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Family and Friends is my everyday journal. Captain's Log is where I pontificate on religion and politics.

Tuesday, December 31, 2019

2019 post mortem

This year is dying down and the new one waits in the wings. Time to assess.
Mom has improved health wise. 2018 saw her in the hospital twice and I was worried. This year she's back on her feet, going to church regularly and worries about everything under the sun. Back to normal.

Grandkids come by every so often, but are still missed.

Son treading water in his part time job. 

Daughter lost her job, but she's taken over the role of transporting Mom to her hair stylist and doctors. Freeing up my time.

Wife is enjoying retirement and making me get out of the house and to the library to get some writing done.

Finished Stephanus. In it's proofing stages and will be out sometime next month. 

Found a church with like minded members. I don't have to bite my tongue and be quiet in Sunday school anymore. Going to teach the book of Hebrews next month.

Went to a track reunion at Wayland and made contact with guys I haven't seen or spoken to in decades. We've become fb friends and from their fb friends I've added more contact from former classmates.

I've revived Writers2writers after ten years. It' small right now not more than a coffee clutch, but I'm not isolated in town from other writers like I was before this year.

Blogging over this year:

Berthold Gambrel introduced me to Lydia Schoch and Audrey Driscoll, by writing reviews of their works. Many other writers as well but Lydia and Audrey have become good blogger friends.

Lydia introduced me to the Wednesday Challenge and Top Ten Tuesdays. This has opened up a whole new world of blogging.

From WC and TTT I've read numerous books I've never heard of and even  enjoyed them. My TBR list keep growing by leaps and bounds. It's breaking me out of my rut of spy thrillers, mysteries, harem books and filled a void while waiting for Tony Roberts, Joseph Badal, J.B. Turner and others to publish new books.

I'm still blogging here, but I've also moved over to a Word Press blog.  Taking a bit to get in the swing of things there, but reaching out to even more writers and readers.

Saturday, December 28, 2019

First Line Friday

Instead of judging a book by it's cover First line Friday is when you:
Pick a book. Copy the first lines of the book. write a synopsis. Then show the cover.
“Battering ram! Don’t fail me now!” Optimus raised his fist punching the wall above his head. The girl beside him stroked his broad shoulders kissing him passionately. There was no response.

In frustration he looked at the woman it took a night’s gambling to bed: pale blonde hair—real blonde, not dyed. Like spider silk when he followed it with his hands all the way down to the middle of her back. Eyes the brightest blue he’s ever seen, with arching eyebrows, the kind of eyes that a man could look at for an eternity. Skin almost translucent, the palest white; a small button nose and red thin lips. Truly this was a face that could cause wars. Why do my loins refuse to be stirred?

Optimus is a hard drinking, fast living Praetorian Guard. Ordered to execute someone he loved by Emperor Nero, he goes on a six week bender. His commanding officer assigns him guard duty so he can dry out. The man he is assigned to guard is an old tent maker from Judea named Paul.

At first he’s angry at the assignment as it’s beneath his station, but as he sobers up he dreams of strangling Tribune Cornelius because the man he’s forced to stay with under house arrest never shuts up. He’s always dictating a letter to his scribe and physician, Luke. Or Luke is reading to Paul letters that arrive from all over the empire.

Gradually the words of Paul start making sense to Optimus and he examines his life.

Tuesday, December 24, 2019

TTT Skipped

Too busy today to come up with an alternative top ten, since I'm not expecting any books for Christmas. I get all I need from Amazon unlimited.

Saturday, December 21, 2019

Review of Insects by John Koloen

This is the first in a four book set. I thought it was a murder mystery using insects to solve the mystery. Oops. This is an insect version of Jaws.

American entomologists travel to Brazil to study insects in the rainforest. They take pictures of a large cockroach before they scatter. They take the pictures to a retired professor at the local university. The professor has written a number of papers on the insect he’s named Reptilus Blaberus. He shows them specimens he’s dissected and displayed. Under a microscope he shows that they have a primitive brain and spinal cord and reproduce with eggs inside the body like a reptile. They have a mouth and not mandibles and the front legs have sharp hatchets. What keeps the population down is that a fungus kills 80% of the adolescents before they become adults.

A man is discovered in a remote part of the rain forest and is nothing but bones with dozens of these Reptilus Blaberus around him. The bodies of the bugs make their way to the professor and he shares the find with the American entomologists. They decide to make an expedition into the rain forest to find the bugs, bring them back and figure out why they’ve changed from being in small numbers to now capable of eating a human. Are they predators or scavengers?

