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Sun, Jan. 15th, 2017, 12:41 pm
Winter Survival

No, I'm not talking about being lost on the frozen tundra in sub-sero temperatures while miles away from any sort of civilization.  I'm merely offering some observations of practicality in those times when snow is on the ground and the thermometer hovers in the region below freezing.

View from the front porch.

First of all, dress for the weather outside.  So many times we dress for the indoor temps and then throw a coat on when we go out.  But is that really all we need?  What if we end up being in the cold longer than we expect?  If we travel by car, we should dress as if the car was going to break down and force us to walk.  True most vehicles today have excellent heaters and can keep one warm even if dressed for shirt sleeve temperatures.  Me?  I prefer to bundle up, especially as it will take several minutes for the engine and then the passenger compartment to warm up.  And, I don't have to run the heater system at the max.  All I need is for it to take the chill off.  And why do so many people refuse to wear hats when it's cold.  Perhaps it's from my days in the Navy when we were required to be "covered" when in uniform and outdoors, but I generally where a hat or cap anytime I'm outside.  I like something with a bill or brim, both to keep the sun out of my eyes or to help keep rain or snow from getting on my glasses.  Below a  certain temperature I like a stocking cap or watch cap, primarily to keep the tops of my ears warm.  And as it get's colder, I like the cap to help keep my head warm.  So it always amazes me to see people with the boots and the coats, and the neck scarves running around outside with nothing on their heads... including those folks with little if any hair.

Speaking of cars and other vehicles:  clean the snow off as best you can.  Every winter/every time it snows, I see folks driving around town with only small areas of the windows cleaned off for visibility.  Or I'll see cars covered in snow with the headlights shining through several inches of the white stuff.  I want to see where I'm going, hence I'll clean the hood the windshield, the side windows, the rear window, and if a sedan, the trunk lid.  While it doesn't effect one's visibility, I also try to clean the snow off the top as well.  Depending upon the snow's water content and the temperature, it's possible for a large chunk of snow to slide off at a stop or deceleration and cover the windshield, thus blocking that all important visability.  Of course I'll clean the snow from the head and tail lights too.  While light is often plentiful during snowy weather, a vehicle's lights allow others to see us better.  A layer of snow over them makes them less able to do that.

My truck is pretty well cleaned off and ready to drive.  I let some of the snow swept from the top accumulate in the bed to help add weight for traction.  Car across the street would need to be cleaned off really well before I'd want to drive it.

From all sources, it looks like our run of cold, snowy days is about at an end.  A so called pineapple express is due early in the work week.  It's supposed to bring rain and temperatures well into the 40s (F).  That should make for a lot of standing water, flooding if you will, and I think, a completely different set of problems.  Ones which in their own way are just as bad as those posed by the snow and cold.

Ah, but life goes on!

PS: Finished going through the manuscript for what I've gotten done on Darnahsian Pirates: One More Stone Island Sea Story a few days ago.  Now just have to enter the edits on the computer.  Currently reading The Bride Wore Dead by E. M. Kaplan, which is one of my Christmas gifts.

Sat, Jan. 14th, 2017, 09:52 pm
Weekly Book Review

Up next, a review of another of C. S. Forester's Horatio Hornblower stories.
Ship of the Line
By C. S. Forester
Reviewed by D. Andrew McChesney

