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Sun, Dec. 4th, 2016, 09:44 pm
Winter's Coming

So far we have a rather warm but rainy fall.  October set a record for the amount of rain that fell in this area.  November was moderate in all aspects and we rarely dipped below the freezing mark.  I've only had to scrape ice off the truck windows a time or two before heading off to work in the morning.
It looks like that is supposed to change in the next day or so, with temps down a couple of mornings into the single digits, or just above 0 on the Farenheit scale.  Today started out fairly warm in the morning and it's gotten progressively colder as the day went on.  Just a degree or two below freezing right now.  We've had wind, sleet, hail, and snow at various times, broken up by brief appearances of blue sky and sun.
Eva put the tree up Friday, although she hasn't finished all the trimming.  I put a few lights on the overgrown bushes in front of the house... more than we did last year.  (We didn't do any outdoor lighting a year ago.)  Depending upon my ambition or lack thereof and the weather over the next few days I might try to put some more out, perhaps on the shrubs and small trees that line the front walk.

Taken at dusk yesterday. No snow to help set the seasonal mood.

Also taken yesterday.  Eva was going to through the plastic candle out but I discovered it simply needed a new bulb.

The Christmas Tree as it currently is... used some of the camera/phone special effects, but I don't remember exactly what!

Taken late this afternoon.  Dusting of snow on the ground and a new wave of clouds moving in to replace the blue sky.  Another shot looking west south west from the porch.

Time now for bed, some sleep and then off to work in the AM.

Sat, Dec. 3rd, 2016, 09:30 am
Weekly Book Review

Continuing on through the list of previously written book reviews, we come to...
Lord Hornblower
By C. S. Forester
Reviewed by D. Andrew McChesney

            Home for nearly a year and recuperating from his Baltic ordeal, Hornblower is tasked with retrieving a Royal Navy brig taken over by mutineers.  As he proceeds, an opportunity to hasten the end of the war presents itself.  Under Hornblower’s guidance, La Havre declares against Napoleon and within a short time the French Empire is at an end.  Later, while visiting the Comte de Gracey, Napoleon returns causing Hornblower and his friend to lead a band of irregulars in fighting a losing battle against the reconstituted Empire.  Captured and about to be executed, Hornblower is spared when news of Napoleon’s final defeat at Waterloo arrives.
            As much as he does in any of the Hornblower books, C. S. Forester swings between triumph and tragedy in Lord Hornblower.  In the beginning, Hornblower is at a pinnacle of personal success, attending a special ceremony as a Knight of the Bath.  Later he is Military Governor of La Havre, leads a triumphant expedition up the Seine, through Rouen, to Paris, and is elevated to the Peerage.
            Hornblower finds himself in personal conflict regarding the mutineers he has been sent to bring to justice.  As a naval officer, he deplores the act and realizes that the taint of it must be stamped out, lest it infect the rest of the fleet.  Still, his humanity sympathizes with those who endured a captain’s brutality to the point they rebelled.  He unsuccessfully hints to the Duc d’Angoulême that he would spare the condemned mutineers if requested.
            His personal life also takes a wild journey between great joy and overwhelming sadness.   William Bush dies, leading an expedition to counter Napoleon’s attempt to retake La Havre.  With the Empire defeated and Lady Barbara acting as hostess for her brother the Duke of Wellington, Hornblower feels out of place and returns to England.  Bored and lonely he journeys to France, visits the Comte de Gracey and resumes his affair with Marie.  The joy of that relationship is shattered with her death at the hands of Imperial forces.
            Once again Forester has written a quite complex tale in a very simple fashion.  He continues to portray Horatio Hornblower as a very human individual, one whom the reader is quite often frustrated with, and yet one whom the reader can readily identity and sympathize with.  He also skillfully weaves the story of Hornblower into the events of history, even if his accounting doesn’t exactly match what is recorded in the history books.
            C. S. Forester does allow small technical errors to creep into the story.  The Porta Coeli is at one point referred to as an eighteen gun brig.  If so, it would be considered a brig-sloop, captained by a master and commander.  Instead, it is commanded by Lieutenant Freeman.  The mutinous Flame, a sister vessel, had been under the command of a Lieutenant Chadwick.  One of the biggest technical faults of the edition read for this review lies not with the author but with the cover design.  The illustration shows what is supposed to be a brig, yet the vessel pictured clearly has three masts and thus is a ship or possibly a bark, but not a brig.
            Lord Hornblower is a must read for those wishing to understand the life and career of Horatio Hornblower.  The story was originally copyrighted in 1946 and renewed in 1974.  The paperback edition read for this review was printed sometime in the 1990s, has an ISBN of 0-316-28943-4, and a suggested price of $14.95 US.  (Luckily for this reviewer, the copy purchased was on sale, as a sticker for $13.00 had been placed over the printed price mentioned earlier.)

