Thursday, November 30, 2017

It's good to be Skyrim

Some of you might remember me posting about my adventures in Skyrim (the most awesome game ever courtesy of Bethesda Game Studios who also brought us the other Elder Scroll games as well as Fallout). I had gained the title of Archmage of Winterhold, possessed the Guldar Amulet, and attained level 24. That was when I used to go over my brother's house and play. But. He kept modding (mods/modifications are programs fans of the game make which add content to the game like livelier inns, additional companions, prettier towns, etc), forcing me to start over numerous times and eventually I gave up.

Fast forward to last summer when I finally bought an Alienware Laptop capable of playing Skyrim and then ahead to a week ago when said brother helped me finish installing the mods I wanted for my game. That was last Saturday and to show you just how beautiful Skyrim is modded out a bit (and I do mean a bit; my brother has a ridiculous number of mods on his game), I took some screen shots to share. You can click on them to get the full effect.

This is Whiterun at night, often the second large town you come to. My house is just up the street...

This is Breezehome. The place cost 5000 gold pieces and the furnishings are extra. I had to kill a lot of bandits to get the place looking so nice ; )

Bleak Falls Barrow in the distance.This is one of the first quests you get, and let me tell you it's cold up there. You can freeze before you arrive, especially if you have the Frostfall mod. Thankfully, I also have the Campfire mod.

A view from the road outside Riverwood (which I often want to call Rivendell even though the two places look nothing alike).

Approaching Riverwood late in the day.

And finally, the bridge at Riverwood, watching the sun come up. Yes. I do that.

As of last night, I've reached level 10 and just enrolled in the college at Winterhold. I have a companion, Lydia, given to me by the Jarl of Whiterun after I helped kill a dragon, I've met with the Greybeards (another cold place), been attacked by Cultists, and got my ass kicked by a Hagraven. I can't even begin to tell you how much fun I've been having, and how good it is, to be back, in Skyrim.

Friday, November 24, 2017

The Cephalopod Coffeehouse - NOS4A2

Welcome to another edition of the Cephalopod Coffeehouse. The idea is simple: on the last Friday of each month, post about the best book you've finished over the past month while visiting other bloggers doing the same.  In this way, we'll all have the opportunity to share our thoughts with other enthusiastic readers.  Please join us:

Sadly, I failed this month to finish the book I started. However, I'm still going to tell you something about it. The book is NOS4A2 by Joe Hill.

This is the second book by Joe Hill I've (almost) read. The first was Horns, which I enjoyed. I'm about half way through this one, which I have to say is very Stephen Kingish. Not that Joe doesn't have his own style but there's definitely a similarity between the work of father and son.

NOS4A2 starts off with an interesting premise. What if your bicycle could help you find things, no matter where they were? For Vic McQueen, her Raleigh Tuff Burner bike does just that. For Charles Manx it's his 1938 Rolls Royce Wraith. But while Vic likes to find things, Manx likes to take things, namely children, who he brings to "Christmasland," via his Rolls Royce.

Since I haven't finsihed the book, I can't offer up a complete review. For all I know the ending will suck and a sucky ending can ruin a book. But as it stands, I'm very much enjoying the book and looking forward to Vic and Charles' next meeting, which should be soon since things are just starting to get better for Vic, and you know that's when things are about to take an unpleasant turn for the worse.

Have you read this book or any others by Joe Hill? Did you know he was Stephen King's son?

Friday, November 3, 2017


I'll admit it. I am accustomed to the comforts of the modern age and as much as I love history and dystopian fiction I have no interest in doing without said modern comforts. I was reminded of this fact after losing power during the windstorm (I know, it was a windstorm for Pete's sake! Not even a hurricane!) we had here in Maine Sunday night. Supposedly more people lost power during this windstorm than during the ice storm of '97 and I'm curious as to why. I mean, don't get me wrong, it was very windy! But I recall other windstorms with less severe results. And trying to get power back on a fall day is a lot easier than in the dead of winter when a sheet of ice coats everything. I feel very fortunate that I got my power back Tuesday night. Lots of people are still without, including some of my family members, and there are still lots of trees and wires down.

 But honestly? My two days without power was a breeze compared to what some people have had to go through and what some people are still going through. I was never too far away from a store or restaurant, we never ran out of water, our propane stove still worked, and I had my cell phone, kindle, and laptop, not to mention gas in my car. One could hardly call that suffering. Nevertheless, I'm glad it's over so I can get back to my usual routine.

Meanwhile, I did finish another book, The Kept Woman, by Karen Slaughter, and my current WIP, TROUBLE, stands at 26K, which is piss poor progress considering I started it in August. To steal a quote from Inception (one of my all time favorite movies), "Disappointed."

