Archive for November, 2011

Oscar Wilde & the Dead Man’s Smile by Gyles Brandreth.

Paperback: 365 pages
Publisher: Touchstone; (September 1, 2009)
ISBN-10: 1416534857


Starred Review. Oscar Wilde once again makes a convincing detective in Brandreth’s excellent third whodunit to recreate the late Victorian age (after 2008’s Oscar Wilde and a Game Called Murder). Framed as a puzzle posed by Wilde to his friend Arthur Conan Doyle in 1890, this adventure concerns a series of mysterious deaths plaguing a French acting troupe, the Compagnie La Grange, which Wilde encounters aboard ship in 1883. The first death is of a poodle, Marie Antoinette, whose body a customs officer in Liverpool unearths in a dirt-filled trunk that Wilde believed to be full of books he was bringing home from America. Human victims follow, forcing Wilde and his Watson, real-life journalist and Wilde biographer Robert Sherard, to untangle the complicated nest of emotions at play among the members of the Compagnie La Grange. John Dickson Carr fans will be gratified to find echoes of his style in several places, including the use of false endings.

Gyles Brandreth writes excellent “who done it’s”! 

As much as the whole book is enjoyable I would be shocked if anyone knew the answers before the Epilogue at the end of the book!  It’s most brilliant and a really enjoyable read. I am more then happy that I have yet one more Gyles Brandreth book to read!

This latest adventure takes place in France with an acting troupe which is mostly family.  One by one they seem to be commiting suicide, which by the way is legal in France.  It seems that suicide runs in the family… boy does it ever!

Brandreth puts you right into the 1890’s with theater being the ultimate thing to be seen, and actors with larger than life egos. 

But who would “murder” a dog?  There really is a lot going on that I promise you, you won’t find out until the end!

Bravo Gyles Brandreth for once again making Oscar Wilde a real life Sherlock Holmes!

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Have a Happy……

May your day be Merry and Bright…

….and may you feel as stuffed as the Bird!



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(nice post title eh?!)

Well.. first things first…

My most favorite author (ever) has passed away.  Or, as I’d rather think…she’s gone between on her own beloved Queen, for she was a Queen herself.

Anne McCaffrey.  The first woman to make dragons loveable. She created a wonderful planet, the likes of which Pandora would be jealous. And her characters.. well.. they are all so memorable, they are never completely out of my mind no matter how long I go in between re-reads.

anne-mccaf[1] I met her once at a convention.  Loved her immediately. ..and when she told me she fashioned Masterharper Robinton after her neighbor, I quietly asked her, “if I book a flight to Ireland, can I get his address from you?”… I made her laugh!

Thank you Anne McCafferty.. thank you for loving your profession, for bringing to life for me dragons and people that will remain in my memory forever.



Wow.. hard to change topics after that news…

But as you can see… my turkey, which I will cook tomorrow is defrosting nicely in the refrigerator.. awaiting his turn to get a nice golden tan!


On Thanksgiving I will be home alone home[1] (gasp!)  but I HAVE to make a turkey otherwise I can’t make my Turkey Vegetable Soup later… oh forbid I don’t have my soup!!  So tomorrow I will get up and stuff a 14 lb turkey (the smallest one I’ve ever made!) (I’m kinda glad.. I’m not up to cooking the full meal!  Just Turkey, stuffing and gravy with cranberry sauce.)

Although it will be a lot of work to stuff it, cook it, then bone it…. my cat will be forever grateful. (it’s so true that “dogs have masters and cats have slaves!)


My reading has slowed to a crawl … although I am totally enjoying the book I am reading. I guess life sometimes gets in the way.. after all I did have to get through the finale of Dancing With the Stars!


I thought the 3 finalists were all very good and as always it comes down to who has the most fans… but they were all great.  I especially enjoyed seeing Chaz Bono back.. I wish, for his health’s sake, he cold loose some weight, but I can see in his smile that he is  happy…and when I see someone happy, that makes me smile.


Now that Dancing is over for this season I can finally watch Terra Nova on TV instead of on Hulu!

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Just Because..

Just Because nothing is happening and my reading is crawling (not that I’m not enjoying my book!)  And maybe because a friend of mine, Kris, saw this first picture on Facebook and didn’t remember “dead Fred” my steer skull, I thought I’d post these pictures.

Since loving how my Alan Bean picture looked with a decent frame I kept looking at my Cowboy De picture that was hanging in a cheap poster frame with matting that made it bulge and it was driving me crazy.  So since Michael’s was still having a 50% off on frames I went back to see if there was anything there that I could put Cowboy De in.  And because money just wanted to fly out of my hands I did find a frame! (and yes, it was 50% off!)