Mon, Nov. 28th, 2016, 08:12 pm
Weekly Book Review (slightly delayed)

I didn't plan it this way, but since we did our Thanksgiving celebration a couple days late, I suppose it's understandable that I post this week's book review a day or so late as well.  After a quick break away from the works of C. S. Forester, I'm back with another review of one of his Hornblower books.  This one is unique, as mentioned in the review, and so without further ado...
Lieutenant Hornblower
By C. S. Forester
Reviewed by D. Andrew McChesney

            A Royal Navy ship-of-the-line bound for the West Indies, captained by a man believing his lieutenants conspire against him, provides the setting for the second tale of Horatio Hornblower.  While the junior most commissioned officer aboard, fifth lieutenant to be precise, Hornblower’s exemplary performance saves the day for HMS Renown and her crew.
            Insisting mutiny is afoot; Captain Sawyer searches for his lieutenants, hoping to catch them in an incriminating situation.  In fact, they are meeting to deal with the captain’s increasing paranoia.  Warned, they scatter, and in his haste to arrest them, Sawyer falls down an open hatchway.  How he fell is never fully addressed, and Hornblower will only say that “he fell.”
            With the captain injured, incapacitated, and now completely insane, Buckland the first lieutenant takes command.  Urged by Hornblower and the other lieutenants, he reads the captain’s secret orders and sets about completing the seventy-four gun warship’s mission.  When a first attempt results in failure, Hornblower suggests immediate follow-up action, surmising the enemy would not be expecting it.  In fact, throughout the book, it is Hornblower’s tactful suggestions to his superiors that enable them and Renown to have any measure of success.
            This book is unique amongst the eleven Hornblower novels, with Lieutenant William Bush being the focal character of the story, and we witness Hornblower’s feats through his eyes.  We also see Bush’s opinion of Hornblower grow until he holds his junior in highest esteem.          As great a story teller as he is, Forester sometimes misses the mark regarding technical issues.  In describing the lower gun deck of HMS Renown, he mentions seventeen thirty-two pound guns per side.  A British third rate of the time would have had fourteen or perhaps fifteen guns per side on that deck.  There is also some confusion as to which cabin was the captain’s, and subsequently the location of the wardroom.
            Today it is natural to compare the book with Mutiny and Retribution, the two made-for-TV movies based on this novel.  The films remarkably convey the tale to the screen in spite of many changes.  Most noticeable is the appearance of characters from the earlier Hornblower movies, and in particular, the presence of Lieutenant Archie Kennedy.  Neither he, Sir Edward Pellew, nor any of the hands from Mr. Midshipman Hornblower are present in the written version.  The movies also dwell more on Sawyer’s medical condition, potential recovery, and desire for vengeance after his injury.
            Unlike the book in which a simple court of inquiry investigates the Captain Sawyer’s death, the films present a full-fledged courts martial, complete with confession as to who apparently pushed  the captain into the hold.  The film ends with this admission, Hornblower’s loss of a close friend, and his promotion to Master and Commander, captaining Retribution.  The book, however, continues with Bush’s and Hornblower’s eventual reunion in England during the Peace of Amiens.  Still seen through Bush’s eyes, the reader becomes aware of Hornblower’s poverty, lack of influence, and bad luck in not having his promotion confirmed.  Bush also becomes privy to Hornblower’s beginning domestic life.
            In Lieutenant Hornblower, C. S. Forester has once again told a complex story in a compelling, simple, and straight forward manor, making it a tale very much worth reading.
            Lieutenant Hornblower was originally published in the early 1950s.  The copy reviewed, [ISBN 0-316-29063-7 (PB)] was a paperback reissue from Back Bay Books in 1998, priced at $13.00 US.

