More Books

More of the books that I have been reading this summer.   These two are good ones.

Toyne, S. (2011). Sanctus. New York, NY: William Morrow/Harper Collins.

ISBN 978-0-06-203830-2   $25.99

Release date 9/6/11

A monk climbs up the mountainside of the Citadel of Ruin, site of the beginnings of the Christian church.  Inside the holy mountain is a holy secret, a Sacrament, that the monks protect at all costs.

Kathryn Mann has an ancient prophecy, which predicts the fall of the monk, the rise of the monk to unlock the Sacrament, and bring forth a new age.

So when the monk falls from the top of the mountain there are a great many people interested in why other than the Inspector Davud Arkadian.

Their interests and exactly what it means when the abbot says “all costs” weaves a grand mystery.   If you like mystery, this is a wonderful book to read.



Geda, F. (2010) In The Sea There Are Crocodiles. New York, NY. Doubleday.

ISBN 978-0-385-53473-4 U.S. price $21.95

Tentative on sale date 8/9/11


Enaiat was born and lived in Afghanistan until his mother smuggled him out sometime around his tenth birthday and left him in Pakistan.  From that day on he was responsible for his own life.  How he survived, the jobs that he took as a Shia Muslim immigrant to be able to survive and how he manage to make it all the way to Italy and convince them to give him asylum as a political refugee is the story.

Enaiat’s father was forced to drive a truck for the Sunni bringing back merchandise but when bandits killed him the Sunni said that his family had to pay for the truck and merchandise.  When they couldn’t pay in money the price became the life of a child, Enaiat.

The book is a novel because Enaiat tells it just as he remembers, his story.  The language is simple, childlike, but the story is multifaceted, political, heart-rending, and resilient.  Enaiat is someone you will remember and think about long after you finish reading his story.   This was a quick book to read and could be easily used for secondary classrooms if teachers are interested.


What to read this summer

When I had a job I usually spent at least a couple of hours a day reading.  Some of it was professional reading, but some of it was reading the latest books and keeping up with new authors.  If someone asked for a good book, I could always come up with at least two or more.  Now that I take care of cows, goats, and everything on the ranch is a work in progress it seems that there is less time to read.  However, reading is like breathing to me, so I still find some time no matter how busy to read.  These are a few of the books that I have been reading.

Hart, J. (2011). Iron House.  New York, NY:Thomas Dunne Publisher.

ISBN 978-0312380342   $25.99

Michael and Julian are orphan brothers left to fend for own lives at Iron House.  Michael is the strong one and Julian is the one picked on, beaten, and tormented.  Michael always takes care of Julian and he takes care of it when Julian kills one of the tormentors.  This requires Michael to leave, but Julian is adopted.  Many years later Michael has grown up as the enforcer for a powerful mob boss and Julian as the pampered son of a powerful Senator

When the mob boss dies not only Michael is in danger, but everyone he loves, his pregnant girlfriend, and his long forgotten family, his brother, is also in danger.   There are many different aspects of the story that Michael must dig through in order to discover the truth of why there are dead bodies in the Senator’s lake, why it seems that Julian has lost touch with reality, and why Iron House seems to be involved in all of it.

Hart has written an excellent action book.  This was the first book I have ever read by Hart, but I will certainly look for others by him.  I read an advance copy from the publisher and I do have one suggestion for John Hart, take it from someone who was there, in 1965 it was a Pontiac GTO not a Ford, so I hope that they will correct that before the book is released.

Marr, M. (2011).  Graveminder.  New York, NY: William Morrow.

ISBN 978-0061826870  $22.99

Years ago this town signed a contract with Mr. D to protect all of the inhabitants from disease until the age of eighty.   Mr. D controls the world of the dead under the funeral home.  Bryon Montgomery as the Undertaker is responsible for protecting the Graveminder, Rebecca Barrow.   Both Bryon and Rebecca came into their jobs through family.  Rebecca however was not born into the family, but was the stepdaughter of the son of the previous Graveminder, Maylene Barrow.    Her lack of blood inheritance to the job of Graveminder causes some difficulties with Maylene’s daughter and granddaughters.

