Saturday, June 30, 2007

Deadly Game; C. Feehan

Uh. Yeah. So this is the only book I've finished all month. I'm about a third of the way through a Neil Gaiman and maybe three chapters into a biography of the Prophet Mohammed. Since today is the last day of the month I think I'm SOL with them. :( One of the worst reading months I've ever had. Or at least one of the worst reading months since I've started the blog.

Onward re: Deadly Game. This is the newest Ghost Walker book, published in February of this year by Jove. TBH I read the first two books in this series and stopped because I'd approached them from a romance genre viewpoint and this series simply doesn't work that way for me. Ghost Walkers work quite well as military thrillers (as long as you can suspend reality) with romantic overtones, but not strictly as romances- strictly my opinion of course.

Mari is a female Ghost Walker from a secret separate group of GWs , a psychically enhanced 'supersoldier' whose entire life has been coordinated, organized and manipulated by a maniacal, evil scientist who just happens to be funded by the U.S. Gov't. *Aside- in real life I really despise conspiracy theories* Mari Smith and Ken Norton meet up while on different missions to protect the same Senator. The result of which is they spend part of the novel trying to figure out who is telling the truth and who is working on the side of the evil scientist. The evil scientist is like a comic book evil villain. No redeeming virtues at all.

There is some violence, an attempted rape, outright murder and a scuzzy "dr's exam" for those of you who like to know about such things. This go around these things didn't bother me. I think it is because my perception of Mari is one of a strong and capable person whose entire life has been manipulated but who has maintained strength and dignity and integrity despite all of these problems. I've had serious problems with Ms. Feehan's heroines in the past, but of late either I've gotten more tolerant or the ladies are more rounded and whole and significantly less damaged. Take your pick.

Ken, to me, is similar to the Carpathian Jacques in Dark Desire Ms. Feehan's second book in the Dark series. Each man has been physically tortured and is permanently scarred both physically and emotionally from the cruel treatment they've survived. The heroines each provide a measure of sanity- a grounding in the real world, a sense that there is still goodness worth striving for.

How can you tell the difference between friend and foe when all you've been taught has suddenly been thrown into question? Is it possible to learn about yourself as an individual while maintaining a serious relationship? Who can you trust when the chips are down? This book has strong Carpathian type overtones to me- the whole 'wounded hero- grounding heroine' scenario; the invisible psychic superglue; etc. Deadly Game worked for me though (as did Dark Desire).

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Hiking in DC

Ought not be done in 95 F heat, let me tell you. We survived, though. As regular readers know, our Daughter is away in Germany with her church youth group. As preparation we decided to go to the Holocaust Museum before she left. Now- several years ago I used to regularly park in Ft. Myer and walk this hike when the older kids were elementary school age. No one had serious problems with the distance & the youngest was pushed in a stroller. We walked through the Museum of choice and walked back through Arlington National Cemetery to the car. We always enjoyed our little outings and I didn't remember the walks as being arduous. So we figured, "Hey. The kids are older now, the HM doesn't look too far up the Mall. Let's just walk this one."

Fast forward past a few years. The route follows. If you have DoD stickers on your vehicle, it is possible to drive onto Ft. Myer, park, and walk through Arlington National Cemetery and walk across the bridge (with an enormous half nude female statue at the end- which grossed out Son #2 no end let me tell you). Once you're over the bridge you're near the pencil (otherwise known as the Washington monument), the shell and the tidal basin edged with cherry trees. Walk a few blocks to the right, when coming from Arlington, and there's the HM. Near the Mint. By map it looks to be a relatively reasonable walk. It is a relatively reasonable walk- as long as you're not in a hurry and it is cooler than 95. I also recommend the ability to walk a minimum of 5 miles at a single stretch.

Anyhow- ANC, like the Zoo, is built sloping down a hill (or up the Hill depending on where you start from). Following the roads (as required; no shortcutting through the actual grave sites) it is roughly three quarters of a mile from where we parked to Memorial Dr. which leads you over the bridge into DC. From the edge of the George Washington Parkway over the bridge to the opposite shore is approximately a mile. I'm guessing here, but I think the distance from the DC side of the bridge to the HM is roughly another mile- lightly shaded. I was able to measure distances up to the DC side of the bridge, but not through the Mall to the HM. So- round trip our 'little walk' turned out to be 5 1/2 miles!

The National Park Service has installed water fountains every couple of hundred feet along the pathways, so we didn't expire from heat exhaustion. Luckily Husband had purchased to large cups of ice from the HM cafe, so we had plenty of cold water to drink along the route back to the car. The problem is, The Graduate has a long looping stride which comes naturally to persons well over 6'2", the Daughter has short quick strides and likes to keep up with Graduate so they can share earphones & moan about how bitchy mom really is. And Husband? As a nurse he regularly zooms all over his assigned floor for 12-14 hours a day at work.