            This is early classic Hornblower, the second novel written, and the second part of the larger Captain Horatio Hornblower trilogy.  Having salvaged some success from his recent secret mission to the Pacific, Horatio Hornblower now commands a ship of the line, HMS Sutherland (74).  His wife Maria is expecting, but Hornblower’s heart lies with his recent passenger, Lady Barbara Wellesley.  She in turn has married Rear Admiral Leighton under whose command he will soon sail.  Beyond the complications of his personal life, Hornblower’s career depends upon fully manning his ship.
            Sutherland and the two other ships of Leighton’s squadron sail to the Mediterranean, escorting a convoy of East Indiamen.  As the merchant vessels and their naval escort part ways, Hornblower, with Sutherland still undermanned, brashly raids the convoy for hands, justifying his actions upon a chance comment that all had volunteered.  When two of the three vessels arrive at the rendezvous ahead of Leighton, Hornblower is temporarily authorized to cruise independently.  He and Sutherland play havoc with French shipping and military operations in the Western Mediterranean, often resorting to legitimate ruses of war in order to accomplish his mission.
            After leading an ill-advised land based assault on Rosas, Hornblower finds Sutherland on the point of the spear as four French ships of the line make a break for the open sea.  Resolutely he takes his single vessel into combat with the four while waiting for the remainder of Leighton’s squadron to close in.  Assistance does not arrive, the results are predictable, and Hornblower is forced to surrender.
            While this volume has as much, if not more, combat and at-sea action as any of the books in the Hornblower saga, it once again is the character of Hornblower that is the most intriguing.  It is to C. S. Forester’s credit that the complex tale of a very complicated individual is told with straight forward simplicity.  Hornblower’s fear of failure, lack of belief in himself, and conflicting emotional attachments sometimes grate on the reader’s nerves, and yet make him all that more human.  Nor is the author without a sense of humor regarding Hornblower’s exploits in the Mediterranean.  Having left their clothes ashore in order to swim out and attack a French coaster, he and the entire raiding party are forced to return to and board Sutherland wearing nothing but smiles.  Following destruction of the coaster, its vengeful crew discovered and destroyed their clothing.
            Even as a part of the larger Captain Horatio Hornblower trilogy, this work stands on its own in many ways.  There are relatively few references to other portions of Hornblower’s career, and for once this reviewer cannot find any technical matters worth taking the author to task about.  Unfortunately this portion of the larger story gets short thrift in the 1951 movie starring Gregory Peck.  About two thirds to three quarters of that film cover the first book, Beat to Quarters, while the second two are squeezed into the final third or quarter of the motion picture.
            The recently read copy is one of a set encompassing the original Hornblower stories and currently in the possession of the reviewer.  All three are old, although it cannot be claimed that they are first editions.  Because of the time they were produced, no ISBN or price information is available.      

Mon, Jan. 9th, 2017, 08:27 am
More Snow

Warmed up a bit over the weekend... and snowed! We have another four or five inches.  Weather app on phone says we'll have snow for the next couple of days and then be back to colder temps.

Stayed home with a cold today. Main problem is my nose runs all the time and I spend all my time blowing or going for tissue. Hard to get anything done. Have heard from my co-worker and hardly any one there.

Pic taken yesterday as snow was starting.

Sun, Jan. 8th, 2017, 09:02 pm
Weekly Book Review

Generally I've been posting book reviews that I've written, going through my files in more or less alphabetical order.  Up next, however, I find a combined set of reviews that others have written of one of my books.  My first thought was to skip over it, but then I decided I might as well post them.  So here are a number of reviews for Sailing Dangerous Waters: Another Stone Island Sea Story.
Sailing Dangerous Waters

D. Andrew McChesney
Reviewed by Kate Poitevin

         Sailing Dangerous Waters picks up where Beyond the Ocean’s Edge left off. Equally well written, I continued to love/hate the characters accordingly, and was present as they explored and settled into the new world, made new friends and got caught up in the local politics. I was frustrated along with Pierce and his men as they strove to make ready to return to England.
         Mr. McChesney is a talented writer who can make you smell the sea air, feel the deck roll beneath your feet, and even duck and cringe and cover your ears at the sounds of cannon. He really must get that third installment out.
Reviewed by Sue Eller

