A-Z Challenge …. Y is for … & Z is for …

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Y is for Yesterday.     Yesterday is the day which normally precedes today  – unless yesterday is also today which is what happens when you fly east from Australia to America.

It always boggles my mind that I can land in Los Angeles 3 or 4 hours before taking off in Sydney!

Now I have a yen for some  serious zzzz’s.    So …..

Z is for Zeds  –   something I need plenty of tonight as I go back to work tomorrow!

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A – Z Challenge …. X is for ….

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X-ray
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When ever I wondered  “x is for ….  ”  the words that popped into my head were ones like exciting, exact, ecstatic.   None of which actually start with x even though they sound as if they might.
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I was still pondering on it when the house sitters came on Friday and we headed to the airport on Saturday …
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Then as  I was exiting the country for my exciting though exacting trip I got to find my x-word as I had to go through the airport x-ray machine!
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Then as I took my (thankfully) aisle seat next to a 200+lb giant I thought I wish I had some Xanax!
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(BTW – the manservant had his own aisle seat a couple of rows ahead of me).
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So, excuse me if I’m slacker than usual doing the rounds for the next two weeks.  We are in Oz to help my father celebrate his 80th birthday.   Next weekend is the family get-together and although it will be in the function room of the nursing home I’m sure it will be fun.  I just hope dad can stay awake enough to enjoy it too.
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A – Z challenge …. W is for …..

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W is for walk – which we do plenty of as we don’t own a car.
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When I left Australia in 2000 I’d been driving a big Ford “tank” for many years.  I bought my first car (a 2nd-hand Hillman Hunter) when I was 17 and there was never a time in the subsequent 26  years that I did not own a car.  Knowing I was coming to a car-less household I wondered how the hell I was going to manage.
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I hated it!   But our budget did not extend to affording a car so I learnt to walk and like it!   (I *will* like walking;  I *will* !  ).
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Being car-less redefined my parameters of “walkable”  and eventually anything under 3 miles was totally walkable and 5 miles was do-able if one had a bit of time (2.5 hrs).
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The other day I suggested to a young man that he get off the train at the Archives/Navy Memorial station and walk to his destination rather than changing trains during his trip.   He popped out his iPhone,  opened an app and said “oh, but that would mean an extra block walk”.    There was a time when I might’ve thought the same way.  🙂
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It’s not really the distance now that’s the limiter for me but rather the weather.   It’s just too swampy here in summer to do more than a mile without the help of a train or bus and in winter, ice limits me pretty quickly and snow slows me down – a lot!
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On the weekend we were walking when we (lots of w-words there!) came across this super friendly guy out on a stroll of his own.    We both wanted to take him home but that would’ve been wrong……  

A – Z Challenge …. V is for ……

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Virgin – the word virgin comes via Old French virgine from the root form of Latin virgo –  meaning literally “maiden”  or  “virgin” a sexually intact young woman.   The first known use of virgin  in English comes from an Anglo-Saxon manuscript held at Trinity College, Cambridge c. 1200.
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Frank Harris (Irish-born, American writer)  claimed in his autobiography “My Life and Loves”  (published 1922-1927; it is 4 volumes!) that he once gave the etymology of virgin  in a lecture thus:  ” “vir” as everyone knows is Latin for a man, while “gin” is good old English for a trap: virgin is therefore a mantrap”.
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The definition is now relaxed to include anyone who has not had sex and, outside the sexual field, to initiates of any new activity  –  basically virgin now simply means uninitiated, unused, pristine, pure or undefiled.
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Obviously I’m not a virgin as I’ve had 3 children and there was  definitely no immaculate conception involved!  But, it’s been a long time since I was sweet, young and virginal.
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And that’s not to be confused with a virginal  –  a now obsolete sixteenth century instrument.  It resembled a rectangular spinet or harpsichord with strings and keys but only one wire to a note.  It was sometimes called a pair of virginals.      I wonder if anyone ever requested:  “find me a virginal virgin to tap the virginal” ….
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Oh and apparently if you dream that you are a virgin  it symbolizes purity and potential except that if you are not a virgin it can signify past regrets and remorse and a bleak future.    It’s a good thing then that I’m a slut in my dreams!
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A – Z Challenge …….. U is for …..

