So the other day, I ate most of my dinner and then I walked away for just a minute.
And when I came back, there was Angel --- In my FOOD! Giving me the evil eye!
Like who does she think she is?!! But she looked really mean-spirited and since she is the oldest, I knew I had to let her eat some of it.
But, hey, that's really my dinner. Are you gonna eat it all?!! You're not gonna leave me anything?
Well, I guess I go and sit in the corner and sulk then. And don't think you'll ever see me walk away from my food again. From now on, I'll eat it all in one swoop, just like Soldier. I guess he had to learn his lesson the hard way too. There's a sneaky thief who lives amongst us. Who'd have thought?!!
I like a good crime novel because the author has to pay attention to detail, to place, to time, and to the story of its characters, particularly, of course, the main detective. And this book by the Icelandic author Arnaldur Indridason fulfills all my criteria for a good mystery.
A skeleton is discovered at a modern day construction site and the entire story unfolds during the time the skeleton is unearthed. This is a time traveler's saga and I love a good trip back in time. In the present, the detectives work on solving a woman's disappearance and on finding out what happened long ago to solve the mystery of the skeleton. The main character, Inspector Erlendur, has personal issues with his drug-addicted daughter that takes place in the present and an unfortunate event that caused the death of his brother in the past.
It was, however, the mystery of the skeleton that captivated me. The story of how and why a person came to be buried without anyone missing him/her is very well told. The period is the Second World War, American soldiers have a camp nearby, a woman is being abused by her husband, and her sons are involved in the drama. As you turn the pages, you get a little piece of the drama and the mystery, day by day, as yet another bone is freed of dirt and exposed. You have to wait until the end, until the entire skeleton is unearthed, to find out who was buried and what happened. I, for one, really enjoyed the original way this book was conceived and executed.
My only problem with the book is the inspector's personal problems with his daughter. I seem to have a low tolerance level for reading about drug addiction and the resulting father – daughter relationship issues.
Arctic Chill by Arnaldur Indridason
This book, by the same author, is so far removed from the quality and suspense of Silence of the Grave that I couldn't believe it was written by the same person. Jane lent it to me and, after she read it, she concurred that this is not a good book.
The murder of an Asian child begins a story that attempts to deal with race relations in Iceland. I didn't get much out of that, except to learn something new again. I guess that's why I like to read books. Here I learned that there are many immigrants from South East Asia, living in Iceland. I got a bit of an arctic chill myself, thinking that Iceland must be very, very cold and dark for someone from Bangkok, for example. But that was about all I got from their story. I feel the author missed an opportunity to tell the story of people from Asia moving to Iceland in search of a new and better life.
As far as solving the mystery goes, it made me long for a good old Agatha Christie novel where all the suspects are present in the story from the beginning and you have a chance to guess who may have done it. Not so here, the guilty parties pop up at the end of the book, something that left me very unsatisfied.
I am an experienced mystery reader and this book just didn't cut it for me. To make matters worse, it was not well translated and there is no excuse for sloppy editing in a book by an award-winning author.
Thanks to all of you who have commented on my recent posts. As I stood watching the clouds Sunday morning, I thought that what I saw was unusual and I needed to get my camera. I loved seeing the ravens flying high on the wind and I believed I saw a lenticular cloud in the process of forming. It's thanks to my blogger friend Upupaepops that I even know what a lenticular cloud looks like. If you like nature, hiking, photography, flora and fauna, I strongly recommend you click here: Meandering Washington and visit her blog. You will enjoy it and you may learn something too. I certainly have.
This Tuesday, I want to share one of the early photos of my mother that I have been looking for and finally found. I have an enlarged photo from the same trip to the photographer's studio that I haven't found yet. But it is here somewhere.
My mother as a young woman, sometime in the 1920s or early 1930s.
And this is her favorite vase. She really liked this vase a lot. It is very unusual and prettier empty than when filled with water because water dulls the beautiful colors. As usual, I have no idea what this kind of glass processing is called. It seems to be a layer of glass upon another layer of glass somehow. It is fragile and I am glad I managed to transport it across one big ocean and one large continent, so that I can enjoy it here. Most recently I placed a bouquet of flowers Rachael gave me in the vase and thought about my mother as I enjoyed them.
I hope you are not bored with my nature pictures, because I just couldn't resist these clouds that appeared yesterday morning.
Do you see the two ravens flying high into the clouds?
Then the storm came last night. There was a storm warning for the high desert -- I thought for today, but it came in the middle of the night. The wind blew so hard against my bedroom window that I couldn't sleep.
So I finally went into the guest bedroom where it was quieter. Just as I was going to turn off the bedside lamp, the electricity went off and the smoke alarms gave off a pinging noise that scared Angel into a shivering and shaking fit. And she jumped up in the bed, followed by Samson. Then she stomped around in the bed, too scared to lay down and go to sleep. At least she got rid of Samson, who was very cool throughout the storm.