         Captain Pierce misses his beloved Evangeline, and tries everything in his power to get back to her. He leaves Stone Island to return home, but his plans and hopes are thwarted by an enemy who should have been a friend. Pierce struggles to understand an unfamiliar government dynamic, uses all his diplomatic skills to try to get his ship released, and makes some unexpected friends along the way. Sailing Dangerous Waters continues the Stone Island Sea Stories as McChesney captivates the reader and draws him in to another thrilling adventure.
Reviewed by Gayle Pace
In the Stone Island Sea Stories, there are two books. This is Book Two and Book One is BEYOND THE OCEANS EDGE. Book Two, SAILING DANGEROUS WATERS is about the captain and his crew for the HMS Island Expedition. It's about their travels from another world and the problems they came upon and had to deal with. I would suggest reading the first book before the second. I guarantee the first sentence along with the cover will attract your attention. The setting is in the early 1800's. Comparing the settings, the differences and the similarities, of the two world will keep the reader totally entranced and very hard to let go. Mr. McChesney wrote a very easy to read book even though the crew and captain were quite different characters. The author puts you right on deck with the captain and the crew. He painted such vivid scenes and characters that they were so real. I'm not much of a sailing person, knowing very little about it, but the book was extremely fascinating. It entertained me as a reader as the HMS Island Expedition ran upon so many enemy ships and they were up to defending their own. I believe if the reader reads the first book then the second, the reader will gain more knowledge so that continuing into the second journey would be easier. Mr. McChesney wrote about Captain Edward Pierce and the sadness that was felt for his love that was lost. He wasn't about to betray his love for his country. If you love sailing stories touched with battle, history and love, then this story will fit right in for your reading on a cold evening. The bad thing I found about the book was that I wanted more. Hopefully there will be. I would recommend this book to everyone. Very entertaining. Writing was very well done. I was given a complimentary copy from the author for my view of the book. No other compensation took place.
Reviewed by Ashley Lemar’s, Closed the Cover
By Diana S. Gregory

         Sailing Dangerous Waters is the second book in the Stone Island Sea Story, written by D. Andrew McChesney. It tells the story of the captain and crew of the HMS Island Expedition and their journey back from another world and the trials they encountered just to get back to London. At first, I was a little hesitating to read this as it was a second book in a series; however, it grabbed my attention in the very first paragraph. I highly recommend this to anyone that loves a good period action book.
         With the setting in the early 1800's and with the similarities between the parallel worlds, there is plenty to keep an active reader mesmerized throughout the entire book. I was amazed at how easy it was to read and yet complex to keep interest in the captain and his crew. The imagery that Mr. McChesney was able to convey was outstanding-I felt like I was there on the deck and in the ports with this crew. It was beautifully written and even the non-nautical minded reader will be entertained, especially during the multiple times the HMS Island Expedition encoutered enemy ships and had to defend their position.
         The way Mr. McChesney was able to draw enough of the first story into this piece was perfect as the reader will feel satisfied with their knowledge of that story to continue with this journey of the HMS Island Expedition. It was especially refreshing to see the author convey the undertone of anguish that Captain Edward Pierce felt on several occasions for his lost love and his desire not to betray his love for country. The story ends leaving the reader wanting more and searching the book racks for the next book.
         Highly recommended
Reviewed by Miki Hope

This is a strange and interesting book about the travels of the HMS Island Expedition. This is the second in the series and I kind of wish I had read the first one before reading this. I think I might have caught on a lot quicker then I did. This is in part a historical novel of the time of the sailing ships in the 1800's I believe, at the time when England and France were fighting. This book begins in a parallel universe--one eerily similar to the one the HMS Island Expedition left behind. You cannot miss the similarities! If you or someone you know is a history buff you will absolutely love this fictional novel with more than a grain of truth in it.

Sun, Jan. 1st, 2017, 06:08 pm
Weekly Book Review (first of the year!)

Continuing down the list of book reviews I've written over the past few years, we come to this one by a fellow member of Spokane Authors and Self-Publishers.
Saving Tir Gaeltacht

By Kate Poitevin

Reviewed by D. Andrew McChesney
         On a summer camping trip, four children go on a dragon hunt with their grandmother.  When a portal opens, they step through and immediately meet… a dragon.  Thus begins the adventures of Taylor, Jordan, Zach and Zayne in the magical world of Tir Gaeltacht.  That Celtic based world is in great danger and Taylor is expected to save it.  Later joined by their cousin Gabe, they pair up with the dragon, a Gryffin, a flying horse, a giant Wolfe, and a white stag.  With the help of people they meet, they set about rescuing the land from the evil queen’s clutches.
         I remember, as an elementary student, teachers reading stories to the class, a little every day, usually as class resumed after lunch.  This is the ideal story to read in such fashion.  It is long and complex enough to last for an entire semester, if not the entire school year.  Third graders and beyond would find it exciting to visit the world Ms. Poitevin creates each and every day.  Because I read on my lunch break, I digested this tale took in much the same way, a little bit each day.  As I progressed through the story, I found myself not wanting to put it down and anxiously awaiting my next reading session.  Although I was anxious for the plot to be resolved, I did not want the story to end.
         Besides being an exciting story, Ms. Poitevin weaves in a great deal of Celtic/Gaelic culture, customs, and legend.  Saving Tir Gaeltacht is available from amazon.com in hardcopy and on Kindle™.  It is also available in select Spokane area book stores and from the author herself.

