Happy St Patrick’s Day

Mar 16 2022, 1:40 pm in , ,

Lá Fhéile Pádraig Sona Duit!

 Happy St Patrick’s Day

What is your Irish History?

On my daddy’s side of the family, the O’Brien’s, my Irish history can be traced to the early 1800’s.  This family picture was taken about 1897 probably in Braidwood IL.  My grandpa was Moses O’Brien, the dashing young man on the left holding the toy gun.

An Irish story

The characters Gemma and Ben, my heroine and hero from Under Fire: The Admiral, shared an experience they had a few months ago while visiting Ireland.  

They were in the countryside on a very dark, stormy night–really it was–in the middle of nowhere. They’d stopped at a local pub for dinner and were enjoying the food, pints, and conversation when the pub door slammed open. A soaking wet, obviously upset young man stood in the doorway. He rushed in babbling about a horrible experience.

He was settled into a chair and given a pint. The beer was half-gone before he could string words into sentences and answer the many questions. The young man explained he was backpacking through Ireland and on a deserted road when it began raining so hard he could hardly see a few feet ahead of him. Finally, a car came slowly towards him and stopped. Desperate for shelter and thinking he was being offered a ride, he got in and closed the door only to realize there was nobody behind the wheel. Even though the engine wasn’t on, the car once again started moving. Ireland’s many ghost stories rumbled through his brain and fear paralyzed him. That is until he looked at the road ahead and saw a curve looming. Gathering courage, he prepared to jump. Then, through the driver’s window, a ghostly hand appeared out of gloom. In terror, he watched the hand turn the wheel, guiding the car around the curve.

The lights of the pub appeared and gathering strength, he jumped from the car and ran for it.

A silence enveloped the pub when everybody realized he was crying.  

Once again the door slammed open, startling everyone. Two men walked in from the dark and stormy night. They too were soaked and out of breath. Looking around, and seeing the young man sobbing at the bar, one said to the other…

“Look ….there’s that fookin idiot that got in the car while we were pushing it!”

Rita

Books to Movies and the Small Screen.

Feb 26 2022, 4:25 pm in

Do you have streaming services? I didn’t for a very long time. I was afraid I’d become a giant blob of algae sitting on the sofa watching all the good shows. Nothing would get done. No writing. No cleaning house. Well, have to say I’m always behind on that.

Welp, I now have 6 streaming services. I so enjoy seeing movies and small screen series adapted from books. Love seeing book characters come to life. I do my best to read (actually I listen to the vast majority of books) a book before I watch the movie or series because, the book is always better. Right?

I’m super nit-picky about how characters I love on the pages of books are brought to life. 

Some adaptations I’ve enjoyed are:  

Reacher. Lee Child’s long running book series on Amazon Prime. I’ve been a Reacher Creature since the first book.  

The Martian~ Andy Weir.  Of course there are book details left out of the movie production. But the movie was totally fantastic.

Odd Thomas ~ Dean Koontz. Production did an amazing job of putting the best story details on the screen.

Bosch. Amazon Prime series. I’ve read all of Michael Connelly’s Harry Bosch books and really enjoy the story of an older LAPD homicide detective. I also like how the production, working with Connelly, have taken story lines from different books and woven them together in episodes for a season.  If you’re into car chases and shootouts this isn’t for you. It’s definitely about the human side of police work. 

Amazon also has the Jack Ryan series. It isn’t directly from any of Clancy’s books. It does evoke what the Ryan stories are about. Kinda like how the 007 movies developed. I liked it. Seeing comments, people either loved it or didn’t.  I particularly like John Krasinski as Ryan.          

Outlander. Okay. I confess. I LOVE Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series. Time travel. Men in kilts. Epic love story. What’s not to like? Taking humongous books and producing them for a TV series has to be a giganticus undertaking/headache. In which, it is difficult to please the purists book readers. If you are a fan and in any fan groups you will know of what I speak. From my perspective the casting is spot on. Acting, scenery, settings, and costumes are perfect.  The series adds to the book story. I did get squinty eyed over a few episodes when the heart and soul of the story went too far off the rails.  

Mr. Mercedes. Made for TV series from Stephen King’s trilogy of the same name. It’s dark and disturbing and I love it. Not even minding changes from the book.   

Unbroken ~ Laura Hillenbrand. WoW. If you haven’t read Louis Zamperini’s story of survival and overcoming I suggest you add it to your TBR list. I listen to parts frequently. The movie covers his war experiences.     

The Monument Men ~ Bret Witter and Robert M. Edsel. When I read the book I was floored I hadn’t heard the story before. My hubs and I are WWII history buffs and had seen much of the art and been to many places mentioned in the story. IMO the movie hardly did the story justice.

A favorite book, The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society ~  Annie Barrows and Mary Ann Shaffel, was made into a film. All the story nuances couldn’t be captured but the production did an amazing job. The acting was excellent.