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unveiled…..    at last the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial is unveiled.    (all photos are thumbnails – just click to make any one bigger)The MLK Memorial official dedication was meant to be Sunday but Irene put a dampener on that and the 30,000 folding chairs had to be folded up and put away for some future date. But, before the Memorial was finished I was lucky enough to get a jobsite tour –  we were allowed to take photos but asked not to plaster them all over the web until after the dedication… but then they opened it to the public on the Monday before the (planned) official dedication so I could’ve posted the photos then if I’d had my act together.  Because it was still a construction site the day I visited hard hats were required (that’s why there is no photo of me!)…   The MLK memorial was in the making for more than 25 years and cost $120 million to build.  The memorial takes up 4 acres next to the Tidal Basin, looking over it, to the Roosevelt Memorial and is a “plaza”  type of thing.  180+ new cherry trees and some crepe myrtles have been planted in the area.   The centerpiece is a 30 foot tall granite statue of Dr. King by master sculptor Lei Yixin  – not without controversy as people thought an American sculptor should’ve been chosen.   There is a wall of green granite with quotations inscribed in it and two main statues which represent a “Mountain of Despair”  and a “Stone of Hope”

The inscription on the Stone of Hope is a line from King’s  “I have a dream”  speech delivered in Washington on 28th August  1963.    It’s based on an image from one of King Nebuchadnezzar’s dreams in the second book of Daniel.   Nebuchadnezzar envisioned a massive idol with a head of gold, arms of silver and thighs of brass.  Daniel prophesied  “As you looked, a stone was cut out by no human hand and it struck the image on its feet of iron and clay, and broke them in pieces”.  He was prophesying the downfall of the old order.
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PHOTOS:  Visitors walk through a pass between peaks of the Mountain of Despair on their way to the Stone of Hope.  
 There are other memorials to African-Americans in Washington DC but this is the first memorial on the National Mall (and only the 4th non-President – the others are George Mason, John Ericsson John Paul Jones).
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So how did the monument come to take more than 25 years in the planning/making?  Dr.  King was a member of the Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity (Sigma Chapter) while attending Boston University.  In January 1984 Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity brothers propose building a national memorial to Dr. King – the proposal is presented at the Fraternity’s Board of Director’s meeting but the proposal did not gain momentum until King’s birthday was designated a national holiday in 1986 (President Reagan signed the MLK Jr Federal Holiday bill in Nov 1983 but the first legal holiday nationwide was Jan 1986)..   It was  not until 1996 that the US Congress authorized the Secretary of the Interior to allow Alpha Phi Alpha to erect a memorial on Department of Interior land.  They gave the fraternity until November 2003 to raise $100 million and break ground on the project.  Congress authorized the fraternity to establish a foundation in 1998 which would be responsible for managing the fundraising and design of the memorial and in 1999 the US Commission of Fine Arts and the National Planning Commission approved the location for the memorial.
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There were 900 entries in the design “competition”  from 52 countries and the selected design was by ROMA Design Group of San Francisco.  On December 4, 2000 a marble and bronze plaque was laid by Alpha Phi Alpha to dedicate the site.
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PHOTO:  MLK and the Washington Monument
 In 2001 Intellectual Properties Management –  an organization operated by Dr. King’s family, requested the foundation pay licensing fees to use MLK’s name and likeness in their marketing campaigns.  Many said that King would be horrified by the profiteering behavior of his children but the foundation did pay fees including a management fee of $71,700 in 2003 and an $800,000 licensing deal in 2009 (to use King’s words and image in fundraising materials).
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On November 13th 2006 a ceremonial groundbreaking took place and things were looking good.
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Then in January 2007 it was announced that Lei Yixin (China) would be the sculptor for the King statue and the Stone of Hope.  There was criticism of this choice as Lei had sculpted Mao Zedong; there were also accusations that the choice was made because the Chinese government had donated $25 million to the memorial.
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PHOTO –  Lei Yixin’s signature appears on the bottom of the Dr. King statue
 
