Views From the Road: Mount Hamilton and the Lick Observatory #Mondayblogs #travel

Continuing with our late summer travels to California and Nevada, our next stop was the Lick Observatory on Mount Hamilton. We had been to the Lick Observatory in 2012; traveling there from San Francisco is a day’s journey and given that we were staying with friends only for the weekend, we didn’t even think of going there this year. To our happy surprise, our friend wanted to go, had been wanting to go for a long time. Well, whatever would make her (and my husband) happy. We set off on a Sunday, after buying huge sandwiches from Gus’s Community Market so we could picnic at the observatory’s courtyard.

Mount Hamilton is 4,265 feet above sea level. Given that San Francisco is 52 feet above sea level, that’s some serious climbing by car. Mount Hamilton Road is a narrow, twisting 19 miles. I’d have taken pictures except my eyes were closed much of the time.

I did open them long enough to snap this photo, when we pulled over to change drivers. Needless to say but I’ll say it anyway, I was not driving. At. All.

Just another 1,000 feet to climb. So close and so yet so far.

The buildings you see are where the astronomers-in-residence stay. Since most of their work is done at night, visitors are urged to be quiet when walking around the grounds since they are likely to be sleeping.

This video is a panoramic from the parking lot once we got there safely.

It was a lovely day as you can see, just some smokey haze to the south of us.

I didn’t take many pictures while at the Lick Observatory so I’m going to cheat and show pictures from our 2012 trip. Before I do that, let me tell you a little bit about James Lick, the founder of the observatory. He was born in 1796 in Pennsylvania. He was a carpenter. He fell in love with the young daughter of the wealthiest man in his town, a flour mill owner. When she became pregnant, Lick assumed that his beloved’s father would grant him her hand in marriage. Sadly for Lick, his beloved’s father wanted nothing to do with a lowly carpenter who would never amount to anything and sent Lick packing all the way out of town. Lick became a piano maker, a craft he was so successful at that he eventually opened his own business in New York City. When he realized that many of his orders were coming from Argentina, he moved there and became even wealthier.

Wars in South America eventually drove Lick back to the United States, but rather than the East Coast, he went to the West Coast, to a little town called San Francisco. The year was 1848. He arrived with about $30,000 in gold and 600 pounds of chocolate. He founded the Ghiradelli Chocolate Company with a friend from Peru. He tried his hand at mining gold but quickly realized that he would be better off buying land.

He bought a lot of land in San Francisco and San Jose. He built the largest flour mill in the state, supposedly larger than the one owned and operated by the man who had rejected him as a potential son-in-law. According to the docent at the Lick Observatory, James Lick made sure that his beloved’s father knew just how successful he had become.

Casting about for things to build with his wealth, friends encouraged Lick to build an observatory. He had been interested in astronomy since about 1860 and so it seemed like a good idea. Lick wanted to leave a legacy, and he truly did with the Lick Observatory.

Lick died in 1876, several years before the Observatory was completed. In 1887, his body was moved and he now rests under the 36-inch Refracting Telescope.

Oh, and what about his son? Lick had kept in touch with his former paramour and their son. When his son was a young adult, Lick sent for him, I guess to see what he was made of. Apparently he wasn’t made of much. Lick was so disappointed in his son that he purposely kept him out of his will. While that was unfortunate for the young man, it was most fortunate for all the public good that Lick chose to invest instead.

Here are a few scenes from our 2012 visit to the Lick Observatory.

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Views from the Road: Devil’s Slide and Mussel Rock

I recently returned from a two-week vacation to the West Coast and thereabouts. It was a busy but fun vacation, visiting friends and familiar places, making new friends and having new experiences. It was one of those vacations you didn’t want to end, but you knew it had to because: (1) you have a job you have to go back to (and that job finances your vacations) and (2) you don’t have the stamina you used to have. Oh and let’s not forget (3) your furry balls-and-chain, your cats who tend to puke over everything whenever you’re absent for more than a couple of days.

One of the first spots we visited when we arrived at San Francisco was Devil’s Slide in San Mateo County. Besides the dramatic coastline, Devil’s Slide has an interesting landmark: a World War II bunker that looks as though it’s about ready to topple into the ocean. The bunker is privately owned and, yes, there’s a fence warning of danger and trespassing on the site. But when we visited, people were  literally crawling over the ruin, graffiti artists had had their way with it, and we obviously got up close and personal … but not too personal. I didn’t want this to be my last vacation.