Several years ago I drew what I thought a dragon transport ship, as in Naomi Novik's Temeraire series might look like.  Basically I stretched and enlarged a third rate.  Here I've made an attempt to shrink the ship back to it's original size and configuration.  Not the neatest job in the world, but perhaps a pictorial representation of HMS Renown.  Below is the majority of the the dragon transport.

I suppose some of the time I spent aboard aircraft carriers went into the basic layout.

Sat, Nov. 26th, 2016, 02:17 am
Delayed Thanksgiving

Last year, after the windstorm that swept the Pacific Northwest, we got power back the day before Thanksgiving.  After a week plus of no power we were not set to celebrate on Thursday, so we opted to have our dinner on Saturday.  This year we are doing the same, even though we did not have a storm, nor did we lose power.  Simply decided it was easier and more convenient as both of us were scheduled to work on the actual Holiday.  I'm up late tonight (early this morning) waiting for the last of three pies to finish baking.  Have made an apple, a mincemeat, and now the oatmeal pie is in the oven.  Yes, oatmeal... it ends up being a lot like a pecan pie.
I've loved to bake ever since I was a kid, but I don't do a lot of it anymore... always have to look for stuff now, and it takes me forever.  I'd almost decided to get up and do it early in the morning but glad I didn't.  I probably wouldn't be done when Eva would be wanting to put the turkey in the oven.

Apple pie to the left, cooling after coming out of the oven.  Oatmeal pie to the right, waiting to go into the oven.  I'm a bit out of practice so they may not look as good as they should.  Should taste just fine, I hope.

Apple pie and mincemeat pie.  For some reason I was thinking mincemeat was an open pie, with no top crust.  Made enough to have one pie with top and bottom and two with bottom only, so had to piece a top together out of scraps for the mincemeat.  Again, should taste better than it looks.
Bottle in background... Jim Beam Maple.  Has just a hint of maple flavor to it, great over ice.
Happy belated Thanksgiving!

Sun, Nov. 20th, 2016, 08:02 pm
Another Short Weekend

Or so it seems.
While I didn't have any place to go or things to do outside of the house this past weekend, I did have my own at home "to do" list.  Surprisingly, I got a good chunk of it done.  And as usual, I ended up saving most of the effort for today.  Got a new edition of the Corvair Club's Rear Engine Review put together and sent out via e-mail to members and others that I happen to send it to.  Also printed out the handful of copies that still get sent via the USPS and will drop them at the Post Office on my way to work in the morning.  If you are interested in seeing it, check out the club's web-site, linked above.  I don't do the web-site, so I can't guarantee the web-site person has it up yet.  It still might be the last issue, labelled June thru October that you'd find there.  The new one is for November 2016, just in case.

Also did some updating on the Spokane Authors and Self-Publishers web-site,primarily to add an author's bio and the information about his book.  If my ambition holds for another half-hour or so I'll be up-dating some things on my Stone Island Sea Story web-site as well.  It's been a while since I've updated the list of what I've read on the site.  Just went through a lot of older posts here on Live Journal in an attempt to put a list together.

Stormie being her usual vivacious self!

As usual, I'd be farther ahead than I currently am, but took time off to watch the Seahawks game.  Stormie (our Quaker parrot) found it interesting but a bit frightening as it was Seahawks vs Eagles, and either one would find her a small but tasty meal.

Cover of COMMANDER, which I finished reading last week.

As far as reading goes, I finished Commander by Stephen Taylor last week and have started in on Hornblower's Historical Shipmates.  At the beginning I find it a bit dry and scholarly, but nonetheless, interesting, well-written, and meticulously researched.  I'm proud to say I know the authors, if even only via the internet!

This is what I'm currently reading!