 Then it was discovered that Chinese granite was going to be used!………    It was argued that because Congress had given $10 million in federal money to the project that there had to be open bidding. The design team visited the Chinese quarry in October 2006 and stated that the Chinese granite far exceeded the quality of any found in the United States. Protestors argued that the selection of an African-American artist and use of American granite was integral to the memorial’s legacy.  The Commission of Fine Arts objected to the “colossal scale and Social Realist style of the proposed sculpture”  and noted that it “recalls a genre of political sculpture that has recently been pulled down in other countries”.    But final design of the statue was approved in September 2008.
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In August 2008 the foundation had estimated it would take about 20 months to complete the memorial at a cost of $120 million and by December 2008 they’d raised $108 million.
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 But then there was a dispute, over security issues, between the federal agencies that had to approve the memorial.  National Parks Service wanted barriers built to prevent a vehicle crashing or being driven into the memorial. The foundation thought a barrier would not be in keeping with King’s philosophy of openness.  Plans were eventually revised to have  landscaping features act as barriers – they were approved in 2009 and in October 2009 a building permit was issued and construction began (at last) in December 2009.
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PHOTOS:  the landscaping is designed to prevent vehicles going too far … 
 There was further controversy in October 2010 when the Bricklayers and Allied Craftsworkers’ union discovered that laborers on the stone work were Chinese and that their pay was being withheld until they returned to China!  (In September 2010 the foundation assured everyone that local stonemasons would be employed).
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And just today there is controversy over the abbreviated “Drum Major… ” quote inscribed on the statue (Washington Post article)
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Still, in spite of all the controversy the memorial got built and is now open – the date of the official dedication is still to be announced.
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PHOTOLooking through the MLK Memorial with the Jefferson peeking out across the Tidal Basin:
  PHOTO –  The Inscription Wall.   There are 14 inscriptions on the inscription wall which is a divided wall 450 feet long.  There are excerpts from King’s sermons and speeches – from the 1955 Montgomery Bus Boycott in Alabama to his final sermon in DC’s National Cathedral in 1968.
PHOTO –  there are two quotations on the sides of the Stone of Hope:  “Out of the Mountain of Despair, a Stone of Hope”  and “I was a Drum Major for Justice, Peace and Righteousness”  –
PHOTO  – this is the square under which President Obama will lay a time capsule.  When I was showing my photos to the manservant I said “do you know how I know this is not an accident?   Because 2 shadow cameras are aimed at the same slab of cement”.
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A-Z blogging challenge …… T is for…..

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Things   –   A matter of concern, state of affairs, an object or entity, a notion or idea and  stuff filling shelves & cupboards around the house.  A handy word used when the real word doesn’t come to mind:  “I need one of those things”  “you know the sort of thing”  “what the hell is that thing?” ….   or just a list of “things”

T is the 20th letter in the alphabet and it’s a busy little letter.    It’s the most commonly used consonant and the second most common letter used in the English language (after “E”)  – except in that sentence where T outnumbers E!

Here are some T-words that popped into my head without taxing my brain or my time:
  1. Talk  –  I’m very good at talking;  I practise a lot.
  2. Tacent  –  not in my nature.  (see number 1).
  3. Telescope – some place the manservant spends a lot of time
  4. Time –  does anyone have enough?
  5. Type  –   something I’m pretty good at.
  6. Taser – if only I had one in my handbag I’d get more seats on the trains – at least until the police take me away!
  7. Train – my major mode of transport other than my feet
  8. Theater –  where I went yesterday to see a Sydney Theatre production of Uncle Vanya with an all-Australian cast including Cate Blanchett, Hugo Weaving and Jacki Weaver
  9. Trucks  – things I played with instead of dollies
  10. Trees & Tullips – wish there were more of them.
  11. Toil – it doesn’t have to be physical does it?
  12. Telephone –  I answer it about 300 times a day.
  13. Temperature  –  my ideal  = 70 F/21.C
  14. Thyroid – something I’d like to blame my extra pounds on.
  15. Toast – to myself for making 54 years in July.
  16. Tarantula  –  are there really some big enough to eat birds?
  17. Tartan –  a short black watch tartan kilt in high school.
  18. Tired –   Dont’ think I’ve experienced much of the opposite.
  19. Tapas – I’m hungry
  20. Trylle Trillogy  – currently reading the first book “Switched”.
  21. Troll –  what Trylles really are.
  22. Temple  –  I should treat my body better.
  23. Tent-   this girl does not camp!
  24. Tan – something my legs never achieve.
  25. Turkey – something I’d only eaten at Christmas until I came here
  26. Turkey – a country I’d love to visit – if only for the great Turkish food
  27. Tahiti –  perhaps my legs would tan there.
  28. Togs – Aussie slang for swimmers (aka costumes) – something I’d have to buy if I went to Tahiti.
  29. Television – something I watch way too much of.
  30. Teacups  – belonged to my grandmother & are beautiful.  They are never used.  Terrified of breaking them!
  31. Taffeta –   gorgeous rustle of a  taffeta skirt.
  32. Tantamount  – one of those words politicians use a lot.
  33. Tedious –  many days are
  34. Traits  –  I have some good ones;  I have some bad ones.
  35. Tapestry – something that involves a needle & thread so I’d be bored.
  36. Technical –  anything that I’m not good at
  37. Tick  – an evil little creature that once imbedded itself in my groin.
  38. Tornado – scary
  39. Tautology  –  I love the sound of the word – it’s a shame I can’t use it more often as I love the sound of it.
  40. Taxi – something I got to ride in a lot when I had my leg in a cast.
  41. Tender –  how my shoulder feels.
  42. Temptation –  looks like a piece of chocolate.
  43. Tomorrow –  if you wake up tomorrow celebrate it!

