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Archive for June, 2010

When one is not able to tend ones garden.. alien things begin to grow!

but it is beautiful isn’t it?!!

I thought my Desert Flower plant had died but it may be making a comeback!

The Mexican Heather still blooms but not as much as before..

..but the Marigolds are filling in nicely.

The Pond itself seems almost like a stranger to me after so long inside.. When I first looked out it looked like no birds at all were around.. then I spied the big Heron (who stayed all day long! Which is rare.)

 

Later in the day I spied the Anhinga sharing the fountain stone with a turtle..

It seems the Moorhens have really taken over the pond.  Having 6 teenagers and 6 babies here all at once!

The Moorhen chicks have certainly grown since I was able to get outside!   They have gone from this…..

..to this!…

“Fuzzy-butt”

Actually, it’s pretty quiet as I watch the pond.. but every now and then we get a visitor or the chicks come by.

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The Prince of Mist by Carlos Ruiz Zafon

Hardcover: 224 pages
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers(May 4, 2010)
ISBN-10: 0316044776

Amazon.com Review

It’s war time, and the Carver family decides to leave the capital where they live and move to a small coastal village where they’ve recently bought a home. But from the minute they cross the threshold, strange things begin to happen. In that mysterious house still lurks the spirit of Jacob, the previous owners’ son, who died by drowning.

With the help of their new friend Roland, Max and Alicia Carver begin to explore the strange circumstances of that death and discover the existence of a mysterious being called the Prince of Mist–a diabolical character who has returned from the shadows to collect on a debt from the past. Soon the three friends find themselves caught up in an adventure of sunken ships and an enchanted stone garden–an adventure that will change their lives forever.

This is the 3rd book by Carlos Ruiz Zafon that I have read, but the first young adult book by him I’ve read.

Zafron’s other books are Shadow of the Wind and The Angels Game, both adult mysteries and excellent, excellent books.

I have to admit when I first purchased this book I wasn’t aware it was a young adult book, nor did I know this was a much earlier book of his that has just been re-released.

One thing I did find out by reading this smaller book was that I could see how he progressed into the other books he has written.  He is truly and excellent story teller/ author.

In this book the young protagonist is named Max.  Max and his sisters move when their dad decides to move out of the city because the war was too close.  They move to a beach house, and from that time on nothing will ever be the same for Max or his sister Alicia. There’s just something about the house they moved into that makes Max decide to try to know more about it.

The book is an enjoyable mystery read.  I think it is quite original in it’s story and although it could have been read in one loooong sitting it took me a few days .

I’ve pretty much come to the conclusion that I will read more of Mr Zafon’s books as they are released.

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The Last Man on the Moon by Gene Cernan

Paperback: 368 pages
Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin (July 1, 2000)
ISBN-10: 0312263511

Considering the President has recently brought the fact that we were finally returning to the moon to a screeching halt.. I found reading “The Last Man on the Moon” appropriate.

Amazon.com Review

That “Geno” Cernan was commander of Apollo 17, the final manned moon mission, was a fitting conclusion to a flying career that included two previous stints in space (Gemini 9 and Apollo 10). His frank, earthy memoir of his years at NASA adds another entertaining, informative volume to the burgeoning shelf of books illuminating the inner workings of the space program and the people who made it happen. Coauthor Don Davis, a veteran journalist, helps Cernan craft a colloquial prose style that nicely captures the competitive, macho personality that seemed virtually mandatory for astronauts in the 1960s and ’70s. Cernan candidly depicts the reckless streak that twice led to needless injuries jeopardizing his spot on a mission. He also acknowledges the stresses endured by his ex-spouse Barbara as she struggled to be the perfect astronaut wife–cheerful and uncomplaining for the cameras while he experienced all the fun and adventure of the job. And it sure was fun, as becomes clear in the exciting descriptions of his spacewalk from Gemini 9 and stroll around the moon from Apollo 17. Detailed accounts of each flight, including technical problems and personal tensions (particularly with Apollo 17 teammate Jack Schmitt, distrusted because he was a scientist, not a test pilot), remind readers that the space program is a human endeavor, with inevitable failures that make the triumphs that much sweeter.

Gene Cernan has been, and might well be, the last man to ever step foot on the moon.  I pray this is not true.

I have found that over the years, as I occasionally read autobiographies or biographies of our astronauts from the time of *the race for the moon* , that small tidbits of unknown facts leak out.  Of *near misses* and *close encounters* (not with aliens) and *what almost was or could have been* surface and I find them very interesting.  It makes the astronauts all the more brave, and all the more heroes.  This book was no exception.