De looks great now.. when I look at my little cowboy corner I smile.. and sometimes, if my mind won’t shut down, I cry a little… not a day goes by that I don’t miss my friends, the Kelley’s. I’d give anything to sit and talk with them again.  I am more than happy that they were in my life for some ten years…but ten years just wasn’t long enough. I know this because if it was enough I wouldn’t still miss them as much as I do.


Here’s a closer photo of Dead Fred.  Like I mentioned, a gift from Sue Keenan, who probably knew me better then people I had known longer then her.  Because she listened and heard how much I love “cowboy and Indian” decor.  Imagine my surprise when I opened my Christmas Present one year and saw this!  I had to name him and he became Dead Fred (duh..well it would have been a cramped  one bed room apartment had Fred been alive.. I will be forever grateful that Sue realized that! heh)


and over my tv resides a piece of Indian art that Sue also gave me on another Christmas. She kept me to my love of cowboys and Indians that’s for sure!


To show you how I never got over that particular love… here is a photo of my dining area from my California apartment.. (I bought a section of split rail fencing to use as a room divider and then “cowboyed” it up!  All the photo’s on the wall are “movie cowboys”, including De in the middle.  In the bottom left corner you can barely see Dead Fred..


Here’s a better shot of him…


I loved that apartment.. it was an Oversized one bedroom..I can’t say that for apartments here in Fla.! sheesh..

Anyway, … as Porky Pig once said “a-ba-de-a , ba-de-a..that’s all folks!”

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they had a great display of books for Astronaut Al Worden…



As you might have guess I went to a book signing.  The person signing was one of the astronauts who raced for the moon, Al Worden.

Around the other side of the book store I found seats set up for people who were coming for the signing…  The seats got filled and there was standing room only.  That made me feel really good to have a good showing for such a small town as Vero Beach.  I was most glad to see that our Original Astronauts from Mercury/ Gemini and Apollo are not forgotten.


Mr Worden remarked that he flew to the moon 40 years ago when he was a young lad of 40.  I thought he looked rather well for a man of 80 and he had plenty of spirit left in him too!




I noticed a small pin on his jacket and zoomed in…. this is what i learned about it..

The object in the image which is depicted heading for the moon from the Earth is an astronaut pin. Astronauts were given a silver version of this pin when they were accepted into the astronaut corps; and were given a gold version of the pin after their first space flight.


Astronaut Worden talked for about an hour and then opened for questions before sitting down to autograph books…





When the book signing was over I came and had a package waiting for me. I was expecting it but wasn’t sure if it would come today or Monday… inside the box was an absolutely fabulous gift from my girlfriend Michelle…  it’s a 11×14 photo of a painting by Astronaut Alan Bean!


…ahhhyup… autographed!


(the flip side of the picture… note the small photo of Alan Bean in his spacesuit?.. well I met Alan Bean once and guess what photo I had  him sign!?)


Oh yeah!  Now I have TWO Alan Bean signatures!   And I couldn’t be more thrilled…

ok.. well maybe I can be… that will be after I get the Alan Bean “painting” matted and framed and hung on my wall !!!   I can’t wait!


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The Lost Continent

The Lost Continent:Travels in Small Town America by Bill Bryson

Paperback: 320 pages
Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks (August 3, 1990)
ISBN-10: 0060920084



Amazon.com Review

A travelogue by Bill Bryson is as close to a sure thing as funny books get. The Lost Continent is no exception. Following an urge to rediscover his youth (he should know better), the author leaves his native Des Moines, Iowa, in a journey that takes him across 38 states. Lucky for us, he brought a notebook.

With a razor wit and a kind heart, Bryson serves up a colorful tale of boredom, kitsch, and beauty when you least expect it. Gentler elements aside, The Lost Continent is an amusing book. Here’s Bryson on the women of his native state: "I will say this, however–and it’s a strange, strange thing–the teenaged daughters of these fat women are always utterly delectable … I don’t know what it is that happens to them, but it must be awful to marry one of those nubile cuties knowing that there is a time bomb ticking away in her that will at some unknown date make her bloat out into something huge and grotesque, presumably all of a sudden and without much notice, like a self-inflating raft from which the pin has been yanked."

There’s no denying that Bill Bryson has a quick sense of humor, and so I found myself reading a second book by Mr.. Bryson.  In this book he travels around the U.S. in and out of small towns and through some of Nature’s wonders.

I wasn’t but a few pages into the book when Mr.. Bryson describes a town as such: The whole town was as tranquil as a double dose of Valium.  Now, I don’t know about you but that would send me right out in search of that town!… ok so maybe not, heh.  But I did know this was going to be another adventure in which Bill Bryson’s humor would abound as he traveled around our continent.

