Sunday, December 31, 2006

3 Traditional Regencies

Drusilla's Downfall~

Written by one of my favorite TR authors, Emily Hendrickson, and published by Signet in 2003. Drusilla Herbert is the fifth of six children, fourth of five daughters. She has been employed as a companion by an old chum from her mother's school days. The lady's son Adrian Richmond, Marquess of Brentford decides Drusilla is an encroaching mushroom bent on bilking his mother out of money. So he attends a combination houseparty & birthday party intent on stopping the festivities and firing Drusilla. Needless to say, his mother and the eligible young miss next door have other plans.

One of the best scenes is one where Brentford wants to see Drusilla's hair down and contrives to push her on a swing higher and higher until her hair tumbles down around her like Rapunzel. He is then well able to offer his hairstyling assistance so Drusilla can get her hair pinned up again. The scene was well done and made Brentford's character that much more real to me. Keeper

Moonlight and Mischief~

Written by Rhonda Woodward and published by Signet in 2004. Mariah Thorncroft and her entire family has crashed a houseparty on the slightest of excuses. Nicholas Morely, Earl of Haverstone, has never bothered with silly young misses vastly preferring experienced, commitment free liasons with married women within his social set. Until Mariah manages to catch his attention, much to the chagrin of Haverstone's most recent paramour- who happens to be in attendance at this houseparty.

Mariah is tired of being the pawn in her parent's social climbing strategy, but cannot convince them to cease attampting to manipulate her. Haverstone is drawn to her, but isn't quite sure how to overcome his fearsome reputation. Mariah's parent's don't care since he has a title, but how to convince Mariah reformed rakes really do make the best husbands??

I had trouble ignoring this young lady's name as I completely detest the r&b singer with the same name, but my misgivings didn't amount to much once I delved deeply into Haverstone & Mariah's relationship. Keeper

The Last of the Winter Roses~

Written by Jeanne Savery and published by Zebra in 2004. Lady Ardith has managed to become an independant young woman running a breeding and training stable not too far from her childhood home. After a disatrous partial season, during which she was mercilessly teased and mocked for her height and gangly awkwardness Ardith has sworn off both men and London Society. St. John Worth, Marquis of Rohampton, has been a neighbor since Ardith's childhood. Ever since a horribly botched proposal St. John has patiently waited to regain Ardith's good graces. Finally! Five years later, Mother Nature gives St. John a second chance in the form of a vicious snowstorm which mires Ardith at St. John's for a few days.

I struggled with the female lead in this book. She was too emotionally armored, too mired in the past, too sharp. Her vulnerablity came too late for me to like her. However, I really really like St. John. He is thoughtful, considerate and patient with Ardith. He knows and loves her well despite the circumstances years ago. If ever there was a man who planned a careful campaign to win his ladylove this is it.

Saturday, December 30, 2006

Family fun

Played Super Scrabble with the kids tonight. 2+ hours and we still hadn't hit the bottom of the letter bag. Hubby & Son #2 were a team and the rest of us were on our own. We had a great time. The hubster made ham and beans with fresh hot biscuits- YUM!

I've been sorting out my reading stats for the year. I'm planning to do at least one post of 4th quarter stats (Oct-Dec) plus a post of annual stats, maybe more. Depends on how creative I can get. One more book and I'm one over the 2005 annual count. Not sure I can make it, though. It'll be down to the wire!

Friday, December 29, 2006


I’ve managed to read four books over the last week or so. Three traditional Regencies and one paranormal erotica (aka the new Laurell K Hamilton).

Just Say Yes~

Written by Myretta Robens and published by Zebra in 2005,.this one has a cartoon cover which initially made me skip over it. Miss Caspar Hartwell, the vicar’s eighth daughter who was named after their only titled male relative, comes across one Geoffrey Dorton being licked to death by a large dog in a fallow field near her home. Being the eighth daughter means no dowry and Cassie isn’t afraid of hard work, so she likes Mr. Dorton and it’s ok since they’re sort of social equals. Except Mr. Dorton is actually Geoffrey Dorrington, Earl of Cheriton. Will she still love him when he reveals his true identity? Why is he playing at being a steward anyway? Will Cassie escape from the evil, slimy suitor her mother has chosen for her? Will Dorrington’s father permit his son to court a vicar’s daughter?

The Magnificent Masquerade~

Written by Elizabeth Mansfield and published twice; once by Jove in 1994 and once by Charter in 1987. This one features several chestnuts often found in this genre: the incorrigable daughter who must be married off in all haste because the parents can’t cope; the identity switch with the maid of all work, who just happens to be an impoverished nobleman’s daughter and the second son who has been busy raising hell at school and in London. However, this one involves quite a few scenes ‘behind the green baize door’ as it were. Scenes belowstairs with the servants. Ms. Mansfield reveals the hierarchy of servants’ social classes- who does what, sits where and has permission to interact with whom. Their daily schedule, etc. Fascinating stuff not often seen in romance novels. I enjoyed this novel, but it has a few too many timeworn plot devices and the time frame it too short (a little over a week).

Miss Haycroft’s Suitors~

Written by Emily Hendrickson and published by Signet in 1999 Miss Haycroft’s Suitors showcases a little legal nicety in England called a suit of seduction. Not an idea I’d seen in a Regency before, but Ms. Hendrickson discusses it briefly in her note at the end of the novel. Miss Haycroft also takes a steamboat picnic, which my daughter and I had to google just to check dates. According to Daughter, steamboats were in use in the colonies back in the mid to late 1780's. I presume they’d made their way to England by the Regency, but we didn’t do any more research into the details of steamboat history.

Anyhow. Miss Haycroft is nearing her 21st birthday and her aunt and uncle, her legal guardians, are attempting to force her into a marriage with an older stalker-type wealthy man. Impulsive and desperate Anne trusts a complete stranger to help her. Ms. Hendrickson does Justin Fairfax justice, by implying he initially helped Anne because she is attractive rather than out of plain chivalry. Anne moves into Fairfax’s aunt’s home. There follows a gothic tinged tale of attempted abduction, legal maneuvers and stolen kisses.