Where does this leave Son #2 & me? In the caboose. Waaaayyyy waaaaayyyy waayyyy behind. I'm not normally a slow walker, but I wasn't about to leave poor hot whiny "OMG mom are we there yet??" Son #2 in the caboose alone either. So every once in a while the Husband would slow down and wait for us or the older kids would stop to wait for directions or wait at a fountain for us. "Jeez mom! You didn't used to be so SLOW~ what's the problem? Are you getting old?" Thanks a lot guys. I feel so much better now.

The Son #2 and I- we survived. I kept hearing that old disco song I Will Survive in my head as we trudged uphill back through Arlington Cemetary. We made a little game of trying to spot the oldest year on the tombstones as we passed. We walked by a judge who presided over the Nuremburg trials. A fresh turned grave with a tiny palstic marker at the head. Watched the caisson roll by over the hill in the distance. Heard taps. Every time we go to Arlington I hear the echoes of tears and the sighs of those finally at rest. They remind me that all of the little trials we go through every day won't mount to a hill of beans (to paraphrase Humphrey Bogart in Casablanca) in history.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Daughter Update

Daughter is currently in Germany with her pilgrimage group from church. I thought perhaps other people might be interested to hear about their adventures. If not, come back another day!

They flew to Philly and then on to Munich- after a two hour delay on the tarmac. The email said the delay was due to problems with a connecting flight? Dunno. I'm sure the Daughter was totally hyped on a Monster and an entire pack of strawberry pocky. Pocky- spelling is also listed as pocki- is Daughter's favorite candy, usually bought at Wally World and smuggled into school. Also eaten in huge quantities at sleepovers.

Anyhow, they landed two+ hours late, but apparently all was well otherwise. No lost luggage, kids or anything else. Then the entourage (totaling nearly 20 people when you count all of the chaperones) attempted to decipher the subway system. Which sounds like it rivals the Tokyo subway for complexity. The token machine 'ate' a 50 euro bill before giving the group the passes it needs. Which is close to $80 US, I believe. *gulp*

After unpacking into the hostel they went for a walk around the area and ate at a local pub. Next day they went to Oberammergau to see the playhouse where the famous Passion Play is held every 10 years. Click here to see website. Sunday they attended church, met some refugee kids affiliated with the church, wrote postcards, and had a picnic, took a nap and then climbed the Tower of St. Peter's. Click here for link. Click here for automated cam of view from tower. Saw the glockenspiel move. Next day they went to see Neuschwanstein.

Note: The pilgrims themselves are incommunicado with the parents. The chaperones in this group have been sending one email daily with details of the group's activites. They seem to be having a good time. Learning to live "in community" supposedly- which makes me wonder what hijinks the kids have been up to. When The Graduate went to Iona with the church a few years ago, we had only one or two emails & that was it. It has been nice to 'watch from afar' so to speak.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Quiet Weekend

To quote Etta James, "AT LAST!" YAY!!! Daughter is away on her pilgrimage, Son #2 is safely arrived at my parents' house & the Graduate is currently at work. It's only Graduate, Hubby & I all week. Amazing. I might even be able to read something.

Friday, June 22, 2007


Seen recently on vehicles in our area:

1.Some people are alive simply because it's illegal to kill them. Seen on a vehicle parked on Capitol Hill in DC.

2.Support search and rescue- get lost! Seen on a jeep

3. I have to describe this one. You've seen the navy blue bolded capital W with the numbers 04 after it? Referring to the Bush- Cheney reelection campaign in 2004? The version we just saw is a navy blue bolded capital W with 'orst' after it. WORST ever. We had a great laugh when we saw that one.

Edited to correct formatting problems

Thursday, June 21, 2007


The Graduate~ Received his precious diploma June 12 during a mercifully fast graduation that had speeches & awards etc over and done within 2 hours. For 560+ grads. We were quite impressed. The GF had received hers (after quite a battle with the school system, apparently, due to her serious illness) several days before. We, all 5 of us, the GF, my MIL & FIL & SIL & niece, went out to dinner afterward, which the ILs sneakily paid for (with a *huge* thanks! from us. The stadium job is turning out to be only 2 days during the stretches when the team is in town, so another job search is on. Him and every other teenager around here.