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You can find more information on the bunker here: https://www.atlasobscura.com/places/devil-s-slide-bunker

For those who like their waves live, here’s a short video. I actually took a lot of videos on this trip, finding them to be a more satisfying way to remember my experiences than gazing at a stationary image.

Next we checked out Mussel Rock. My husband had been reading Assembling California by John McPhee and this is how he begins the book (pp. 3-5):

“Mussel Rock is a horse. As any geologist will tell you, a horse is a displaced rock mass that has been caught between the walls of a fault. This one appears to have got away … green seas slammed against it and turned white. It was not a small rock. It was like a three-story building, standing in the Pacific, with brown pelicans on the roof … after a five hundred-mile northwesterly drift through southern and central California, this was where the San Andreas Fault intersected the sea.

“[…] there is granite under the sea off Mussel Rock that is evidently from the southern Sierra Nevada, has travelled three hundred miles along the San Andreas system, and continues to move northwest. As evidence of the motion of the plates, that granite will do.”

I don’t have any pictures of the “rock” itself, probably too distracted by this sight:

Looks like fun, but you’ll never catch me gliding. I’d probably puke all over the rocks.

Stay tuned for more fun and frivolity!

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Views From the Road: Teaser #Mondayblogs #travel

Guess where we went on vacation …

Guess what my husband did most of the time we were on vacation …

More on this and other adventures later. I’m still recovering.

UPDATE on my short story in Florida’s Emerging Writers: An Anthology by Z Publishing House — it’s now available for purchase! To get yourself a copy (because you know you want to), click here: Florida’s Emerging Writers: An Anthology. Keep in mind, if you use this link, anything you purchase from Z Publishing will net me a commission. Sweet. I like these people.

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Long Overdue Book Reviews: The Bone Curse by Carrie Rubin #MondayBlogs #bookreview

As many of you should know, Carrie Rubin is the author of three novels: The Seneca Scourge, Eating Bull, and (most recently) The Bone Curse. I’ve already reviewed Eating Bull here. I don’t always read in order, that is, in the sequence in which an author’s novels are published. I read The Bone Curse before I read The Seneca Scourge. I also posted my review of The Seneca Scourge on Amazon whereas I’m just now getting around to writing a review of The Bone Curse. Check out my review of The Seneca Scourge here (and then pick up a copy while you’re there).

I wonder why my book reviewing is so idiosyncratic. Surely, I’m not a procrastinator. I don’t have a passive-aggressive relationship with writing book reviews. I don’t dawdle …

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Well, maybe I do dawdle when it’s time to write a book review. If I do, it’s because I want to be sure I can do justice to what I’ve just read. If I’ve really enjoyed the novel, the characters and the story will stay with me, get under my skin, make me itch. The itching won’t relent until I’ve completed my part of the bargain.

The Bone Curse is the first in a series featuring med student Ben Oris, a guy so pragmatic that he almost loses everyone he loves because he doesn’t want to face the truth: not everything in this world can be explained by science. He’s not alone in his skepticism. I was skeptical too. While I enjoy thrillers, especially medical thrillers, it takes a deft hand to weave the supernatural into a thriller. Take it from me: Carrie Rubin has two deft hands.

The story begins with Ben getting cut by an ancient bone while visiting the Paris catacombs with his best friend (and unacknowledged soulmate) Laurette. The cut doesn’t heal, a nagging annoyance to Ben. What initially starts off as inconvenience quickly turns into horror as people Ben cares about start getting sick … and dying … from a grisly illness that no one can diagnose or cure. Before too long Ben realizes that it is contact with him, specifically blood from his perpetually bleeding wound, that precipitates the plague on his friends and loved ones. Laurette divines what is going on, that Ben was cursed by the bone in the catacombs, but to save her friend, she must convince him. She must convince Ben that he is cursed and that the only remedy is through Vodou. Laurette convinced this reader long before she convinced Ben … except I’m not sure that she convinced him entirely.

The Bone Curse is fast-paced, a true thriller in that it keeps you on the edge of your seat. You don’t want to put the book down. You want to know what is going to happen next and yet you dread that knowledge. You ask yourself, How many more people will be infected before Ben gets his head out of his pragmatic ass and do what Laurette tells him to do!? Or something along those lines.