Mistral’s Kiss~

Written by LKH and published by Ballantine. I had to reread the previous novel, A Stroke of Midnight, before I began this one. I know LKH’s readers seem to be very polarized. Love her or hate her. No one in between. I don’t read the Anita series, so all of the baggage attached to that series doesn’t apply to me. Smartbitches wrote a post about LKH recently and the commentary was very interesting. I don’t categorize this series as romance, but rather a unique hybrid of urban fantasy and erotica. Therefore, in my mind, none of the Romanceland cliches, rules or stereotypes apply.

Merry Gentry is the niece of the current Unseelie ruler, Andais. Andais is infertile. Only fertile couples can rule in faerie, so Merry and Andais’ son Cel are supposed to be trying to prove their fertility by either becoming pregnant or impregnating someone depending on which person you’re talking about. Andais is a sadist and Cel is insane. Merry isn’t fully faerie. Therefore few of the inhabitants of faerie are pleased with Andais’ plans.

Merry has been chosen by the Goddess to be her vessel. Merry is descended from fertility goddesses, so anyone or anything the Goddess chooses to be brought back to power via Merry must be brought back through sex. Merry consistently chooses sex magic over violence or blood letting- two other ancient ritual ways of Goddess worship. So between the Goddess’ plans for Merry and Andais’ plans for Merry- she’s a busy busy girl.

Merry has brought several of her guards back to some degree of their former powers. The sithen reawakens and power invested vessels suddenly appear in her care. The Goddess has kept Merry quite busy reawakening various powers and aspects of faerie. As mentioned above, the health and fertility of the ruler directly impacts the health and fertility of all faerie- since both courts are currently ruled by infertile power hungry people, faerie is dying.

I’m hopeful that since Merry restored the fertility of Faerie by bringing the gardens back, by restoring water sources, by renewing the soil, etc. Perhaps now that Mistral’s powers have returned a little the Storm God’s lightning strikes will energize and restore the soil. You know, make it ready for planting?? And therefore help the fey get pregnant faster? In other words, maybe Merry has more of a chance to get pregnant now that the land itself is more fertile?

Ms. Hamilton’s plot arc has been quite slow across this book and the last book. Yet, I’m invested in what happens. This title doesn't stand alone, do not begin this series with this title. I enjoy delving into ancient mythology and symbolism. So I’m reasonably happy following along. However, this book was only 212 pages and $20 was pretty steep for the equivalent length of a traditional Regency. Especially considering the lack of signifigant plot advancement. I’m not irritated enough to wait until the paperbacks- but, well, we’ll see.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Thursday 13 #22

Today's Thursday 13 is an assortment of parrot & hawk related sites from around the globe. Leave a link in the comments & I'll link to you here. Click link in title above to see other participants.

1.Brooklyn Parrots

2.Photos of Monk Parrots living in NYC

3.Wild parrots in Los Angeles CA

4.General information on urban birds

5.Two books about urban parrots.

6.Wild parrot flocks in the UK

7.An ongoing study of wild monk parakeets.

8.A blog with photos of the NYC parakeet flock.

9.What to feed wild birds.

10.Pale Male and Lola ~ photos from their website.

11.Parrot conservation website.

12.Humane Society guidelines for choosing an appropriate pet bird

13.Worldwide parrot conservation

JMC has a Thursday thirteen about her latest shopping spree.

Monday, December 25, 2006

Iceberg floats past New Zealand

by Charles G.D. Roberts

I was spawned from the glacier,
A thousand miles due north
Beyond Cape Chidley;
And the spawning,
When my vast, wallowing bulk went under, 5
Emerged and heaved aloft,
Shaking down cataracts from its rocking sides,
With mountainous surge and thunder
Outraged the silence of the Arctic sea.
Before I was thrust forth
A thousand years I crept,
Crawling, crawling, crawling irresistibly,
Hid in the blue womb of the eternal ice,
While under me the tortured rock
Groaned, 15
And over me the immeasurable desolation slept.
Under the pallid dawning
Of the lidless Arctic day
Forever no life stirred.
No wing of bird—
Of ghostly owl low winnowing
Or fleet-winged ptarmigan fleeing the pounce of death,—
No foot of backward-glancing fox
Half glimpsed, and vanishing like a breath,—
No lean and gauntly stalking bear, 25
Stalking his prey.
Only the white sun, circling the white sky.
Only the wind screaming perpetually.
And then the night—
The long night, naked, high over the roof of the world,
Where time seemed frozen in the cold of space,—
Now black, and torn with cry
Of unseen voices where the storm raged by,
Now radiant with spectral light
As the vault of heaven split wide 35
To let the flaming Polar cohorts through,
And close ranked spears of gold and blue,
Thin scarlet and thin green,
Hurtled and clashed across the sphere
And hissed in sibilant whisperings, 40
And died.
And then the stark moon, swinging low,
Silver, indifferent, serene,
Over the sheeted snow.
But now, an Alp afloat,
In seizure of the surreptitious tide,
Began my long drift south to a remote
And unimagined doom.
Scornful of storm,
Unjarred by thunderous buffeting of seas, 50
Shearing the giant floes aside,
Ploughing the wide-flung ice-fields in a spume
That smoked far up my ponderous flanks,
Onward I fared,
My ice-blue pinnacles rendering back the sun 55
In darts of sharp radiance;
My bases fathoms deep in the dark profound.
And now around me
Life, and the frigid waters all aswarm.
The smooth wave creamed
With tiny capelin and the small pale squid,—
So pale the light struck through them.
Gulls and gannets screamed
Over the feast, and gorged themselves, and rose,
A clamour of weaving wings, and hid 65
Momently my face.
The great bull whales
With cavernous jaws agape,
Scooped in the spoil, and slept,
Their humped forms just awash, and rocking softly,— 70
Or sounded down, down to the deeps, and nosed
Along my ribbed and sunken roots,
And in the green gloom scattered the pasturing cod.
And so I voyaged on, down the dim parallels,
Convoyed by fields
Of countless calving seals
Mild-featured, innocent-eyed, and unforeknowing
The doom of the red flenching knives.
I passed the storm-racked gate
Of Hudson Strait, 80
And savage Chidley where the warring tides
In white wrath seethe forever.
Down along the sounding shore
Of iron-fanged, many-watered Labrador
Slow weeks I shaped my course, and saw 85
Dark Mokkowic and dark Napiskawa,
And came at last off lone Belle Isle, the bane
Of ships and snare of bergs.
Here, by the deep conflicting currents drawn,
I hung, 90
And swung,
The inland voices Gulfward calling me
To ground amid my peers on the alien strand
And roam no more.
But then an off-shore wind, 95
A great wind fraught with fate,
Caught me and pressed me back,
And I resumed my solitary way.
Slowly I bore
South-east by bastioned Bauld,
And passed the sentinel light far-beaming late
Along the liners’ track,
And slanted out Atlanticwards, until
Above the treacherous swaths of fog
Faded from the view the loom of Newfoundland. 105

