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Deus volt; Deus mittit me.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

And the Bodhran Beat Goes On

Tipper naofa, Batman! Is féidir leis na daoine a imirt!
(Holy tipper, Batman! These people can play!)

So I have a new (to me) bodhran (an Irish drum). Apparently it's the old style of drum with a cross piece in the back. Now they don't use those cross pieces anymore and the drum head is smaller with a protected edge for playing on too. I also have the old-style tipper (stick, beater) with two rounded heads. Looks like the newer ones don't have the rounded heads.

I learned by watching other American drummers and I think some of my habits have been bad. So starting today I'm working on re-learning the basics of how to play the bodhran. Man these guys are GOOD!!! It's going to be a long old time before I can play even proficiently. But it's really fun. I should at least have a few jigs and reels down by St. Patty's.

I'll try and put a few riffs on here for you to see not only really good players but also some basics of how to learn. None of them will be me since I'm not good at it.

Monday, March 6, 2017

Hearts of the Fathers review



Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men.
                    Sir John Emerich Edward Dalberg-Acton, 1st Baron Acton     

In reading Darryl Harris' book HEARTS OF THE FATHERS, I was amazed he didn't have a German last name. Harris puts you right in the gritty middle of war-torn Berlin at the end of WWII. I give it five out of five Stars of David.

First let me say that I've been to Dachau and seen the mountainous pile of shoes. It was a heart-wrenching afternoon. I've also been to East Berlin before the wall came down. The tension there was so strong you could cut it with a knife. I can't imagine having to live ever day under the threat of Nazi or Russian retaliation for imagined insults. Though just visitors, everywhere we went we were followed by gun-toting soldier. We actually bolted for the border and couldn't get out of there fast enough. So I've had a little taste of what it was like. Harris has done a wonderful job.

This book wasn't just an expose on how bad the German people at that time were, but a truthful look at how even good people were caught up in, or rolled over by the tidal wave of Nazism.

This is Gerda Brendler's story of trying to find the son who had been kidnapped into the Hitler's Youth and forced to be a flak gunner.

It's Levi Zuckerman's story of trying to find his Jewish parents' whereabouts in a country in which one could get lost or killed going to the corner store for milk.

It's Major Pankov's story about trying to find the man who nearly killed him in order to stop two rapes and allow the girls to escape.

It's Erick Ranke's story of searching for hidden church books all over Germany in order to save the precious records from being burned as fuel.

Mostly it's a book about how God directs his children in His efforts to save and help His people.

This book is a skillful weaving of all the lives into one beautiful story of love lost and found--of listening to the voice of God--of doggedly living from one day to the next, being God's hands in the lives of others.

Harris did spotless research in order to put us right in the midst of the action of a country just trying to get its legs under itself, only to fall into a new trap.

This is not a good bedtime story for little children. Too many adult themes, although no actual sex or bad language. I would have had my high schoolers read this instead of some of the trash they watched. This isn't lit for violence's sake, but lit about looking for life in the midst of destruction.

If you like WWII stories, whether Jewish, Christian, or other, this is the book for you. You can get this book here.

Monday, February 27, 2017

Pearls of Great Price



I sit here with the tears just drying on my cheeks. We've had a rough week and what pulled it all out were these things: MP3's sung by my friend Michael Young and a few other artists, a call from my daughter, and a fabulous book by Tessa Afshar called PEARL IN THE SAND.

You might think that a Canaanite woman forced into the harlot trade at the age of fifteen would have a difficult time following the God of the Israelites--or even wanting such a thing. But Rahab of Jericho is a different sort of gem. She has longed to serve a God who isn't thirsty for the blood of little children much of her life. Her own gods have betrayed her at all turns.

When two Israelite spies come to Jericho, she harbors them, and in doing so, saves the lives of her family in the oncoming war.

The boys take Rahab and her loved ones to the Israelite camp, where she begs that they might join with their erstwhile enemies.

Through the entire gripping story runs a ribbon of self-loathing and shame. Rahab had been a harlot. Who would ever want or love her?

Someone not only grudgingly steps up to take care of them, but finds himself falling for this woman who would normally have faced stoning in his culture. Both he and Rahab have much to learn about how God goes about His business. This book about God's matchless love and repentance and forgiveness really touched some chords in me. It lays everything out so clearly and concisely, without being preachy or heavy-handed.

For being a book about a repentant harlot, there is zero sex, no bad language, and no graphic violence (despite it also being a book about war). 

I give this book five linen shirts out of five.

You can purchase PEARL IN THE SAND on Amazon at this place. Thank you, Tessa, for such a beautifully told tale and for giving me a way to speak to and forgive my loved ones. If I had the print book, it would sit on my favorite books shelf.


Saturday, February 18, 2017

PUSH Review




Jared Garrett is now one of my new favorite authors. He wrote a book called PUSH, which is the second of his series, which starts with BEAT (although there is a side story called Keepers that fits somewhere between BEAT and PUSH). I haven't read his other books yet, but I just bought them. I want to know how this story started.