Daughter~ Just left this morning on the church sponsored pilgrimage to Germany. We squeezed in a visit to the Holocaust Museum to fill her in on relevant information as WW II has played a huge part in the formation of modern Germany. The museum is not for the faint of heart. It isn't graphic per se, but definitely roasts your heartstrings & makes you angry about the Balkans, Rwanda & Darfur. We had to forcibly remove Daughter's fanfic notebooks & take them to a GF's house. The idea of the pilgrimage, obviously, is to leave your comfortable & familiar things behind you to explore other cultures & push your boundaries & deepen your faith. Which would've been hard for her to do if she'd had her head buried in her fanfics. I did buy her a journal & a sketchbook to record her thoughts in though. And told her that drawing might be a good way to meet people in the hostels in Germany. Now if only my BIL (or my Mom) could've taught her some basic German. Like- "Where's the mac & cheese?" & "Where's the ladies' restroom?" or "I'm lost & I don't speak German!"

Son #2~ Is due to visit my parents starting Saturday. I've been told there's painting in the air, the upstairs hallway I believe. Also, deckwashing and vegetable gardening. Soon afterward he'd due to go away to sleep away camp up in the mountains near the WV border. It'll be his first time (he's 11) away from the family. Like Daughter, he too will be pushing boundaries & comfort zones & learning how to get along with others. I already copied out his reading list for next year, lucky boy!, although I've not purchased any titles yet. He only has to read 2 (I think), but he's on the waiting list at the library for three audiobooks of Eoin Colfer's Artemis Fowl books. Plus there's the new Harry Potter book & movie. I can see Son #2 putting me off until August with the required reading. Easily.

Husband~ Is still battling away with the former employer. The wheels of bureaucracy grind oh so slowly. The new job suits him to a T, but the 12 hour shifts are routinely 13-14+ hours. He's exhausted after his usual 3 day stretch. He says it's like going from Econolodge healthcare to the Ritz, though. The place is amazing. They've already put him through a pharmacology refresher & a disrhythmia course with seminars on the newest insulin dosing and research.

Oh yes, funny family story. The FIL loves to try & pull the wool over his family's eyes about what his drs. tell him about his illness. The newest one being diabetes. Husband calls his dad one day, by coincidence his dad was waiting for meds at the local pharmacy. FIL tries to tell Husband, "My Dr. says it's ok if my sugars are too high. It won't seriously effect my other illnesses or make me feel worse." Husband braeks out into guffaws of laughter, tears running down his face, turning bright bluish-purple (sounds scary, but he looks just like a giant blueberry). He holds the phone away from him for at least a minute. "Dad. You don't expect me to believe that BS do you?! I'm a nurse. Remember?" The FIL was not best pleased. At ALL. We however, found it quite quite funny. And sad.

Remind me to tell you about the 6 mile hike we took. In 95 degree heat. Also- not read a damn thing in the entire month. Next Thursday I've a neato 13 about stuff I saw around the Capitol last Wednesday. I think.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

10 Commandments for Drivers

An insightful someone, perhaps with too much time on their hands, has issued a list of 10 Commandments for drivers. He is obviously slightly behind the times as the list does not address drivers who yak on their cell phones or have both buds of their headphones in, etc. Possibly could be categorized under #3, but for emphasis ought to have its own number. Also # 10 ought not only be for driving!

Here are the "Drivers' Ten Commandments" as listed by the Vatican's Office for Migrants and Itinerant People:

1. You shall not kill.

2. The road shall be for you a means of communion between people and not of mortal harm.

3. Courtesy, uprightness and prudence will help you deal with unforeseen events.

4. Be charitable and help your neighbour in need, especially victims of accidents.

5. Cars shall not be for you an expression of power and domination, and an occasion of sin.

6. Charitably convince the young and not so young not to drive when they are not in a fitting condition to do so.

7. Support the families of accident victims.

8. Bring guilty motorists and their victims together, at the appropriate time, so that they can undergo the liberating experience of forgiveness.

9. On the road, protect the more vulnerable party.

10. Feel responsible toward others.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Quick drive By with poem

Still haven't had a day at home to catch up on anything. If you've sent me email, snail mail, called me, left a note in our mailbox- I've fallen off the world & can't catch up. Seriously. I don't understand how the merry go round spins so fast or for so long, but I hope to begin catching up on all of my chores- including the blog- starting Friday.

Te Deum
by Charles Reznikoff

Not because of victories
I sing,
having none,
but for the common sunshine,
the breeze,
the largess of the spring.

Not for victory
but for the day's work done
as well as I was able;
not for a seat upon the dais
but at the common table.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

OMG- Make it stop!!

I am so behind in chores, errands, laundry, gardening. I had to make a surprise trip into DC last evening. I want just one day when I can sit down & read & listen to CDs & relax- but that's not likely to happen until Sunday at the earliest. Meantime, I hope to return soon w/ a cute list of stuff I saw last night while in DC. Updates coming soon. Maybe.

Friday, June 08, 2007

Busy, busy, busy

Son# 1's GF graduates from HS tonight. Last night was the last
handbell practice before Sunday's performance. Last night and today
were also the organization and set up for tomorrow's parish wide
community yard sale benefitting Daughter's class pilgrimage. Saturday
morning I also have altar guild before the sale. Sunday is the last
handbell hurrah, church and the annual end of school year picnic.
Monday my in-laws arrive for 2 days. Tuesday Son graduates from HS. My
parents will be in town too. After the ceremony we're all going out to
dinner. I'm sure I'll be certifiable by Wed. at the latest. I'm not
likely to post again before next Wed. Have a great weekend!

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Assassin's Apprentice; R. Hobb

Written by Robin Hobb and published by Bantam in 1995, Assassin's Apprentice is the first book in the Farseer Trilogy. This particular volume seems to me to be a classic coming of age tale, but I'm unsure exactly where the other two books will go. I have a theory or two, but no definite ideas. I've not read any of Ms. Hobb's works before; I wrote her name down on a little post-it & then forgot about it. Found the post-it a few weeks ago and took the name to the library- and here we are!

Fitzchivalry Farseer is the illegitimate son of the soon to be former heir to the throne of the Six Duchies. Prince Chivalry is forced to abdicate due to his supposed infraction (before he married his wife- aptly named Patience). The Farseer family doesn't abandon the nameless child, but neither do they name him or properly care for him either. Fitz takes his name because it directly alludes to his birth (the name Fitz is given/taken by illegitimate children) and it's better than being called Bastard all the time. For many years Fitz is left to molder in the stables with the dogs and miscellaneous animals. Not fully recognized or cared for as a young child ought to be. Yet he surmises many of the circumstances surrounding his birth due to deliberate cruelty and the unthinking comments made by elders who ignore the children in their midst.

Over the course of his 'tween and early teen years Fitz is surreptitiously taken under King Shrewd's wing and educated and better cared for. He is also apprenticed to the King's chief poisoner, a mysterious man named Chade. By degrees and painful lessons Fitz learns a measure of his proper station in the King's household. He learns who his enemies are. However, the price Fitz pays for his tenuous position in King Shrewd's household is very high. Will it be worth it in the end? Can he pay the price demanded of him? And what of the awful sea raiders and their damaged prisoners? Will King Shrewd and Prince Verity defeat them? And what noxious substance is Prince Regal addicted to?

I was a little surprised at the Puritan-like giving of trait names to characters (Prudence, Patience, Verity, Charity, etc) but I was immediately absorbed into Fitz's tale. Far too late did I try to unravel the complicated political intrigues surrounding him. The tale is primarily told about Fitz, and being a child for much of it, the political aspects were casually hidden in the background while the reader roots for Fitz as he struggles with yet another facet of castle life. The clues were all there, but I ignored much of them until farther into the story- when I realized I really ought to have paid more attention! Definitely recommended. I've borrowed the next book in the trilogy already.

Saturday, June 02, 2007

May Synopsis

Listed in the order that I read them, below are the measly five books I managed to read in May. It's four behind the goal I've set for myself, but hopefully I can make them up over the next few months.

1. Turtle Diary; Russell Hoban

2. A College of Magics; Caroline Stevermer

3. Dangerous Tides; Christine Feehan

4. Face Down Beside St. Anne's Well; Kathy Lynn Emerson

5. American Gods; Neil Gaiman

Friday, June 01, 2007

Darkhenge; C. Fisher

Darkhenge is a Young Adult contemporary fantasy published in the U.S. in 2005 by Eos. Ms. Fisher is a Welsh teen fiction writer, poet and professor. All of which goes a long way to explaining the depth and richness of this novel. I originally began Darkhenge at the start of what has & will prove to be a long and ugly battle between Husband & his former employer- which is to say, I found it very hard to concentrate & I felt the novel was very slow going for the first hundred pages or so. However, this is surely due my preoccupation and stress level at the time and not due to any shortcomings on the part of Ms. Fisher.

The long and short of it is this- Chloe Drew had a riding accident and is now in a coma in a long term care facility in Britain somewhere. Ms. Fisher names a town, but I'm too lazy to look it up to see if it's a 'real place.' Her parents and her older brother are muddling along as best they can, ie: not very well at all, but they're trying. Chloe's older brother Robert is convinced (reluctantly at first) that Chloe's spirit has become trapped in a recently uncovered ancient wooden henge. So he goes after her with the help of the ancient Welsh poet, Taliesin. How Chloe, Clare, Vetch, Mac, Rob and the King of the Underworld triumph is the main thrust of the tale.

Personally I was fascinated by the juxtaposition of the ancient belief that illness can be caused by or worsened by the separation of the spirit and the body and modern Druidism. Also the interplay between modern Christianity, as represented by Mac, and ancient and modern Druidism, as represented by Vetch, was fascinating and thought provoking. Very highly recommnded. Already borrowed two more of Ms. Fisher's books from the library.