'I am simply a 'book drunkard.' Books have the same irresistible temptation for me that liquor has for its devotee. I cannot withstand them.' L.M. Montgomery

'There are no faster or firmer friendships than those formed between people who love the same books.' Irving Stone

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Good Cop, Bad Cop

Rebus lovers will want to listen in!  Came across this interesting interview with Ian Rankin over at BBC Radio Scotland. This looks like a good show all around, I'm checking out other episodes. You'll have 28 days to listen to this interview so get LISTENING! Yes, we in the US can listen to the BBC Radio!

Monday, October 24, 2016

The Chess Men by Peter May

I read The Chessmen by Peter May last week and completely forgot to tell you all! I'm slipping up!
I think most of you know about Peter May's Lewis Trilogy. I've reported on the first two and this is the last one in the series.

Fin MacLeod is living full time back on the island of his birth in the Outer Hebrides. No longer a police officer, he takes a job on a local estate to oversee security, catch poachers that is. His first detail brings him back in touch with an old school friend Whistler Macaskill, an elusive poacher they've been trying to catch.

As Fin is pursuing Whistler across the moors, they are forced into temporary shelter by a massive storm. When they come out in the morning, they are greeted by the aftermath of a freak natural phenomenon - a bog burst - that has drained the entire loch of its water, revealing a mud-encased light aircraft in its wake. Inside is the body of their friend and former bandmate from high school, Roddy Mackenzie. Roddy's plane disappeared in the area more than seventeen years earlier, just as he was becoming an international rock star. That's not all though, the condition of the skeletal remains makes it clear Roddy was murdered rather than killed in the crash.

Whistler and Fin's friendship picks up where it left off. I loved the relationship between these two! We learn a lot about Fin as the story twists and turns to the stunning conclusion. Lots of surprises in this one, not all happy. Another great read by May.

This makes 20 so far for Read Scotland!

I started an Aline Templeton book, Past Praying For, before this one. I love her DI Marjorie Fleming books. This one is a stand alone. I read about 1/3 of it and gave up. I just couldn't get into it or like any of the characters. I was crawling through it as I had to make myself pick it up so I finally gave up and picked up The Chessmen and whizzed through that one! Maybe I'll try the Templeton book again at a later date.

Peggy Ann

Unholy Dying by R. T. Campbell

1945 - Dover republication 1985
back cover:
This rare volume, unavailable since its original publication in 1945, offers the avid fan a delightful example of detective fiction at its very best. Using the pen name R.T. Campbell, the eminent art critic, poet and fantasy novelist Ruthann Campbell Todd (1914-1978) wrote a series of mysteries featuring a unique hero, the inimitable amateur sleuth Professor John Stubbs.

The lovable professor is a blustering old botanist from Scotland whose only vice, besides being a bit gruff with incompetent inspectors, is a tendency to drink a trifle too many pints of English bitter. The old bachelor's confessed love for a good "pub crawl" is almost as well known as his incredible, though unorthodox, methods of detection.

In this, one of Stubbs's first adventures, cyanide kills an infamous fraud, Dr. Ian Porter, at a formal congress of geneticists. Any one of a dozen vindictive former assistants or humiliated colleagues could have committed the gruesome deed. Of course, the village police are completely befuddled, and even the professor, who never makes a secret of his likes and dislikes, becomes a prime suspect. Eager to solve the crime before an innocent scientist hangs, Professor Stubbs launches his own unofficial investigation.

His deductive powers meet a formidable challenge in the diverse collection of colorful suspects. The brash American, Dr. Swartz; the victim's sniveling colleague, Professor Silver; and the lovely young genetics student, Miss Mary Lewis, are just three possibilities - not to mention the professor's own nephew, a reporter covering the genetics congress. A brisk pace and witty dialogue make this an exciting and amusing page-turner right up to the dramatic finale when the professor cleverly traps the murderer with a dangerous but ingenious ploy.

This was a good solid read! I enjoyed the banter between characters and the descriptions of sounds. Dr. Stubbs is a great, fun character. Always messy, very large, always filling his pipe, putting away more beer than you would  think a man could and still walk! Best of all he was always carrying around a detective novel in his pocket. John Dickson Carr was the one he was reading in this book, Edgar Wallace got a mention too.

Dr. Stubbs had always wanted to have a chance to try his hand at detecting as his favorite past-time was reading detective novels. With his current read being a Dickson Carr he was all up on locked room mysteries but this murder was the exact opposite of that, anyone of a couple thousand people could have done it!

"As a reader of detective stories I know all about the murder done in the room where only the victim could have been - all bolts fastened on the inside - and where every suspect has a seemingly perfect alibi. This case was the exact opposite of the closed box mystery. Here anyone could have done the murder and we had to make up our minds to which people, out of the odd two thousand attending' this Congress, could have done it."

Some quotes from the book...

"Suddenly there was a mild earthquake in my neighborhood and, looking over the top of my paper I saw that I had been joined by my uncle. His gray hair looked as if it had been skillfully tangled by a bevy of kittens, and his short pipe was sending out a positive smokescreen."