A – Z Challenge ….. S is for …..

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Sydney ………..

I grew up in middle-of-nowhere Town and every year we’d go to Sydney for a family holiday.  It was an annual trip to civilization, culture and the Pacific Ocean. Sydney seemed like  fairyland to a girl from the land of red dust.

Most of my friends married each other and stayed around town or on the land but I went off to university in Sydney and never went back – well, that sort of became impossible anyway as my parents sold the farm and moved before I’d been gone a year.

My  3 kids are Sydney-born and don’t seem inclined to leave.  My siblings and parents all live within 4 hour drives of the city.  I have no need to go back to middle-of-nowhere Town.

The usual postcard views of Sydney are of the Harbour Bridge and the Opera House so I thought I’d give some alternative views…….  these are thumbnail images so I could fit more in –  just click on any one to enlarge it.

Looking down on the Harbour Bridge – the white building (forefront) is Australia Square which was the tallest building in Sydney from 1967 until 1976 and was probably Australia’s first true “skyscraper”.  It was the world’s tallest light weight concrete building when it was built –  it is 170 metres tall – 50 floors.  There is a revolving restaurant on the 47th Floor (The Summit) and an Observation Deck on the 48th floor.  Apparently the carpark is one of Sydney’s largest basement carparks with parking for 400 cars.  

It’s a long way down to those little cars and people:  

In 1976 the 188 metre tall AMP Centre opened and in 1977 the 228 metre 60 storey MLC Centre opened and remains the tallest office building in Sydney. 

Looking down on the Royal Botanic Gardens which were founded on this site by Governor Macquarie in 1816 as part of the Governor’s Domain.  The point is called Mrs Macquarie’s Point and it is said she sat on a rock there (now called Mrs Macquarie’s Chair) and watched for ships from the homeland.  The first bay has the fabulous name Woolloomooloo Bay  and then there is Garden Island which is the main east coast naval base of the Royal Australian Navy (RAN) and home port to many of our major ships.   The next bays are Elizabeth Bay, Rushcutters Bay, Double Bay.  Across the harbour is Cremorne Point and Bradley’s Point (where the zoo is).

This is some of Hyde Park with the Archibald Fountain and St. Mary’s Cathedral.  The Archibald Fountain is named after JF Archibald,  owner & editor of The Bulletin,  who bequeathed funds to have it built and named after himself.  He also specified that it must be designed by a French artist to commemorate the association of Australia and France during WW1.  Francois Sicard was chosen as the designer and the fountain was unveiled on 14 March 1932.

The foundation stone for St. Mary’s was laid on 29th October 1821 by Governor Macquarie and the church was a simple stone building in the Gothic style.  In 1851 the church was modified and in June 1865 it was destroyed by fire.  The foundation stone for the present cathedral was laid in 1868 and the church was dedicated in September 1882 though it was not finished.  In 1913 the foundation stone for the nave was laid and it was dedicated in 1928.  The crypt was not completed until 1961  and the spires were built in 2000.  