My hero worship of the astronauts from Mercury, Gemini and Apollo are unmatched. Having said that and not knowing what else to say, I think I will just write some excerpts from “The Last Man on the Moon”…

The clamped our helmets in place, turned on the oxygen, and we could no longer touch, smell or hear the outside world.  Tom and I became different from any other creatures on Earth that day.  We would breathe pure oxygen for the next three hours to rid out systems of the nitrogen that might cause bubbles in our blood during a rapid change of altitude, not unlike the “bends” that can afflict a diver rising too fast through the water.

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We awoke to Arlo Guthrie singing “City of New Orleans”.  Jack and I had a different destination.  We climber aboard Challenger at 8:50 AM December 11, Texas Time, and donned our suits, zipped and snapped, connected the helmets, and put on the gloves.  Many of the items we needed for the lunar landing were crammed inside the spacecraft, and the outer edges of Challenger were lined with the folded Rover and other things too large to fit in th e cabin.  It looked like Fibber McGee’s closet on the inside and the Beverly Hillbillies’ truck on the outside.

When all was ready, we undocked at 11:21 am, “Okay Houston.  This is America, Ron radioed.  We’re floating free out here.  The Challenger looks real pretty.

Checkout is complete, I reported, we’re looking at America the beautiful

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I took one last unfiltered look at the Earth and was enveloped by a sense of selfishness, for I was unable to adequately share what I felt.  I wanted everyone on my home planet to experience this magnificent feeling of actually being on the Moon.  That was not technologically possible, and I knew it, but there was a bit of guilt at being the Chosen One.  I put a foot on the pad and grabbed the ladder.  I knew that I had changed in the past three days and that I no longer belonged solely to the Earth.  Forever more, I would belong to the universe.  With everyone back home listening, I ignored the notes on my cuff checklist and spontaneously spoke from my heart.

“As we leave the Moon and Taurus-Littrow, we leave as we came, and God willing, as we shall return, with peace and hope for all mankind.” I lifted my boot from the lunar dust, adding, ” As I take these last steps from the surface for some time to come, I’d just like to record that America’s challenge of today has forged man’s destiny of tomorrow.”  As I turned, I again saw the small sign pasted beneath the ladder by some unknown well-wishing worker, a phrase that I repeated every time I entered or left the Challenger. “Godspeed the crew of Apollo Seventeen” I said and climbed on board.

Mine would be man’s last footstep on the Moon for many years to come.

And of course as we know now.. his footprints may well be the last footprints man EVER puts on the moon.

(below photo’s from the web)

Gene Cernan on the moon…leaving footprints for all time.

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I just want to thank everyone concerned about my not being on line.  I have had some surgery that didn’t go quite the way I expected and it’s taking longer to recover.. I hope to get back soon!!!  Thank you all so very much, it means a lot to me.

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Well the Moorhens strutted their stuff this morning bringing their 6 new babies on to solid ground!!  The last 6 were in attendance helping herd the new youngsters… and EVERYONE was hungry!

 

(any idea’s for 6 names??  The Brady Bunch? lol)

 

everyone here thought it incredible that the other 6 all survived and now they are helping with the new 6 !! (the first 6 can’t even fly yet!)

First come first serve with the bread!

(below)…3 day old Moorhen baby.

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It stormed again late yesterday and into the evening, so first thing I do in the morning (once it’s daylight) is to look out and make sure *Gilligan’s Island* is not submerged especially now with the Moorhens nest there!

I was taken aback to see the Egret on the island!

I figured mama Moorhen would be quite nervous!  You can see just how close they were! (it’s a tiny tiny island !)

…but Mama kept her *eagle eyes* on him at all times!

The Egret didn’t stay long and Mama was more than happy to see him leave!

 

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Carl at Stainless Steel Droppings, did a post on Favorite Authors…  I told him I would think on it and then maybe do a small post.  I am glad he clarified  the meaning of “favorite”…

*”favorite” can be defined a number of ways and I am not a stickler on what that means. They might be authors that you have read and enjoyed for a long time or those you have just recently come to admire. For the most part I classify my favorites as authors I have re-read many times and/or have read several of their novels and/or cannot wait until their next novel comes out and/or cannot shut up about them.

My memory of being very young is very selective and I can’t honestly say I remember very much let alone, did I do a lot of reading and if so who or what?  I have one vague memory of reading Zane Grey a lot.. most likely because back in the day that there were only a few channels on television to watch many of the shows were serial westerns like Roy Rogers and the Lone Ranger.  So I am guessing that’s where the Zane Grey books came from.

Anyway… here’s what I managed to come up with ….

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authors recommended :

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My love of Fantasy books I attribute to two people.  My brother who insisted I read “The Hobbit” and JRR Tolkien for writing it and sharing it with the world.