"My uncle held up a hand like a policeman and his questions rumbled in his throat like distant thunder, 'What time would this be?'"

"He seemed to be talking to himself. I delivered my message about allowing no one into the room and he moved towards the door. He took his short pipe out of one pocket and a piece of thick brown twist and a penknife out of the other. He appeared to be thinking deeply as he stuck the empty pipe in his mouth and shredded the tobacco into the palm of his hand. He clicked the knife shut and rubbed the brown curls between his palms. Taking the pipe from his mouth he tilted the tobacco into it, cleaning out the crevices between the fingers of his left hand with his right forefinger. He lighted his pipe and sucked strongly. He did not say anything. I knew that he was wondering whether this was going to be a difficult murder to solve and whether he could solve it. He was already seeing himself as the great detective."

"All this time Silver had said nothing, but had remained at the door trembling. Suddenly he started to speak quickly, and his voice was like the sound of nutmegs being grated."

If you get a chance to get a hold of an R.T. Campbell, DO!

This book counts for Vintage Scavenger Hunt 2016 Gold - Town Scene on the cover as well as Read Scotland 2016

Peggy Ann

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Douglas Lake Dam

We made a quick stop by Douglas Lake Dam recently when we went to the Bush's Beans place with our company. The Dam is a hydroelectric facility with four generating units. It was one of the many dams built by the TVA during WWII to meet the emergency energy demands. Today the 43 mile reservoir is an integral part of water control in Tennessee and a much loved recreation spot!

It's a lovely spot and we look forward to having picnics there!

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Sycamore Shoals State Historic Park and Fort Watauga

The Overmountain Men story is one of the greatest in American history. The fight for freedom during the Revolutionary War was in doubt, an untrained volunteer militia of 'backwater' men from the Appalachian backcountry marched 330 miles over rugged mountains and waded through raging rivers to confront the world's most feared and powerful army. The Overmountain Men's defeat of the British at Kings Mountain, South Carolina on October 7, 1780 was a turning point in the Revolutionary War. These men mustered at Sycamore Shoals to march to King's Mountain. Over a thousand men met here on September 25, 1780 to march. I love standing on sites like this, where history happened! Sycamore Shoals was part of the earliest settlement outside the 13 original English colonies. It was here that the Watauga Association, the first majority-rule system of American democratic government, was formed in 1772.

It's also the site of the Transylvania Purchase of 1775 which included Daniel Boone as one of the negotiators. This was a private real estate transaction between Richard Henderson, a North Carolina land speculator and the Cherokee Indians. The Cherokee signed a treaty and transferred 20 million acres over, which included the narrow tract of land through the Cumberland Gap that became The Wilderness Road. This transaction divided the Cherokees who were devoted to protecting their lands. The British Army began providing guns and ammunition to these Cherokees and a powder keg waswaiting to explode! Knowing it was only a matter of time a fort had to built for protection.

Fort Watagua was very near the Shoals and has been re-constructed in the park with careful attention to details found when the remains were uncovered about a mile down river. It was not built to be a permanent outpost. Mathew Talbot's farm homestead was chosen to be the site of the fort. He operated the first gristmill  and his location was well known. The settlers hastily constructed a palisade wall between the closely grouped buildings on Talbot's farm and created the fort. On July 21, 1776 nearly 300 Cherokee warriors attacked Fort Watauga. The attack was fierce and lasted about three hours with random attacks losing about two weeks. 150 people took shelter inside the fort. The fort was successfully defended with minimal casualties among the settlers. The defeated Cherokee fled further south. The last written record of the fort was in 1777. In the mid 1780's Talbot and his family moved to Georgia.

We visited here recently. The fort isn't open to go inside on a daily basis but there are lots of events and re-enactments going on at Sycamore Shoals all year. There's a really nice museum to walk through too. Nearby Carter Mansion is also a park of the Park. It's the oldest frame house in Tennessee. We didn't get there yet. Thats for another day! Here are the pictures I took during our visit. Click the links in the post to learn more and to see whats going on at the park through the year.

This is a shot of the inside of the fort I took through a crack in the fence.

this is the field where the Overmountain men assembled

over 2 miles of lovely walking paths through the park

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

My Mountain and Birds

We've got some exceptional photos of the mountain lately, thought I'd share them with you.

The sunrises have been lovely lately. When I get up the house is bathed in golden light coming in from the sunrise. I find myself getting up early just to see it. On this morning there were lots of clouds to make it really spectacular!

And the mockingbirds are back so the air is filled with their songs in the morning!

And the Pileated woodpecker was around again and I got a great shot of him!

and a cardinal...

check out this sunset! My company was still here and all four of us were out in the front taking pictures. The pic doesn't do the color of blue behind the clouds justice. It was unbelievable!

The bright hunter's moon the other night was reflecting off the metal roof of my neighbor's house...

and finally we are starting to get color on the mountain! The last two weeks of October, first week of November are suppose to be the peak here from what I've heard. I used the vivid setting on the camera because it never catches the real color I see.

Driving home from Johnson City at dusk the other night was absolutely magical. The sky was bathed in gold, I was driving towards the west and it felt like I was driving into a mythical land. No pictures though. I love this place!
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