Sun, Nov. 20th, 2016, 09:30 am
Weekly Book Review

I don't simply read Age of Sail/Naval Adventure stories.  As proof, I offer this review (written a few years ago) of an Epic Fantasy story written by Live Journal friend jpsorrow.
Leaves of Flame

Joshua Palmatier
Reviewed by D. Andrew McChesney
           In this, the sequel to Well of Sorrows, Colin Harten is challenged by dark forces seeking to overthrow the accord he helped establish between human, dwarren, and Alvritshai.  An unbalance in the magical powers of Wrath Suvane places the safety and well-being of all races in jeopardy.  Can Colin locate the cause of the disturbance and restore the balance before dark forces overrun the known world?
           While this is the second book in a planned trilogy, Palmatier’s skillful writing allows it to be read as a stand-alone story.  It is possible to understand this one without having read the first.  Without being redundant, sufficient reference and explanation exists, that a reader who hasn’t read the first, or a reader who read it some time ago, loses very little.  Yet Palmatier ends this story much as he did the first, with the reader anxious to read the next and find out what happens.  Commercially that is a good thing.  If one convinces readers to buy the first book, the need to find out what happens next will entice them to purchase the second… and the third.
           He also excels at creating a world in which magic and supernatural power is woven directly into the fabric of daily existence.  In Palmatier’s (and the reader’s) imagination, those powers and forces are a part of the natural world, even if they are beyond what we consider to be normal.  They are so interwoven into the various societies, that they are a matter of fact part of that world.  He also does a great job of providing overall racial characteristics and behaviors for each of the main groups, but also creates specific individuals, each with attributes and faults, such as we see in everyday life.
           As this story progresses, we also see reference to phenomenon first mentioned in the Throne of Amenkor trilogy, also written by Joshua Palmatier.  This reviewer looks forward to the third installment to see if any further correlation between the two trilogies is offered.  Perhaps the follow up volume to Leaves of Flame will answer questions of time, people, and geographical relationships between the two.
           Leaves of Flame is a well-written and exciting work of epic fantasy.

Thu, Nov. 17th, 2016, 12:14 pm
What I'm Reading

Just finished reading Commanderby Stephen Taylor. Next up: Hornblower's Historical Shipmatesby Lorna M. Campbell & Heather Noel - Smith.

Finished the first mentioned book today before my lunch break was over. Darn! Using the time to do a rare post while at work.

Sun, Nov. 13th, 2016, 03:33 pm
Veteran's Day Reading

I mentioned (I think) several days ago that a number of members of Spokane Authors and Self-Publishers were scheduled to hold a reading to help celebrate Veteran's Day.  Eight of us were schedule to read something from our work at a County Library on Spokane's south hill.  Well, we all showed up and read, as did a ninth member of the group.  It was interesting to hear each other's take on celebrating, commemorating, and honoring our Veterans.  Also nice was the fact that several family members and friends attended as well.

While we did get the "word" out about the event, we didn't have the public response we had hoped for.  Actually it was a bit of a marketing ploy, as we had planned to have book signings after all were done reading.  (There is the possiblilty that a few books were sold or interchanged amongst participants and attendees, but I was not aware of any exchanges.)  Still, it was an interesting time, as we shared our experiences in the Armed Forces or read stories about others' time in serving the Country.

I felt honored to be a part of it and fortunate that both Eva and Jessica were there as well.  Fact is, they arrived just as I began my reading.  I shared a little piece I'd written while aboard USS Constellation back in the 80s, something I call 110 Days in the Indian Ocean: Or How I Spent my Summer Vacation.  I also had enough time to include a short excerpt from Beyond the Ocean's Edge: A Stone Island Sea Story.  Both, I think were quite well received.

After leaving we stopped and had dinner at the Rock City Grill's new location, just a few blocks down from the library.  We'd been to the restuarant's old location in down town Spokane a few times over the years, but since we were in the general vicinity we thought we'd check out the new digs.  Let's put it this way, both Eva and Jessica took some of their dinners home, and I arrived at the house feeling stuffed to the max.

We had originally planned to go all together, but we had scheduled a cleaning for the air ducts in the house as well.  We had thought they had said they'd be here from 11 until 2... which would have worked out great... Get them out of the house around 2, an hour or so to clean up and leave around 3.  I at least needed t be up at the library around 3:40 and I wasn't sure exactly how long it would take.  Well it turned out, 11 to 2 was an arrival time window.  It was 1:30 or so when they finally got here.  I left as planned and Eva stayed until they were done.  Jessica came by and took her to the library.