Push flies by like a post apocalyptic comet, scattering rubble everywhere, causing calamities in its wake. Nik Granjer and his band of rebel outcasts spend the entire book running from impending doom. Somehow Nik, who seems to be around sixteen or so, is thrust into the role of de facto president, leading his raggle-taggle band to some kind of safety. 

Only there isn't any.

The monster, Adam Holland, has obliterated most of the non-compliant people in the world with a disease they call the Bug. He's after Nik and his keeper (gun) toting teens to end their trouble-making days. He sends the Ranjers out to round up families and friends, kidnapping and holding some for ransom, killing others indiscriminately. Holland's aim seems to be complete annihilation of the free-thinking human race in order to sweep the planet in preparation for his new breed of superhuman to take over.

Nik has to grow up at light speed, charged with making life or death decisions for all of the survivors. For some reason, he doesn't want to comply with Adam the freak. In fact, Nik is pretty torked that the Ranjers have taken his parents in order to keep him away from Holland. Unfortunately for the megalomaniac, he badly misreads the boy. Nik and his unit race to get ahead of the oncoming avalanche of superhuman cyborgs, (or whatever they are) staying only a toenail's length ahead of terrible doom.

None of this is easy. Nik and his people are damaged, hungry, exhausted, and mad as heck. Did I mention damaged? We're talking sieves here. But what's a guy to do when the lives of humankind are resting in his shaking, bloody hands? And it's not even that easy. He has to stop and prioritize. And those priorities rot.

This book has no sex or swearing (except the made-up kind). It does have lots of violence, sucking chest wounds, flying bullets, explosions, clones, newfangled gadgets, action, cyborgs, and a great setting. I love how Garrett has worked to imagine how San Francisco would look in 120 years, after a huge earthquake drops the elevation enough to flood the city during every high tide. It never fails to amaze me how fast roads can deteriorate, even now.

This book is believable. People actually get hurt and have to work around their wounds. Bad things happen to them that can't be fixed by some amazing band-aide fix that suddenly shows up right when they need it. Nothing works when it's supposed to. I love it.

In fact, I stayed up until two am trying to find out if they killed the bad guy or just one of his clones. I still don't know for certain.

Since it's part of a series and I was coming in in the middle of it, I would have liked a couple of clues at first that let me know what the Bug is, why Adam Holland is such a freak, and why Nik Granjer is the hinge on which the whole human race swings.

So now my only choice is to get the other books and fill in the empty spaces in the story.

My take on this? Five grenades out of five.
You can get PUSH at Amazon.
Thank you, Jared, for a fast, though bumpy, ride.

Monday, February 6, 2017

Val-n-Fork-tines

So I went to the store the other day in search of a Valentines gift my husband wouldn't punt through the back door into the waiting jaws of the dog. Since our anniversary is on Groundhog Day I try to find things at roughly the same time. You'd think it would be easy.

Women are easy. You give her a box of chocolates, maybe some roses or any other plants living or dead (except maybe poison ivy or skunk cabbage), maybe a sweet romantic movie or book or music and she's good.

In fact, she'll love you to bits if you just treat her like a queen and acknowledge the fact that she's your whole world.  She'll rock your world if you show her how much she means to you. I know. I'm a woman.


But it seems to me that Valentines Day is mostly made for WOMEN. "Why is this?" you ask. It's supposed to be all about LOVE. Or so 'they' say. "They" are trying to push all kinds of heart-shaped, fuzzy, cinnamon-scented crap as stuff you'd give your significant other. Yeah. Let's just get him an enormous stuffed animal that will take up all the space in his room otherwise needed for oxygen and comics. As a boyfriend, he'll have the perfect thing to tear the head off of when your relationship goes sour.

Most of that stuff they would punt as soon as your back is turned. Have you actually seen any guy keep a stuffed animal on his bed? Ever? Or lacy heart-shaped pillows stuffed with potpourri? I didn't think so. And there are only so many heart-embossed mugs and smelly candles they'll stand for. He still has music you bought him five years ago for Christmas with the plastic wrap intact on it.

I don't want to give him something that'll encourage him to spend even less time with me. It's counterproductive and against everything Valentines Day actually stands for. That gets rid of computer games, Magic cards, and D&D paraphernalia.  

And movies? Don't even get me started. Most men call anything that doesn't explode or feature tanks, guns, cars, sports, or scantily clad women a chick flick. The closest you can come to a touchy feely love movie is one where the guy just got blown to Kingdom Come and the scantily clad chickie comes and kisses him. So that pretty much leaves every movie with the least loving message out in a blizzard.

So what the heck do you buy a guy for Valentines that he actually wants? 