Beautiful, ethereal
In the blue sparkle of the gleaming day,
A soaring miracle
Of white immensity,
I was the cynosure of passing ships 110
That wondered and were gone,
Their wreathed smoke trailing them beyond the verge.
And when in the night they passed—
The night of stars and calm,
Forged up and passed, with churning surge 115
And throb of huge propellers, and long-drawn
Luminous wake behind,
And sharp, small lights in rows,
I lay a ghost of menace chill and still,
A shape pearl-pale and monstrous, off to leeward, 120
Blurring the dim horizon line.
Day dragged on day,
And then came fog,
By noon, blind-white,
And in the night
Black-thick and smothering the sight.
Folded therein I waited,
Waited I knew not what
And heeded not,
Greatly incurious and unconcerned. 130
I heard the small waves lapping along my base,
Lipping and whispering, lisping with bated breath
A casual expectancy of death.
I heard remote
The deep, far carrying note 135
Blown from the hoarse and hollow throat
Of some lone tanker groping on her course.
Louder and louder rose the sound
In deepening diapason, then passed on,
Diminishing, and dying,— 140
And silence closed around.
And in the silence came again
Those stealthy voices,
That whispering of death.
And then I heard
The thud of screws approaching.
Near and more near,
Louder and yet more loud,
Through the thick dark I heard it,—
The rush and hiss of waters as she ploughed 150
Head on, unseen, unseeing,
Toward where I stood across her path, invisible.
And then a startled blare
Of horror close re-echoing,—a glare
Of sudden, stabbing searchlights 155
That but obscurely pierced the gloom;
And there
I towered, a dim immensity of doom.
A roar
Of tortured waters as the giant screws,
Reversed, thundered full steam astern.
Yet forward still she drew, until,
Slow answering desperate helm,
She swerved, and all her broadside came in view,
Crawling beneath me; 165
And for a moment I saw faces, blanched,
Stiffly agape, turned upward, and wild eyes
Astare; and one long, quavering cry went up
As a submerged horn gored her through and through,
Ripping her beam wide open; 170
And sullenly she listed, till her funnels
Crashed on my steep,
And men sprang, stumbling, for the boats.
But now, my deep foundations
Mined by those warmer seas, the hour had come
When I must change.
Slowly I leaned above her,
Slowly at first, then faster,
And icy fragments rained upon her decks.
Then my enormous mass descended on her, 180
A falling mountain, all obliterating,—
And the confusion of thin, wailing cries,
The Babel of shouts and prayers
And shriek of steam escaping
Suddenly died. 185
And I rolled over,
And once more came to rest,
My long hid bases heaved up high in air.
And now, from fogs emerging,
I traversed blander seas,
Forgot the fogs, the scourging
Of sleet-whipped gales, forgot
My austere origin, my tremendous birth,
My journeyings, and the last cataclysm 195
Of overwhelming ruin.
My squat, pale, alien bulk
Basked in the ambient sheen;
And all about me, league on league outspread,
A gulf of indigo and green. 200
I laughed in the light waves laced with white,—
Nor knew
How swiftly shrank my girth
Under their sly caresses, how the breath
Of that soft wind sucked up my strength, nor how 205
The sweet, insidious fingers of the sun
Their stealthy depredations wrought upon me.
Slowly now
I drifted, dreaming.
I saw the flying-fish
With sliver gleaming
Flash from the peacock-bosomed wave
And flicker through an arc of sunlit air
Back to their element, desperate to elude
The jaws of the pursuing albacore. 215

Day after day
I swung in the unhasting tide.
Sometimes I saw the dolphin folk at play,
Their lithe sides iridescent-dyed,
Unheeding in their speed 220
That long grey wraith,
The shark that followed hungering beneath.
Sometimes I saw a school
Of porpoise rolling by
In ranked array, 225
Emerging and submerging rhythmically,
Their blunt black bodies heading all one way
Until they faded
In the horizon’s dazzling line of light.
Night after night 230
I followed the low, large moon across the sky,
Or counted the large stars on the purple dark,
The while I wasted, wasted and took no thought,
In drowsed entrancement caught;—
Until one noon a wave washed over me, 235
Breathed low a sobbing sigh,
Foamed indolently, and passed on;
And then I knew my empery was gone;
As I, too, soon must go.
And well content I was to have it so. 240

Another night
Gloomed o’er my sight,
With cloud, and flurries of warm, wild rain.
Another day,
Dawning delectably 245
With amber and scarlet stain,
Swept on its way,
Glowing and shimmering with heavy heat.
A lazing tuna rose
And nosed me curiously, 250
And shouldered me aside in brusque disdain,
So I had fallen from my high estate.
A foraging gull
Stooped over me, touched me with webbed pink feet,
And wheeled and skreeled away, 255
Indignant at the chill.
Last I became
A little glancing globe of cold
That slid and sparkled on the slow-pulsed swell.
And then my fragile, scintillating frame
Dissolved in ecstasy
Of many colored light,
And I breathed up my soul into the air
And merged forever in the all-solvent sea.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Christmas Meme

This has beeen done by several other people-Tara, Jenster & Cindy (links on the sidebar) among others. I saved mine for today.