If the dead are not taken care of with food and drink by the Graveminder after they die, then they will return and cause problems for the town.  The undertaker and the Graveminder must then contain the dead and conduct them to the world of Mr. D.  In an effort to give Bryon and Rebecca as much normal life as possible they were not told about the contract until the death of the previous undertaker and Graveminder.  This left them unprepared for the dead that have now returned and are killing people in town.

Melissa Marr is the author of the Wicked Lovely series and I was not as drawn into this world as I was the world of Wicked Lovely, but still, she is a good storyteller.  After so many vampire and magic books it is a different kind of magic story, original.

Cumming, C. (2011). Trinity Six.  New York, NY:St. Martin’s Press.

ISBN 978-0312675295   $24.99

Sam Gaddis is an academic who needs money for his daughter’s private school.  He believes that working on a book with a friend will take care of his money woes until that friend dies.  However, Gaddis becomes involved in looking at the notes, working on the book and finding a sixth spy for the Cambridge Five.  The Cambridge Five were young, collegiate men who were recruited to spy for Russia and successfully passed classified information from the British government for years.  Then Gaddis realizes that the people he is talking to, the people involved with the sixth spy story are being killed and his own life may also be in danger.

This book was a great read.  Cummings has just the right amount of dialogue, action, romance, description, and plot twists.  Gaddis is a bumbler, yet so earnest that you can’t help but cheer him on in his quest.   Even the people who are assigned to keep him from investigating the sixth spy can’t help but like him and help him with his search.  While some might say that it isn’t as involved as leCarre or Ludlum, that is exactly why I liked it so much, I could read it without taking notes to remember each character and where they fit into the story. It was just a good book for reading over a long weekend, thanks to the publisher for sharing an advance reading copy with me.

After the ceremony

After the ceremony we had lots of pictures to take. First we had to take group shots.

Some family photos – Allen’s family

Jessica’s family

Plus a few of Jessica and Allen

Then we started the reception

Some great cake & cupcakes!


and feeding the longhorns

to soon it was time to say good bye and good night.

images by Zander Photography, Clifton TX

The Ceremony

Jessica’s grandpa was the minister.  He and Allen were waiting in the church for all of us. 

The little church was probably as full as it has ever been.  So we all started down the aisle. Allen’s mom, Kellie and step-dad Jerry, his dad, Guy and step-mom Pam, went to their seats.

Granny and Grandmother Brad went to their seats with an usher.

then me

All the attendants ~

and finally Jake, the ring bearer.    Allen called Jake and he ran straight to him.  Jake had the rings tied to his flowers so Allen cut them off because he couldn’t get the bow to untie and Jake came to sit down with me until it was time to leave.  Jake did an excellent job.  all images from Zander Photography Clifton, TX

Getting Ready

The girls spent the day getting hair and make-up, but ended up at about two o’clock at my parent’s house to finish everything, six girls and a bride!

 The house is next to the church so it was a perfect place for them to finish getting ready.

There was some help, Jaimie and my mother.

Jessica had on the traditional something old; a small bird pin that held the bow at the back of the dress – something new; her hairpiece – hand-made by Jaimie’s mother, Helen –  something borrowed; a yellow diamond pendent from her Granny – and something blue; a ring that she got for graduation.

After all the girls were dressed and ready they went down to the schoolhouse across from the church to take some pre-wedding pictures. We all took pictures, watched the guests going into the church and waited for the four o’clock hour.

Jamie, Courtney, Sarah, Kristina, Alysia, Brittany

While Matt was helping Allen get ready the guys were taking it easy.

Matt, Jason, JB,  Marc, Charlie, Adam

Jake, Allen and Jessica’s dog,  is part Chesapeake Bay Retriever and part Labrador.   He was the ring bearer, so he was with the guys getting ready for his part of the ceremony.

Finally it was time,  everyone headed to the church,

lined up outside and we were ready for the ceremony.  

all images from Zander Photography Clifton, TX

The Wedding

Right down the road from Crazy Oaks and right next door to Our Place, where my parents live, is a little white country church building.  It is the perfect place for a wedding.   The community has been meeting there for church since 1883 when the land was purchased for religious and educational purposes.  The church building was dedicated May 23, 1909 so the building is over 100 years old.  We still meet there each Sunday morning, but for the wedding we put out extra chairs and opened the back rooms.