Do you have adaptions you enjoyed? Please share.

                                                 Rita

 

 

February NATIONAL LIBRARY LOVER’S MONTH 

Feb 18 2022, 9:42 pm in

I grew up in St Augustine Florida, the oldest city in the nation. History all round. Many buildings in use today date to the early 1700’s. My grandparent’s home was built around civil war times.  

The building at 12 Aviles St (see above photo) is now in use as a research library, home to records kept by the St Augustine Historical Society. The coquina house was originally constructed in 1783 as a home constructed on Aviles St in 1783, by Bernardo Segui. 

Superior Court Judge Joseph Lee Smith from Connecticut rented the home. His wife, Frances, an ardent Confederate sympathizer and was exiled from town in 1863 by Union forces for spying. Their son, Edmund Kirby Smith, was the last Confederate general to surrender forces, approximately two months after General Lee surrendered at Appomattox.

The house came to be called the Segui-Smith House. In 1895 it was given to the city to be used as a library. 

My library. The portal to hundreds of different worlds.   

It’s a good possibility many of the books I perused on the shelves had been there since 1895. Really. They were old.

That building holds powerful memories for me.

Rainy afternoons sitting in a corner of the porch listening to rain tap a beat on the banana leaves and palm fronds in the courtyard.

The dark rooms. Wide oak plank flooring creaking when no one stepped on them.

 

Yellowed library cards. The wood drawers for the catalogue cards sticking.

Yes, I am that old that I didn’t have a device to look everything up.

 

 

 

The powerful musty scent of dust, old paper and history was comforting. On hot humid days, those who currently work in the building report the musty smell.  

I honestly can’t remember any books I checked out and if I remember correctly there were a set of encyclopedias from the 18th century. on not the 18th century part.     

I miss my library.   

Do you have fond Library memories?

                                                         Rita

Valentine’s Day

Feb 14 2022, 1:02 am in ,

 

Do you send Valentine Cards?

Valentine greetings were popular as far back as the Middle Ages, though written Valentine’s didn’t begin to appear until after 1400. The oldest known valentine still in existence today was a poem written in 1415 by Charles, Duke of Orleans, to his wife while he was imprisoned in the Tower of London.  It is believed that King Henry V hired a writer to compose a valentine to Catherine of Valois.

In Great Britain and America, Valentine’s Day began to be celebrated around the 17th century. By the middle of the 18th, friends and lovers exchanged tokens of affection or handwritten notes. By 1900 printed cards began to replace written notes.

Valentine’s Day is known as a time for people to send love notes. But during the Victorian era and the early 20th century, February 14 was also a day on which the unlucky could receive “vinegar valentines” from their secret haters. For at least a century, Valentine’s Day was used as an excuse to send mean, insulting cards saying things they wouldn’t say to a person face.  

Now people use social media.

Happy Valentine’s Day.

                                                          Rita

CHICKEN SAUSAGE SOUP

Jan 21 2022, 12:01 pm in

 

CHICKEN SAUSAGE SOUP

This is a bit spicy. The Datil pepper juice is optional. The sausage will still give it a kick. Spicy is good to warm you up and for a cold.

I always have the boxed broth in my food hoard supplies as broth is in many recipes I like.  Also, chicken and the sausage in usually in the freezer.

I like the sausage because it can be added to, or served with, many dishes for a quick meal.

I like this soup with plenty of noodles and not so much broth.  

 

INGRIDENTS

One link Savoie’s Cajun Hickory Smoked Andouille Sausage sliced.

1/3 of a chicken breast cut into mouth size pieces.

A box and a half of chicken broth.

A couple handfuls of flat wide noodles.  I prefer Mrs. Millers. (I order direct from them) They are thick, hold up well and taste yummy.  I like plenty of noodles.

1/3 c finely chopped celery

1/3 c finely chopped onion

½ carrot finely chopped

1 clove garlic

A Bay leaf

¼ teaspoon thyme

4 drops Datil pepper juice or something like Tabasco Pepper or Texas Pete juice     

½ teaspoon pepper.

Salt to taste.

COOKING DIRECTIONS

Put broth into large sauce pan. Add onion, celery, carrot, garlic and seasonings. Bring to boil then reduce heat to a simmer.

Cook noodles in a separate pan. When half cooked, drain and add noodles to the broth along with the chicken and sausage. Cook another 15 minutes.

I get 5 large servings of soup from this. Leftovers keep well or they can be frozen.

Leftover portions can be converted to creamy soup with milk and heavy cream.     

Let me know how yours turned out.

                                                       Rita       

 

Happy 2022

Jan 1 2022, 8:35 am

So This Is Christmas

Dec 20 2021, 7:00 am in , ,

Does your Christmas taste, smell, feel and look like mine?