1. Egg Nog or Hot Chocolate? Both, but not at the same time.
2. Does Santa wrap presents or just sit them under the tree? Both.
3. Colored lights on tree/house or white? We had white for years because it was Husband’s preference, but now we’ve colors inside and out.
4. Do you hang mistletoe? Not unless I can find the real item.
5. When do you put your decorations up? First week after Thanksgiving
6. What is your favourite holiday dish (excluding dessert)? Mashed potatoes and gravy
7. Favourite Holiday memory as a child: See post below.
8. When and how did you learn the truth about Santa? Don’t remember. Third grade maybe??
9. Do you open a gift on Christmas Eve? Yes, after midnight service.
10. How do you decorate your Christmas tree? :0 UH..with ornaments and lights? I prefer the tree to be very green and open- as opposed to being so laden with trinkets that one cannot recognize the tree for all of the stuff on it. Mostly the children hang the ornaments after Husband has done the lights.
11. Snow Love it or Dread it? SNOW. Lots and lots and lots and lots of snow. Not that I get it in our current location.
12. Can you ice skate? Nope. Love to watch others.
13. Do you remember your favourite gift? My grandmother made me a beautiful quilted satin multistriped formal skirt to wear to holiday parties with them. It was gorgeous & I felt very grown up.
14. What's the most important thing about the Holidays for you? Being together with the kids and our family.
15. What is your favourite Holiday dessert? All of them. ;) Pecan pie and ice cream, I suppose, if I can only choose one.
16. What is your favourite holiday tradition? Midnight mass. Driving around looking at everyone’s lights. I like the entire season, really.
17. What tops your tree? This year there are several large snowflakes. Other years we’ve had a star or an angel.
18. Which do you prefer giving or receiving? Giving, by far.
19. What is your favorite Christmas Song? Gabriel’s Message & Once in Royal David’s City
20. What is your favourite Christmas movie? I don’t have one, really. The Patrick Stewart version of A Christmas Carol. Eloise at Christmas. A Christmas Story.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Kushiel's Scion; J. Carey

Written by Jacqueline Carey and published this past June by Warner. It is the first of a new trilogy which follows on after the end of the original Kushiel trilogy. I'm on the fence about whether or not a new Kushiel reader would have to read the last book (Kushiel's Avatar) in the previous series. I suppose reading KA would be helpful because it would explain relevant historical background and provide character motivation for the current book. OTOH, there is probably enough background detailed in Scion that a new reader could get away with avoiding Avatar. I guess it depends on how much background and detail you want and if you have enough stamina to read both books in a row.

The main character is Imriel no Montreve de la Courcel, third in line to the throne of Terre d'Ange. Kushiel's Scion, at its heart, is Imriel's coming of age tale. Ms. Carey has done an admirable job portraying pretty typical teenage angst amid a twisted and complicated tale of political intrigue. Imriel himself has been deeply emotionally and physically scarred in his young life; by his mother, by the political and cultural mess she created and then left him to, by his capitivity and slavery in what we would likely call the Middle East.

There are two scenes which stand out in my mind. First Imriel's visit to Balm House on the eve of his sixteenth birthday. Second, his visit to Valerian House with his Shahrizai kin (his mother's folk). Another issue that arises which I feel is particularly well done. Imriel has a torrid affair which exposes both his faults and his strengths. Carey shows how lust and desire can overpower a person's better judgement and common sense. Imriel's age is a factor, yet Carey reveals the universal truths of troubled but compelling- almost irresistable- relationships.

Much of Scion involves character building. I'm a little surprised I found a teenager to be quite so compelling. Perhaps Imriel was a little..I don't know naive. Blind to certain situations and repucussions. Things which could be attributed to his age. Imriel learns that one's fate isn't predestined by the traits and circumstances one is born into. Life is what one makes of it. Too he learns sometimes one has to decide between two bad choices- life isn't neat or clean or easy. Difficult lessons at any age I think.

There is plenty of action to go around, but much of it seems to be for Imriel rather than advancing the overarching plot. Then again, this is only the first book of the new series, so who knows which events will prove more important than others? I very much enjoyed this book & highly recommend it to you.

Friday, December 22, 2006

This N That

Husband has brought home homemade bulgogi. Absolutely my favorite stuff. A lady who works with him loves him to bits & knows we LOVE authentic Korean bulgogi. Also- potstickers and kimbap (Seaweed rolls). Anyhow, Ms. Shin makes us pounds of this stuff every year at Christmas, God love her. So we've all pigged out.

It's rained all day. It turns the traffic horrider (yes, that's my new word). Two fatal accidents in our area. SUV drivers are the worst. Them and the young ones who like to weave in and out at high speed in those teeny rigged out imports. Stupid fools.

Half our Christmas lights are out. Can't figure out what the problem is except that maybe the rain has gotten into the wiring. Dunno. They're the LED lights we bought last year, darn it. Naturally the older cheap ones are fine.

