50 books in 52 weeks challenge – December 2010 Books.

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My grand total of read books in 2010 was 62.    I am lucky that I have an each-way 50 minute commute on the trains otherwise I would not have read this many.   Twenty minutes in bed at night and a book is falling from my hands so if I was solely relying on that as my “reading time”  I doubt I’d manage 25 over a year.

Here are the books I read in December  2010

The Death of the Adversary –  Hans Keilson

In my October books I read Comedy in a Minor Key (originally published 1947) also by Hans Keilson.     Death of the Adversary was published in German in 1959 and translated and published in English in 1962.  It was re-released in 2010.   It is a haunting book which profoundly affects the reader.

From Amazon:  Written while Hans Keilson was in hiding during World War II, The Death of the Adversary is the self-portrait of a young man helplessly fascinated by an unnamed “adversary” whom he watches rise to power in 1930s Germany. It is a tale of horror, not only in its evocation of Hitler’s gathering menace but also in its hero’s desperate attempt to discover logic where none exists. A psychological fable as wry and haunting as Badenheim 1939, The Death of the Adversary is a lost classic of modern fiction.

Hans Keilson is now 100 years old.  His first book was published by S. Fischer Publishing House  in 1934 – called Life Goes On,  it was the  last novel by a Jewish author published by Fischer before the Nuremberg Race Laws came into effect. Hans Keilson has one battered copy of that first edition. He would love for his first novel to be translated he says:  “Then you would have my whole biography”

So after that heavy reading I was ready a couple of fast reads and found them in G.M. Ford.

*****  Fury by G.M. Ford  – first in the Frank Corso series.  Corso is a reclusive journalist on the Seattle Sun.  He is pulled back into investigative work when a key witness in the case of a man about to be executed recounts her police statements.  This was a good fast paced read –  perfect reading for the train.   I had not read any G.M. Ford before but my parents suggested him as they enjoy the Leo Waterman series written by Ford.


***** Black River:  by G.M. Ford  – second book in the Frank Corso series.  Corso is the only non-participant allowed to observe the trial of Nicholas Balagula, a ruthless sociopath associated with jury tampering and witness deaths.  Photo-journalist Meg Dougherty, from the first book also features in this book.  As she investigates on her own she is left bloodied and close to death and Corso takes on the task of tracking down those responsible.  Another fast read.

*****  Your Heart Belongs to Me:  A Novel  – Dean Koontz. I’m  not sure that I liked this book.  It started off really well and I found it hard to put down.  Then, as he became more paranoid, I started to get bored!  Ryan Perry is a wealthy 34 year old who discovers rather dramatically that he has cardiomyopathy and will die within a year without a heart transplant.   He starts to suspect those around him of causing the cardiomyopathy (poisoning) and then a year after the successful transplant he starts getting disturbing gifts and messages including one “Your heart belongs to me. I want it back”.    I never really understood what happened to his girlfriend!


*****   Case Histories:  A Novel   by Kate Atkinson. Loved, loved, loved this book!   The characters, the story, the way it was written. Jackson Brodie is an ex-cop, now private detective, who takes on three old cases which occurred in/around London.   The disappearance of a 3 year old girl;  a retired lawyer looking for the killer of his daughter and the sister of a murderer searching for her niece who was a baby at the time of the crime.   Lots of family dysfunction in the colourful characters and facets of random fate made this book very readable to me.   I will be searching for more Atkinson books.

******  Burning Angel  – by James Lee Burke

The 8th book in the Dave Robicheaux series this one was published in 1995.   It’s really interesting to watch how the author is growing his character and developing his writing.

Robicheaux becomes involved in a land dispute which involves mobsters, a hired assassin and sharecrop descendants.  Another good read from James Lee Burke.

I had never recorded what or how many books I’ve read before so I found this a worthwhile challenge.  I now have a lovely excel spreadsheet, which I intend to continue expanding on, where I can sort by author or title –  and so prevent getting a quarter of the way into a book before realizing that I’ve read it before!

Photo Project Complete… & … Happy New Year!

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On New Year’s Eve 2009 I decided I would do a photo project;  a photo a day for 365 days.  I would start on  January 1st and finish 365 days later on December 31st 2010.    How simple – I wouldn’t have to do any mathematical calculations to figure out where I was.    Except ….   I forgot to take my very first photo!  LOL.

So … my project started on January 2nd and now, in the interests of full disclosure,  I will explain how it still came to be finished today.   A trip to Australia and that funky little thing called the International Dateline is the reason.