@>-->-----Tools? 'Cause a new drill so says "I love you, my Sweetheart."
@>-->-----Sweats and a gym membership? Because you love him so much that you want him to be super healthy? See the above retort.
@>-->-----A new set of sleepwear (preferably with hearts)? Because his holes have holes? Meh. Maybe.
@>-->-----A new watch band to replace the one he keeps breaking? Meh.
@>-->-----Fudge? 'Cause you don't want him to be too healthy? That's a possibility unless you still have a pound of it in the freezer from Christmas.
@>-->-----Movie tickets (or sports you can also stand to watch) and an Olive Garden card in hopes he'll share it with you? A little self-serving and sets a bad precedent. What's to then stop him from giving YOU the new drill?
@>-->-----More computer hardware? Not until he gets rid of the other computer crud from your bedroom, bathroom, hallway, kitchen, shed, kids' rooms--in fact every other freaking room in the house. NOPE. Hard pass.
@>-->-----A set of tubs to put his junk in that is cluttering up your bedroom? Right. He'll use them less than you do.
@>-->-----A book? He doesn't even read the ones you've gotten him for the last several Christmases.
@>-->-----How about food? They'd actually like to eat that cinnamon roll more than a candle that just smells like it and reminds him he's hungry all the time. So that's a possibility.
@>-->-----Probably not paint ball gear...'cause he'll shoot you with it.
@>-->-----Pass on the new puppy. Probably. Unless he's really adorable. And intelligent enough to train quickly not to pee on your floor. It's a whole other box of dog doo-doo.
@>-->-----A new truck? Not unless you're independently wealthy--which I'm not. 
@>-->-----Do you settle for socks or a tie? Probably. It's the gift that keeps on giving.

So, hey. If you can think of better options, PLEASE fill up the comment box. I'm open for good suggestions.


Wednesday, January 25, 2017

MORONI'S PROMISE Review


 It's been a while since I posted because I've been sick for around two months. I don't wish what I had on anybody.

So today I'd like to review a book called MORONI'S PROMISE by Kristoffer Neff. At first I was ready to put down the book because I'm not really into books about gangs. But I'm really glad I didn't.

This is a well-written, thought-provoking read full of adventure and time-travel in the vein of Chris Heimerdinger's Tennis Shoes Among the Nephites books. The characters were well drawn and believable. The story gripping. I ended up really enjoying the book deep into the night.

So this is the deal:
Moroni (Ronnie) Clah, a Navajo teen, has just lost first his parents to an accident, and then his sister to gang violence, leaving him without any family. Ronnie joins a gang in order to kill the man who killed his sister. The members insist he go through with killing the man, while Ronnie has some reservations. His choices lead him to run from the gang.

Due to some strange events, Ronnie finds himself transported into the 360 AD American wilderness. He is rescued by a man calling himself Zelph, who takes him back to his cliff dwelling and family. At first Ronnie has a difficult time trying to keep up, being a typical modern city-dwelling teen. He works hard to harden himself into a productive member of the cliff-dwelling society.

Unfortunately his stay is cut short when a band of vicious Lamanites comes to kill Zelph and his family. Ronnie has to choose between his own urges and Zelph's kinder, more honorable way of living. The family flee for their lives, leaving one member behind to give them a chance to escape. At every turn there are choices that define Ronnie's whole life.

 I give this book 4 3/4 Liahonas out of 5. Here is where you can pick up this book from Amazon. 
Here's where you can pick it up from Deseret Book.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Cassandry's Ball

Charlotte and her wonderful Mr. Harris are so excited. They are going to Lyonstoke to keep Christmas with Lady Cassandry and her Gerolt and Anthony. Again they shall travel through time to a castle hall.

They finish dressing each in their respective times, and out they slip to the summerhouse. The moon glows golden as a galleon on the crest of a wave of stars. They feel the pull of the summerhouse as it works its mysterious magic.

Lord Gerolt has left beautifully caparisoned horses for them when they arrive. The snow is deep, with a crunchy shell of ice. It sparkles in the sun like a myriad of diamonds, for they have arrived early.

They clatter over the bridge and into the yard of the castle, which stands perched on a hill, it's walls stretching upward into the winter sun. They are met by Gerolt's men, who take their cloaks and usher them into the hall. Such rich scents of roasting meat and greenery boughs and boughs of mistletoe and holly greet their noses.

Cassandry comes to greet Charlotte, curious about her strange manner of dressing. The two are much of a kind, however, and they go off chattering, leaving Mr. Harris and Gerolt and Anthony together.

When the ladies return, Charlotte is gowned in a burgundy gown of velvet, lovely as a ruby to Mr. Harris. He feels so blessed to have acquired such a gem. Cassandry invites them both to sit at high table, just below the salt. They share a trencher and marvel at the delectable repast.

Mummers and jugglers perform throughout the meal, beguiling in their feats of derring-do. After the feast is past, the musicians arrive and strike up. It is most felicitous that Charlotte and her Mr. Harris have taken pains to learn dance steps from the period.

The candles flicker as a slight breeze flutters the rich tapestries. Charlotte cannot contain her longing to actually touch Mr. Harris' hands and feel his arms about her.

Cassandry dances with Anthony and Gerolt, both. Charlotte watches for a moment before she discovers their secret--something Cassandry and her friends may not even know themselves.

You may join the celebration here. Don't forget to click on the clip and let it pull you back to Cassandry's time as Charlotte and Jack were.