What else? Finished Kushiel's Scion last night. I'll post my thoughts tomorrow if I find the time.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Thursday 13 #21- Birds at my Feeder

A few months ago I began keeping a list of birds I see at my feeders on my front porch. I've one feeder I keep filled with a 'no waste', seed heart mix which I really like because it helps keep the mess down. Every little bit helps, I think. I also have one suet feeder. Not very much by any standard, but I get quite a bit of traffic out there! I changed feeder types, which cut down dramatically on the starlings hogging it all. THe Carolina Wren doesn't eat at the feeder, it holds on to the metal railings and pecks the seeds off of a pair of dead chrysanthemums on the porch. The result of which, is I've left the dried up plants out there for him to eat. I hope he likes them. They're ugly.

1. Red bellied woodpeckers
2. Yellow bellied sapsuckers
3. Starlings
4. European Starlings
5. House Finches
6. Song Sparrows
7. White Breasted Nuthatches
8. Mourning Doves
9. Downy Woodpeckers
10. Tufted Titmice
11. Carolina Chickadees
12. Carolina Wren
13. House sparrows

Click link above (in title) to see a page listing other TT participants. Leave a link in the comments and I'll link to you.


GF 3#~

The other updates are here and here and here. GF went home early last week. She is very weak but is scheduled to begin physical therapy. The school system is teaching her at home as her immune system leaves her extremely vulnerable. Son #1 plans to buy her a Christmas gift and a birthday gift and hopes to be able to see her over their (brief) winter break. Thanks to all for your good wishes and prayers!

Religious Intolerance round 2~

The Christian Science Monitor has a detailed article concerning the game here.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Advent Blog Tour

Today is my day on the Advent Blog tour, brought to you by Marg and Kailana.

First Christmas Memory~

I think I must have been two or three at the most. It was actually Christmas Eve. I wore heavy footed pajamas and I was chilled even so. I went down the stairs about a quarter or a third of the way. Far enough down the stairs to be able to look through the bannister into the enormous livingroom on the left. Holding a spindle in each hand I learned my head against them and peered out into the livingroom.

This room had four large windows, two each on two walls. Moonlight poured into the livingroom, reflected off of the snow outside. "The moon on the breast of the new-fallen snow, Gave the lustre of mid-day to objects below," (Clement Moore) The entire room was bathed in silvery light. It was a magical and powerful sight. Truly. The tree, which according to my mother, was always freshly cut from the woods around the house by my grandfather, loomed tall and green and dark against the wall. Presents flowed out from beneath the tree like a wave spreads up onto the beach. I stood surveying the moonlight and the tree until my teeth chattered and my feeet were numb. My grandparents never believed in interior heating other than what came from the fireplace.

“Santa is real.” I remember thinking that, despite being so young. I suppose I must have been doubtful and this sight verified the scene. And yet, what struck me most, what touched my heart most deeply, was the moonlight gleaming through the windows. Not the presents. Not really even the tree. The magical moonlight and the snow.

Christmas Traditions Chez Bookwormom~

The primary one has always been midnight mass. No matter how young the kids were , we’ve always gone to the midnight service. Once the children were in school we began allowing them to open one gift after we returned home from the service. Santa gifts are unwrapped, gifts from us and from other family members are wrapped. All stocking stuffers are from Santa.

When the kids were really little, we didn’t let them go down to the livingroom until 7 am. Mostly to allow their parents a brief nap before facing the day again. Now that they’re older, they can go out to the tree and play with anything that isn’t wrapped plus their stocking stuffers.

What else? Outside lights and decor are usually put up the first week of December. Because we have real trees, it isn’t usually bought and decorated until mid December and will be left up until Epiphany (after the 12 days of Christmas, Jan. 6th I believe). Some years, depending on the quality of the tree, we leave it up through daughter’s birthday (Jan. 9th).

We don’t really have hard and fast Christmas dinner menus. Mostly the usual American holiday fare. Some years I bake cheesecakes instead of pies. Some years I make several tartes. There’s always fresh cranberry relish and fruit stuffing. One thing is that there will only be turkey at one holiday meal, Thanksgiving or Christmas but never both. Personally, I prefer a succulent beef roast with a ton of bernaise sauce and garlic mashed potatoes, but that’s just me.

Favorite Music

In dulci jubilo

Another favorite piece. This one is Gabriel's Message.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Vocabulary lesson

Today's vocabulary word is:

Rondeur~French rondeur, roundness, from Old French, from ronde, round; see round.

ron·dure~ Anglicized version of the above. n. A circular or gracefully rounded object.

Rond (French-round).
-Used to describe wines which are harmonious, full and supple. According to one French wine writer, the rondeur of a great wine only appears after eight to ten years, whereas the time for ordinary wines is after their second year.

Rondeau (s.), Rondeaux (pl.) Well-established by the 13th-century, in the 14th- and 15th-centuries, the most enduring of the formes fixes, popular with the troubadours, characterised as a song with a refrain. The rondel and virelai are two types of rondeaux and are thought to have been dances. See formes fixes; Rondeau; (French) rondo

I came across this word while reading Kushiel's Scion by Jacqueline Carey. Ms. Carey uses it in reference to the mother of one of the female characters. For me, though, rondeur implied more than a motherly or matronly figure, it also implies a sense of lushness and sensuality. TheFrench dictionaries I have say that rondeur can also mean simply obesity depending on context.

Intrigued, I hunted up a few other definitons. One refers to wines, the other to medieval dance and music forms.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Precious Lord Take my Hand - Etta, Chaka and Gladys

One of my favorites.

Aunt Dimity & the Duke

Written by Nancy Atherton and published by Penguin in 1994, I found this in the UBS. It seems to be a contemporary, gothic cosy set in Boston and the edge of Cornwall England. The description of cosies on that page is IMO a put down, but nevertheless it seems true. Why is 'light, easy, fun to read' less valuable? Never mind. I don't even want to open that can of worms.

Emma Porter is a 40 year old single computer programmer whose long term 'friend with benefits' has abruptly married a younger woman. Having planned an extensive summer vacation touring England's gardens, Emma goes ahead with her plans primarily to escape the sympathy of her friends and family. Derek Harris, a widower with two school age children has been hired to refurbish an old manor house on the Cornish coast. Mired in grief and depression, Derek does not notice his children are still suffering five years later.