Looking towards the Eastern Suburbs – Bondi Beach and Coogee Beach are way in the background.     Bondi beach is less than 10kms from the city centre (6 miles).
In the middle background of this shot is  Sydney Olympic Park  – an area of 640 hectares (1,581 acres) which contains the Arena, Stadium, Aquatic Centre, Athletic Centre, Sydney Showground and includes 430 hectares (1,062 acres) of parkland/wetlands/saltmarsh/mangrove forests.  On the bottom right is the ANZAC War Memorial in Hyde Park – unveiled November 1934 it is the main commemorative military monument in Sydney. 
This is looking across at Darling Harbour  –  that’s the Pyrmont Footbridge in the middle.  The Pyrmont Bridge is a swing bridge opened in June 1902 – it was one of the largest swing spans in the world at the time and the first to be powered by electricity!  The bridge is only a pedestrian/cycle one now.  I usually park at  Darling Harbour and walk across that to the city –  or I could take the monorail if I feel lazy.  You can see the monorail snaking across – it’s pale blue and looks like a line in the middle of the footbridge.

The tributaries of the Parramatta River and Lane Cove River flow into Port Jackson (more commonly called Sydney Harbour).   Looking west towards Parramatta –  I would travel over the Anzac Bridge (on the left) to visit my kids  – the Economist and the Princess live in Gladesville (11kms/7miles)  and my Locksmith son & wife live in Parramatta  (25kms/ 15 miles).

When I was home I took all the above photos from Sydney Tower (previously  called Centrepoint Tower) which is 309 metres (1,014ft)  tall to the top of its spire.  The observation deck is at 250 metres (820ft).    It looks like I was at the edge of someone’s backyard taking this shot across the harbour – and obviously on a much nicer day than the grey, dreary day I took the 40 second elevator ride to the top of the Tower!     If peering through glass windows is too boring for you, you can get dressed in a safety suit and get hooked up to safety cables and crawl out onto that little open platform stuck on the edge of the tower up there on the left  – 268m (879ft)  above ground level…   I’m pretty sure I’m the sort who will always be peering through the glass at the world rather than hanging over the edge of it.    

A – Z Challenge ….. R is for …

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READING.  
At the start of the year I set a goal to read 75 books this year and then I dutifully recorded here on WordPress what I had read for a great big months!      Now, just because I haven’t been noting them here doesn’t mean that I have been neither reading nor recording.
At the end of March I’d finished 15 books but by the end of July I’d only waded through 37 books total.
At that rate I’m not going to meet my goal so I’d better lift my game the next 5 months – or find some really short books!
A hot summer has not meant lazing around with additional reading for me.  The majority ( basically all) of my reading is done on my train commutes but in the afternoons the trains are so stuffy that if I’m lucky enough to have a seat I find myself dozing off  – and sometimes even standing I’ve found myself swaying to the sandman.  Our internet has been so slow it has made being online frustrating but time away from the computer has not prompted an urge to veg out on the couch with a book.  And when I flop into bed I’m lucky to get 5 minutes reading before I’m dropping off to sleep with my glasses still on!
Anyway  here is my month by month progress since March.   A good train book means  one that I can read while also paying attention to the distractions of a crowded train –  I love the interesting & unusual conversations around me and hearing the name of the stations is fairly important – in other words a book that does not require a lot of concentration or anything “deep”.  Too many characters in a book can be a killer for a train book.
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The Dead Tossed Waves   – Carrie Ryan   More a companion piece than the sequel to the Forest of Hands & Teeth as this starts about 16 years after Forest finishes and barely touches on the first book’s characters.  I didn’t enjoy this book nearly as much as the first one and I found the main character, Gabry, pretty irritating – sometimes to the stage of just wishing an Unconsecrated, now called Mudo but a zombie never-the-less, would just finish her off!
The Dark & Hollow Places   – Carrie Ryan.  Sequel to The Dead Tossed Waves – and I think final book in the series (??) . This was a much darker book than the previous two.  So much better than the second one but I was disappointed in the ending –  it seemed a bit like she’d reached a page limit and had to wrap up but then it probably leaves things open for a 4th book.

In the Moon of Red Ponies –  James Lee Burke.  The 4th book in the Billy Bob Holland series.  After finishing this I wrote “disappointing”  in my log.

Started Early Took My Dog –  Kate Atkinson.   I love Kate Atkinson.   There is always at least one hysterically funny scene in the Jackson Brodie series.  Poor Jackson has a knack for being in the wrong place at the wrong time and proving the adage that no good deed goes unpunished.