Doubt it. When we think of the ways Christmas and its many traditions is celebrated we think nationality and continental differences. Here in the US Christmas is celebrated in dozens if not hundreds of different ways. Maybe you go to Chandler Arizona to see the lighting of the tumbleweed tree.

To the Plaza in Kansa City (with three hundred thousand other people) to see the lights come on.

 

 

 

 

Or, in St. Augustine Florida, The Nights of Lights, to see the whole town lit up and boats in the bay decorated in their holiday finest.

 

 

 

 

 

 

During Christmas do you see what I see?

I grew up in Florida. Christmas never included snow. I do see white, but its beach sand. Inside and outside Florida homes are different than homes in the north. Our wreaths are fragrant cedar boughs or magnolia leaves, decorated with holly and massive pinecones. Garlands are the same material, all of which we gathered ourselves. Table decorations could be palm fronds, magnolia leaves, holly and citrus fruit punctured with cloves. 

I decorate with Santas in flower print shirts and sandals.

On my tree are twinkle lights covered with shells and plastic flamingos and starfish.

Outside I see poinsettias in gardens

 

Palm trees, not Fraser firs, wrapped with Christmas lights. After Christmas I see Santa, in his bright print shorts, riding a yellow bicycle on the beach or surfing. No joke.

How does Santa arrive at your house? In Florida, doors are left unlocked cause chimneys are few and far between. Santa can come in a boat pulled by dolphins or alligators. His helpers are big burly guys called Bubba who help deliver gifts by truck.

 

In Hawaii he goes between the islands dressed in print shorts and sandals in an outrigger canoe pulled by four pigs. His helpers are the Menehune. Little people of the islands who live in the deep forest.

In Norway he dresses in a heavy woolen red outfit and arrives in a sled pulled by reindeer. His elves help deliver the gifts.

Santa appears to some children in a Marine Corps dress blue uniform.

During Christmas do you hear what I hear?

How do you say Merry Christmas? Around here it’s likely to be, “Y’all have a Merry Christmas.” Or maybe, according to your heritage, you say one of these.

Mele Kalikimaka- Hawaiian

Feliz Navidad- Spanish

Joyeux Noël – French

Fršhliche Weihnachten! – German

Buon Natale! – Italian

I will also say I’m far more likely to hear boat motors then sleigh bells.

Do you smell what I smell?

In Florida, as I mentioned, many Christmas wreaths and garlands were made with cedar branches. A decidedly different scent than the fir and pine boughs used in northern regions. The citrus punctured with whole cloves.

Paper white narcissus. O. My. I can’t describe the scent other than to say it’s Christmas to me.

Do you feel what I feel?

Christmas here feels warm. No need for seven layers of clothing when you are out and about. Even though the evenings can be chilly and damp and a bit foggy this time of year many holiday parties are indoor/outdoor by the pool gatherings. Or, outside around a fire pit for an oyster roast.

You certainly don’t feel terrified you’ll slip on the ice and break your bright and shiny hiney or, some reindeer is gonna run you over. You might want to keep an eye out for gators though.

Do you eat what I do?

My Christmas food experience has a Spanish influence. Paella, saffron rice cooked with chicken, pork, and a variety of seafood.  Frittata, (a potato omelet) roast pork, flan, and citrus rind candy. Thin sliced jamon and Manchego cheese. Ali Oli, a garlic, mayonnaise like, spread eaten with crispy bread slices. (BTW we were never bothered by vampires.)

 

 

No Christmas was complete without a Spanish almond nougat candy.

 

 

 

 

 

Traditions

Every family has their own special tradition. My children received Christmas lifesaver boxes in their stockings and to this day they don’t think it’s Christmas without them.

Do you have your celebration Christmas Eve or Christmas Day?

Christmas Eve a dear auntie would smoke a stogie and drink down three fingers of bourbon.

                                                                             She did it until she was 85.

Where ever you are, however you celebrate Christmas I wish you love, peace and happiness.

With the joys of social media we get to see what Christmas is like around the globe. Please share what the sight, sounds, tastes, smell, and feel of Christmas is to you.

 

                                                                             Rita

 

 

My World Famous Tequila Christmas Cookies

Dec 13 2021, 1:54 pm in

Tequila Christmas Cookies

Ingredients

1 cup of water

 1 tsp. baking soda

 1 cup of sugar

1 cup of butter

 1 tsp. salt

 1 cup of brown sugar

 1 tbsp. lemon juice

 4 large eggs

 1 cup nuts

 2 cups of dried fruit

 1 bottle tequila

 Sample an ounce of the tequila to check quality.

Put butter in a large bowl, pour 2 ounces of tequila and drink. With electric mixer beat butter until the bowl is fluffy.

 Add one teaspoon of sugar. Beat again.