Each of them has been lured to this remote coatal manor by the legendary Aunt Dimity. For those of you who are curious, dimity is a cotton fabric often used for curtains etc. For some reason I thought it was a type of food, a dessert. Anyhow- Aunt Dimity has maneuvered Derek and Emma to Penford Hall- one to restore the chapel and the other to restore the lady gardens.

Dead pop stars, vengeful remote cousins, elderly Brooklyn business managers and a missing, possibly mythical lamp combine to make a fascinating quick evening's read. Who hit Susannah on the head? Little Peter, troubled and anxious? Hallard, the mysterious ever typing footman? Or possibly Bantry, the head gardener? Did Grayson murder the pop star for his fortune? Who installed the super computers hidden upstairs?

On the romance side of the house: Can Emma let her guard down and mourn her dead relationship with Richard? Will Derek see the truth about his children? Can he finally let go of Mary's memory and move on? How can Grayson be so blind that he doesn't see Kate's love and devotion? Do kisses stolen amid hidden tunnels surrounded by rats and spiders really count?

Saturday, December 16, 2006


Just because.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Rediscovering an old friend

After a minor crisis this morning, all's well that ends well- I suppose. I was three fourths finished with a red cotton flannel scrub top for the Husband to wear next week. I'd even found white faux fur trim to edges. All I had left were the sideseams and hemming the sleeves and the bottom. I was at sea for a little while trying to figure out how to attach the neckline plus add the fur. It didn't help that the illustration for the neckline was backwards. At least I thought so. I very nearly called my mother for help, but I couldn't think of a way to describe what my problems were, so I muddled through on my own.

Anyhow. Morning of day 2. Started off drowsy as I didn't sleep well & I had to drive the Son #2 up to school, all of which combined to a late start. Set my things up. Made fresh coffee. Sewing machine refused to cooperate. The top thread won't catch the bobbin thread. Took the little bits under the bobbin apart, coming across a loose spring. Blasted machine wouldn't pick up the bobbin thread no matter what. No luck finding repair how to's on the internet. Plenty of ads though. "Buy my book/video & learn all about sewing machine repair." Lovely. Like that'll help me NOW.

The result? I finished the top by hand. I've had a lovely day sewing the remainder under the brightest lamp in the house. It took me awhile to calm down out of the frantic, "OMG- I promised him I'd finish this top. What the hell am I gonna do?" As though hand sewing is beneath me. It's quite relaxing actually. Keeps my hands busy, which may just be helpful in reducing weight. After all, if your hands are busy you can't eat so much. At least that's what Sister says.

Don't offer to send me your mending. I've so many projecs I want to sew/cross stitch etc. I won't catch up for years.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Religious Intolerance for kids


I don't normally discuss faith or religious matters here other than passing references to activities we participate in at our church. Other than the following rant I do not intend to discuss religion at all. However, this really has me angry and I simply will not let this matter pass without comment.

The Left Behind franchise has made gobs of cash promoting evangelical Christian viewpoints initially through books marketed at adults and subsequently products aimed at children and then branched out into other items, including PC games.

I will not cite specific news articles, other than to list this search page. The Left Behind folks' rebuttal is here.

They claim, erroneously, "Because our game is a ‘strategy' game, never does a player click a key or press a button to actuate a first-person violent act. Instead, control is managed by the player in much the same way as an animated chess game would be". Of course the fact that the player must initiate character movements and decisions is sidestepped. In other words, violence is ok if the 'game' initiates it, thus neatly relieving the player from responsiblity? The player is manipulated into a situation wherein, in order to 'win' s/he must kill the bad guys. Bad guys being anyone who isn't Christian or won't convert to Christianity.

They also state (cited at the link above), "In the initial missions, there is little emphasis on physical warfare and gamers are introduced to powers of influence which result in a battle for the hearts and minds of people. As missions progress, there are no ‘objectives' to cause war physically. However, physical warfare results when the player is required to defend against the physical forces of evil;" In other words, in the beginning (am I the only one to find that word choice ironic?) players are duped into thinking this is a violence free pc game aimed at proselytizing the unchurched and/or spreading Christian virtues, morality and beliefs. However, if one reads the statement the game basically manipulates the player into religious based warfare, conveniently disguised as "good against evil".

My biggest problem with this game is it apparently has players form a Christian militia. Any character that does not convert to Christianity ends up dead. If the player opts to play the anti-Christian side, there is no way to win the game. Since when is it ok to kill non Christians? Since when is forced conversion ok? Are we condoning a game that portrays the death of nonChristians in a warlike life and death scenario as desirable?

If this game was made with Muslims as the primary 'good guy force' with forced conversions and death to those who refuse, would that be acceptable? If this was a Jewish game where non Jews were forced to convert or be killed make it ok? You can be sure that if there is a pc or console game out there that depicts religious warfare and the killing or forced conversions of Christians, there likely would be a huge outcry. Then again, who knows? Maybe these games already exist. If this was an atheist game where believers were forced to renounce their faith and belief, would that be ok? Isn't there enough religiously based warfare going on in this world already? Aren't the people of this world divided and violent enough? Can they claim this is 'entertainment' with a straight face?

The head of the Left Behind game group has some relevant and other- jaw dropping- things to say about the future of Christian gaming here. I find it quite interesting that the article says, "What publishers need to consider about developing their first 'inspirational' game is to be careful that subtle changes in design or game play don't violate doctrine. They need to make games that include doctrine supported by all Christian faiths.. games should focus on modeling positive behavior through prayer, worship and caring for people. If this is done in an engaging manner that is fun, mainstream America and the world will embrace it."