That's about all for this time.

Sun, Nov. 13th, 2016, 09:36 am
Weekly Book Review

So I'm continuing through the list of book reviews I've written over the years.  Up for this week another Hornblower story by C. S. Forester.
Hornblower during the Crisis
C. S. Forester
Reviewed by D. Andrew McChesney

            Spring 1805 and Hornblower has been promised his post-captaincy by Admiral William Cornwallis.  He turns over command of Hotspur and takes passage to England in the water hoy Princess.  When menaced by an approaching French brig, Hornblower leads the hoy’s crew and embarked passengers in boarding and capturing it.  On board he finds a pack of official papers and upon landing at Plymouth, spirits them to the Admiralty in London.  Because of the nature of those papers, a plan develops, one that may help lead to Nelson’s great victory at Trafalgar later in the year.
            Hornblower during the Crisis is the last Hornblower work written by C. S. Forester.  It is approximately one third finished, the author passing away before completing the story.  A single page, based on the author’s notes, describes how the tale was to have concluded.  Of the portion written, it appears to be work in progress, something that would be refined and polished a bit more had time been available.  Hornblower during the Crisis reads as if the author was writing quickly.  Perhaps he was aware of his upcoming demise and desirous of getting a much of the story on paper as possible.  While lacking in length and other qualities readers expect from Forester and the Hornblower tales, this story does fill in a small gap in Hornblower’s career.  It is definitely a “must read” for those looking to understand Hornblower’s life and career to the fullest.
            Included within the volume are two short stories.  “Hornblower’s Temptation” takes place aboard HMS Renown, prior to the voyage to the West Indies recounted in Lieutenant Hornblower.  “The Last Encounter” takes place at the twilight of Hornblower’s career.  If one is reading in order of life and career, the first story should be read upon completing Mr. Midshipman Hornblower.  The last should be read after completing every other Hornblower book or story, as it is the final tale.  Both short stories present the more polished work that a reader expects from Forester.  Perhaps the quality stands out a bit more when compared to the rougher aspects of the unfinished work printed in the same volume.
            The copy read for this review, ISBN 0-316-28944-2 was published by Back Bay Books of Little, Brown and Company.  It carries a cover price of $13.00 US.

Sun, Nov. 6th, 2016, 09:02 am
A Relaxing Weekend!

And one that's an hour longer to boot!  We officially went off Daylight Saving Time at 2:00 am this morning, setting the clocks back an hour.  I sometimes wish we'd just stay on daylight time year round.  With the hours I'm working now, it'll be dark by the time I get home, and we still have over a month to go until the shortest days of the year.  It's already dark when I leave for work, so, "big deal."  I'd rather have it light when I get home.

Of course the big reason I hear for going back to standard time is so that school children do not have to go to school in the dark.  Once again, "big deal!"  When I started first grade we lived just outside of Fairbanks, Alaska and it was dark when I left for school in the morning and dark when I got home in the afternoon.  Shifting an hour either way would not have made a difference.  I would still have had that long walk down our snow-covered driveway to await the bus in the dark... and I would have gotten off the bus and walked to the house in the dark.

Yesterday turned out to be a relatively warm and sunny day.  Had plans to get some yard work done... well the thoughts of doing some crossed my mind.  Ended up with a bit of a migraine and that sort of soured me on being super ambitious or super industrious.  Rained a bit over night, although it's supposed to at least partially clear up during the day.  Who knows what I might get around to doing.  I do plan to get somethings caught up on the computer, so we'll see.

Here's a pic I took a couple of weeks ago at the Corvair Club's Tech 'n' Tune.  I've been playing around a bit with the Special Effects available on my camera phone.

Jim H's '63 Corvair convertible.  It's actually a bright red, but this is with the effect they call "vintage," I believe.  Also added the "sun glow" effect.

For the past week I've been reading Stephen Taylor's Commander, a biography of Sir Edward Pellew, often described as the most successful frigate captain in history.  Interesting read, although I do have a couple of small quibbles with some details... which I will go into at a later date.  I'm looking forward to finishing it and then getting into Hornblower's Historical Shipmates by Lorna M. Campbell and Heather Noel-Smith.

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