A wedding in our area in the spring means that you will have lots of wildflowers and there was a big patch of bluebonnets near the church.

Jessica also wanted lots of flowers in the church so when you walked in the doors you could smell them.  They were hanging from the windows, the pews, and there were two arrangements at the front after guests walked by the flowers outside on the porch.    

An artist friend, Jaimie, painted the church in watercolor and that was the front of the program.     

Allen, the groom, also known as the chief fence builder, had spent several weeks helping us get things ready around the barn and house.  The wind had been blowing and we were afraid it might rain, but the day could not have been any better, not too hot, not too cool, perfect spring Texas weather for a wedding.

all images from Zander Photography Clifton, Tx

Remembering what happens in the middle

My New Year’s resolution, to do more writing.   When I moved to the ranch I thought I would have so much more free time.  The studio is really only two rooms, not much house cleaning required. The usual time wasters, television, newspapers are not a part of my life anymore.   I don’t have television and the local newspaper is only five pages long, including the sale pages.  I live twenty miles from the closest town so I don’t meet friends for lunch and shopping.  I check correspondence on the computer usually once a day, but sometimes even less than that.  So what is taking up all my time?

Cows.  They need water, feed, protein tubs, salt blocks, and hay all on a regular basis.  Getting all this stuff to them is no simple task.  The feed, cubes of pressed feed called cattle cubes, has to be spread out in a long line because they push and shove like five-year olds for a place at the table.  The ones with the longest horns get the most food.  The others just move from place to place grabbing a mouthful of cubes and munching them on the move to the next grab all while keeping an eye out for pushing and shoving.   The hay has to be picked up with a special fork on the tractor placed on a trailer then moved to where we feed.  There we cut the plastic wrapping off then spread it out.  If you leave it for the cows to spread it out they use their horns and pick it apart then walk all over it.  Less of it is wasted if we spread it out for them.  Protein tubs and salt blocks we just set out, but we need to make sure to get new ones when they are all used up.  And those cows can clean up those protein tubs because they are mixed with molasses, not something that you would usually think of a cow eating, but they   love it.   One day I walked over to one of the water troughs and noticed that it was not as full as it should be, so I had to figure out why.  The cut off has accidentally been turned off and those cows would have been out of water soon if I had not been checking.  They might find something to graze on, but fresh water is something that they must have all the time.

If you want your cows to be calm around people then you need to spend some time with them.  You need to walk around them when they are eating.  You need to talk to them.  You need them to be used to people being around.  So one day a week, or watching them from the car just isn’t the same thing.  You have to be out in the pasture with your cattle.  Calm easy to work cows don’t happen with just a few minutes a few days a week.

Fences The cows need fences to keep them away from the hay meadow, away from the bales of hay, and in the pen when you don’t want the too young heifer with the little bull who may or may not be able to breed, So that means digging post holes and yes you can do that with a post hole digger attached to a tractor, but it still has to be positioned and watched.  It is a two-person job.  Then you put corner posts in cement and you can tie you barbed wire to those.  Every four to five feet another T-post has to be pounded into the ground.  Barbed wire has to be stretched from one end of the fence to the other then clipped at the right height on the T-post.  If there are any trees are bushes in the way of that fence they have to be cut down and pulled out of the way.  That fence doesn’t go up in a day.  Sure you can hire someone to put that fence up, but even after they leave you have to make sure that the wire stays tight, that the trees and bushes don’t grow up in the fence again.  That your wire is close enough together that the goats can’t get under it.  No, the goats are a whole story by themselves!

So the cows, the fence, building the barn, cleaning up the brush, working on the rock retaining walls, in addition to all the things that I have done inside, shelves, curtains, a quilt, have kept me from writing like I thought I would.  I know that if I don’t write it I won’t remember it.  When we started I took pictures of all the changes, and now I get busy and forget at times.  So I want to remember that while we may be living here now things are not finished and I want a record of these in between times too.  The only way I know to do that is get back to the habit of writing.