Here comes the Jaws part. Little do the Americans and the professor understand that when they get to the cabin where the man was found they’ve stopped being the hunters and are now the hunted.

Combine Leningen Verses the Ants by Carl Stephenson with Jaws and you have a bug that is your worst nightmare.

Wednesday, December 18, 2019

Ten Gifts

This weeks topic is ten gifts. I'm choosing non-material gifts. These are all aspects of love: Giving, receiving, sharing and caring.

All the gifts below I learned from this book.

1. Quality Time: The most precious and valuable item in the world. Kids may not like it sometimes, but giving them your time is something they will always remember and cherish. Spending time with your spouse lets them know you love them and they're not taken for granted. Spending time with friends ditto. Giving your time shows you care.

2. Listening: This entails understanding and affirmation. Lets the person who is talking know you care. So much tension arises in relationships because one side or both don't think the other person listens to them or cares what they are saying.

3. Gratitude: The hardest aspect of love is acceptance. It's easy to give, but receiving somehow makes us feel uncomfortable. An unwanted gift from a stranger perhaps with an ulterior motive is a red flag. But a gift from a loved one or friend should be met with thanks, a smile and letting them know how much it means to you. When you give a gift the pay off is the smile on their face when they open it. Even if your kid throws away the expensive toy and play with the box, you made them happy and that makes you happy. Caution, make sure whoever gives you a gift doesn't know if you re-gifted it. 

4. Communication: This is more than speaking and listening. Body language and emotions, tone and inflection communicate more than words. You show you care about the other person if you know them. 
A crabby wife when you get home from work is a cry for a hug or for you to take time to ask them about their day. Returning crabby with crabby just starts a non-ending argument. If you had a meatgrinder of a day maybe hearing her problems will help you relax and tell her yours.
Then you area sharing instead of fighting.

5. Something unexpected: It doesn't have to cost money. Instead of spending the night watching TV, turn the lights down and listen to music, you've spent a fortune on the cd's or streaming service use it and share the experience. Play cards or a board game, planning something like this kills the effect. Be spontaneous. Make the suggestion if its shot down at least your partner knows you care about him or her to get out of a rut.

6. Take walks together: Don't rely on a gym. Walk around the block with or without your dog. Talk while on the walk. Use the local school's track or a park. If you have kids let them run around and play while your getting exercise. Hey golf is just a long walk spoiled by a little white ball. Play golf or tennis or garden together.

7. Beware of the Dragon: Sometimes caring means knowing when the other person need time and space alone. It's impossible to cuddle all the time. When a person, male and female by the way, need space intruding on it gets them rather fussy. That the dragon at the mouth of the cave they go into to solve a problem. A woman's cave is talking to a friend, usually about you. A man's cave is to sit and brood or take apart and rebuild a motorcycle. Writers stare into the fireplace trying to fill a blank page with words that make sense. This is a sure sign that says, "Don't bug me."
Keep in mind its temporary. If it turns permanent that a huge red flag.

Tuesday, December 17, 2019

TTT Winter TBR list

This week the topic is the To Be Read list for the month.

1. This was the last book, I'm eagerly waiting for Tony Roberts next book in of his Katie Siren series Love's Refrain. The series is about a female lead singer in a British rock band set from the 1980's to the present.

2. I'm currently reading The Eighth Sister by Robe Dugoni. I'm picking up a lot of Russian in this one. Interesting take on the spy thriller. A black CIA operative in Russia on the run.

3-6. Next up is a four pack I picked up for only .99 on Kindle: The Complete Insects. Can't wait to find out what this is about.

7. The Shield by Ken Fite. I'm getting a little bored with spy thrillers so this will by my last for awhile.

8. My first arc book I'll have knocked out by the end of the day is the War of 1812, no cover yet, but it will be similar to this one.
I'm pleasantly surprised by the quality and depth of these books. They're written at about 6th grade reading level, but they have the history down. The Greek and Norse Myths were well done for as many as they chose to mention, but not very many of all the myths, legends and sagas as a whole.

Here's one of mine you might find interesting.
A teacher in a small town moves to the big city leaving behind students for an executive position in the banking world. Will her small town values and faith survive?


Friday, December 13, 2019

Joined an ARC

I've joined and ARC with Captivating History. I've written a review on Captivating Real Life Stories from the Industrial Revolution to the Present by Ross Tanner and The Norman Conquest.
If I was writing an arc, I'd recommend a shorter title for the first one.
Real life stories is about nine women from the 18th century to the 20th that contributed more to society than being a wife and mother.
They are: 
Mary Wollstonecraft, the mother of Mary Shelly, who was a proto feminist.
Ada Lovelace: the daughter of Lord Byron, but was a brilliant mathematician and wrote the first recognizable computer program.
Harriet Tubman: there's a movie about her now.
Margaret Knight: Invented the machine to make paper bags, still in use.
Nancy Wake: A leader of the resistance in France during WWII.
Patricia, Minerva and Maria Theresa Mirabal: They led protests against the dictator in Santa Domingo. Murdered in 1960.  