 At this point, it’s best to make sure the tequila is still OK, so, try a half a cup.

 Turn off the mixerer thingy.

 Break 2 leggs and add to the bowl and chuck in the cup of dried fruit.

 Pick the frigging fruit and the damn cup off the floor.

 Mix on the turner. If the fried druit gets stuck in the beaterers, just
 pry it loose with a drewscriver.

 Sample the tequila to check for tonsisticity.

 Next, sift two cups of salt, or something. Check the tequila.

 Now shift the lemon juice and strain your nuts.

 Add one table.

 Add a spoon of sugar, or somefink. Whatever you can find.

 Greash the oven.

 Turn the cake tin to 360 degrees and try not to fall over.

 Don’t forget to beat off the turner.

 Put the bowl through the window, finish off the booze and make sure to put the dirty stove in the dishwasher.

 CHERRY MISTMAS TO ALL!

 

 

Furry War Heroes

Nov 15 2021, 8:54 am in

November 11th we honor Veterans around the world.  

Those who served come in many sizes shapes and species. Yeaph. Species. 

I believe we are most familiar with military working dogs (MWD) and K9 officers. Dogs have been in warfare since ancient times used as scouts, sentries and trackers. They sniff out explosive devices saving countless lives. They are assigned to safe guard generals and political personnel on visits outside the country. Many animal veterans are also heroes. They’ve suffered severe trauma, lost limbs and been honored for their bravery with medals.

 

Sgt Stubby, a hero dog from WW1, wandered into the training encampment of the Massachusetts of 102nd infantry in 1917. When the unit shipped out to France, Stubby was smuggled aboard ship. On the battle field, the dog alerted his friends to German attacks. He was wounded by a hand grenade, gassed several times, and once found and held a German spy by the seat of the pants until the troops could complete the capture.

When his master was wounded, Stubby accompanied him to the hospital and made rounds to cheer the troops. Sgt. Stubby survived the war and Gen. John Pershing, personally awarded him a gold medal for one of his many efforts. He became a highly decorated dog, among his medals a Purple Heart, and various veteran’s awards. Stubby returned home at the end of the war and became quite the celebrity. He was made a lifetime member of the American Legion, the YMCA, and the Red Cross. He lived at the Y and made recruiting tours for the Red Cross. Stubby passed on in 1926, he was preserved and displayed with his medals at the Smithsonian Institution.

 

Layka, a Belgian Malinois, was shot four times at point-blank range by enemy forces in Afghanistan. Despite her injuries, she attacked and subdued the shooter, protecting her handler, and other members of the team.

 

  Staff Sergeant Reckless, USMC 

The Staff Sergeant was a beer-guzzling, American hero war horse who bravely transported ammunition and carried wounded Marines to safety under enemy fire in the Korean War

She served with the Recoilless Rifle Platoon, Anti-Tank Company, 1st Marine Division, was bought for $250 at a race track in Seoul during the war. The marines taught her to walk over trip wires, avoid incoming enemy fire and deliver huge packs of ammunition during battle.

During the five day Battle of Outpost Vegas in 1953 in one day she made 51 solo—that’s by herself— trips from the Ammunition Supply Point to the firing sites. Marine Corps history say this battle was particularly savage and Reckless was in the middle of it. Enemy soldiers could see her as she made her way across the deadly “no man’s land” rice paddies and up 45-degree mountain trails to the firing sites. “It’s difficult to describe the elation and the boost in morale that little white-faced mare gave Marines as she outfoxed the enemy—remember she was on her own—bringing vitally needed ammunition up the mountain,” Sgt. Maj. James E. Bobbitt recalled.

She carried 386 rounds of ammunition (over 9,000 pounds – almost FIVE TONS! — of ammunition), walked over 35 miles through open rice paddies and up steep mountains with enemy fire coming in at the rate of 500 rounds per minute. She would carry wounded soldiers down the mountain, unload them, get reloaded with ammo, and off she would go back up to the guns. She also provided a shield for several Marines who were trapped trying to make their way up to the front line. Wounded twice, she didn’t let that stop or slow her down.

Her heroics defined the word “Marine.” She was BELOVED by the Marines. They took care of her better than they took care of themselves – throwing their flak jackets over her to protect her when incoming was heavy, risking their own safety.

Her Military Decorations include two Purple Hearts, Good Conduct Medal, Presidential Unit Citation with star, National Defense Service Medal, Korean Service Medal, United Nations Service Medal, Navy Unit Commendation, and Republic of Korea Presidential Unit Citation.

There are several books about Sgt. Reckless. She has a face book page and a bronze statue.

Let us never forget our veterans.

                                                                     Rita

 

 

 

Veteran’s Day November 11, 2021

Nov 11 2021, 7:37 am in

Honor and respect. All gave some. Some gave all. 

 

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