There really isn’t a lot I can say except when you need something to read and nothing seems to satisfy you ..try something different and read one of Bill Bryson’s comical books! Be careful though, he also writes more serious books, but you can pretty much tell how the book will read by the more professional reviews.

Just to bring out my thoughts on his humor I will leave you with some blurbs so that you might decide for yourself if you might want to read this or not.

(Upon watching tv in a motel in rural America): “I couldn’t believe it. I hadn’t seen Joyce Brothers for years and she hadn’t changed a bit.  Not one hair on her head had altered a fraction since the last time I saw her, droning about menstrual flow in 1962. It was as if they had kept her in a box for 25 years.  This was as close as I would ever come to time travel!”

“Years ago, in the days of Vietnam, two friends and I drove to Florida during spring break. We all had long hair.  En route we took a shortcut across the back roads of Georgia and stopped late one afternoon for a burger at a dinette in some dreary little crudville, and when we took our seats at the counter the place fell silent.  Fourteen people just stopped eating their food resting in their mouths and stared at us.  It was so quiet in there you could have heard a fly fart.”

(one final blurb about a place I love, the Grand Canyon. It was snowy and there was such a bad fog he was depressed that he couldn’t see a thing)..

Afterwards, I trudged towards the visitors center, perhaps 200 yards away, but before I got there I came across a snow-spattered  sign announcing a lookout point half a mile away along a trail through the woods, and impulsively I went down it, mostly just to get some air.  The path was slippery and took a long time to traverse, but on the way the snow stopped falling and the air felt clean and refreshing.  Eventually I came to a platform of rocks, marking the edge of the canyon.  There was no fence to keep you back from the edge , so I shuffled cautiously over and looked down, but could see nothing but gray soup.  A middle-aged couple came along and as we stood chatting about what a dispiriting experience this was, a miraculous thing happened.  The fog parted.  It just silently drew back, like a set of theater curtains being opened, and suddenly we saw that we were on the edge of a sheer, giddying drop of at least a thousand feet, “Jesus!” we said and jumped back, and all along the canyon edge you could hear people saying “Jesus!” like a message being passed down a long line.  And then for many moments all was silence, except for the tiny fretful shiftings of the snow, because out there in front of us was the most awesome, most silencing sight that exists on earth.

Now why can’t I describe things like him??! 

In this book Mr. Bryson gives his thoughts on many things and at the same time you get a mini travel log of places we may never see because we don’t or can’t travel around just to see what’s out there.  What a shame that each and every one of us never really gets to see our very own country.  But if you’d like… this book could give you at least a tiny view.

This makes 2 of Bill Bryson’s books I have read and I have sent for one more of the humorous books… a book about his childhood (The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid: A Memoir) in which I already know he will spark many memories of my own and for anyone over 40 yrs old.  So if you are ready for something different, and ready to have moments that you will smile, and moments you will chuckle and even moments you will laugh out loud… well then it’s time for you to read a Bill Bryson book!

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Who’s the Boss?..

First off let me tell you that BooBoo Kitty does not make it easy for me to get a picture of him.  The minute he  hears the camera power go on he moves…  But I worked read hard yesterday to try to give you a picture story of “who’s the real boss in the house.”

First up… that little cubby-hole and his cardboard scratcher are two places he does like to sleep… during the day.  And they actually belong to him!


..but of course any time I am not in my computer chair  you can count on  Boo to be there.


Then there’s bed time.. below is a photo of the “cat’s side” of MY bed.


Note that he likes many places to rest his tired, tired body…


He never sleeps in one spot very long..


Of course one would think that giving him half of a full bed would be more than enough for a 9 pound cat right?….


he goes behind the feather pillows on MY side of the bed  and stretches out and forces me to slide down on the mattress so he has room… I wind up sleeping with my feet hanging off of the mattress!


So… Who’s the boss??? heh.. it sure isn’t me!

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US space pioneers to get congressional medals

(AFP)–15 hours ago

WASHINGTON — The US Congress on Wednesday will award the nation’s highest civilian honor, the Congressional Gold Medal, to four American astronauts including the first man to walk on the Moon, 81-year-old Neil Armstrong.

Other recipients are Buzz Aldrin, 81, who was second man to walk on the Moon, and Michael Collins, also 81, who was the command module pilot for Apollo 11, the first manned mission to the Moon in 1969.

The fourth winner is former senator John Glenn, 90, the first American to orbit the Earth in 1962.

They were given the nod by Congress in 2009 to receive the award, making them the first astronauts ever named to the honor, on what was then the 40th anniversary of the pioneering US mission to the Moon.


Wednesday’s ceremony is set for 11:00 am (1600 GMT) at the US Capitol Rotunda.

