Monday, August 6, 2012

I've been gone from Blogland for awhile!

I don't really have an excuse for not writing a blog entry in almost a year.  It seems like I just didn't have that much to say!

I've been thoroughly enjoying retirement.  I do a lot more reading, needlework and genealogy than I ever had time for before, but my running has suffered some major setbacks.

I have had six surgeries (seven, if you count cataract surgery!) in just over six years.  I had to take several weeks to several months off after each surgery, so it was difficult getting back to any kind of running shape.  The last surgery was for a torn meniscus in my left knee, and now that I have fibromyalgia, my healing was really delayed.  Thank heavens for therapy!  I used to be a skeptic, but no more!

I am happy to report that my knee is doing fine now, and I am walking up to 7 miles at a time.  I have only tried a little bit of running, and only on the trails, because I am afraid.  I know I probably shouldn't be, but my doctor did tell me I had quite a large area of bone-on-bone already in my knee, and everything I've heard or read says that you are only making it worse to run if you have bone-on-bone.  It doesn't hurt me any more to run than to walk, but still.  And, the doctor says I need to have the right knee done, too, but I think I might put that off until it starts to bother me more.  The recovery was no piece of cake on the left knee, that's for sure!

I am spending some time "coloring" images.  The one attached, I did years ago, but I still like it.  (George Barr created the original line work.)  I will use some of my images to create products at Zazzle.  I don't make a lot of money off my Zazzle store, but it is just so much fun.

Hopefully, I will have more to say this year than last.  Don't give up on me!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

The King's Grace by Anne Easter Smith

Book Description:

All that history knows of Grace Plantagenet is that she was an illegitimate daughter of Edward IV and one of two attendants aboard the funeral barge of his widowed queen.  Thus, she was half sister of the famous young princes, who—when this story begins in 1485—had been housed in the Tower by their uncle, Richard III, and are presumed dead.

But in the 1490s, a young man appears at the courts of Europe claiming to be Richard, duke of York, the younger of the boys, and seeking to claim his rightful throne from England's first Tudor king, Henry VII.  But is this man who he says he is?  Grace Plantagenet finds herself in the midst of one of English history's greatest mysteries.  If she can discover the fate of the princes and the true identity of the mysterious man, perhaps she will find her own place in her family.

My Review:

I enjoyed this book very much.  I have my doubts whether the mystery of the two princes in the Tower will ever be solved, but this book presents such a convincing story of what might have really happened that it almost seems as if the author was there.

The characters were all very well fleshed-out and even Elizabeth Woodville was mostly sympathetic.  I loved Grace Plantagenet from the very beginning of the story.

I would definitely recommend this book.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel

Book Description:

England in the 1520s is a heartbeat from disaster.  If the king dies without a male heir, the country could be destroyed by civil war.  Henry VIII wants to annul his marriage of twenty years and marry Anne Boleyn.  The pope and most of Europe oppose him.  Into this impasse steps Thomas Cromwell:  a wholly original man, a charmer and a bully, both idealist and opportunist, astute in reading people, and implacable in his ambition.  But Henry is volatile:  one day tender, one day murderous.  Cromwell helps him break the opposition, but what will be the price of his triumph?  In inimitable style, Hilary Mantel's Wolf Hall is "a darkly brilliant reimagining of life under Henry VIII....Magnificent" (The Boston Globe).

My Review:

I believe one of the main objectives of any writer of historical fiction is to provide a motive for why a historical person acted as they did; to give them conversations and actions that seem to fit the character as the author has envisioned it.  In that respect, Hilary Mantel has done an excellent job.  Not much is really known about Thomas Cromwell, and Ms Mantel has created a living, breathing, complex human being.  His actions and words throughout the book seem eminently plausible.  I have a much better understanding of the events of that time than I ever did before.  I felt sympathy for nearly every character in the story.

However, Ms Mantel's writing style is abrupt and choppy in the extreme.  I found myself looking forward to finishing the book!  Her point of view is awkward and she rarely refers to Thomas Cromwell by anything other than "he," so I found myself having to read sentences and even whole paragraphs over again to determine if the "he" was still Cromwell or someone else this time.  Very exasperating!

Still, it was a good book, and many others have given it rave reviews, so lovers of historical fiction may like it.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

A Woman of Substance by Barbara Taylor Bradford

Book Description:

In 1905 a young kitchen maid leaves Fairley Hall.  Emma Harte is sixteen, single and pregnant.

By 1968 she is one of the richest women in the world, ruler of a business empire stretching from Yorkshire to the glittering cities of America and the rugged vastness of Australia.

But what is the price she has paid?