Last Car to Elysian Fields –  James Lee Burke   The 13th book in the Dave Robicheaux series.   I felt like there was a chapter missing at the beginning of this book as things in Dave’s personal life have shifted monumentally and only get a passing mention which had me wondering “did I miss a book?” .  That annoyed me for the entire book even though I enjoyed the story and it was a good train book.   The best character was Max Coll, a haunted, psychotic ex-IRA gunman who is now a hit man in town to dispense with Father Dolan but I love the names and characterizations Burke gives his figures like Fat Sammy Figorelli,  Jumpin’ Merchie Flannigan, Castille LeJeune…..

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**********MAY

The Dirty Parts of the Bible – Sam Torode.  Based on the ancient Jewish tale of Tobias and Sarah this story is set in 1936 and features a 19 year old preacher’s son, Tobias Henry who is fixated on girls and God.  This is a coming of age type of story which is really amusing.  It reminded me of a yarn an old story teller would tell around a campfire.  I really enjoyed this book.

Field of Blood – Denise Mina .  Back to gray, grim Glasgow I go with this one.  The first book in Mina’s Paddy Meehan series.  Paddy works as a gofer at a newspaper and the story centers on the killing of a little boy by two other boys. Mina delves into sexism and newspaper politics as well as the bleakness that devours many in  Glasgow.  I found it a little slow to get into but once I did it was a good read  – not as good as the Garnethill Trilogy (which I loved earlier in the year).

The Dead Hour  –  Denise Mina.    Sequel to Field of Blood, Paddy has worked her way up to covering the late night crime beat.  A much better read than the first one this book touches on domestic abuse along with class and religious tensions (the book is set in 1984 during the Thatcher era).   I like that Paddy is not a svelte gorgeous character but rather overweight (subjected to calls of “fat cow” by her co-workers) is full of flaws and has a load of family issues to deal with.
Slip of the Knife  – Denise Mina.    Third in the Paddy Meehan series this story is set in 1990; Paddy is now a controversial columnist and one of the boys implicated in the child murder of the first book(Field of Blood) is about to be paroled. Paddy is now a more determined and independent young woman, and a single mother of a nearly 6 year old boy.  This story was a little convoluted and a reader really needed to have read the first two books before attempting this one as it would not stand alone very well.

Square Foot Gardening – Mel Bartholomew    My one attempt at non-fiction during this period!   After reading this book veggie gardening seems so easy and I’m slightly surprised that I do not have an over-abundance of veggies in my courtyard!  We made up the soil mixture suggested in the book but I decided to neither pull up my lovely courtyard pavers or put dirt on top of them to do the proper square foot gardening – and veggie gardening out the front would only lead to others reaping the benefits of my toiling.  The hot weather has had a negative effect on my yield but at least I will have fabulous soil ready for next year!

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****************  JUNE

Deception – Denise Mina.  A husband learns things he didn’t know about his wife after she is arrested for murder.   This book is written as a series of diary entries by the husband.  It’s a story of obsession and self deception as the husband sets about trying to prove his wife’s innocence by searching through her files and computer.  I didn’t like the format of this book and found it hard to finish.   If it had been the first Denise Mina book I’d read I might never have discovered her other much more readable books.

Purple Jesus – Ron Cooper   –  I love it when I’m reading along and come across the title of the book or the meaning & explanation of that title.   This book is great and the scene where a character explains to another what  “Purple Jesus” is (not an NFL player)   is a truly laugh out loud moment.    I really really liked this book  –  it’s the second one written by Philosopher, Ron Cooper (his first was Hume’s Fork which I read earlier this year).  The story unfolds as chapters alternate between the points of view of the various characters – there is murder, a bizarre love triangle, a mystery Hairy Man and “low-country” folks and their folklore. It’s sad one moment and twisted funny the next and then Cooper throws in something that shocks you.  This book is full of eccentric characters, some religious allegory and farce and really is a great read.

Small Crimes –  by Dave Zeltserman   Set in a small town, the story follows the main character’s release from prison and his attempt to return to normalcy in his society.  This book is really dark and sordid and is basically a moral tale; small crimes lead to big crimes.  It was hard to put this down in a “train wreck”  kind of way.

