___ This is a very funny book – totally black humuor, and sadly though it was written as to be so over the top in 1992, with all that has gone on in the USA over the last few years is believeable.
To list some of the main characters in the book they are the Wopotami tribe of American Indians, the Filthy Four, the Sucidal Six, and of course Sam Devereaux, General Mackenzie Hawkins “The Hawk” and his various ex wifes. Posing as a member of the tribe he files a law suit against the United States to force it to give land back to the tribe. The trouble is that the land is very important to the Military. As a consequence all the leadership that is in corrupt cahoots with the military go all out to try and stop the case coming before the Supreme Court. A very enjoyable read as book 20 week 19.
_ The real meaning of Christmas seems to have become lost or unknown to lots of people . Some think Christmas is all about -
The tree and the decorations – The Christmas tree became popular in England in 1841 when Queen Victoria's husband, Prince Albert, brought a Christmas tree over from Germany and put it in Windsor Castle. The Royal couple were illustrated in a newspaper standing around the Christmas tree with their children, and the tradition of decorating a tree became fashionable.
Others think Christmas is all about Santa Claus – Much of the tradition about Father Christmas comes from Clement C Moore and his poem of 1822, originally called A visit from St Nicholas- now known as The Night Before Christmas -
Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse.
The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,
In hopes that St Nicholas soon would be there.
The children were nestled all snug in their beds,
While visions of sugar-plums danced in their heads.
And mamma in her ‘kerchief, and I in my cap,
Had just settled our brains for a long winter’s nap.
When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter,
I sprang from the bed to see what was the matter.
Away to the window I flew like a flash,
Tore open the shutters and threw up the sash.
The moon on the breast of the new-fallen snow
Gave the lustre of mid-day to objects below.
When, what to my wondering eyes should appear,
But a miniature sleigh, and eight tinny reindeer.
With a little old driver, so lively and quick,
I knew in a moment it must be St Nick.
More rapid than eagles his coursers they came,
And he whistled, and shouted, and called them by name!
"Now Dasher! now, Dancer! now, Prancer and Vixen!
On, Comet! On, Cupid! on, on Donner and Blitzen!
To the top of the porch! to the top of the wall!
Now dash away! Dash away! Dash away all!"
As dry leaves that before the wild hurricane fly,
When they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky.
So up to the house-top the coursers they flew,
With the sleigh full of Toys, and St Nicholas too.
And then, in a twinkling, I heard on the roof
The prancing and pawing of each little hoof.
As I drew in my head, and was turning around,
Down the chimney St Nicholas came with a bound.
He was dressed all in fur, from his head to his foot,
And his clothes were all tarnished with ashes and soot.
A bundle of Toys he had flung on his back,
And he looked like a peddler, just opening his pack.
His eyes-how they twinkled! his dimples how merry!
His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry!
His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow,
And the beard of his chin was as white as the snow.
The stump of a pipe he held tight in his teeth,
And the smoke it encircled his head like a wreath.
He had a broad face and a little round belly,
That shook when he laughed, like a bowlful of jelly!
He was chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf,
And I laughed when I saw him, in spite of myself!
A wink of his eye and a twist of his head,
Soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread.
He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work,
And filled all the stockings, then turned with a jerk.
And laying his finger aside of his nose,
And giving a nod, up the chimney he rose!
He sprang to his sleigh, to his team gave a whistle,
And away they all flew like the down of a thistle.
But I heard him exclaim, ‘ere he drove out of sight,
"Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good-night!"
(Father Christmas changed from a green coloured outfit to a red one in the 1930's when he was used in Coke Cola's advertising wearing his now famous red outfit. ) But he was based on a real person - Saint. Nicholas, or Sinter Klaas in Dutch, was a very shy man and wanted to give money to poor people without them knowing about it. It is said that one day, he climbed the roof of a house and dropped a purse of money down the chimney. It landed in the stocking which a girl had put to dry by the fire! This may explain the belief that Father Christmas comes down the chimney and places gifts in children's stockings.
Then of course we have the food and presents, but the real meaning of Christmas is Christ's Mass or CRISTES MAESSE. (This is a very old English term and certainly used in the eleventh century. )
And why is Christ’s Mass important - This is the time when we celebrate the fact the God sent His son Jesus to our world. He was born around 2000 years ago and Christmas is the celebration of His birthday. The real meaning of Christmas.