Sat, Dec. 31st, 2016, 11:22 pm
Happy New Year!

Approaching the New Year in rather low-key fashion.  With little less than an hour of 2016 left, I well might see the the beginning of 2017, but I'm not specifically waiting up for it.  Watched a couple of Twilight Zone episodes earlier, and for the most part have been on a normal week-end routine.  Biggest excitement of the day was that Jessica came over and managed to get stuck in the snow right in front of the house.  I didn't think she would have trouble there, but I've realized her car doesn't have the ground clearance that my pick-up does.  I think she got "high-centered" as much as anything.

Last night tried my hand at constructing a pizza from scratch.  Wanted to use up more of the ham from Christmas dinner.  Used Bisquik and made the cheese and garlic bisquits for the crust.  Added a little tomato sauce, some mozzarella shredded cheese, plus ham and some pineapple chunks.  Actually turned out pretty good, but I thought it was a little dry... possibly because of the crust.  Seemed better today when re heated slightly in the microwave.

Was almost as good as it looks!

Last day of the year was fairly cold... and sunny!  A beautiful day until it started to cloud up.  This view is looking east across the front of the house and is one that the camera/phone automatically did some special effects with.  I don't know about any of you, but I kind of like it!
Wishing everyone the best for the NEW YEAR!

Thu, Dec. 29th, 2016, 10:04 pm
Writing Progression! (I hope!)

So today at work I finished reading Sailing Dangerous Waters: Another Stone Island Sea Story.  This evening I've printed out the first five chapters of Darnahsian Pirates: One More Stone Island Sea Story and will take that to work tomorrow.  My plan is to start at the beginning of the story, which begins even as the last one ends, do some editing and revision and hope that when I reach the point I've reached before, to be able to keep going with it.  At this point I'm as much into the story as I've been in a long long time.  (BTW, I believe I'm up to chapter nine on this in-work project, but it's been a while since I've done anything with it.)

Got a couple of new books for Christmas, thanks to Jessica who it seems understands her Old Man's affections for printed matter. Got The Bride Word Dead: A Josie Tucker Mystery by E. M. Kaplan, and One Small Candle: The Story of William Bradford and the Pilgrim Fathers by Evelyn Tidman.

Hoping all had a Merry Christmas and wishing everyone a Happy New Year!

Sun, Dec. 25th, 2016, 10:36 am
Weekly Book Review

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!
Just because we are celebrating today is no reason not to post the Weekly Book Review.  Once again we are back to the Hornblower books by C. S. Forester.  This review was written and originally posted a few years ago.
Mr. Midshipman Hornblower
By C. S. Forester
Reviewed by D. Andrew McChesney