So I just stayed awake and petted her until she calmed down. And, in my mind, I changed my mind about going to town today. I knew I would be just way too tired. When after a couple of hours, toward morning now, Angel and I finally snoozed off, the electric lights came on, the smoke alarms pinged, and the phone answering machine started talking, and Angel was off on yet another fearful fit.
Practical old Swede that I am, I realized that this was my opportunity to get some coffee and breakfast made. Everything runs on electric here and I didn't know if it would hold up or go out again.
I had put some old trashcans without lids behind the house, out of sight, and filled them with recycle bottles and cans. As I looked out the window, I saw one trashcan way down in our field, beer cans, water bottles, a wine bottle, three old phonebooks, and various cartons that had been in the two trashcans strewn all over the place and being carefully checked out by a flock of ravens. Those birds don't waste any time, let me tell you. I went out and picked up the trashcan from the field. It had been full, now it was empty. I didn't see but a tiny bit of all the bottles, etc., that I had stuffed it with, so I assume a lot of cans and bottles are now strewn all over our land. So I will have some fun later on picking up bottles and cans. A crazy night with very, very high winds and lots and lots of rain.And next to no sleep for me.
And I am happy the satellite dish didn't blow out of joint and all is well with my Internet access.
"It was my child who taught me to understand so clearly that all people are equal in their humanity, and all have the same human rights." -- Pearl S. Buck
When I read those words in a new biography of Pearl S. Buck, I felt they would be appropriate to reflect on this Sunday after the recent bullying tragedies. Pearl's daughter was diagnosed with PKU and I will quote the author for an explanation: "she was suffering from phenylketonuria, or PKU, brain degeneration caused by inability in the newborn child to process a chemical called phenyl, a deficiency that can be treated only if detected in its early stages."
My sister, who had a severe form of Down's syndrome and could not speak and would not look you in the eye, taught me the same thing. I always knew that in her humanity, she was my equal. And fortunately she lived in a country and an environment where she was treated without prejudice.
OK, Soldier, I know you have some terrible teeth. And your lower front teeth had to be extracted? Hmm, is that right? And why was that? Oh, you were chained up to a doghouse before Daddy rescued you. So you chewed and chewed on the chain to get free. Soldier, that's a terrible story and I can understand why you are scared to have your teeth cleaned.
But I promise this will not hurt.
OK, open wide.
That's a good boy, Soldier, open your mouth.
Now, I will clean your teeth and make you feel real good.
Now we're all done. -- I'll send you a bill and I need to see you back in six months.
What to do when you can't find words to describe a book? Quote Publishers Weekly, of course. This is from the back of this 833 pages long paperback that I got from The Quality Paperback Book Club a long time ago:
"Bawdy, brilliant, crackling with insight and bravado…Faber's central characters shine with life….A marvelous story of erotic love, sin, familiar conflicts and class prejudice, a deeply entertaining masterwork that will hold readers captive until the final page." – Publishers Weekly
I love "crackling with insight and bravado." But let me start from the beginning. This book sat in my bookcase for many years and then when I decided to go through and read all the unread books and it was this book's turn, I opened it to Victorian London's world of prostitutes, filth, and poverty. And I almost didn't go any further. I am glad I did though. After a while I was totally absorbed in the book. The bawdy part doesn’t last that long. The book is about Sugar, a brilliant prostitute, who meets a much less brilliant man who has inherited a factory that makes soap. Sugar knows certain tricks of her trade that keep the man interested. She sees her opportunity and becomes his mistress, he sets her up in an apartment, and Sugar makes herself indispensable to the man, finding a way to become part of his household, helping him with his business, listening to his family problems and so on.
The man's family is a mess, but an interesting mess. Everyone in the book is very interesting, except the man. He is a real dud. This brings us to the class prejudice that is the undertone of the book. Throughout the book, Sugar helps the man while thinking she is also helping herself rise above her class. She helped his wife, his daughter, his servants, her very good ideas and her ability to write helped make his business prosper. And she thought she kept the man satisfied in all other areas as well. Suffice it to say, that none of that was of any importance in the end. Class and image was all that mattered to the man.
But Sugar gets her revenge in an unusual and shocking conclusion that made me hungry for a sequel. The Crimson Petal And The White ended without really ending. Imagine two main characters that you have become very fond of just walking away into the London fog. I was totally unprepared for this, I was mad – tell me more – what happened to them?
This is a very well written and imaginative book. Brilliant in they way it draws you into an 1870's London household and original in its approach and certainly in its conclusion.
After some initial hesitation, I came to like and enjoy this book.