How would you fare if the power went out for good? What do you do when you lose it? What's the longest you went without?

Friday, October 27, 2017

The Cephalopod Coffeehouse - Meddling Kids


Today I'm going to tell you about my favorite book of the month, Meddling Kids by Edgar Cantero.

But first I want to mention the other books I read this past month...

The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden - This was my second favorite. If you like fairy Tales, I recommend it.
The Last One by Alexandra Oliva - I think I would've liked this more if I liked reality television. But alas, I don't.
Seed by Ania Ahlborn - Horror written well, but not like Stephen King. I didn't love any of the characters.

This book, however,

was totally awesome.

Meddling kids re-imagines the Scooby Doo Gang as the Blyton Summer Detective Club, of Blyton Hills, a small mining town in Oregon's Zoinx River Valley. In their last case in 1977, the gang exposed the Sleepy Lake Monster. Thirteen years years later the gang is all grown up but not doing so well. Peter is dead, Nate is in an institution (where he sometimes talks to Peter), Kerri is a biologist without a job who drinks too much (owner of Tim, the weimaraner, a direct descendant of the original canine member of the club), and Andy the tomboy, wanted in two states, decides to get the gang back together. Because only by revisiting the past - and their last case - will any of them have a future.

One of the things I loved about this book was the way Edgar Cantero describes things. It's different and beautiful. For example, one character is a little obsessed with Kerri's hair, which is described in one of the opening chapters thus:

"..Kerri turning to serve the beers, her curls swinging around and cheering gleefully like kids on a carousel.It was a minor entry in the list of Kerri's innumerable talents. Her hair had this joyful quality about it, the way it trailed after her as she rode her bike downhill or dove off a rope breathed and moved like it had a life of its own, or many."

I won't go on, except to say this book deserves all the nice things that have been said about it, like this from Rob Reid, New York Times bestselling author of Year Zero.

"Meddling Kids is an utterly charming paean to a squad of animated teen detectives who fought down the crime wave of early-70's America. Amidst the homages and playfulness, it then transforms into a rip-roaring page turner. Throughout, Cantero plays with form and language in ways that are both mischievous and delightful. This would be impressive enough coming from a native of the country, decade, and language that the book operates in. As Cantero is none of the above, it's flat-out masterful.”

 In other bookish news I recently bought A Man Called Ove, which I had been hearing too many good things about to resist, and the first volume of The Book of Dust by Philip Pullman.

What are you reading and who's on your TBR list?

Monday, October 23, 2017

Since I've been gone...

A lot has happened since I last posted. I had to make an unexpected trip to Florida to help my mom (who has NO WiFi!!!) who had surgery. It was very good to see her though I wish it had been under better circumstances. Usually we go out and do stuff and I take lots of pics. But there wasn't much of that since she wasn't up to it. I did however manage to take two pics I will share.

I saw this guy on one of my mom's plants. He was LARGE. Way bigger than the grasshoppers we have in Maine. She wanted me to kill it because he would eat an entire plant in no time. I couldn't. I did have a talk with him and didn't see him again.

 This is a wild flower growing on my mom's porch. We tried to identify it but couldn't. Anyone out there know what this flower is?

I also saw a rainbow on my way back from seeing Blade Runner 2049 a few weeks previous.

 Blade Runner was awesome, by the way, and I highly recommend it though you do really need to see the first one.

Finally, I completed this, a 'copy' of a work done by Edward Gorey.  

It took me a while but I'm fairly pleased with the way it came out.

The weather is still nice here, thankfully, though very very dry. We've had almost no rain in months it seems. It rained more in Florida in the week I was there so I have to hope we'll get some soon though it will be dreary.

Still working on my new WIP, 23K, and I read three books, one of which I will be telling you about on Friday for the Cephalopod Coffeehouse.

Now, tell me what's up with you. Something interesting must've happened in the last few weeks.

Friday, September 29, 2017

The Cephalopod Coffeehouse - The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August and how cats can really fuck things up

Welcome to another edition of the Cephalopd Coffeehouse. The idea is simple: on the last Friday of each month, post about the best book you've finished over the past month while visiting other bloggers doing the same.  In this way, we'll all have the opportunity to share our thoughts with other enthusiastic readers.

This month I'm going to tell about The First Fiftten Lives of Harry August by Claire North

 Before I tell how much I loved this book, I first have to tell you why I'm so late getting this post up. Last night I was writing merrily away and took a short bathroom break. When I returned to my laptop, I found my cat, Mel, in my chair and a bunch of gobbledygook on my screen. I managed to delete it all - with some difficulty I might add - and then went to write this post. Imagine my dismay upon discovering my key board no longer worked.