Past winners of the Congressional Gold Medal, described as the "highest expression of national appreciation for distinguished achievements and contributions," include Myanmar pro-democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi, the Dalai Lama, Walt Disney, and Pope John Paul II.

Florida Senator Bill Nelson, who initially sought the Congressional recognition for the quartet, said on the eve of the ceremony that lawmakers were likely to vote to approve a NASA budget of 17.8 billion dollars.

"This budget makes a major investment in the next generation of human space flight," he said, describing it as "good news" because it would give more funding toward the James Webb Space Telescope and a rocket for deep space travel.

Armstrong was on Capitol Hill in September, when he told lawmakers that the end of the space shuttle era has left the American human spaceflight program in an "embarrassing" state and urged NASA to return to the Moon.

Hard to believe, as I look at the photo’s I found to make the collage that so much time has gone by since these phenomenal men went to the moon.  I applaud their recognition but still feel their accomplishments were pushed aside by not returning to the moon.  I feel we learned much from them, but not enough to send a human even farther out into space.   But then who am I to think that way?

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The Weed that Strings the Hangmans Bag by Alan Bradley.

Paperback: 400 pages
Publisher: Bantam; (February 8, 2011)
ISBN-10: 0385343450



From Booklist

Flavia, the precocious, imaginative, and adorable 11-year-old sleuth, returns for her second adventure. It’s a mystery in itself how a mature male author can pen the adventures of such a young female child and keep readers believing in the fantasy. Flavia’s world is 1950s England—specifically, a very old country house that just happens to have a long-abandoned chemistry laboratory. And Flavia just happens to be fascinated by chemistry—particularly poisons. This helps her solve mysteries because, as Flavia says, “There’s something about pottering with poisons that clarifies the mind.” This time she becomes involved with the members of a traveling puppet show that features the tale of Jack and the Beanstalk. When the puppetmaster is mysteriously electrocuted during the show, Flavia knows it can’t be an accident and eventually finds the murderer. The rest of Flavia’s family are also eccentric, to say the least, and add greatly to the overall fun. Thank goodness Bradley is not allowing Flavia to grow up too quickly; we need more sleuths whose primary mode of transportation is a bicycle.

It must be Fate that has me reading these books!  I came across the first book at the used book store for 3.00 and since so many people loved it I purchased it and read it.  I enjoyed it but wasn’t sure I wanted to get into yet another series….

Low and behold, I was back at the used books store and there sat “book 2” of the Flavia saga.  Ohhhhkay, so we got book 2 and I just finished reading it.

This one was also enjoyable but I have to say that in both books there are occasional terms used by Flavia that no matter how much of a chemical genius she is an 11 year old would not be using!… however… the books are still enjoyable.

This one took it’s time getting to the “murder”… I was beginning to wonder if there was even going to be one…when suddenly, there it was… a murder for young Flavia to solve!

I’ve gone this far so the odds are I will eventually read the next book lol..like I have no other books sitting on my shelves that need to be read, right? cha!

There is one small matter that I have to say bothers me in these books… and it’s the way her sisters make her feel unwanted.  It’s a part of the books that I would have edited out if I were the author.  I realize it gives her a reason to “get back” at the sisters…but hurt like that is never forgotten, even if she is only 11 yrs old.

All in all.. I do agree with most everyone else though, that if you read these books, you will enjoy them!

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Stop Motion

I posted a few pictures over on my other blog where i put pictures that I don’t use on Blogspot, but his particular photo is one of my favorites so I thought I’d show it here.  While walking on the beach I noticed a large piece of what I call sandstone.  These stones, such as they are, wash up on shore all sizes and shapes.. I find most of them really interesting to look at. 

Anyway… this one was down where the waves were still washing over it and so I watched it for a bit and saw how the wave really splashed high and decided to try to get a picture of it..  and I have to say I love the effect and wish I had taken more snaps like this one.


I don’t have a real fancy camera..well it’s more than a point and shoot..but I don’t know how to work any of the fancy stuff.. I just, ummm… point and shoot lol.  I thought this sort of shot might come out just a blur.   And although I can see it in the small viewer on the back of the camera, I have learned that many times the photo’s that look really good small are not so good  when I put them on the computer.  Many are blurry and beyond being able to sharpen them up to focus. (which drives me crazy because supposedly when I hold the button down part way and a green square shows up the picture IS IN FOCUS..yeah right)

Now I find I want to go back to the beach and get more pictures like this, except this beach, with the many sandstones, was close to 20 miles away and I wouldn’t trust my “junker car” to get me there and back again.

But I still think this is a pretty neat photo, don’t you?

(below is a picture of a small piece of, what I call, sand stone)


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