An why was Jesus so important – because 33 years after His birth He was crucified, died, then buried in a tomb, only to come back to life again -
I have listened to this over the last month as an audio book from librivox and is book 19 week 18. This is the sequel to the Three Musketeers, being 20 years later in the story. It follows events in France during the childhood reign of Louis XIV and in England during the time of the English Civil War. In fact probably half the book is devoted to events in England, and it include the musketeers attempts to free King Charles 1 and prevent his execution . The two main French characters in the plot are Queen Anne of Austria and Cardinal Mazarin who are jointly ruling France between them. It also has various sub-plots covering the rebellion in Paris, that was quite hard to follow not knowing any of the French history concerned. The story ends with the musketeers going their separate ways again and Mazarin, Queen Anne and Louis XIV entering Paris to take up ruling again from that city.
_ This collection of short stories introduces Bertie Wooster, a young somewhat foolish gentleman dependant on his aunt for money, and his gentleman’s gentleman, Jeeves. Jeeves is incredibly clever and throughout these stories manages to solve every predicament that Bertie finds himself in, often with some benefit to himself.
Bertie spends some time in New York enjoying the high life there, and solving the scrapes his friends get into, which often seem to involve various aunts that cause great amounts of trouble. As much as Berties relations cause him problems Jeeves various relations mainly cousins seem to offer solutions to them.
When reading the book it was very hard not to see the characters being acted out on TV, either by Hugh Laurie and Stephen Fry or by Dennis Price as Jeeves and Ian Carmichael as a rather middle-aged Bertie Wooster before them. Not withstanding this it is a very enjoyable read about life in the 1920's as book 18 week 18.
_ There recently seems to have been a lot of discussion on the radio about the wise men and the gifts that they brought to Jesus.
One of the first questions asked is what were their names?
There is no specific Biblical reference to any names but tradition seems to say that they were called Balthazar, Gaspar, and Melchior, also it is not clear as to who carried which gift.
So the second question asked was what were the gifts given to Jesus?
It is sometimes assumed that there were three wise men as three gifts were given but nowhere does it say this. All it does say is that they were “wise men from the East” You can learn more about the wise men and the Christmas story here and read the story directly in Matthew 2
_ A bargain book from the second hand book stall on the Saturday market at 50p and well worth the money This is the second Inspector Banks Mystery, and is based on and around the the moor above the village of Helmthorpe in Swainsdale. Harry Steadman had been brutally murdered but why was he killed as everyone says that he was a wonderful man with no enemies.
Peter manages to create the fictional landscape perfectly allowing one to imagine the Limestone scar towering above it and an atmosphere of everyone knowing everyone else's business.
This was a good read and I am looking forward to reading the second bargain book I got at the time which is a mystery further along in the series. This was book 17 week 18, though it was finished last week but I was not able to update the blog at the time
_ It is with sad feelings that I write that my brother Stephen, died yesterday lunch time in Coventry Hospital. As the death certificate has not yet been released I cannot say exactly how he died, except that he got a skin infection a couple of weeks ago that would not heal up, and he got steadily worse from then on.
But this is not to dwell on that but to reflect on the good things in his life. He had a very much larger than life personality. He seemed to have four main passions, music, cricket, food (& fine drink) and steam trains.
We had very different opinions as to what was good music, he thought a fine opera blasting out at full volume was fantastic, I have a slightly different view. This does not matter as he shared his love for music as a keen Organist in the Leicester area, especially as church organist and choir master for Billesdon Leicestershire. He also shared his love for music in teaching it. This old black and white picture is just as I remember him sitting in front of the piano practising hard.
His second passion was for cricket - This is something that he caught from our Grandfather, taking us to see Kent play as youngsters. He was a member of Leicester Cricket club for a number of years, and often used to recount spending afternoons watching the team play.
His third passion was food. He used to claim to be a gourmet – enjoying good food and drink. If we ever discussed what we had had for dinner he would often quip back – “of course it was a proper dinner of five courses along with the port in London the other week” He evidently enjoyed fine food a lot.
His final passion that I will recount here is steam trains. He used to love going on a steam train of any kind, the bigger the better. It was even fantastic if they were doing a special travelling dinner.
Hopefully he will be fondly remembered in some way by all who knew him.