This is what I mean about characters getting under my skin. I’m still kind of pissed at Ben for insisting on applying logic and science to events that were not even remotely logical or scientific. I think of how many doctors I’ve known who are just like Ben, and I understand the other aspects of this novel that resonated with me: the grueling pace of medical residency, the near-murderous competition among medical residents and interns, the godlike decision-making of the attendings. The Bone Curse is grounded in the world of science and medicine, a world where one expects to find answers, but in this novel, the answers are not what one expects to find.

That is why I look forward to the next installment in this series. I like Ben Oris. I like his dad, even his mom. I like his complicated relationship with his attending. I like Laurette a lot, more than Ben to be honest.

I really hope Carrie intends to publish another Benjamin Oris novel soon (no pressure, Carrie). I want to see Ben’s pragmatic bubble poked, prodded, and hopefully popped although I’m sure he’ll pull out a spool of skeptic’s thread and stitch up those holes before you can say “Vodou.”

Carrie has a lovely website where you can find more information about her and her books: https://carrierubin.com/

You can also find her on Twitter at https://twitter.com/carrie_rubin and on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/carrierubinauthor

Of course, if you want to cut to the chase and purchase her books, here you go: https://www.amazon.com/Carrie-Rubin/e/B009BPJEG6/ref=sr_tc_2_0?qid=1535148616&sr=8-2-ent

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Comments are closed so you can just click yourself over to Carrie’s Amazon page and start buying and reading.

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Long Overdue Book Reviews: Dark of Night by Claire Duffy #Mondayblogs #bookreview

This book review will be a bit different because the book or books I’m reviewing are a bit different. But what would one expect from Claire Duffy, a writer, podcaster and … paddleboarder!

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Claire Duffy is well on her way to becoming one of my go-to authors for crime fiction. Dark of Night kept me on edge as main character Ruari tries to find out who killed Lorna, the woman he loved. I love this aspect of the story: the “investigator” is a citizen, a friend of the murdered woman, rather than a detective or retired cop as they usually are in crime fiction. Admittedly, Ruari is a former cop, but he is young and his tenure was short so he lacks many of the advantages that a seasoned, crusty retired cop would have.

Ruari is a very sympathetic character, a guy we can relate to as someone who too often lets opportunities slip through his fingers. Well, he wants to make up for that loss by finding Lorna’s killer. Problem is, Lorna is not the only victim. It soon appears we have a serial killer in our midst! Maybe even more than one!

In Dark of Night, Duffy moves the reader among various points of view, teasing us with hints and suspicions of just who is the killer or killers. I also really like the format of breaking each episode into dates and starting off each section with the time. It really helped in keeping track of just how fast this story goes. Duffy’s humor is spot-on and timed to ease the plot’s tension.

There’s a cliff-hanger at each episode’s ending, including Episode 3. That can be problematic if you don’t like waiting for the next installment. Think of it this way: Dark of Night is kind of like a TV series that takes a hiatus after so many episodes, leaving viewers to wait months before they can resume watching and find out how that season ends … and oftentimes there’s a cliffhanger at the end of a season so … you get the point. I did have the advantage of being able to read episodes 2 and 3 back-to-back … which actually I couldn’t help but do since I was totally sucked into the story.

Dark of Night is flush with characters, from the cops who are investigating the murders, the murder victims themselves, the survivors, the various suspects. I often thought of getting myself a whiteboard so I could write out each character and make my own connections, to try and solve the case.

I am on pins and needles for the second trilogy of the series, Just Before Dawn.

Pick up your own copies of Dark of Night at Amazon and start sleuthing: https://www.amazon.com/s/ref=dp_byline_sr_ebooks_1?ie=UTF8&text=CS+Duffy&search-alias=digital-text&field-author=CS+Duffy&sort=relevancerank

Find Claire Duffy at her website where you’ll find other ways to stalk follow her: http://www.csduffywriter.com/

Read Lorna’s Blog at http://www.csduffywriter.com/category/darkness/lornas-blog-darkness/ Lorna is the young woman whose murder starts off Dark of Night. Is it possible that she was killed because she knew too much?

Duffy also has a cool hangout on Facebook for readers of Dark of Nighthttps://www.facebook.com/groups/darkofnightbook/

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Comments are closed so you can hop (or paddleboard) over to Claire’s website or, better yet, to Amazon to purchase her books!