The Norman Conquest: Is a complete telling of what led up to the Battle of Hastings and it's aftermath. It's told from the Scandinavian side, Anglo-Saxon and Norman. Who was involved, how were they all related, and how it came about. It gives a brief description of the battle itself, but doesn't go into blow by blow. 
It's the conquest of the island that get overlooked. The years it took to pacify the island and then the publication of the Domesday Book. Something unique in the middle ages, a complete listing of an entire country of the economy from the lowest peasant to the wealthiest noble.

These books are written in a very easy to read narrative that reminds me of Josephus. My only concern is that when I went on Amazon and saw how many of these books are out there, most of them available on unlimited, but not all, I wonder how many more Captivating History has to write.

Wednesday, December 11, 2019

My Earlest Memory

This week is: My earlies memory

Picture of my brother and me in front of the Record Music Store in Pueblo, Co circa 1959.

My earliest memories were growing up in Pueblo, Co. My maternal grandparents owned a business. It was called The Record Music Store. We lived in a small two bedroom house, but it had a basement. My father worked at the store, as we called it, with my uncle. The store sold records, at that time it was lp's and 45's. There were booths where the customer could pick a record and go inside to listen to it in private. Grandpa took those out when he expanded the store and started selling band instruments and then color TVs.
I can remember when I was 4 watching my older brother leave for school and I was home with just Mom. She was always busy cleaning and cooking and sewing so I was on my own and bored stiff until Bruce got home.
We went to a Baptist church, and we were to be still and quiet when the preacher got up. My mother had the wickedest pinch if we squirmed too much or tried to talk. There was a man who sat behind us and was blind, he had a seeing eye dog that would lie down under our pew. Mom let Bruce and I draw on paper during the sermon and once I dropped my pencil and the dog chewed it up. I wasn't happy.
On Sunday nights after church we would drive to the store to watch Bonanza. It was the first tv show broadcast in color. The store was the only place in Pueblo to buy color TVs and when Saturday morning cartoons became color Grandpa gave my aunt and uncle one and we got one. We let the neighborhood know we had it and on Saturday mornings our living room would have five or ten friends come watch them, until of course they bought one. Grandpa knew pleasing children was a good sales tactic.
The store faced a busy street and had an alley behind it. Another street went along the side which had parking. When we parked on that street, I can't remember the names, Mom always called it "the junction," as it was the busiest intersection in town. Anyway, when we parked and went in the back door from the alley, there was candy store named Sambo's. Getting out of the car you could smell the cinnamon apples. Walking by the storefront you could see the caramel and cinnamon apples and popcorn. We always begged to get one, but it was rare they bought us one. The smell of cinnamon always brings that candy store to mind.
Dad got a job working for IBM selling typewriters and Dictaphone machines. I remember him coming home with one of the machines and we'd talk into it and how funny it was to hear our own voice which sounded weird. You could whistle into it and then blow on the mic and it sounded like a missile landing and exploding.
When I was five I was chasing a ball into the street, the car didn't hit me I ran into it. I hopped back to the grass and fell down. Cracked my right leg and had to walk in a cast for six weeks. Took a few days not to limp as I was used to the right leg being longer with the rubber tip on the bottom.
 That's enough for now. It's been interesting going down memory lane.

Tuesday, December 10, 2019

TTT Freebie

This week is a freebie. I'm choosing my top ten Christmas songs. In a countdown.

10. God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen
9. We Three Kings
8. Silver Bells
7. Carol of the Bells
6. Silent Night
5. White Snows of Christmas (Kingston Trio)
4. What Child is This
3. The First Noel
2. O Little Town of Bethlehem
1. O Holy Night

Now top ten Christmas or winter songs in countdown

10. I'll be Home for Christmas
9. Winter Wonderland 
8. Jingle Bells
7 The Christmas Song
6. O Tannenbaum (Christmas Tree)
5. If Every Day was like Christmas
4. Mama liked the Roses (Elvis)
3. Holly Jolly Christmas
2. Blue Christmas
1. White Christmas

Monday, December 09, 2019

What I'm reading Mondays

I'm reading Miami Requiem by J. B. Turner.
I've read a number of his Hard books: Hard Hit, Hard Shot, Hard Fall with John Reznick as the ex-special forces--ex-cop now working with the FBI.
Requiem is about a black female journalist kicking a hornet's nest while trying to get a man on death row tell his story before he's executed. The guy is guilty, he killed the son of a Florida Senator, but does he deserve to die? So far it's fascinating.