When I flew to Australia I knew I would be losing a day on the way so I took a photo of the horizon as we hurtled over the Pacific Ocean.    On my last day in Australia I took a photo and on my first day back in America I took a photo  –  they just happened to have the same date!     As I had experienced  both days I considered them to be separate shots in my project.

So without further ado –  the final set!

Photo  358  –  this was Christmas Eve in DC; but Christmas morning in Australia so I opened a couple of presents.    These are books 8, 9, 10 & 11 in the Robicheaux series.

359   Christmas Day  –  our tree is so small that I can stand over the top of it.  Most of the year it lives in darkness under our spare bed.

360   –  this is our Hawaiian Santa on Boxing Day.  The weather outside was frightful but he played on as if he were on the islands of Aloha: 

361:  –  Off to work I went the day after the forecasted “big storm” non-event.   These are roads fully treated with salt and chemicals, waiting for snow that did not arrive:   Obviously I’m the only person who went to work on Monday!

362 –   A baked Acorn Squash for dinner  – actually it lasted a couple of dinners and a lunch:   The filling is onion, mushroom, cilantro and chives.  

363:  How do you stop people coming in the door?    You leave off the steps!     There is a front porch on the left with steps  –  hopefully there is a door there……      

364:  A young man knocked on the door and said that he was selling items to raise money to go to a workshop on how to stay away from drugs!    I bought a couple of candles for $4 though I couldn’t help being a little skeptical…  

365:   New Year’s Eve morning walk …  I wanted to find a bottle shop with champagne in the window  –  it was not to be but I will leave you with the two windows I found. 

A New Year can be rung in with whatever you fancy.   So ring it in with gusto!    Happy New Year everyone  – I hope 2011 is a good year for you.

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Photo-a-day-for-365-days Project: Shots 350-357

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On Saturday we spoke to the manservant’s parents as it was not only Christmas Day but also his mother’s birthday.  During my turn talking his mother asked what I’d bought the manservant for Christmas and I said “Alcohol” ….      There was a moment’s silence before she said  “Oh,  did he get any clothes?”                Me:   “No”                                                                                                                                 Her:    “Well,  I really would’ve rather you’d bought clothes for him than alcohol!”      LOL .     Why would I buy him clothes when I could get him a        gift I can share!   

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I’m very close to the end of this photo project now  – and my posting has nearly caught up with my shooting.

Shot  350:     The little church between the metro station and my office.  The sun was shining that early morning light on the block of apartments behind it.   If I had any software talent I’d photo-shop that out as it looks like a weird lookout.   

351  – Another of my sans-Manservant dinners.  These were simply called Vegetable rolls  – they were cold and served with a spicy dipping sauce.  They were divine!      

352   Getting close to Christmas.  Spied on one of my walks,  I love the simplicity and the colours and the little dollops of snow just to remind me that we were about to have a Northern Hemisphere Christmas.   

353  Yummy things come out of here…. 

354  Walking around the Columbia Heights neighborhood I came across this street of colourful row-houses.     

355  Icy footpath!   I know it’s blurry  but this is what happens when my neighbours don’t shovel their snow and it turns to ice.

356  –  A metro station billboard  –  I love this one.  It is currently showing in multiple metro stations.  

357  –  This was taken on the evening of December 23rd.   We visited some friends for dinner and when we came out to go home the moon was peeking through branches and everything looked really sinister.  My perception may have been affected by the wonderfully lethal champagne cocktails they served.    

Spousal Concern & photo a day photos 333 – 341

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Last week we had a little snow event – 2″ – which after a few cycles of thawing and freezing led to some nasty black ice in my neighbourhood of slack shovellers.   I’d complained to the manservant, sojourning in Hawaii,  and he sent the following email after I’d advised him that I was  safely at home:

I am glad you avoided the ice hazards.  Be careful.  You are
not good at falling, and I don’t think practice will help.

He is so funny!  and he doesn’t get to shovel snow very often!

Photo # 333   My sons sent me Christmas presents from Amazon and they arrived on the same day.  We are an office without string or twine apparently so necessity had to be the mother of invention.  I  disconnected my printer & phone so I could get my boxes home the easiest way. 

334 The word “literature”  always makes me think of classic works so this made me laugh…. though I know they really meant “junk”   

335  My train station’s latest billboard.  I really hope there is something more exciting under the Christmas tree for me than duct tape!  

336 Church in downtown DC   – I love the decorative work and the door and the fact that there are still roses blooming!     

337 A huge gingerbread house in the window of a chocolate shop!   I resisted the urge to go in and buy something.

338  Emjay!!   You are standing way too close to the edge of the platform!  

339  There’ s that bloody tunnel again!    I think we must’ve hit a bump in the road here.  

340a A friend gave me some paper white bulbs in a lovely jar  – he told me that he adds a touch of whiskey to the water when he first starts them off; 

340b – they started blooming within a couple of days – they are very strongly perfumed. 