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Long Overdue Book Reviews: Changelings: The Rise of Kings by Katie Sullivan #Mondayblogs #bookreview

I continue with my backlog of book reviews, and I do hope that my tardy reviews might actually result in sales for the authors I’ve so long neglected. At least, then I won’t have to feel so guilty 😉 

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One of my favorite writers and favorite people is Katie Sullivan. When I first met Katie, she had a blog where she shared ongoing dialogues between her and one of her primary characters, the Druid, a 1300-year-old Pict who made himself at home in her brain many years before. I do believe he drove her to write, and I’m hoping he is still driving her to write (hint, hint, Katie ;)) You can read more about her blog, The D/A Dialogues, here: https://dadialogues.wordpress.com/about/

A few years ago, Katie came out with Book 1 of the Changelings trilogy: Into the Mist. You can read my review of it here. The trilogy is a Young Adult historical fiction series, but trust me, Changelings can be enjoyed by all ages. Especially us older women who keep casting Richard Armitage (the actor) into the role of Dubh (the Druid).

This post is about Book 2 in the Changelings trilogy. The Rise of Kings returns the reader to Sean and Maureen, the orphaned teenagers from the late 1950s whose coming-of-age experiences include time traveling and almost getting killed during the 1916 Rising. Book 1 was a bit of a swashbuckling affair, complete with pirates. Book 2 — The Rise of Kings — is darker, and Maureen and Sean are older, the weight of their maturity based in large part on the experiences they shared in Book 1. But their adventures are not over yet.

With this second installment, Maureen and Sean now understand that they are changelings, that they can go through time, and they can affect history. Soon after they return to their original time, they go to live with Sean’s Aunt Margaret, who is not quite who she seems to be. Rather, she is much more than she seems to be. Their mentor and kin–Dubh–was thought to be dead, but he has yet to fulfill his destiny. And through trips back in time, and fights (to the death) between good and evil, love slowly blossoms.

The stories of Maureen and Sean, Dubh and Margaret are ones that made my heart ache, but it is a delicious kind of ache, a kind that makes you feel tender toward the people you’re reading about, trap as they are in their destinies. I’m really looking forward to Book 3 of this trilogy (hint, hint, Katie!).

You can find Books 1 and 2 of the Changelings trilogy on Amazon, along with a short tale on Dubh’s own history (Hunted), before he met Maureen and Sean: https://www.amazon.com/s/ref=dp_byline_sr_ebooks_1?ie=UTF8&text=KM+Sullivan&search-alias=digital-text&field-author=KM+Sullivan&sort=relevancerank

You can also follow Katie Sullivan on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ktirsh

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Comments are closed because I want you to go and purchase her books and lose yourself in changelings, Fae, and magic, time travel and Irish lore. 

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Long Overdue Book Reviews: All Good Stories by Linda G. Hill #MondayBlogs #bookreview

I’ve been remiss in writing book reviews, and I aim to make up for it over the next few weeks. I have a fantasy that one day I will be very, very organized, and these periodic mea culpa posts will be things of the past. Right. Without further ado …

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Linda G. Hill is a prolific writer, supermom, and all-around nice person. When I say she’s prolific, well, just take a tour of her website at https://lindaghill.com/

I moan and groan about trying to write when I have a full-time job, but Linda has three sons which means she’s on the day job 24/7. Even my cats can’t compete with that since they spend large chunks of their day sleeping. But I digress.

This review of Linda’s earliest published novel, All Good Stories, is so long overdue. I read All Good Stories about two years ago while on a winter weekend camping trip. A light, entertaining, and quirky romance, it was the perfect e-book to bring along. After a day of frolicking among the trees, I’d snuggled into my sleeping bag, fire up my Kindle, and step into Xavier and Jupiter’s world, two best friends who discover their feelings for each other the hard way.

For a story written “off the cuff,” Hill’s characters are well-developed, interesting, and, best of all, people I’d like to meet and have a coffee with. You know from the get-go that Xavier and Jupiter belong together, and you root for that to happen. The story is well-paced and, yes, there’s a lovely twist at the end. All Good Stories made me smile … often. If you need a pick-me-up, an escape from the daily drama of the world, you need look no further than All Good Stories.

