much less plausible than the first in the series. Aunt Dimity's appearances are more like cameos.

Dem Bones Revenge by Kris Neri Finished 1/19/2011

This was one exciting mystery! It had my attention from the first pages and didn't let up the pace until the very end. I was surprised not to get a particular announcement by the end of it though. Tracy certainly sounded like she was expecting changes. :)

Book 1 was largely about her husband Drew's family. This time the action centers on Tracy's mother who is inexplicably found standing over the murdered body of an old Hollywood hack who just happens to have been in a lawsuit with one of Drew's clients. It doesn't look good for her, especially since she is clearly hiding something, or perhaps quite a few things! Tracy's difficulty in relating to her mother is slowly explained as we see Martha pretty much turn Tracy's household on its ear while her daughter tries to find the real killer and keep her elusive diva mother safe at the same time.

It turns out Tracy can't remember clearly much of her earliest childhood, but its been haunting her dreams and even her daydreams. She finally finds out why by the end.

Now I am really looking forward to the third book :D

Crossing the Lion by Cynthia Baxter Finished 1/23/2011

I didn't enjoy this one near as much as the others in the series. I am not sure why. Seemed well enough written. The ending was a real let down, but I'd gone off it way before then.

How to Wash a Cat by Rebecca Hale Finished 1/30/2011

Confusing! At the end all I knew was that some of the people the narrator had seen were each other... I can't tell for sure which ones were doing the double appearance trick. It was disorienting never to learn the narrator's name or know more of her story. The writing had promise but every time I started to get really into it the book would confuse me again with its flashbacks and jumping around (the cat's bath is basically in the book 3x). & I don't think I ever saw a story in which EVERYONE was so obsessed with knowing what happened to some poor slob well over a hundred years ago.

Monday, January 03, 2011

Happy New Year!

Hope yours is lovely! We spent a quiet New Year's Eve. We had some nice snacks we set aside, but didn't feel like anything noisy, so regular TV was out. Haven't liked the "New Year's Eve" specials in years so we just don't bother. We did go see "Voyage of the Dawn Treader" (in 2D- matinee pricing) and it was as wonderful as we'd hoped! So that's a nice note for the transition to 2011. I was beginning to be concerned we wouldn't manage to catch it. There were a number of family films that sounded promising this year but we couldn't afford to see all of them.

They really caught the feel of that most famous image of the Dawn Treader. I loved those skies! Reminded me of realMyst for a minute, then I recalled that I had loved the sky effect in that game in part because it reminded me of the picture of the Dawn Treader, so its more like coming full circle to my original inspirations... I was disappointed more people weren't there with us, but its near the end of the rather short run. At least those with us laughed and sighed at the right moments. You can't count on that anymore.

Which brings me to what tipped me over into blogging tonight ~

**WARNING I am not advocating reading the comments beneath the story in that link. Many aren't family friendly. I am just saying I read them while thinking about the article...

I just read a long set of comments on a story about how attendance is down at the theaters during the holidays** (and generally). There seems to be some surprise that people aren't going to the movies more when they did in the Big Depression (Is this a sideways acknowledgement of where we really are?). They expect 2011 will be even worse. (hhmmm..not expecting a boom economy soon then?)

Its really not that hard to figure.

1) Discretionary spending is down. People bought the expected presents so they didn't see as many movies, especially at Christmas.

2) MANY people are disenchanted with Hollyweird's lack of family-friendliness, political leanings, and/or anti-mainstream messages... Even those who are okay with that part of it are getting burnt out by the repetitiveness and mediocrity that seems to plague most releases.

3) The only exceptions to the general public distrust are for Pixar's family films, (and those that manage to get near that standard. Dreamworks has had quite a few good ones lately.) ...and even those are hurt by the high prices of film going these days. Popcorn and drink prices have always been outrageous, compared with usual cost, but now the regular ticket prices plus concession fare could set you back as much as a cheap DVD player plus a recent DVD film...that's when you really notice.

4) ...and those high prices get even higher when you 'have' to see it in 3D. Not many good films need 3D, it makes many people queasy/headache-y, and there are warnings that its not good for the eyesight of young children ~ which discourages even more families from making the sacrifice.

My family is among the many that actively avoids full price generally and 3D showings specifically. This relates to the movies we especially wanted to see on the BIG screen, most films we're content to wait. We last endured 3D for Toy Story 3, which is a great film, but would have been better for us without that gimmick. We felt sick afterward. This doesn't make the 'great movie experience.' We have enough issues with the increasing use of 'air fresheners' in area cinemas. We'd love it if they would stop the obligatory 3D releases. 

5) Yes, people want distraction from their current worries but there is more and cheaper competition.

When movies were king in the last 'recession,' there was no 'after-market' of DVD (formerly VHS) and color TVs at home. If you waited a few months to see the latest cool movie in the 30's, you likely wouldn't see it at all.

There were no game consoles, often with a cheap back library of greatest hits titles to play once you saved up for it. (I'm not talking the deep pockets- first adopters here, this is the masses who have to CHOOSE what to save to see.) Some people are even discovering what I've known for years, that replaying old favorite games can be fun and relaxing. For example, I have replayed "Mario Sunshine" every winter since we got it. Cheers me up a treat. Used to do the same thing each winter with my fav adventure game before 'Sunshine' came out for that 'virtual fun in the sun' experience. (The old Zelda games help too. ;)

There was no cable TV, just radio, and that had only a few channels. Even with the generally poor choices you can usually find something decent on much of the time, especially on the documentary and classic movie channels. If you can't afford cable anymore, I'm betting you've already cut movie theaters out of your budget.

There was no internet, with online places to hang with your crowd and entertain (or low) additional surcharge, not to mention the free public domain movies online, free uni courses, freeware games, demos, hosted documentaries and the many funny clips on youtube...and that's for the non-bibliophiles. Books are still very popular at my house. You can still buy amusing books for less than a dollar at area thrift stores ;-)

6) Movie theaters are becoming less and less comfortable in many locations. I am not picking on our area theaters, because the big megaplex tries very hard to make their place worth the money (and generally they succeed). Even the budget place has been doing much better lately, though they really need to clean the glass in front of the projection booth.

But poor or tight, a lot movie theaters are not cleaning as often as they should, many have tiny chairs, tinny worn-out speakers that produce unpleasant loud noises instead of THX-style productions and/or inconsiderate cinema experiences (much of this from other audience members, but it still impacts the results.) 3D glasses just add to the annoyances.

7)  Did I mention people are feeling broke? Gas is going up again. News stories are gloomy. Gloomy movies are the last thing most people want to see, but that is still what Hollyweird wants to make and what it honors in its artists year after year. People I know want fantasies they can lose themselves in for an hour or three, with a happy ending, or at least a ~ mostly ~ happy ending.

So ~ if Christian-tinged stories do not offend you, if you can afford it this week, and if you can find it in 2D, I can heartily recommend Dawn Treader to you, since it is more than able to fulfill such requirements. ;-)

"Tangled" is pretty good too. :)