341 – walking home from the metro the  moon was perfectly positioned above these row houses.  I’m surprised the moon turned out so well given I was hand holding the camera.   

Photo-a-day-for-365-days Project: Days 323 – 332

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Shots from Days 323 – 332 ….  Will she catch up before the end of the year!   I should be writing Christmas cards instead of diddling around on the internet!

323 – this was our Japanese Maple at the height of its colour.   We then had a couple of horribly windy days which basically stripped the tree bare!  

324    But do they buy used churches?? I really like this old church building which adjoins an out-of- business pawn shop but which has very new looking razor wire on the roof!  (there’s one strand just visible on the right of this photo).

325  – the most photographed subject throughout this project  –  the tunnel on Rock Creek Parkway which runs under the National Zoo:       

326  –   the sky was gloriously beautiful this day – you’d never guess I had a coat and scarf on!   

327    Another of my metro station billboards –  this one popped up just before Thanksgiving.   I hope it is photo-shopped on his head! 

328  – This made me laugh.    We have a door bell at our front door which no one ever rings, (or if they do ring it, they wait one second and then start pounding on the door).   We obviously need a big sign like this saying PUSH.

329   Voting Rights for DC…    a  givemeavote.org poster in my neighbourhood:    

330  Colourful garden sculpture –  I love that it is tied to the fence by a chain around its neck!  

331   This is one of my favourite houses in my neighbourhood  – I love the quaintness of it, the various angles and the metal almost medi-evil style roof turret.  And, then there is the gorgeous garden!   

332  Whenever I walk past this place I get a little giggle out of the half street number.  On the weekends this place is packed so they must be doing something right! 

319 is not missing anymore

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The missing photo!    This is 319 in my photo-a-day-for-365-days project.  It was hiding in one of the many folders on my desktop.   I have a zillion icons on my desktop and it’s not always obvious how I find anything!

My local fish and chips shop called Fish in the ‘Hood.  The first time I asked for “chips”  they had no idea what I was talking about!   They do sell great crab cakes though.

Photo-of-the-day-for-365 days Project: 312 – 322

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312 – Seafood Paella!   Oh this was so good.  Recently I posted a photo of the new Spanish Restaurant in my neighbourhood (called Top Spanish Cafe).   The manservant got  take away dinner from there one night and this was my choice though it would’ve been enough for both of us.

313 –  My back alley all lit up.  The fact that there is nearly half our table in this shot suggests I did  not venture far outside the door!

314 –  autumn in my street.  It amused me to see later that there is a person up the street in a red shirt taking photos of the trees!  

315 –   In June a lady who’d retired from work sent me a photo of chairs she was going to sell in a garage sale as she was going to downsize houses.  She thought I’d like them because of the purple.  Absolutely!  I said.   I did not actually get the 4 chairs until November –  then one day I was in the “Wellness Room”  at work and noticed that the chair in there has exactly the same fabric

316  –    Another shot of dinner without the Manservant!   This probably means I got to the end of this day and realised that I had not taken my photo of the day!   Steamed veggies – I’m sure I grated parmesan cheese over this before I ate it.

317 –   the busy road I have to cross every evening.  It can be scary because, even when there is a  “Walk”   sign,  turning drivers whizz around hapless pedestrians sometimes even beeping us!  I try to walk with other people but sometimes no-one else is around.

318 – As I turned into our street I noticed beautiful things in the sky and I loved the spot- lighting on our Japanese Maple

319 – Ooops!   I seem to be missing a shot of the day – I’m sure it’s around somewhere so when I find it I’ll post it.   Edited to add here it is!

320 – the back pathway from metro station to my office:

321-  A nativity scene up before Thanksgiving!   I actually took the photo because I liked the row of houses and was probably going to write something mean about those bright red ones!

322:   Now,  this is taking the Barber Stripes thing to a new high…..  

Photo-of-the-day for 365 days: 302-311

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302 – another example of the type of thing I eat when the manservant is not home.  It’s been awhile since I ate this but I think that is fetta cheese, some chives and chillies from the garden – and a bit of grated red onion. 

303 –   This is an Aboriginal painting called Bush Plums.   The artist is listed simply as Irene and there is a photo of her on the back.  The little authenticity note says that  Irene and her sisters used to pick bush plums in Nyirripi area – 450 km from Alice Springs. I bought this painting from a gallery in Sydney 7 or 8 years ago and until we bought this house it hung on the white wall of our rented apartment.   I was thrilled to find a house that had a purple dinning room wall on which to hang it  –  I tell people that we only bought the house so we had somewhere colour co-ordinated to hang the painting!   