On a different subjet: We had one of the worst or maybe the worst thunderstorm I have ever experienced here last night. I remember some great ones from New Jersey in my different life there, but this was something else. An LA TV station interrupted the voice coverage of the Laker game to warn of this very serious storm in the high desert. They told people to stay indoors, away from windows and so on. We sat on the couch and watched TV while the lightning kept flashing outside our livingroom window. Soldier hid in the guest bedroom, partially under the bed, poor thing. Angel kept barking and barking at the thunder. Samson looked mostly like he was wondering what the fuss was all about. He will grow up to be a very, very cool dog.
The rain has stopped and I am wondering what's left of our road. County life worries, but I think it will be OK.
I have always liked native art and folklore and I have a few things from countries as far apart as Liberia and Sweden. I don't have much, but I like to surround myself with the things I do have. This little box, a gift from my friend Judy, comes from the Canadian North West.
The images of animals symbolize these powers and beliefs, according to information printed on the back of the box.:
Whale: Master of the seas.
Eagle: Giver of life.
I knew about the Raven, both from Native American folklore and personal experience. I live with ravens here and as I watch them, day in and day out, I have become both fond of them and mad at them, depending on how I'm affected by their tricks.
I have known Judy for a long time. We met and worked together at UCLA. It's funny, thinking back, how small things can leave lasting impressions that make you happy when you think back on them. Thinking about Judy, I remember how we took our sandwiches and sat on a bench outside the Law School at UCLA, eating lunch and talking in the sunshine, while little sparrows jumped all around, trying to catch our crumbs. So when I look at this little box, it brings back a treasured memory.
We had incredible thunderstorms here last night. I think the worst since I have lived here, with lots of lightening, thunder, rain and scared dogs. This morning, I panicked when I found no lights at all on my modem. Fortunately, they came back on after I unplugged it, left it unplugged for a minute, and plugged it back in. Phew....I have become so dependent on communicating with you all that I have no idea how I could possibly live without my internet connection.
Could it be that fall has finally come to the canyon?
I woke up to dark clouds and a threat of rain so I decided it was time to visit
the wood pile. From where I couldn't carry anything heavy, but my husband left logs by the house, so I can bring them in when I feel like making a fire. This morning, I only wanted to pick up some kindling and be outside for a while. It was cool and crisp and felt like fall has finally arrived.
But first I sat on my little bench for a while, watching the ravens fly by and reflecting on how wonderful it is to be surrounded by so much serenity. This raven flew by so fast, he is nothing but a speck against the clouds in this picture. Can you see him?
We have a lot of construction wood and I like to burn the thin flat pieces for starter wood. So I filled my little bucket several times and carried the kindling back to the house. Rachael put my wheelbarrow in the shed for me because there is no way I can handle it right now. But walking up the little hill to the wood pile and carrying the kindling back several times at least gave me some badly needed exercise.
Inside the house, the dogs decided to get some exercise of their own. Once again, 12-year old Angel initiated a fun game of -- Look at me!! I stole Samson's piece of wood! -- She ran around the coffee table with his stick in her mouth. Here she just dropped it on the couch, without Samson noticing, so he's still chasing her, while Soldier's looking on, barking like crazy.
I guess we have a stand off here. Soldier says to Samson: "Well, are you going to go for the stick or not? Chicken!" Samson didn't dare to go past Angel and get his stick, so I picked it up and put it away for a while. She is something else my Angel. No wonder I have fallen so in love with the German shepherd breed.
We all had a fun morning and we all hope you have a nice Monday.
I had to drive to Bakersfield on Saturday afternoon for a medical test. This meant a trip down the mountain to the San JoaquinValley below. I decided to drive by myself to get over the fear of driving that sort of hits one after a car accident.
It's that time of the year, Halloween is coming up and pumpkins are everywhere. I decided to stop by at Murray's Family Farm, located at the foot of the mountain.
It was very crowded, lots of people and lots of kids. Here a woman is selecting pumpkins.
Pumpkins were everywhere.
In the large indoor store, I bypassed the apples
and headed for the nuts – I was after walnuts and I bought a pound.
I left through a side-door and came out on a deck with a view of sunflowers in the foreground and groves upon groves of fruit trees in the background.
There were rides on hay bales for the kids.
Scary critters and
cute ones in the petting zoo,
raggedy dolls stuffed with straw and
a pretty display of fall fruits.
On my way out, I walked by palm trees and bougainvilleas. All so common in Los Angeles, but they don't grow in Tehachapi.
And isn't this gorgeous? Look at those vibrant colors!
Fortunately no one was behind me when I left the farm so I could stop in the driveway and take these pictures.
Some more bougainvilleas right at the exit.
The drive went OK and I even got tested with a downpour and a hale storm! Boy, was I glad I took the time to locate the windshield wipers on the rental car before I left home. I know I will be OK driving now.