And if you like paranormal romance, Linda has not one, but two novels for you to add to your towering stack of books: The Magician’s Curse and The Magician’s Blood, both part of The Great Dagmaru series. You can find links to purchase these novels as well as other works on Linda’s Amazon author page: https://www.amazon.com/Linda-G.-Hill/e/B01K2LICL0/ref=sr_tc_2_0?qid=1534103243&sr=8-2-ent

Follow Linda’s FaceBook page here: https://www.facebook.com/lindaghill.fiction

Find her on twitter here: https://twitter.com/LindaGHill

Her Goodreads page is here: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/15577348.Linda_G_Hill

And she’s on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/linda.g.hill/

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Comments are closed so you can hop right over and start following Linda 🙂

 

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Update: Finally Friday and Why is There Always a Snag?

In case any new readers come across this post: It’s all good. I’ve received credit for any sales made through this link: http://www.zpublishinghouse.com/?rfsn=1648278.3e0285

Patience is not one of my virtues, but I’m working on it 😉

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Dear Readers, Fellow Writers, and Good Friends,

As you know from yesterday’s post, I have a short story coming out in the anthology Florida’s Emerging Writers from Z Publishing House, which is now available for preorder: http://www.zpublishinghouse.com/?rfsn=1648278.3e0285

This post is not about hawking the anthology, however. A couple of wonderful supporters have already indicated that they purchased the anthology using the links I provided yesterday. Their generosity should result in a decent commission for me; yet, those sales have not shown up and I have to wonder if there is something wrong with the URL. (Although what it could it be, who knows? Both I and a friend used the link to purchase the anthology, and those sales have shown up.)

I have a small favor to ask.

If you did click on the link provided in my blog post and purchased the anthology Florida’s Emerging Writers (or any publication on Z Publishing’s website), please email your name and order number to me at marieannbailey[at]gmail[dot]com

With your name and order number, I can follow up with Z Publishing and (hopefully) resolve this issue. I hope this doesn’t seem petty, but if anyone is purchasing the anthology in order to support me, well, it’s only fair that I receive the support.

Here’s some eye candy to show my gratitude 🙂

Wendy stretching her legs.

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Florida’s Emerging Writers by Z Publishing House: Preorder Available Now! #amwriting #shortstory

A few weeks ago, I shared good news with you all. A short short story of mine is going to be published by Z Publishing House in their upcoming anthology, Florida’s Emerging Writers! Woot! The anthology is available for preorder now. If you’re interested, use the following link to go to Z Publishing’s website. Your purchase of any of their publications will net me a commission: http://www.zpublishinghouse.com?rfsn=1648278.3e0285. I’ve just ordered a copy for myself because I like seeing my work in print.

Among other things, I’ve been sick the last several days with a head cold and cough. Through two doctor visits, I’ve managed to amass quite the little medicine cabinet. But the cough lingers, especially at night when I want to sleep. Otherwise, I’m much better. Just sleep-deprived.

But nothing can contain my excitement at having one of my short stories published. A different version of the story was posted a few years ago on another blog. Fortunately I had already deleted the post, in anticipation of shaping up some of my early bits into (hopefully) publishable pieces. No one was more surprised than me when Z Publishing House selected “No More Tomorrows” for the anthology. The short story is a fictionalized account of visiting my childhood home after it was damaged in a flood and then condemned. I read it to my husband after we learned that Z Publishing had accepted it. I got choked up near the end, realizing how much I still feel that loss even though it had been decades since I left my family home.

This experience will also be an kind of intro into self-promotion for me. One where I encourage (and hope) readers will plunk down a bit of $ in order to read a fiction anthology in which I’m included. I’ve had an opportunity to review some of the other stories included and this is definitely a win-win: a win for me if you purchase and a win for you because you’ll get a treasure trove of outstanding short stories to read. Here’s the link again so you don’t have to scroll back up: http://www.zpublishinghouse.com?rfsn=1648278.3e0285

As I’ve said before and I’ll keep saying until I’m blue in the face (or at least start coughing), I couldn’t have gotten to this point without you, my lovely community of readers and writers. Many, many thanks!

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It’s Release Day for Jill Weatherholt’s New Novel!

Congratulations to friend and author, Jill Weatherholt, on the release of her second novel, A Father for Bella! Click through and get your copy now!

Jill Weatherholt

A

IN STORES AND ON AMAZON.COM

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