304 –  I love my metro station billboards –  I’ve got quite a record of them now.  The one thing that does surprise me is how often they are changed.   

305 –  there was an after-hours function in my office and the Reception desk was the sign-in point.  This huge arrangement adorned my desk but the next morning I had to move it as I got a big attack of the sneezes!   

306 – When I first saw this billboard on my metro station I thought those were  colourful iPods!    

307 – This is a bookstore in my neighbourhood.  As well as selling books they have yoga, zumba and belly dancing classes; cooking classes and a book club.     I think I will have to investigate –  they never seem to be open when I’m coming home though.  

308  – Posters papering the windows of an empty store front:

309 –  I pulled all the skinny red chillies off the bush and dried them.  I put them out in the sun on a rack  – it took about 2 weeks to get to this stage: 

310 – the path home.   I’m always half expecting to trip on something along this section …….. 

311  –  Spider Kelly is a nightclub in Clarendon (VA) – obviously I was there way before opening time.  I loved all the reflections on this bright sunny morning:

Photos of the day – Days 281 – 290

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When the weather is nice (that means not too hot or not too cold)  I get off the metro at a stop further away from the one closest to the office.   It’s really nice to have a break between the crowd on the metro and the office.

281 – This is a Diner at Clarendon.  It’s crowded in the early morning and I can hear their music from across the street:

282   A Psychic and a Palm-reader in the same building  – I wonder if they knew demolition was on the cards:    

283 –  I liked the neon lights against the lightening sky this morning –  though the photo did not turn out like my eye was seeing it.    The name Hurt Cleaners makes me smile:   

284:   Yeah,  the  British are so well known for great pizzas!

285  I didn’t get to prune my roses at the same time as everyone else this year due to the difficulty of doing it with my broken, and then rehabing, shoulder.    I did it in October though and was rewarded with some extra blooms.   

286 –   We had a Chilean student visit who was a whiz at making really good Pisco Sours!   I’ve just noticed that she is using the astronomy glass from the last set of photos!

287 –  a coffee shop during the day; a club at night.    When I walk past early in the morning the brewing coffee smells wonderful.    

288 –  Billboard on my metro station –  coming up to Halloween:   

289a:   These notices make me laugh.   I like that the body does not have any hands…..   

Oh,  here’s a lone hand:

289b   

290 –  With two friends we tried a new restaurant in our neighbourhood  and we were the only people in there the entire evening!   The food was great and the owner was really nice  –  hopefully they attract more diners and survive.    

Photo of the Day – Days 270-280

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Holy Molly  – it’s the  327th day of the year.  (No I didn’t count my way through the calendar – I cheated on Google).     That means I am “only”  47 days behind in my posting of the photo a day shots ……

270 – when I was in Australia we had a birthday bash for my father’s 79th birthday – when they get older every birthday is worth celebrating.   We stayed in this place across the road from the Myall River.  My sister Jane (aka Cat) and her family also stayed here  – this is when I discovered that she came for the weekend with the same size suitcase that I took to Australia for a month!!    There was a very nice view from our balcony:-

271  –  I had lunch with a friend in Glebe (Sydney).  The houses are similar to some in DC but where we call them Row Houses they call them Terrace Houses in Sydney: –  

272 –   this made me laugh out loud – a postcard vending machine.  I’d never seen one before.  This was at Darling Harbour – someone was slacking in their job of keeping it full.

273  –  My last day out shopping in Sydney I went to the Queen Victoria Building  – I loved all the reflections in the mirrored escalators.  

274 –   I arrived back in DC late at night.   It was the next morning before I saw my garden – this is the first pot that greeted me.  Poor Abelia!   I was very fond of her.   (My Bay Laurel tree to the right obviously enjoyed the lack of attention though!)

275  –  My first morning heading back to the office – my feet were dragging and just didn’t want to get on that path! 

276 –  On my way to the metro – 6.30am in the morning – this was before Daylight Savings had finished.

277  – Getting a ride home from work – the zoo tunnel along Rock Creek Parkway.  I know I have taken a few of this same tunnel over the year  – I’m glad the project is a photo a day,  not a different subject every day!    I like this tunnel.

278 –   This guy was really enjoying his job.  Just like a little boy with a big, noisy, destructive toy.  

279 – A really fun female astronomer came for dinner and brought a little astronomy motif jar of bright flowers.

280 – Coincidentally,  the next day on one of our walks we came across an astronomy theme again –  on the window of a trash & treasure store: