Wednesday, September 30, 2015

#Review: A Fine Summer's Day by Charles Todd

New York Times bestselling author Charles Todd takes readers on a trip to Ian Rutledge's past, with the story of the last case the Scotland Yard detective tackles before he goes off to fight in World War I. New York Times bestselling author Charles Todd takes readers into Scotland Yard detective Ian Rutledge's past-to his perplexing final case before the outbreak of World War I.

On a fine summer's day in June, 1914, Ian Rutledge pays little notice to the assassination of an archduke in Sarajevo. An Inspector at Scotland Yard, he is planning to propose to the woman whom he deeply loves, despite intimations from friends and family that she may not be the wisest choice.

To the north on this warm and gentle day, another man in love-a Scottish Highlander-shows his own dear girl the house he will build for her in September.

While back in England, a son awaits the undertaker in the wake of his widowed mother's death. This death will set off a series of murders across England, seemingly unconnected, that Rutledge will race to solve in the weeks before the fateful declaration in August that will forever transform his world. As the clouds of war gather on the horizon, all of Britain wonders and waits. With every moment at stake, Rutledge sets out to right a wrong-an odyssey that will eventually force him to choose between the Yard and his country, between love and duty, and between honor and truth.



Normally, I like to start at the beginning of a series.  Notwithstanding that this the 17th (that's seventeenth) Ian Rutledge novel, it can be argued that it is indeed 'the beginning' of the series, as the action predates the other novels by several years.

The feeling of the Britons at the beginning of what was to become WWI reminds me of the scene from GWTW where the Southerners learn that war is to be declared against the northern states.  All we're more civilized and will whip those other people in a matter of months or weeks.  Didn't work out that way, neither for England in 1914, nor the American South in 1861.

Rutledge is focused on his duties as an Inspector for Scotland Yard.  I almost said 'singularly focused', but then he was considering marriage at the beginning of A Fine Summer's Day.  Not having the foresight (or is it hindsight in this case) to know what happened in the subsequent adventures, I would have liked to shake him by the shoulders and have him think a little more before he asked Jean for her hand.  If that many people he trusted were not in favor of the engagement, I would have said he should have put a little more thought into it.

The villain in the piece reminds me somewhat of Hannibal Lecter in Silence of the Lambs, with a few differences.  Henry was not an educated man, nor was he wealthy or for all I know particularly intelligent.  But he had the focus and intensity to achieve nearly all of his objectives, staying one step of even Rutledge.  That's no dishonor to him, though, because the rest of the local and federal LEO's were more than a few steps behind.

I do have one small question about the introduction of Hamish's character in this book.  He definitely figures in the rest of the series, but here it seems he is just dropped in front of us with little explanation and then disappears until the end of the book.  (Not that I mind a Scotsman clad in kilt being dropped in front of me, mind you.)

But where do we draw the line between duty and justice?  Not an easy question to answer, for us or Rutledge.  Certainly the man who kept the silver item, which started the whole nasty sequence of events should not have kept it unless he was willing to pay for it.  Just because he was of a higher social class than the craftsman does not excuse being a thief (and I'm using the 'intent to deprive' definition of thievery).  But the courts back then would just as soon hang an innocent workman than embarrass the aristocracy.  Yes, I'm probably overdoing that one a little bit, but it seems to be the case sometimes.

In the end, justice takes precedence over duty.  And that's all I'm going to say about that.

A Fine Summer's Day was a compelling and suspenseful read and a wonderful introduction to Todd's  "Rutledge Mysteries".  I would think any fan of the series would be thrilled with this prequel addition.  If you are a series newbie, like myself, the progressive action in the book is a breathtaking thrill ride.

But now I have a problem.  I've been trying to whittle down my TBR (to be read) list and the 17 other installments of the Ian Rutledge Mysteries series just pumped my numbers back up again.  After this sample taste, I want to read all of them!



Charles and Caroline Todd are a mother-and-son writing team who live on the east coast of the United States. Caroline has a BA in English Literature and History, and a Masters in International Relations. Charles has a BA in Communication Studies with an emphasis on Business Management, and a culinary arts degree that means he can boil more than water. Caroline has been married (to the same man) for umpteen years, and Charles is divorced.

Charles and Caroline have a rich storytelling heritage. Both spent many evenings on the porch listening to their fathers and grandfathers reminisce. And a maternal grandmother told marvelous ghost stories. This tradition allows them to write with passion about events before their own time. And an uncle/great-uncle who served as a flyer in WWI aroused an early interest in the Great War.

Both Caroline and Charles share a love of animals, and family pets have always been rescues. There was once a lizard named Schnickelfritz. Don’t ask.

Writing together is a challenge, and both enjoy giving the other a hard time. The famous quote is that in revenge, Charles crashes Caroline’s computer, and Caroline crashes his parties. Will they survive to write more novels together? Stay tuned! Their father/husband is holding the bets.


(Disclosure:  I received a print copy of this book from the author and publishers via TLC Book Tours in exchange for my honest and unbiased review.)

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Silver Tongue by AshleyRose Sullivan - #review

The Colonies lost the Revolutionary War. Now it’s 1839 and the North American continent is divided into three territories: New Britannia, Nueva Espana, and Nouvelle France where seventeen-year-old Claire Poissant lives.

Claire has a magical way with words—literally. But a mystical power of persuasion isn’t the only thing that makes her different. Half-French and half-Indian, Claire doesn’t feel at home in either world. Maybe that’s why she’s bonded so tightly with her fellow outcasts and best friends: Phileas, a young man whose towering intellect and sexuality have always made him the target of bullies, and Sam, a descendant of George Washington who shares the disgraced general’s terrible, secret curse.

But when Sam’s family is murdered, these bonds are tested and Claire’s special ability is strained to its limits as the three hunt the men responsible into dangerous lands. Along the way they cross paths with P.T. Barnum, William Frankenstein and other characters from both history and fantasy as they learn the hard way that man is often the most horrific monster and that growing up sometimes means learning to let go of the things you hold most dear.

Monday, September 28, 2015

YouTube How-To Videos - #septemberchallenge #MondayMusings #NaBloPoMo

September 2015  Everyday Gyaan

Monday, September 28, 2015

Do you ever watch how-to videos on YouTube? Tell us about a lesson you learned from watching a video.

Mostly I watch country music videos on the site.  I think this is the only how-to video I have ever watched on YouTube, but don't quote me on that:

Some people actually make and sell the zines, or mail them to people for the cost of a stamp, etc.  I don't think you'd ever get rich off of zines, but it is a fun project now and again.  I get the idea they are mostly done by hand (drawings, text, etc.) but I could be wrong on that.  It's been probably a couple of years since I watched this video.  As I remember, Sam was a cool guy and a good video teacher. :O)

I might try this with my daughter.  She loves drawing and writing little stories.  Then she could give them to her grandparents, and you KNOW that will go over well! ;)

A Ghostly Demise/Murder by Tonya Kappes - #review #giveaway

The prodigal father returns—but this ghost is no holy spirit.

When she runs into her friend's deadbeat dad at the local deli, undertaker Emma Lee Raines can't wait to tell Mary Anna Hardy that he's back in Sleepy Hollow, Kentucky, after five long years. Cephus Hardy may have been the town drunk, but he didn't disappear on an epic bender like everyone thought: He was murdered. And he's heard that Emma Lee's been helping lost souls move on to that great big party in the sky.

Why do ghosts always bother Emma Lee at the worst times? Her granny's mayoral campaign is in high gear, a carnival is taking over the town square, and her hunky boyfriend, Sheriff Jack Henry Ross, is stuck wrestling runaway goats. Besides, Cephus has no clue whodunit…unless it was one of Mrs. Hardy's not-so-secret admirers. All roads lead Emma Lee to that carnival—and a killer who isn't clowning around.


I told you I was sick, reads the headstone above Mamie Sue Preston's grave. She was the richest woman in Sleepy Hollow, Kentucky, and also the biggest hypochondriac. Ironic, considering someone killed her-proprietor of the Eternal Slumber Funeral Home, know all this? Because Mamie Sue's ghost told her, that's how! And she's offering big bucks to find the perp.

The catch is, Mamie Sue was buried by the Raines family's arch-rival, Burns Funeral Home. Would the Burns family stoop to framing Emma Lee's granny? With an enterprising maid, a penny-pinching pastor, and a slimy Lexington lawyer all making a killing off Mamie Sue's estate, Emma Lee needs a teammate-like her dreamboat boyfriend, Sheriff Jack Henry Ross. Because with millions at stake, snooping around is definitely bad for Emma Lee's health.



A Ghostly Demise - This is the 3rd book in the Ghostly Southern Mystery series, the first two having been A Ghostly Undertaking and A Ghostly Grave.

I have to admit, being from deep in the Bluegrass myself, I identify strongly with the characters and small town atmosphere in these books.  Zula Fae reminds me of my husband's paternal grandmother.  (There is a family story that the sheriff and a deputy came calling one day, and the senior officer told the junior to leave his duty weapon in their vehicle, otherwise he'd get Mamaw riled up.)

And I get how in the first and maybe the second book, people were a little leery of Emma Lee's claims to see ghosts.  But by now, after she had claimed to talk to two ghosts, and subsequently solved their murders, you'd think people would stop thinking she's a little crazy.

I love how it's not obvious at first whodunit.  Even better, when it's not obvious at second or third either.  Although A Ghostly Demise reads quite well as a standalone, you can bet I'm going to go back and read parts one and two!

Sleepy Hollow reminds me of Mayberry, with Cephus Hardy being the "Otis" (town drunk) character.   You see, Cephus is the ghost in this installment, having 'disappeared' five years previously.  Most folks think he just had a long 'lost weekend', but after Emma Lee sees him (and realizes that he is, actually, a ghost) she realizes differently.

Wonderful glimpses into the quirks of small town living in my home state made A Ghostly Demise a pleasure to read for this "KentuckyGal". 

A Ghostly Murder - I have to tell 'you'un's, I was delighted to once again visit Sleepy Hollow, Kentucky, to check in on Emma Lee Raines, her granny Zula Fae, her boyfriend Jack Henry and the other colorful citizens, including this installment's ghost, who in life was the wealthy Mamie Sue Preston.

The fact that Mamie Sue was wealthy is the motive for her murder.  But with a number of people benefiting financially from her demise, there is no dearth of suspects.  Once again, Ms. Kappes gives us enough clues to keep the story snapping, but not enough to give up all the secrets right at the first.  I love mysteries like that.

Although most smaller towns in my part of the state only have one funeral home, Sleepy Hollow is 'blessed' (?) with two, one run by the Raines family and one by their rivals, the Burns.  The Burns family handled Mamie Sue Preston's funeral and they would just love it if Zula Fae was implicated in the crime.  So maybe Emma Lee has a little more at stake in her investigation this time around.

Luckily she has her boyfriend, Sheriff Jack Henry Ross, in her corner.  I guess you see so many cozy heroines dating (or married to) lawmen because they wind up professionally stepping on each other's toes.  The law doesn't want civilians solving cases.  I can see that, though, because it's the law's responsibility, and they have sworn to protect and serve.  

There is a Sleepy Hollow Road in Oldham County, Kentucky, and several paranormal activities are reported to have taken place on that road.  I'm not going to discount them out of hand because, 1) I've never been there, and 2) "there are more things in heaven and earth" than any one of us really know about.

  • genuine spooky feeling?  check
  • romance progressing nicely?  check
  • down for installment #5:  BIG CHECK!

I have to say that the Ghostly Southern Mysteries is turning out to be a favorite cozy series.  Not only is it full of Kentucky charm (GO BIG BLUE!), but the characters are colorful and memorable, the action is well paced and the mystery is delicious!



Tonya Kappes has written more than fifteen novels and four novellas, all of which have graced numerous bestseller lists including USA Today. Best known for stories charged with emotion and humor and filled with flawed characters, her novels have garnered reader praise and glowing critical reviews. She lives with her husband, two very spoiled schnauzers, and one ex-stray cat in northern Kentucky. Now that her boys are teenagers, Tonya writes full-time but can be found at all of her guys’ high school games with a pencil and paper in hand. More than anything, Tonya loves to connect with readers, with a loyal ‘street team’ of fans and followers on social media. Be sure to check out her Facebook, Twitter, blog and newsletter!



Thanks to the author and tour company, I am authorized to give away one e-copy of either book to one lucky commenter!  So tell me, what intrigues you most about either (or both) book(s)?  Make sure to leave a way for me to contact you.  Winner will be chosen Monday, October 5, 2015!!!


Click the banner above to go to the tour page, where you can find more reviews, as well as guest posts, interviews and more giveaways!  You can also apply to become a tour host for Great Escapes while you are there!

(Disclosure:  I received ecopies of these books from the author and publisher via Great Escapes Virtual Book Tours in exchange for my honest and unbiased reviews.)

Saturday, September 26, 2015

What is the Sound of Writing? #septemberchallenge #wyho

Usually, I have to psyche myself up to write.  Yeah, I know, even though I like doing it.  Gotta get up, wake up, have some coffee and silence all those naysaying self-talkers running around in my brain.

Then I play some music that makes we want to get up and dance, or run around the yard, or ... write!  In fact, I listed to a video on YouTube of "Boondocks" by Little Big Town.  In fact, there's a whole "Country" playlist filled with songs that (mostly) rev me up something fierce!  And the more engaged and excited I am, the more passionate my writing, and the clearer my 'voice'.

Friday, September 25, 2015

The Good, The Bad and The Ugly of Book Reviews - #septemberchallenge, #NaBloPoMo

September 2015  Everyday Gyaan

Friday, September 25, 2015

If you could be paid to teach a special course, what would be the subject matter and how long would the course run?


I would like to teach a course on how to write a good book review.

Back at the end of 2013, I discovered reading challenges online.  I hadn't read for myself (non children or academic books) for a number of years and, well, the reading challenges were a sign of big changes to come into my life!

Then I 'discovered' writing reviews for books.

Favorable reviews can help books sales.  Unfavorable reviews can put a damper on sales.

Reviews I don't like to see:

+ where the reviewer as not even read the book, and (rather foolishly I believe) admits that they have not read the book.  If the reviewer is neutral or favorable towards the author, they do the author and themselves disfavor by writing a review for something they have not read.  If the reviewer dislikes the author and writes a trashy review because of it - STOP IT!  Such spite has no place in book reviews, and reflects at least as badly, if not more so, on the supposed reviewer.

(As an example, there is a series of books out by a writer - and to even use that word in relation to this piece of trash makes me want to vomit - where he travels around the world and writes about the best ways to 'pick up' women in various countries.  The books are titled "Bang X" where X is whatever the country du jour is.)  He advocates that rape be decriminalized if the attack (my word) occurs on private property.  Yeah, I know.  And it gets more repulsive from there.  But I will not go in and manufacture a "1 star" review of a book I have no intention of reading.  I will, however, feel free to express my opinion to any online sites (hello, AMAZON, are you listening?) that carry these complete waste of trees or disc space.

(It's all right, really.  I'm stepping off my soapbox now.  Maybe I'll get a cup of tea and meditate for a while ... until my mouth stops foaming.)

+ where the reviewer writes, "I really liked this book," and that's it.  What did you like about it?  Could you see the main character as a friend?  Was the story well paced?  Was the book outside your usual genre but you found you quite liked it anyway?  If you're getting the ARC for free in exchange for a review, it would be nice to give the author a little bit more than, "I really liked this book."

+ where the reviewer trashes the book unmercifully.  Yeah, maybe all the "t"s are not crossed and the "i"s are not dotted.  Maybe the grammar could use a little tightening - or a lot.  I was on a writing bulletin board a while back where someone asked for a critique of something she had written.  The grammar and spelling was pretty bad.  Other boardies were fairly cruel in their assessments of her writing ability.  I found something I liked about what she had written, elaborated on that a little and did bring up that maybe she needed to take another look at the structure issues.  But then I've never been a big fan of (academic) elitists who assume everyone not meeting their list of desirable qualities is beneath them.

Wow (looking back over the post), there's a lot of yuck up there, am I right?  Let's turn things around.

Reviews I DO like to see:

+where the reviewer lets a little of her or his personality show through.  Maria at Queen of the Night Reviews.  She does cover a number of books with adult themes, but her blog comes with a warning of that before you even get to the homepage.  Extra points for that.

+reviews that give potential readers more than "It was a good book," or a rehash of the synopsis.  Lori Caswell at Escape With DollyCas blog is a good example of this phenomenon and she organizes book tours too!

I'm sure there's more examples of reviews that I do like to see, but it is just before 7:am where I am and my coffee cup is empty.  Peace out, y'all.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Classroom or Home Room? - #septemberchallenge #NaBloPoMo

September 2015  Everyday Gyaan

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Do you find it easier to learn in a classroom or at home?

Sometimes I learn easier at home and sometimes in a physical classroom.

Right now, I would LOVE to be in a classroom.  We have too many animals/pets right now and it's driving me up a wall!  Most of the puppies are going to their forever homes on Sunday and then maybe things will calm down somewhat.  One of the bigger dogs ripped my left forearm earlier today when I was trying to stop him from chasing the UPS driver.  I'd like to have a big whine about the aftermath, but it's not really to topic, so I will have to save that story for another day.

If I go to a physical classroom, it's at least as much for the social aspect of things as to the course of study itself.  I did a couple semesters of online classes through a local college and had a good experience overall.  There were class bulletin boards on the school's site and for the language class, we met in a virtual classroom and spoke Spanish back and forth at each other.

Lecture classes?  Rather connect from home via the internet.

Labs?  Well, you kind of have to be there.

Acting classes?  Again, not much you can do without being somewhere with other people (unless you are working on a 1 person show, I suppose).  

Although, there was a singing group on America's Got Talent (Forte) one year that found each other over the internet, practiced with each other over the internet, and only met in person for the first time about 20 minutes before their audition.  They got to the final round!

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Cook Books vs. Recipe Sites - #septemberchallenge #NaBloPoMo

September 2015  Everyday Gyaan

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Tell us about a recipe you learned to make from the Internet.


I don't think I ever have learned a recipe from the internet. Either that, or maybe one or two, but they are so far back in my memory (and I'm talking years instead of months or weeks) that it is nearly impossible to recall.

There was a time when I had a 'close call' to learning a recipe, though. I had wanted to make some caramels. We had all the ingredients, but no measuring spoons or cups, so I guessed at the amounts and tried to appear confident to my 12 year old daughter.

The taste was there, but the mass was so sticky that it nearly defied being cut. It was as much taffy as caramel. You could pull off a hunk, and pull it farther and farther away from the main dish, the strand of candy getting thinner and thinner, and then walk back to the pan, twisting up the strand(s) back and forth between the index fingers of both hands.

My kitchen and I have a somewhat adversarial relationship.

Eric Matheny of The Victim - #interview

In the spring of 2003 on a desolate stretch of Arizona highway, Anton Mackey’s life was changed forever.  A reckless decision to get behind the wheel when he was in no condition to drive spawned a moment that threatened to destroy everything the 21 year-old had spent his life working toward.  In an instant, Anton made a decision to save himself.  A decision that claimed the lives of two people.

Eleven years later, Anton is a rising star in the Miami criminal defense community.  He is married and has an infant daughter.  He is earning a good living and steadily building a name for himself as an aggressive advocate for the accused.  Anton shares an office with veteran defense attorney, Jack Savarese.  A mentor of sorts, Anton strives to model his practice – and career – after Jack’s.  A Miami criminal defense legend, Jack’s accomplishments in the courtroom are second to none.  However, Jack remains burdened by the conviction of Osvaldo Garcia, a mentally-ill client from ten years earlier found guilty and sentenced to life in prison for the death of a troubled teen.

When Daniella Avery, the beautiful wife of a man accused of a heinous act of domestic violence, comes into Anton’s office seeking his services, Anton thinks he’s landed a great case with a great fee.  But when he succumbs to temptation, he realizes that Daniella is a figure from his past.

Anton finds himself caught between the possibility of being exposed and the fact that his client – Daniella’s husband – may be an innocent pawn in the victim’s attempt to carry out her revenge against Anton.  As Anton struggles to balance defending his client while concealing the secret he has sought to forget, he uncovers the truth behind what really happened on that highway eleven years earlier.  The truth that may be connected to the conviction of Osvaldo Garcia.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

The Hack with This! - #septemberchallenge #NaBloPoMo

September 2015  Everyday Gyaan

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Point us toward your favourite lifehack on the Web.


Lifehack - Informal: a tip, trick, or efficient method for doing or managing a day-to-day task or activity; a hack: a lifehack overcoming social anxiety; a computer programmer's best lifehacks.

lifehack. (n.d.). Unabridged. Retrieved September 22, 2015, from website:


I have mixed feelings about 'lifehacks'.

On the one hand, do they actually exist?  For example.  I copy/pasted the above definition from  There was SO MUCH CODING in the definition that changed the margins, text size, text color, etc, etc, etc.  That might save time, if you were trying to fit the definition into a blog post with the same style of text display.  I was not.  I was trying to fit it into this blog.

So I went into the "html" side of the blog post and deleted all the opening and closing "span" tags in those two lines of definition up there.  There was at least 10x (TEN TIMES) the number of lines that I deleted than I left in!  Where's the efficiency in THAT?  *sheesh*

On the other hand, who doesn't like a more efficient way of doing things, especially things that we don't normally like to do but that we have to do anyway.  Like laundry, vacuuming (steps especially), as well as other household chores and errands.

And I have an issue with the very term 'lifehack'.  It's a buzzword and I don't like buzzwords.  And I'm having trouble getting over the negative connotations of the "hack" part.  For the last number of years, 'hacking' has meant someone breaking into someone else's computer or program and messing things up somehow.  Do hackers hack because they can?  Because they think they're better than someone?  Everyone?  Because of the challenge?

That being said, there is one site I have gone to a number of times in my attempts to homestead on our house and yard:  the One Hundred Dollars a Month blog of Mavis Butterfield.  Specifically, to the "Tips and Tricks" section, accessible from the right sidebar.  I found the site by searching for how to make your own laundry soap.  As a result of that one visit, I subscribed to her blog and stalked followed her social media.  If DIY isn't your thing, there are plenty of great recipes and links to deals around the internet.

While writing this post, I came across a site called  There are scads (and scads) of articles, written by 'guest contributors', on just about every topic under the sun.  Most of the articles seem to be of a "x ways to ...." style.  I have not thoroughly investigated the site, but it looks promising.  And it had today's 'buzzword' in the site title. :O)


Is there a website (or sites) which you frequent to find way to make you life easier to manage?  Please share!

The Victim by Eric Matheny - #review #giveaway

Anton Mackey is a man with everything. At least, he seems to be on the surface. He has a rising career as a private attorney, a lovely wife, a beautiful daughter; he and his family live in an idyllic neighborhood that most people dream about. Sure, there are troubles that plague this family, the same as any other, but all in all things are looking up. Life is good, and the future is better.

Except Anton has a past, too, and something has been looming, bearing down on him from that history, just waiting for the chance to strike. Soon, everything will change, and the life he’s struggled so hard to build will come crashing down around him.

And the worst part of it all: Anton Mackey has no one to blame but himself.

Monday, September 21, 2015

#bookreview #interview Brooklyn Drop by Susan Russo Anderson

In the middle of a wintry night, private investigator Fina Fitzgibbons finds Lorraine’s friend, Phyllida Oxley, slumped over her dining room table, the victim of memory-impairing date rape drugs. When her condition goes from poor to comatose, her distraught fifteen-year-old granddaughter, Kat Oxley disappears. Meanwhile, Fina’s agency is busy surveilling a massage parlor in Bensonhurst suspected of human trafficking, and Fina’s father reappears to throw a wrench into her relationship with NYPD Patrol Officer Denny McDuffy. As Fina frantically searches for the missing teen, she uncovers the truth behind the traffickers, but they have a surprise waiting for her in the not-so-friendly skies.

Mamaw's Sausage Gravy - #septemberchallenge #NaBloPoMo

September 2015  Everyday Gyaan

Monday, September 21, 2015

Teach us how to do something with a how-to lesson.


How to Make Sausage Gravy - Kentucky Mamaw Style

1.  Wake up before dawn.

2.  Swear because it's still dark out.

3.  While getting dressed, swear because you're getting old.

4.  Get out your ingredients (sausage, flour, milk, extra oil if needed).

5.  Brown your sausage in a cast-iron skillet (and swear at all those new-fangled frying pans that don't do the job 'proper'.

6.  If there isn't enough grease add a little bit, to give the flour something to hold onto, all the time vowing not to get that brand of dang sausage again because it doesn't have enough dang fat.

7.  Add a couple handfuls of flour, stirring the entire time.

8.  If the gravy scorches, swear, clean out the pan and go back to step #4.

9.  When you get past step #8, add milk almost to the top of the skillet.

10.  Swear at your young'uns (grandkids) to get their lazy *ahem* bones outta bed.

11.  Put the flour and milk back where you got them from with one hand, because your other dang hand is still stirring the gravy, and you surely don't want to have to go back to step #4 at this point.  You might have to swear if you did that.

12.  Get a bowl for your favorite grandson because he likes to eat his gravy separately from his biscuits.  Get plates and fresh-baked home-made biscuits for everyone else.  Swear at your ex-daughter-in-law (in absentia) for using those store bought frozen kind.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Praise in the Day - #septemberchallenge #isaiah12

Everyday Gyaan  

Isaiah 12:1

And in that day thou shalt say, O LORD, I will praise thee: though thou wast angry with me, thine anger is turned away, and thou comfortedst me. (KJV)


This last week, and for the next five weeks, I have been participating in a group at the "Do Not Depart" blog that proposes to memorize scripture from the Bible as a way to help us to ponder over and think about the things of God more in our daily lives.  The verse above (Isaiah 12:1) was the verse we worked on last week.  

For whatever reason, I have always preferred the King James Version (KJV) of the Bible over the more modern translations.  The language kind of reminds me of Shakespeare or poetry.  Sometimes, this makes it a little more difficult to understand, but there are ways to find out.  I was planning on asking other members of the group, but then I read a different translation this morning, and now I think I have a better understanding of this verse.

It seems Isaiah has been talking of the coming forth of the Messiah and how God will gather Israel in that day.  That would tend to make people happy (you'd think).  So on the day the Messiah appears and God begins to gather together the children of Israel, people will give thanks to God.

The arrival of the Messiah in the Judeo-Christian tradition is pretty much one of the best things that could happen - ever.  The darkness, or time of trial would be over and a new day would dawn.  It would be like someone who was angry with us (for cause) had forgiven us and the relationship could then continue as it had before.

When someone does something nice for us (like shares a blog post, babysits on a moment's notice, etc.) it is 'de rigeur' to thank them, at least with words, if not some more concrete gesture.  How much more would we want to thank God for His blessings?  (Please translate my expression of my Christian tradition into your own belief system.)


Do you get the same or a different idea about the meaning of the above verse?  

No matter your spiritual tradition, I invite you to participate in the comments/discussion, with the provisos that none of us belittle another's beliefs and do not express a hateful attitude.  Thank you.

Friday, September 18, 2015

My House at Hogwarts #NaBloPoMo #septemberchallenge

September 2015  Everyday Gyaan

Friday, September 18, 2015

Which house would you be in at Hogwarts and why?


I have not read any of the Harry Potter books, nor seen any of the movies.

According to a listing of four houses (Gryffindor, Hugglepuff, Ravenclaw and Slytherin) from the Harry Potter Wikia, it would be a close call between Hugglepuff and Ravenclaw for me.  Hugglepuff "values hard work, dedication, patience, loyalty, and fair play rather than a particular aptitude in its members".  Ravenclaw "values intelligence, knowledge, and wit."

I'd like to think I have some of that - intelligence, knowledge and wit.  And let's face it, Ravenclaw is a much more evocative name than Hugglepuff.  But when it comes right down to it I believe I am more defined by "hard work (well, you know), dedication, patience, loyalty and fair play".


What about you?  What house would you be in?  (The link in the text above will take you to the relevant page at the HP Wikia and you can find out about the different houses if you don't know them already.)

Thursday, September 17, 2015

The Best Classroom May Not Be a Room - #septemberchallenge #NaBloPoMo

September 2015  Everyday Gyaan

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Did you ever wish that you went to a different school? Which school did you covet?


The short answer:  No, not really.

The really short answer:  No

My answer, on the other hand:

When we lived in Cumberland, our next-door neighbors were Catholic.  All the Catholic children went to the Catholic schools in town and everyone else went to the public schools.  That was hard for me to understand growing up .  (I even saw a sign on a swimming pool clubhouse once that said, "No Catholics Allowed"!)  There are dozens of pictures in our family albums showing all of us kids, Catholic or Protestant, playing together.  One of the boys was about my age and our mothers did the "Oh, aren't they cute together" thing on more than one occasion.

There were no such issues in jr high school or high school.

When I first went to college, I attended the University of Utah.  It was the only college I applied to because I just assumed I would be going there.  

Most of the state of Utah is Mormon (LDS - Latter-day Saint).  In Salt Lake City, though, the ratio is about 50-50.  Brigham Young University (BYU) is a large Mormon college about a half hour south of Salt Lake.  Most of the Mormon kids wanted to go there and most of the non-Mormon kids wanted to go to the U of U.  The rivalry was very strong.  (But then again, in SLC, if you are non-Mormon, that seemed at the time to mean 'anti-Mormon'.  This was 35 years ago, so things might have changed since then.)

When I had talked myself into believing that I wanted to study International Business, I wanted to go to the London School of Economics for graduate work.  (I am a strong anglophile.)  Because, hey, it's the LSE!

When I dreamed of studying acting at the graduate level, I looked into the Yale School of Drama.  But I was a different person then, and did not (could not perhaps?) put forth the kind of effort that would have given me a chance to attend.

But that is in the past.  There's nothing much I can do about that, just make sure that future opportunities (in whatever endeavor I choose) do not escape me in the same way.  

These days, I'd almost as soon go to a master (craftsperson) and learn whatever it is I want to know - as most of my interests lie in the creative/artsy area.  There is a man who handcrafts dulcimers near to us - well about 3-5 miles as the crow flies, which in Kentucky means about 10-15 miles of road).  I would rather learn to make an instrument from someone like that puts their heart and soul into their work, than sit in a classroom and read schematics and make mechanical drawings.  (Not that there is anything wrong with that, it's just not where my interest lies.)


What was your favorite school?

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

What do Drawing, Shakespeare and Geography Have in Common? #septemberchallenge #NaBloPoMo

September 2015  Everyday Gyaan

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

What was your favorite subject back when you were in school?


I remember liking Geography when it was introduced to the curriculum when I was in 4th grade with Mrs. Goetches.  (If you had asked me yesterday what the name of my 4th grade teacher was, I would not have been able to tell you.  Funny what these prompts bring up.)  We must not have gotten to individual US states because the next year, when my family moved to Utah, I couldn't have told you where it was or that it was even a state.

There was a 1/2 year class in Shakespeare that was interesting and cemented Will's place as my favorite playwright EVER!

I also remember a Drawing 101 class in college (when I went back after a 10-year break).  Two things stick out in my memory.

1.  When we sketched our first 'still life' the professor told us to put our pencils on the paper and to look at the display and to draw what we saw without looking at our paper or lifting the pencil.  The gasps of horror from the students were audible.  And, of course, when we were done, to a student, our sketches looked like something only the mother of a toddler could love.  But you know what?  We could tell from looking at the drawings what the display had been.  So it turns out there weren't all that bad after all.  I think it was a tremendous confidence booster.

2.  A year or two after the class, I was in the play "Gertrude Stein and a Companion" (as Gertrude).  The art professor invited me to sit for his advanced portrait painting class in the manner that she had sat for Picasso.  Lots of black in that.  And the other best part?  I got PAID!

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

School Daze - #septemberchallenge #NaBloPomo

September 2015  Everyday Gyaan

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Tell us about a school you attended.


Only one?  Y'all know me better than that.  This post is rather long, so don't feel like you have to read all of it.  

The kindergarten section is the shortest.  
The second section (1st - 5th) has wisps of really old memories.  
The third section (5th - 6th) is probably the 'driest' of the bunch.  
The 4th (jr high school) probably shows my writer's 'voice' the best.
The last (high school) is overshadowed by one event that happened my senior year.

DON'T FORGET to let me know in a comment one of your favorite school memories!


The first school I attended was a kindergarten at a local Episcopalian church in Cumberland, MD.  Yes, I'm old enough that when I started school, there was no kindergarten in public schools.  I believe the classes were held in the basement of the church, and I remember something about a yellow 'graduation gown' and a pin with the school name on it, but that's as far as that goes.

1st - mid-5th grades

The local public grade school was "Johnson Heights Elementary School".  From what I remember there was nothing outstanding about the building.  Just your everyday brick school with two floors.  I remember more from these years, of course.  Every year there was some kind of harvest festival with a lot of booths and performances by the children.  I remember baking pies with my mother to sell in one of the booths.  (Like you could do that these days.  Hah!  If things don't come shrink-wrapped from the factory, they probably don't let you on school grounds.  Of course, in those days it seemed a lot less people were acting on their darker impulses.  But I digress.)  I remember practicing a dance (the Virginia Reel?) for a performance during 3rd grade, and getting slugged in the stomach by an overeager classmate who was REALLY into his dancing.  I remember going to speech therapy because I had trouble saying "r", "l" and "th".  I remember my mother turning in a form to get me out of the measles shots on religious grounds.  I remember there being a real competition every day tosee who would have the 'honor' of knocking the blackboard erasers outside the building to clean them.  I remember my 5th grade class writing stories about my adventures in the "Wild West" before we moved to Salt Lake City in January of 1972.

mid-5th - 6th grades

Fortuna Elementary School in unincorporated Salt Lake County, Utah.  We went back to school as soon as my parents started the process to purchase what would become our house.  Fortuna was a round building with 2 levels.  You could go in on the top side and children went out on the opposite side at the bottom to the playground.  (Remember when they still used those?)  In the center of the school, there was a 'mid-level' that was accessed by stairs from the bottom or top floors.  This center area contained the schools library.  The only interior doors were to behind the desk at the administrative offices, the restrooms (of course), the cafeteria, and maybe the janitor's closet.  Everything else was open.  You could see from the one of the top floor classrooms through the library into another classroom on the opposite side of the school downstairs.  It was not as chaotic as you might think.  On the ball field one day, I got hit in the eye with a pitched baseball (softball maybe?) and developed a black eye.

7th - 9th grades

Churchill Jr. High School, also in Salt Lake County.  It was your typical light brick, 70's, coulda-been-a-prison-instead-of-a-school building.  The bullying of younger students by older grades was almost as institutional as the building itself.  I was first 'invited' to try marijuana there.  I declined.  I had my first French class and we all giggled when we saw the vocabulary card by the blackboard eraser.  I took my first typing class there.  All but two of the typewriters were manual.  It was a real treat on the days it was our turn to work on one of the brand-spanking-new IBM Selectric typewriters.  You had to hold little pieces of white tape against the paper and strike the relevant key to correct mistakes.  The drama teacher would decorate his door for the Christmas season (back when that was allowed) with puppies his dog had had.  I really, REALLY wanted one of those puppies.   By the time I had convinced my parents that yes, I would take care of the dog, all the puppies were spoken for.  I was heart-broken.  Literally.  I cried right there in school.  One of my classmates said her dog had just had puppies and maybe I could come get one of those.  Hence, the first "Sneakers" came into our lives.  One of the math teachers let my parents know that apparently I had a head for math, which pleased them to no end.  I remember hearing the student body president cursing in the hall one day and that made me lose a little respect for him.  (I've always been of the opinion that there are times when swearing may be justified, but casual conversation is not one of them.)

10th - 12th grades

Skyline High School, Salt Lake County.  There was at least a little architectural interest here.  Angles, steel beams, funky roof and windows come to mind.  I was chosen to go to "Girl's State", which angered some of my classmates, because they thought they should have gone.  I was also chosen to go to a luncheon at the University of Utah, to encourage girls to go into 'scientific' (chemistry, engineering, biology, nursing, medical ... etc.) majors.  Again, I tweaked off some classmates (a different group) because they thought they were better and should have been 'honored' instead of me. Whatever!  (Talk to the hand.)  I was in one play in high school, Eugene O'Neill's "Lazarus Laughed".  I played several characters, including Lazarus's mother.  There was one scene where the Roman Soldiers killed Lazarus's family.  During one rehearsal my murderous soldier missed thrusting the sword in between my torso and upstage arm and beaned me right below the rib cage.  Thank goodness the swords were wood and not metal!  In any case, I did my best ever 'crumple to the stage like I was dead'.  With the resurrection and all, the theme of the play seemed to be, "There is no death".  Well, right in the middle of rehearsals, my father had a stroke.  A week later he had a heart attack and passed away at the age of 47. 

Monday, September 14, 2015

Study, Study, Study! - #septemberchallenge #NaBloPoMo

September 2015  Everyday Gyaan

Monday, September 14, 2015

If you could go back to school (for free) for a new degree, what would you want to study? Or if you could go to college, what would you want to study?

I would follow two courses of study.

The first would be acting.  It is where my heart of hearts lies.

My first college major was acting, back in the day.  (Musical Theatre actually.)  But at the end of the year audition, one of the professors wrote on my sheet that I had no future in theatre and should find something else to do.  So I did - for ten years.

Then I found out that one person's opinion was wrong, as evidenced by doing 5-6 plays a year for about 6 years.  Granted, they weren't all paid gigs, but most actors would be overjoyed to be working that much.

The most stunning experience I had is when a director I admired greatly basically picked me to do "Happy Days" by Samuel Beckett.  (No, not the one with 'the Fonz'.)  Basically me on stage for 45 minutes, talking.  In the first act, the character is buried up to her waist in sand.  In the 2nd act, she is buried up to her neck.  There is actually another character in the play.  He says about 35-40 words the whole time.  He had a music box specially made for the play that played "The Merry Widow Waltz", and gave it to me when the run was over.

Anyway, that's one.

Number two would be writing.  I think I definitely have a 'voice', but it needs practice and development.  And deadlines.  I need deadlines to give me that kick-in-the-backside to get me going some days.

You see, I love playing with words. Picking them up on the beach, and turning them over in my hands, holding them up to the light to see the sparkle and if they cast any shadows, holding them up to my ear to see if words can give off the sound of the ocean, like seashells.  I play with words.

For the time being there is really zero chance of working in theatre where I live.  The closest town with a playhouse is far away, and there's really not enough people around in this rural and semi-rural area to merit a run of more than a couple of days.  Putting plays together is a LOT of work!

So writing seems to be where my future lies.  Anything could happen!


What did you study in college, or what would you like to study if given the chance?

Saturday, September 12, 2015

A Few Thoughts on Writing - #septemberchallenge #100WordsonSaturday

Everyday Gyaan   100 Words on Saturday - Write Tribe

From Everyday Gyaan:
How does this work?
  1. You write a 100 words in response to our prompt/or on any subject and post it on your blog. Remember to include a link back to this post.
  2. Then add the link to our linky below.
  3. Visit and comment on at least two or as many linked posts as you can.
  4. The linky will stay open until the following Friday.
  5. You can grab the 100 Words on Saturday badge here.
Today we have no prompt. Time for a free write.
 Actually, to link up you will need to click on the 2nd graphic at the beginning of the post.


So now I have to come up with a topic as well?  What am I, a blogger, a writer?

Well, yes I am.  I need to get off my comfortable chair, park my carcass at the desk and write or type until the words come out.

Some times the words don't want to show up.  At times like that, I have to go hunting for them.  Does that make me a word predator?  It makes me sound so ... primal and violent.

One of my favorite ways to go on a writing hunt is to free write sense and/or nonsense.

Friday, September 11, 2015

#Review: Sit! Stay! Speak! by Annie England Noblin

Tragedy sent Addie Andrews fleeing from Chicago to the shelter of an unexpected inheritance—her beloved aunt’s somewhat dilapidated home in Eunice, Arkansas, population very tiny. There she reconnects with some of her most cherished childhood memories. If only they didn’t make her feel so much!

People say nothing happens in small towns, but Addie quickly learns better. She’s got an elderly next-door neighbor who perplexingly dances outside in his underwear, a house needing more work than she has money, a best friend whose son uncannily predicts the weather, and a local drug dealer holding a massive grudge against her.

Most surprising of all, she’s got a dog. Not just any dog, but a bedraggled puppy she discovered abandoned, lost, and in desperate need of love. Kind of like Addie herself. She’d come to Eunice hoping to hide from the world, but soon she discovers that perhaps she’s finding her way back—to living, laughing, and loving once more.



You think the adorable puppy on the cover is charming?  Wait until you read the story!

The story grabs you fairly early on with Addie's discovery of Felix by the Mississippi River.  He's covered in cuts and scratches and burns.  He's been tied in a garbage bag.  And, as Addie finds out later at the veterinarian's office, someone SHOT the little (young) dog.  I tell you, I wanted to jump into the pages of the book and help Addie track down and bring justice to the pieces of *ahem* doodoo that did that.

Eunice, Arkansas, has a little of what's good and bad about a small town.  If you upset the local drug dealer, you don't have a lot of places to hide.  If the single son of the town's wealthiest family happens to drive you home on his tractor one night, all of a sudden, you and he are an 'item'.  But if something bad happens to you, there are also people that will arrange meals, dog sitting, etc., whatever you need while you mend.

I have to say it kind of warmed this old country girl's heart that people were as rabidly interested in dear, departed Aunt Tilda's recipe box as they would have been in a buried treasure discovered on the property.  (There are quite a number of recipes included the back of the book and I am SO going to make the fried pies before the year is out.)

At the beginning, I thought Sit! Stay! Speak! was just going to be a sweet comtemporary fiction, but the action became breathtaking as the denouement drew near.  And Addie isn't the only one interested in Jasper, so you know sparks are going to fly in from that direction as well.  Add to that the requisite tornado appearance and this is one exciting read!

There is a scene or two where the action between Addie and Jasper becomes a little too graphic for my taste, but not so much so that I wondered whether the story or the sex was most important.  (I actually closed the cover when my son came into the living room so he would not see what was on the page.)

Because of that, this book cannot be strictly called a cozy mystery, but it's about as cozy as you can get otherwise.  Maybe it's a genre-introducing "semi-cozy mystery"!

Whatever you call it, if you like cozy mysteries (they are my favorite), you will adore Sit! Stay! Speak!  I you like contemporary fiction with a hint of spice, you will like this book as well.  Because of the sex, I wouldn't recommend as a book for the younger set.  (My daughter is 12 and although she would LOVE to read the book because of the puppy on the cover, she won't be reading it for a couple of years.)

I give Sit! Stay! Speak! a strong four stars out of five and leave you with the following thought...






Annie England Noblin lives with her son, husband, and three dogs in the Missouri Ozarks. She graduated with an M.A. in creative writing from Missouri State University and currently teaches English and communications for Arkansas State University in Mountain Home, Arkansas. She spends her free time playing make-believe, feeding stray cats, and working with animal shelters across the country to save homeless dogs.

Connect with Annie on Facebook and Twitter.

Click the TLC logo to go to the tour page for this title, where you will find links to more reviews.  You can also apply to become a reviewer for TLC as well!

(Disclosure:  I received a print copy of this book from the author and publishers via TLC Book Tours in exchange for my honest and unbiased review.)

Best School Day EVER! - #septemberchallenge #NaBloPoMo

September 2015  Everyday Gyaan

Friday, September 11, 2015

Tell us about your best day of school ever. 


I really tried to remember something from my days in public school.  And while many images came to mind, nothing stood out as "best day of school ever."  So I'm going to briefly related two days I remember from college.

I was in the Finance program at Westminster College.  In late April 1992, I was sitting with a dozen or so nervous classmates in the basement level of an old building on campus.  There was a surprising amount of natural light in the room due to it well placed, and rather large, windows.

It was the scheduled time and date for the final exam for 'Cases in Financial Management'.  The last class final before I graduated.  We had all been given a list of two cases we could study and be prepared to expound upon the week before.  We had had study groups and made late hours making as much preparation as possible.

The instructor walked in, a huge bear of a man with white hair.  He put his briefcase on the desk and asked if we were all ready for this.  Other small talk ensued.  Then, he suddenly said, "Oh, wait just a minute," and he left the room again.  Figuring he was just going to retrieve something from his office, be began to chat amongst ourselves again.

Scant several minutes later, he walks in with 3 or 4 pizza boxes and sets them on his desk at the front of the room.  Gently pushing the boxes towards his students, he said, "There's your final!"

Amongst the squeals of delight and silent prayers of gratitude that rose up, he said, "I figure you've spent a week studying this case.  You've discussed it thoroughly.  You've already learned everything you can from it.  Why sit here and spend a tense couple of hours writing about it in a little blue book?"  Ok, maybe those weren't his exact words.  But give me a break?  This was 23 years ago.  The spirit of what he said is definitely there.


The second experience, also from my college days, had little to do with any individual course.

I had auditioned for, and gotten a part in, the college's production of "The Importance of Being Earnest".  (That's a whole other story for another day or two.)  It was the Sunday before we opened, and we all gathered in the lounge of the theatre.  All of the actors, that is.  The director was nowhere to be found.

We tried every other door in the building and the way into the room where the stage was located was locked.  We tried calling the director, who was also the college's lone theatre professor.

Thinking we couldn't let the rehearsal pass without any actual rehearsing, we decided to do a line-through in the lounge.  Now remember, this is the old college standard of "The Importance of Being Earnest", set amongst the well-to-do classes of England well back in history.  We all did all our lines with accents more suited to the American southern states.  Twangs and drawls abounded.

In the actual play, 'Bunbury' is an excuse that the male lead uses to pop into or out of London to get know the thing, he can't stay for supper because his friend Bunbury has taken ill and he must pay the pour soul a visit.  As his two worlds (London and the countryside) begin to paint him into a corner, he blurts out that Bunbury has been taken off by a sudden chill while in Paris.  All that background is to set up the fact that in our transplanted version 'cousin Beauregard' was taken off suddenly in Atlanta by syphilis.

Ok.  Looking at it in the last paragraph, yes it does seem a little strange.  But back we were blowing off steam.  We opened in three days and the director didn't show up for rehearsal.  We knew she was eccentric, but really.  Anyway, I have rarely in my life laughed as hard as I did that night.

And the professor?  We found out the next night that she had overdosed on some kind of drug and would be in the hospital for a while.  The college really did well by us, pulling in locals with theatre experience to help get the show off the ground.




Would you share a memorable good experience from your school days?  Thanks!

Thursday, September 10, 2015

I Wish I Could Forget - #NaBloPoMo #septemberchallenge

September 2015  Everyday Gyaan

Thursday, September 10, 2015

What is something you learned that you wish you could forget?


I've written about this a couple of times before, so you'll probably get the Reader's Digest condensed version, unless of course, I 'wax lyrical'...

I wish I could unlearn the lesson that "I wasn't enough" or "good enough".

Following are two memories, somewhat far apart in time.  I can't say they caused me to lack self-confidence, but they are things that stick out as times when I remember feeling "not enough".

When I was 6 or so, I saw an advertisement in the local paper, calling for young girls to enter a beauty pageant.  I took the notice to my other and told her I wanted to enter.  She said no and that added that so many girls enter and only one could win.  I know now she was trying to shelter me from disappointment.  Of course, for all I knew, we could not afford the entry fee.  We didn't have the newest and fastest things growing up, but we never went hungry either.  The lesson I learned here was that I was not (pretty) enough.

My father held a PhD in Chemical Engineering.  He was pretty much the smartest man I ever knew, and the first of his family to even go to college.  So academics were very important to him.  Since jr high school, I have not had a difficult time with just about any math class I took.  When I started high school, I had a trigonometry class that was a struggle.  I worked hard and on one test, I got 97 out of 100.  I was pretty pumped!  I went home and showed the test to my father.  His response was to ask, "What happened to the other three points?"  My bubble promptly burst and I learned that I wasn't (smart) enough.

I still struggle with this lesson sometimes.  I would like to get rid of it.  I definitely do not want to pass it along to my children - or anyone else for that matter.  Maybe I can bury it in the field next to our house.