A magnificient dynastic saga, as impossible to put down as it is to forget.  A Woman of Substance is truly a classic novel of our times.

My Review:

While I wouldn't put this book in the same league with Gone With the Wind as some people have, I did enjoy the story immensely.  The characters were fully and richly conceived.  My only complaint there was that Emma sometimes seemed to good to be true.  Some of the other characters were just a little too despicable, too.

The story kept my interest throughout.  I enjoyed the plot twists and turns, and I especially enjoyed the descriptions of clothing, buildings and furnishings.  However, since I prefer historical fiction, primarily in the 16th and 17th centuries, the time period of the early- to mid-20th century didn't really grab me.

This is the second book I have read by Barbara Taylor Bradford, and this one was far superior to Her Own Rules.  Since this was Ms Bradford's first book, I assume she put everything she had into it.  She also wrote two sequels to A Woman of Substance, and I wouldn't mind reading them, if they happen to come along, but I won't go out of my way to get them.  I suspect they will not be as good as this book, plus they will undoubtedly focus on a more current time period, even, than this book did.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

My Playlist

I have eclectic taste in music — I like just about anything except rap and hip hop, which aren't really music at all in my humble opinion but chanting of poems or something!  But, I've never really liked listening to the same artist song after song.  So, I finally got an iPod Nano, and I set it to Shuffle.  I thought it would be fun to write down an hour's worth of music in its shuffledness!

Riders in the Sky - Burl Ives (3:07)
Teddy O'Neill - Innisfree Ceoil (2:33)
In Dulci Jubilo - Ludwig G├╝ttler (2:40)
1812 Overture: Grand Finale (3:41)
Prince of Denmark's March (Trumpet Voluntary in D Major) - Clarke (2:49)
The Glenside No. 1 & 2 - The Glenside Ceilidh Band (2:09)
Ballinastoe - Irish Ceili Band (3:27)
Last Rose of Summer - Claire Hamilton (2:37)
Jesu Mein Herzens Freud - Bach (3:10)
Gierran (Enchantment) - Wimme Saari (4:19)
Waltz in C-sharp Minor - Chopin (3:15)
The Show Must Go On - Three Dog Night (3:28)
For the Love of a Princess (Braveheart) - James Horner (4:06)
Marie's Wedding - Van Morrison & The Chieftains (3:16)
Baneasa's Green Glade/Mominsko Horo - Planxty (5:58)
O'Sullivan's March - The Chieftains (4:01)
Wonderful One - Hawaii (2:39)
Saint Mary's, Church Street Garret Barry, The Battering Ram Kitty Goes A-Milking, Rakish Paddy - The Chieftains (6:53)

As you can see, I'm very fond of Celtic and classical music, but I also have Egyptian, Nordic, Hawaiian, Japanese and Cajun music, as well as classic rock and folk songs on my iPod, even some steel drums.  Don't you just love modern technology?  I'll bet there's not a radio station in the country that plays that mix!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Information about Gonorrhea Lectim (joke)

The Center for Disease Control has issued a warning about a new virulent strain of this old disease.  The disease is called Gonorrhea Lectim, pronounced "Gonna re-elect 'em," and it is a terrible obamanation.

This disease is contracted through dangerous and high risk behavior involving putting your cranium up your rectum.  Many victims contracted it in 2008...but now most people, after having been infected for the past 1-2 years, are starting to realize how destructive the sickness is.

It's sad because Gonorrhea Lectim is easily cured with a new drug just coming on the market called Votemout.  You take the first dose in 2010 and the second dose in 2012 and simply don't engage in such behavior; otherwise, it could become permanent and eventually wipe out all life as we know it.

Several states are already on top of this, like Virginia and New Jersey, and apparently now Massachusetts, with many more seeing the writing on the wall.

Please pass this important message on to all those bright folk you really care about.

Author Unknown

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Knitting up a Storm!

Now, I realize many of you may not find this as hilarious as I do, but I couldn't resist!

This is a page from a very old craft catalog, circa 1973.  The LeeWards company doesn't even exist any more, having been bought out by Michael's many moons ago.

Notice the *lovely* brown and yellow afghan.  Yes, we found things like that lovely in those days — don't ask me why!  We never claimed to have good taste, I guess.

But what cracks me up is that the afghan is crocheted (notice the red box around the size crochet hook required), but the lady is gleefully, mindlessly poking two knitting needles into the afghan as if she were mixing vegetables in a stir-fry wok with chopsticks!  She's not even holding them properly for knitting.  Hee, hee hee!  What a hoot!  I wonder how many kits they sold with that ad?