  That was back when I was still able to read the small paperback books.  The Hobbit became “glued” to my hand, I could not set it down!  I still totally remember standing in my kitchen stirring spaghetti sauce while reading the book at the same time!!  Needless to say LOTR followed close behind.  But I do also remember the first time I read those books.. for whatever reason I kept getting the names of Saurman  and Sauron mixed up and would need to sort out “who” I was reading about!  (thank goodness for the movies! lol)

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     Dragonlance & Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman, in my eyes cannot be separated!  I can thank my son Tom for finding them for me.  One year for my birthday or Christmas (I can’t recall) he gave me a Dragonlance Trilogy written by Weis and Hickman.  I went on to read many more books by them both and many years after reading the small paperbacks they came out  with the first 6 books in hardback. I was so thrilled that I purchased the hardback versions of the first 6 books to keep for as long as I live!!!

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authors found on my own

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   Laurie R King is a newer author for me…. I found her by picking up a used book of hers for Carls RIP challenge called The Moor. (of course I love the very old Holmes movies with Basil Rathbone which helped) Laurie has several books out on her character of Mary Russell.  Mary just happens to meet Sherlock when she is quite young and winds up marrying him.  She is a perfect *female Sherlock*, and so between the two of them and the wonderful mystery cases that Laurie writes I fell for her books in a big way and read all that she has out on Mary Russell.  I even tried a stand alone book she wrote with new characters and a new mystery called Touchstone and loved it very much indeed!

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Along the way I discovered David Eddings..

  ..and his Belgarion Series! I had to laugh because I kept falling in love with wizards!  First Gandalf and now Belgarath! I didn’t want the adventure to end!  Later he released two separate books, one on Belgarath and one on Polgara which I inhaled like a deep breath of air! I also read other of his books, and although I totally enjoyed them, Belgarath, Polgara and Belgarion will always be my favorites.

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   I can’t believe that I cannot remember the exact day that I came across the dragon-lady herself, Anne McCaffrey!  Talk about books you’ve read and reread and reread!!

I am going to say that her Pern books are my ultimate favorite books. I’ve reread them a few times and I’m always glad when a few years go by and I begin to feel it’s time to read them yet again!  I love all of the characters, all of the dragons and even the planet of Pern itself.  If ever I was truly envious of someone it would be Anne McCaffrey for having all those wonderful people and dragons in her head forever!

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  When I first read  Terry Brooks Shannara series there was all sorts of gossip about the books being a rip-off of LOTR.. but other than the fact it was “a group of friends” on the adventure and indeed there was a wizard , I myself, didn’t make the connection and have reread these books a few times. 

This is another author that I bought the original Shannara books more than once in order to have the fabulous trade paperback books with artwork by the Brothers Hildebrandt.

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  Stephen Donaldson’s Thomas Covenant book (8 books to date and waiting on number 9)  They were really different and I was amazed at how well the books held my attention.  Over the years I’ve heard  people who did NOT like his books but having been a reader for some time now I do know that at times we like or dislike something because of what’s going on in our own life and if we are emotionally having problems.. I have read these a few times also and have patiently been waiting for the 9th book to come out. 

Having written this little blub I get the feeling it’s nearing time for me to visit them again…who could not want to read a book in which there is a friendly giant who lives by the sea by the name of Saltheart Foamfollower!

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Now for two newer authors….

  Cornelia Funke  .  Gosh I have really taken to YA books the past few years and a few authors that jump out at me that I already know I will reread their books: one is Cornelia Funke … (Inkheart series)

.. and the other is Michael Scott. (Nicholas Flamel series)

Two totally different sort of YA stories but both are so outstanding I know I will read them over again. They have a permanent home on my bookshelves !

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A Few books that surprised the heck out of me that I didn’t think I’d like but did anyway:

Drood by Dan Simmons

The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova

The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield

Shadow of the Wind & Angels Game by Carlos Ruiz Zafon

The Woman in White by Wilke Collins

…written by authors that I will read more by so they are high on potential to be more of the above authors!

*deep breath*.. and the list could go on and on and….

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Our daily thunderstorms are here again… I can’t stay I love them because lightening scares both ME and Boo!

This might give you an idea how much rain happens when the skies open up…

(below) where that tall grass is, is where the waterline belongs.

In this shot it shows what happened in just one rain.. the water belongs touching the plants.

This is in front of my building… it’s scary.  it the pond doesn’t lower enough in between the storms it could possibly reach my sliding doors and get into my apartment.  Had I known this I would have taken and upstairs apartment!!

 

And in all this mess……..

 

It’s about to happen for the third time this season….

 

Unless it floats away  (which it well could do!).. birth is once again waiting around the corner for *the pond*..

 

..using my zoom ,this is the best I can do so far… yes folks.. the Moorhens are at it again!! 

This is yet another first for the Moorhens, they don’t usually build their nest on *gilligans island*… they have always made it in the tall reeds.  But the black birds seem to have taken over that area and so, along with still having the first two generations from them at the pond,… the third generation is *in the nest*.

I really hope the rains don’t destroy the nest and loose the eggs.

..but.. if it should..we are well aware there will still be more Moorhens before long!

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