I can't believe that "all Christian faiths" support or endorse the ideals laid out in this game. Again, from this article, written by Troy Lydon of Left Behind Games "quality Christian video games is a means to reach the lost; those without hope or faith, who long for someone to care about should focus on modeling positive behavior through prayer, worship and caring for people." The Left Behind game does not achieve these lofty goals and will do much to undermine efforts to make peace with those who disgree with us.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

New Obsession

Pomegranates. Is it possible I've survived to my advanced age without pomegranates? My Husband will tell you- I much prefer fruits to vegetable anyday- everyday. I remember eating them with friends early in high school, but not after that. Last week the kids and I were grocery shopping & they had no idea what they were. So I bought two. Opened them and seeded them and..the little monsters wouldn't eat them. "We'd rather just buy Pom, mom. It's easier." Uh, no it isn't. I've had several more since then. They're yummy & delicious & scarlet & I don't have to share them! except with Husband.

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Saturday, December 09, 2006

City of Joy; Dominique LaPierre

The copy I have was published in 1985 by Warner Books. Dominique Lapierre is a well known French author who wrote this book based on experiences he and his wife had in the late 1970's and early 1980's in India. Half of all royalties from the sale of this book support various charities LaPierre patronizes in India. Details here. The movie version of City of Joy seems to be an adaptation that may have caused some controversy at the time it was released (1992), but I didn't research any background information.

Alternately heartwarming and horrifying City of Joy is the tale of a Polish priest who becomes a solitary missionary in the slums of Calcutta. The book alternates Father Stephan's accounts of his adaptation to daily life among the poorest of the poor and the story of a peasant family scrapping for a meagre existance alongside thousands of others.

Here, the dreams are of sufficient food to feed everyone at least once a day- twice a day makes you rich. In Fr. Stephan's world, 'moving on up' means off the sidewalk into a shanty. No matter how vermin infested or rickety, a shack wards off the worst of the monsoon or provides shade during the oven-like summer heat. Hope means you don't become chronically ill until you can provide a living for your children.

Yet, ultimately, this is an uplifting book. For me, the Beatitudes are more vivid, more profound than they were a few days ago. Above all, City of Joy inspires thankfulness and hope. Hope that people reach out their hands to one another with offers of food, job skills, adequate shelter, medicine.

One issue immediately brought to my mind was the efficacy of international handouts (food, medicine, etc) for the destitute. No one argues that the wealthy have an obligation to the destitute. However, one can quibble over the method and the results. In this case, Africa immediately came to my mind, but the discussion could be made over many situations around the world.

I have no answers. That the destitute shall be among humanity forever seems to be a given. That each of us is obliged to help as much as we can in our corner of the world is also understood.

“God doesn't require us to succeed; he only requires that you try”
Mother Theresa

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Baaad, baad girl

Sorry about being AWOL yesterday. Husband has been home for two days due to back pain. Poor guy's been sleeping on the livingroom floor. Also- he sent the younger two kids up into the attic to fetch down the Christmas boxes. ALL of the Christmas boxes. Most of which I can't display because the house is simply too small. I have alot of stuff. And NO- I won't part with any of it. SO THERE. lol ;)

He made delicious cream of chicken soup & cornbread for dinner. After that I had to escape. I'm a bad wife, I know. I just couldn't take the stacks of boxes and paper and the kids were all fighting and..Aching back and all there he was, all alone, with all three of the kids, boxes piled up to the ceiling and his wife takes off. The Daughter set up my M&M Christmas village on the piano. As predicted, the piano is barely big enough to hold them. They found the pinecone wreath and put it on the door.

A little more decorating, plus the outdoor lights and they're pretty much done with the decorating. I've not bought cards, although we recieved one yesterday. Some shopping done but not much, really. I could wrap what we do have, I think. I hate to wrap at the last minute.

There's an interesting discussion at Smartbitches about LKH and her Anita Baker series (which I don't read). The outpouring of grief over Anita's changes and anger toward LKH's percieved authorial shortcomings is remarkable. Readers' love for and loyalty to the 'original' Anita kinda warms my heart. That so much affection can be held for a character still surprises me a little. Then again, many people love Jamie Frasier and would gladly kill off Claire to get to him, so...

Speaking of holidays, Marg & Kailana are putting together a Christmas tour. Participants can blog about any holiday oriented theme they like- recipes, memories, traditions, etc. Need not be Christmas specifically- any winter holiday you celebrate. I think they have two days left open. My day is the 20th.

Lovely Salome has started a new Yahoo group devoted to Unusual (read~not UK or Regency period set) Historicals. There are four surveys up too. Go check it out. I for one think Romancelandia needs more diversity in all ways- especially era, setting, etc.

Monday, December 04, 2006


Remember Daughter's little red claw crab WonTon? The one named after our favorite appetizer (crab wontons, of course!) at the Chinese place near Husband's workplace? The Escapee? Well, we found him. In the storeroom, behind the spare tire. Poor little thing, he was dessicated and crispy. We just buried him out in the garden in a deep little hole under what in the summer will be everblooming daylilies.

Now Daughter has two little freshwater Fiddler Crabs in a one gallon aquarium with a tight fitting lid. We've assembled a little crabby jungle gym using some old aquarium supplies inherited from my Sister- she with the fish loving Husband. A tall plant which they like to climb and sit in the top leaves. A PVC tube to hide in. Rocks to play king of the mountain and survey their domain. Daughter is happy to have new buddies, but we miss our Wonton. He was fun too.

Seasonal Weather & A Poem

Winter has returned, meek like a lamb. Today the temperatures were down to the 40's with strong breezes but sunny too. The heat has cycled on and off all day- for the first time in ages. Tonight the temperature is already in the low 30's at 8:30. Entirely appropriate for December, but signifigantly cooler than a couple of nights ago when Husband went for a run in shorts and a tshirt. I waited for him on the porch, not dressed much more warmly than he was. I am a very cold person in the winter just to give you an idea of how warm it was. We had doors open and fans on all night. Not tonight I don't think.