_ Book 16 week 15 – This was an easy read that charged along at a good pace, with a plot that had a good twist in the end. I think the sleeve cover sort of says it all really
“Troy Phelan is a self-made billionaire, one of the richest men in the United States. He is also eccentric, reclusive, confined to a wheelchair, and looking for a way to die. His heirs, to no one’s surprise–especially Troy’s–are circling like vultures.
Nate O’Riley is a high-octane Washington litigator who’s lived too hard, too fast, for too long. His second marriage in a shambles, and he is emerging from his fourth stay in rehab armed with little more than his fragile sobriety, good intentions, and resilient sense of humor. Returning to the real world is always difficult, but this time it’s going to be murder.
Rachel Lane is a young woman who chose to give her life to God, who walked away from the modern world with all its strivings and trappings and encumbrances, and went to live and work with a primitive tribe of Indians in the deepest jungles of Brazil.”
To say any more would give the plot away too much, except that the descriptions of the majority of heirs as vultures is far too kind – They were far worse than that.
_ This is part two of my blog on how I have lost over 50 lbs in weight over the last few months. Part one covered incentive, portion size, and meal frequency.
This blog looks at exercise, hydration, and setting realistic targets. Part three will cover the foods consumed themselves.
Even Fishing is Excercise
_ Exercise – In my case due to my illness if I pushed myself with excessive exercise, then I got pains from my liver as it did not like it. Now even after 11 months I can still only do around 3 hours walking in any one go and jogging / jumping / in fact any form of excessive abdominal muscle work is still not possible as my body is not strong enough yet.
So surely one needs to do lots of exercise to loose weight. Well yes and no. It takes around 90 minutes to burn off a 68g mars bar containing 300 calories. A Quarter pounder (Without the fries) is just under double this. Other examples can be seen at these two sites
In essence one needs to do a lot of exercise to burn off a little energy, and what do you feel tempted to do after all that exercise – go for a drink or have a snack bar to give you more energy – replace that energy you think you have just lost. In all probability you will then eat more than you have just burnt off.
In my case I do a reasonable amount of exercise, gradually building up stamina. So three hours of walking is currently about my lot. (Prior to being ill a 12 mile hike was fine) I do try and go for at least 45 minutes walk every day, but don't then come in and immediately eat to replace the energy I have just burnt off. There is lots of advice on how much exercise one should do each day. The key point is to do some, everyday, if it is just housework, (or even fishing) rather than the odd session here and there.
_ Hydration – This is one of the key areas, of the diet. I aim to drink somewhere between 1.5 to 3 litres of liquid a day. Very roughly a 250ml glass full (or it's equivalent) per waking hour. There is lots on this on the web, and if it is cold and sugarless eg chilled water, then it will help you loose a bit of weight as well, as the body has to expend heat in warming up the cold liquid once you have drunk it. What you do not want to be doing is to drink high sugary drinks as they will not help you loose weight. I currently drink black coffee, green tea, juice and squash (though am very careful as to sugar content and type of these and normally no more than 150ml of juice) and chilled water. Drinking the liquid also helps fill up the stomach so you do not feel so hungry between meals.
_ Targets – Setting a realistic target is one of the most important factors of the diet. The target should be achievable, but stretching. For example aim to loose 2lbs a week – Say a target of target 1 and ¼ stones in two months. But the thing to do is to weight oneself every day at the same time of the day (I do it first thing in the morning) and then realistically you know how you are doing. It is very easy to know if you have lost 2lbs a week. If you achieve your target give yourself a treat for example a small bit of high coca – low fat chocolate or something similar. You will then feel encouraged to carry on the process. What you must not do is say my target is to loose 4 stone because you just won't do it. It is too much, and you will probably give in. That can be the ultimate target but the process of getting their needs to be broken down into smaller achievable steps. Probably a weekly target plus a monthly one.
The final point is Food and this will be covered in part three of this blog.
_ Over the summer we watched several DVD's of Inspector Lynley detective series. Now this book is one that I have not seen on DVD as it involves his friends – Deborah and Simon, and not the great inspector himself. A seemingly wealth resident of Guernsey is found murdered and a young American woman is charged with her murder. Her brother asks the only people he knows in the UK to help him Deborah and Simon free her. So they go off to Guernsey and solve the mystery. It is a really good mystery as it keeps you guessing right until the very end, who the murderer is. There are lots of very convincing red herrings which take one off to a side track. A really good book as book 15 week 15
Dyslexic doodles on photography, food (growing, cooking & of course eating), faith and other fascinating things. This is a personal blog expressing my views.