Wednesday, December 04, 2019

Writer Friends

This week's challenge is book boyfriends or girlfriends. I'm changing it to my writer friends. Some are bloggers and others are in my writing group.

Berthold Gambrel: Blogger friend who has graciously reviewed a few of my books and even posted on Amazon. I've reviewed some of his works and have seen him grow as a writer. I wouldn't know about TTT or WWBC if I hadn't met fellow bloggers that post on them. My heartfelt gratitude for Berthold for reviving my blogging experience that stagnated.

To Tena, Marianne, Megan, Aymee, Judy, Echo and Tanith: Fellow WWBC bloggers I enjoy your thoughts and the books you mention. Without y'all I'd never have read Six of Crows and Crooked Kingdom, and others that I've heard about from you and my TBR list is as long as my arm from others I've not had time for, yet.

Lydia Schoch: Fellow blogger with Berthold that introduced me to TTT and WWBC. She's been a great encouragement for me to keep joining in with memes.

Yogi: My longest blogger friend. We lost touch for a bit, but it's nice we're posting comments again. He's into geocaching and posting lots of picture.

Hank Bruce: We've been members of Southwest Writer's Workshop and Writers2writers, which he's helped me revive after ten years. An overall nice guy who is actively engaged in alleviating world hunger with the Maringa Tree, subject of a recent post. He's also a beta reader for some of my books and has posted reviews on Amazon.

Dr. Irene Blea: Fellow SWWW and W2W member. She's the nicest lady you'll ever meet. A writer of college textbooks on feminism and the Latina movement. I've posted about a number of her books previously. She's currently writing her autobiography and it will be incredible.

Tuesday, December 03, 2019

Winter movies

I'm posting this in two places. Trying to decide to keep this blog or switch over to Wordpress. When posting comments on other blogs one works on some sites and this one on others. It's crazy.

Top Ten Tuesday: Winter Movies

  • This week the meme is books with winter, but I couldn’t think of any book I’ve read that fit that category, but plenty of movies, so I chose movies:
  • Kenneth Branagh’s Hamlet. The setting is 19th century and everything is gray skies and white snowy ground. Branagh includes American actors in his Shakespeare movies, I think it’s to embarrass them against the English who know how to pronounce the words correctly.
  • Dr. Zhivago. We went to see the movie at a drive-in in August. Half way through my father rolled up the windows and turned on the heater.
  • A Christmas Story. I’ve lived most of my life in Albuquerque, but for the first ten years I lived in Pueblo, Co. I remember getting covered up in a parka, heavy gloves, galoshes and tromping across a vacant field to the elementary school with the snow up to my waist, until we wore a path, and the temperature below zero. The movie brought back those memories, but it also makes me appreciate the mild winter conditions of my city.
  • Home Alone and all the other ones. Good for laughs.
  • Harry Potter movies. They all have winter scenes. Listened to the books on audio tape while taking long drives to visit family.
  • The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe. A place where it’s always winter, hey I’ve read this one.
  • A Christmas Carol. Never read the book, have seen untold number of versions of the work some set in the proper time and others modernized. It’s lost it’s punch for familiarity.

Monday, December 02, 2019

Hank Bruce

West side authors in Albuquerque have resurrected a writing group gone to ground for ten years. It's named Writer2writers. We have a fb group page with over 120 members, not all live in NM. So far only yours truly and three others have shown up, but we were part of the core of the group back in the day. Today I'm showcasing Hank Bruce and his works. I've mentioned him and some of his books in earlier posts.

Hank is working hard to promote a special tree. It grows in the tropics, where most of the world hunger also lives. Every part of this tree is edible and nutritious. 
The tree has: 7 times the vitamin C as oranges, 3 times the iron as spinach, 3 times more potasium as bananas, 4 times the vitamin A as carrots, 4 times the calcium and 2 times the protein as milk.
Hank has nursing homes and people all over the place grow seedlings and then sends them to places in need of food. 
He wrote this book in children's form as it's the easiest way to get information across and remembered. It's not available on Amazon. He has a non-profit that sends them out to the Peace Corp and other non-profit groups for free.
In the ten+ years since I first learned of this tree I've come across Moringa tea, and in the pharmacy of the local Wal-Mart Moringa tablets and flour.
Slowly but surely the word is getting out about this amazing new food source.
I've posted other books he has out at my wordpress blog.