Weather appropriate to the New England of my childhood somehow matches my inner compass. It matches my inner sense of what winter weather 'ought' to be, somehow. If that makes any sense. As an adult, I have spent a winters in regions where warm or hot weather is the norm. In those places I always felt out of place, off kilter. As though my inner compass was wrong. The season simply didn't match what my memories told me it ought to be. Actually, in hot climates, none of the seasonal weather matched my inner sense of 'what should be.'

A Christmas Carol
by Christina Rossetti

In The bleak mid-winter
Frosty winds made moan,
Earth stood hard as iron,
Water like a stone
Snow had fallen, snow on snow,
Snow on snow,
In the bleak mid-winter,
Long ago.

Our God, Heaven cannot hold Him
Nor earth sustain;
Heaven and earth shall flee away
When he comes to reign:
In the bleak mid-winter
A stable place sufficed
The Lord God Almighty
Jesus Christ.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

GF Update #2

Husband spoke with GF's mom Friday and Son spoke to GF this afternoon. Very briefly, but they did say hi. GF is very soft spoken and is now even more so- I barely heard her voice on the phone. She said she feels better than before, but is in a lot of pain and is now the proud owner of a giant scar on her breastbone. As far as I'm concerned the fact that she had enough energy and care to call Son at all is amazing.

Apparently she's out of cardiac ICU and is now on a step down unit. Which means she can have visitors. YAY! Only if they scrub and wear gloves and masks, but hey..a visitor brightens your day no matter how much they have to wear to get to you. Right??

The news from the mom is darker. GF had a stroke a few days ago, her lungs have each collapsed several times, her kidneys are struggling mightliy. She went blind for 5 hours but is now ok. I don't know what her prognosis is. All I know is that this tiny (less than 5' tall) girl is one hell of a fighter. Please continue to pray for her, she's not out of the woods yet. I very much would like to see her and Son at the prom and graduation next spring.

Dark Side of the Moon; S. Kenyon

Color me surprised. Yesterday, desperate to find something to read that would catch and hold my attention, I picked up Dark Side of the Moon by Sherrilyn Kenyon (who also publishes under Kinley MacGregor). Click link above for this book's page on SK's site. I just finished it. It has been ages and ages (over a month) since I finished a romance.

I think part of the reason this novel worked for me is the fact that this series is action packed and fast moving and less focused on being angst and emotion laden. At this point it seems like I need to look for more books that are action/adventure oriented than my more usual fare.

Set in present day Seattle, weekly gossip paper reporter Susan Michaels helps out her best GF Angie by adopting a hissing and growling stray tom cat. Things go rapidly downhill from there. Susan is accused of murdering Angie, among other exciting events. Meantime, Ravyn Kontis allowed his um.. needs to overcome his common sense and he got stuck outside at daybreak in his feline form. Susan adopts him and the adventure begins.

Kenyon sets these characters up with similar emotional needs, easing the time crunch problem neatly. In other words, because Susan and Ravyn have similar emotional needs and abandonment/loss issues they are able to bond with each other faster than other couples might. At least- that was my take on it. Too, the Fates decree who is the right mate/partner for whom thus forcing their decison when the couple might prefer to put it off for a while.

The reader also gets glimpses of Acheron's tortured relationship with Artemis. Let's face it, there are quite a few readers out there who keep up with this series simply to get glimpses of Acheron. Talk about tortured and emotionally scarred. Poor guy. The newest Dark Hunter is Nick Gautier, originally from New Orleans. Nick was out of time and place for two years and doesn't know about Katrina. He is also full of rage at Acheron and makes some truly stupid decions- thus neatly setting him up for a book later.

Anyhow, I liked it. Not a keeper, but then, so few are these days. At least I finished it.

Friday, December 01, 2006

GF Update #1

Update on Son's GF- Last we heard (Sunday night via her stepdad) she's still in ICU on a ventilator. Her kidneys are having a hard time. She's ok so far as we know. Only her parents are allowed to visit ICU, so we've not been up to see her yet. I'm hoping she'll be out of ICU by mid December so Son #1 can visit her for her birthday. She'll be 17. Son has their home phone number, but has been hesitant to call due to the holidays & work/school & travel time up to the hospital & not wanting to 'bother' anyone. If we don't hear from them by Sunday I think I'll have him call them.

Yesterday I mentioned I'd misplaced the Charles de Lint book I was struggling through. I found it in the kitchen at church last night. LOL No wonder I couldn't find it. Naturally I'd started another book, The Omnivore's Dilemma by Michael Pollan. Excellent reading. Kinda scary. Eye opening.

Husband and I found this great Norlfolk Island Pine, about 3' tall, potted in a large plastic container. Snapped it up for only $14. If you've come by for a while, you know we live in a um..cosy little duplex. There is precious little floor space available to put up a Christmas tree. So our potted N.I.P will live on top of a table beside the piano. It hasn't been decorated yet. No one's had time to climb up into the attic to drop down the boxes of decorations.

This is the second year we've had a table top tree. Last year we had a great time collecting smaller scale decorations. We found that using what we already had made the tree look all out of proportion. This year we've found some more small, cute decorations to add a little variety. The biggest issue has been finding a place to display my collectionof M&M Christmas tins. I'm missing 3 or 4, but horizontal space to spread out the 15 + I do have was tough. The spinnet piano is just barely big enough. But then I have to find homes for the plants that usually live there. Around and around it goes.

Of course, outside I still have my Thanksgiving flag out in my garden. I want to put my favorite wreath on the door. I couldn't find my gorgeous, huge (36" across) pinecone wreath I found at a thrift shop (for $5!!) years ago. I still can't believe someone didn't want it anymore. Homemade, hand wired. In excellent condition. I think it's up in the attic. IIRC, the males in my family promised they would get it down anytime I wanted to put it on the door. That'll be this weekend. You think they'll be willing??