            While not the first book C. S. Forester wrote about Horatio Hornblower, Mr. Midshipman Hornblower details the beginnings of this famous fictional character’s career in the Royal Navy.  Beginning with his seasick arrival aboard HMS Justinian and a duel with an overbearing senior midshipman, it ends with his commission as a lieutenant and subsequent release by Spanish captors.  Along the way he transfers to HMS Indefatigable, a prize vessel sinks beneath him, he overcomes a fear of heights on a cutting out expedition, is involved in a disastrous attempt to invade France, and in a fog sails his vessel into the midst of the Spanish fleet.  He progresses from an inexperienced and melancholy lad to a young man capable of meeting any challenge and overcoming all obstacles placed in his path.  Yet Hornblower constantly exhibits that most basic of human frailties, a lack of confidence in his own abilities.  Throughout the book he struggles to overcome his perceived failings and do what he sees as his duty.  Along the way he develops and hones his abilities as a leader of men, gains an understanding of naval tactics and strategy, and furthers his analytical skills.
            The tale of Hornblower’s time as a midshipman is told in ten distinct, nearly stand-alone short story like chapters.  While a continuous story line progresses through the book, each tale is complete within itself.  It is possible to read them in nearly any order and not be extraordinarily confused.  References from one story to another are minimal and self-explanatory.
            As he usually does, C. S. Forester writes with a clarity that allows the reader to grasp the situation and follow the plot without difficulty.  However, students of naval history might catch a few technical errors.  In An Even Chance (The Duel), a Lieutenant Chalk is said to sport the single epaulette of a lieutenant, although this tale supposedly takes place when no officer in the Royal Navy was authorized such accouterments.  Later, when Hornblower goes before the examining board, someone remarks about midshipmen desiring a lieutenant’s commission and an epaulette.  By this time it is possible that Master and Commanders and above have been authorized wear of these devices, but it will be another decade or more before they are authorized for lieutenants.
            This book is the basis for the first four A & E made for television Horatio Hornblower movies, although several details are changed in making the films.  Some of the tales are combined, one or two are not related, and at other times the order in which they occur differs.  The Wrong War (the Frogs and the Lobsters) is the final story of the four movies, and Hornblower is finally a lieutenant.  In written form this action occurs near the beginning of his career, while he is still very much a junior midshipman.  The book ends with the story entitled The Duchess and the Devil, and Hornblower’s time is captivity is much longer than indicated on screen.
            In addition, many of the characters that repeatedly show up in the movies appear only briefly upon the written page, nor are they as prominent in the overall story as would be indicated on screen.  Nonetheless, many bits of dialogue are recognizable from one format to the other, even if at times they are spoken by different characters.  Having watched the films it is possible to picture the screen characters carrying out the action described in the book.  After reading the book, it is easy to recognize many of the scenes as presented in the movies.  This pleasant correlation might be attributed to the writing ability of C. S. Forester as well as the skill of those who developed his stories for the screen.
            No collection of the Horatio Hornblower series by C. S. Forester is complete without a copy of this book.  It is elementary in understanding the complexities of this unique individual as brought to life by Mr. Forester.
            Mr. Midshipman Hornblower was originally written in the late 1940s and published by Little, Brown and Company.  Back Bay books reissued it in paperback form in 1998, and at that time ISBN 0-316-28912-4 had a cover price of $13.00 (US).

Who knows, maybe someone has been lucky enough to have received this or one of the other Hornblower books for Christmas!

Sun, Dec. 25th, 2016, 12:02 am
The Day Before Christmas!

Snowed most of the night and quite a bit during the day.  Christmas as it is supposed to be, at least in the eyes of someone whose first few Christmasses were spent in Alaska!

Taken early this afternoon, looking to the west from the front porch. (Where else?)

Another view looking to the west, this one taken in the late evening.

Another pic taken earlier this evening.  Looking East from the front walk, similar to the one of the moon taken a few days ago.  With all that snow, Santa is definitely on his way!

Wishing Everyone a Joyous and Merry Christmas and the Happiest of Holiday Seasons.

Fri, Dec. 23rd, 2016, 10:38 pm
The Day Before, The Day Before Christmas!

Always such a relief to make it through Friday.  I welcome the day, knowing the weekend follows... but is it ever a long day.  My partner at work was out today.  Had a number of teeth extracted Thursday afternoon and was in no shape to come in.  It wasn't busy, per say, but I never really stopped.  Felt good to be home.
Anyway, we are in line for a White Christmas this year.  We've had snow over the past couple of weeks, and it's snowing now.  Sometimes it's those big soft flakes falling so thick we wonder how anything can even move.  I wish it were a few degrees colder, so the snow would be more powdery and there wouldn't be a layer of water on top of the compacted snow and ice.
If you look really close in the photo, you can see streaks caused by falling snow flakes.  Naturally the pic is taken from the vantage point of our front porch.

By morning we are supposed to have about 4 inches of the white stuff.  (According to a local TV station Weather Person, if there is at least an inch on the ground on Christmas Day, we can consider it to be a White Christmas.

I suppose the idea of a White Christmas resonates with me, having spent my first few in Alaska where the prospects of such were pretty much guaranteed.


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