Jack Daniels Stories  – J.A. Konrath –  a compilation of short stories featuring various characters from J.A. Konrath’s Jack Daniels series.  These were easy reading and great for the commute as I’d get a story finished by the time I got to my station.

Pariah – by Dave Zeltserman    Another just-out-of-prison book.  Gritty and compelling but also full of despair   –  one of those stories where you know from the start that nothing good is going to happen – a story where the reader sort of wallows in the character’s disgraces.    A good train book.

Identity Crisis – Debbi Mack.   This book introduces attorney Stephanie Ann “Sam” McRae and is about a domestic abuse case that turns deadly.   Not terrific but an okay train book.  Debbi Mack lives locally so I did enjoy reading about places I knew as the book went along.  ……………………

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********************  JULY

Least Wanted –  Debbi Mack  –   Sam McRae has two clients accused of murder;  a young black girl accused of killing her mother and a young man already suspected of embezzling then accused of murdering his boss. As the story progresses the two cases overlap into girl gangs and pornography.  Better than her first book –  a good train book.

61 Hours  –  Lee Child  –  I said I wasn’t going to read any more of these Jack Reacher books but someone gave me this one and said it was “good”.    It was a quick read and I did find myself sucked into it right until the end.  Given there is another Reacher book after this one I thought the ending of this one was improbable – or perhaps I mean that given the ending of this one it’s not very plausible Reacher is around for another book.
Crusaders Cross – James Lee Burke   The  14th Dave Robicheaux book.  This book first takes the reader back to 1958 when Dave and his brother Jimmie are just out of high school and Jimmie falls in love with a prostitute, Ida Durbin,  who disappears.  A later day conversation between Robicheaux and a dying childhood friend about Ida, sets Dave in motion to find the truth of her disappearance.  This story was a little rambling and not as good as many of Burke’s others but still better than so many other books out there.
Pegasus Descending – James Lee Burke.  The 15th book in the Dave Robicheaux series  –  there are currently 18 books in the series so I’ve almost caught up!   Back in the days when Jim Beam with a beer chaser was Robicheaux’s best friend he was too drunk to do anything when a friend was murdered during an armored car robbery.  Years later the dead guy’s daughter turns up in Dave’s parish and Dave sets about solving several interconnected murders in an attempt to make amends.  Good train book.
Fallen – Karin Slaughter.     I love that the writer of crime fiction has the last name “Slaughter”.   I think I’ve read nearly all of her books and they have all been good reads.   This is one of those stories where the secrets of personal lives are exposed by a crime and which then threaten to destroy a family’s fabric and trust.  The crime story was good but I didn’t like the romantic thread much (the language seemed a bit Mills & Boon for me).

Night Kills  –  John Lutz.   This one sucked me in so that a few times I found myself almost missing my station.  Lutz reveals his bad-guys early on so the reader doesn’t have to work at figuring anything out and the story is more about whether the police will catch them before the next woman is shot in the heart.  There are a few unlikely scenarios but overall the storyline is good and the book is a fast read.

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A- Z Challenge ….. Q is for

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quaffing   – something that I’ve had to cut down on a bit since this heat descended on us.   As much as one would like to, it’s not really advisable to race in the door and quaff down a glass, (or 2 or 3),  of white before first quelling heat stroke with a big glass of water.   I don’t like water at all but I’m following the guidelines for being sensible now that I’ve had a birthday and have grown up.

Today I was reminiscing  about winter 2010 when I chilled my wine on snow!    Ah, those were the days! 

I apologize but the heat has turned me into a horrible WP neighbour.   Social Networking is frowned upon at work and the heat seems to have made our home internet service really erratic – I know that’s probably not really a cause & effect under Comcast’s service calls, but on the (relatively) “cooler” days it works slow-to-fine  but then grinds to a virtual stop on the 95+ days!

A – Z Challenge ….. P is for ….

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party.   And,  I am having one because it’s my birthday today.   I had 44 – oops only 43 –  middle-of-winter birthdays before moving to America;  I had my 50th back in Australia at Uluru and I’ve had 10 middle-of-summer birthdays in DC but I have never had one as hot as this one.    I think my party will involve a lot of frozen margaritas and air conditioning!

I just hope my friends will still come out in heat later today!

Edited to add:  thank you to my sister Jane  for a nice post today that made me smile.

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