Of course, I knew instantly that in addition to writing a bunch shite in my document, Mel had also pressed one of those hot keys that do things like turn your screen upside down (yes, this has happened to me - only I did it by accident and it took me forever to figure out how to fix it!!!). Which is fine as long as you're the one who hit the hot key, cuz then you know how to change everything back. Only I had no idea which key, or combination thereof, Mel pressed to make the keyboard non functional. I was almost going to restart my computer when I realized if I did I'd have no way of entering my password.

So I called my brother J (thank God he answered and thank God my mouse still worked) and he did a google search for 'keyboard not working.' This did not particularly help so he tried adding the words 'cat stepped on my key board.' Immediately a bunch of answer popped up. Imagine that.

It took a few tries but finally he found the solution by going into keyboard settings and finding the filter box(whatever the heck that is) checked off which shouldn't have been. Apparently there's a hot key for that and my little Mel managed to find it.

Bad Cat!

Anyway, I unchecked the box and my world was right again but it was too late to write this post. Hence my tardiness. Nevertheless, I am here now, and I can honestly say that I give The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August 5 stars. 

I loved this book. Why? Because it's about one of my favorite subjects, living your life over. That's what Harry August gets to do.

His first life is unremarkable.He's born in the early part of the 20th century, grows up, fights in the war, gets married and dies having lived a pretty good life more or less. It's his second life when things get interesting. When Harry is around 7 or 8, he begins to remember his last life and is overwhelmed by not only the memories but the knowledge he suddenly possesses. He ends up being committed to an institution for the insane and throws himself out a window. His third life goes a little better but I'm not going to tell you any more because you should really read this book. It's a little like Groundhog Day except Harry keeps living his whole life over and over.

I think I especially love this book because it uses a theory I have long considered. What if the Big Bang has happened over and over. Bang, universe born, expands and then I don't know, pops and then everything resets. It's quite possible that we are all living the same lives over and over like Harry. Now imagine if that were true. What would you do with your next life?

Monday, September 25, 2017

Viles Arboretum

Viles Arboretum is a 224 acre botanical garden and arboretum located in Augusta, Maine, with 5 miles of trails, open year round without charge. The plant collection contains over 300 species or varieties of trees and shrubs.

My son and his gf and I went there yesterday for our Sunday walk. Here a few pics...

I saw signs for a lilac garden and flowering trees which makes me want to go back next year when more things will be in bloom. Meanwhile, I've tallied up 17k on my new WIP, averaging 2,800 words a week, which is pretty good for me. Currently reading The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden.

What's new with you?

ps almost forgot a house update...

It's looking good, no?

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Sunday pics - end of summer

I am always surprised by how quickly summer passes. Always. One minute it's summer, the next fall is rolling in. I can see it in the leaves changing their colors, the way the green is faded, and the back to school signs.  Pretty soon it will be pumpkinfest again and this year I hope to NOT be a slacker and get some pics. For today it's a mish-mash of everything I've noticed lately.

 This house is on my way to work. It was empty for a while, then someone started working on it. Fixed up the yard, and totally gutted the inside. I know this because at one point the entire front of the house was open.
They also built this little addition - a mudroom I presume.
This awesome sunflower is growing in the gravel driveway at the pawn shop where I work.
These adorn the front entrance.
Along with these cleomes (Aren't they pretty?!)
and these whatever they are
 Inside the shop, these two retro lamps which are kinda neat

And a little more progress made on the house (I don't know why I find this interesting but I do)
What's left of the wildflowers in our yard
A spiky black-eyed-susan
These pine cones are everywhere in the woods just beyond the house. I can hear them dropping through the branches from the porch.
Coming out of the woods. If you look you can see all those green pine cones hanging from the upper branches of the evergreens.
I believe this is Queen Anne's Lace before it pops
 And yes, we do have the lone rooster. He's rather handsome, no?
Plants on the porch, some of which will have to come inside soon
And a succulent

My week in pictures!

Monday, September 4, 2017

Monday Pics - Penny Lake

On Sundays I usually go walking with my son. Last weekend we went to Penny Lake Preserve in Boothbay. We parked across the street being unsure of its exact location but quickly found it behind the Carousel Music Theatre.

and so entered the preserve...

Nicely groomed path as you can see.

And then there was a field, which was probably much more colorful a few weeks ago

It was here on this little bridge crossing a marsh that my son's girlfriend and I waited for him to catch up. He was looking for birds. When  he did arrive at the bridge he startled a bird that couldn't have been more than a few feet from us.
courtesy of
Yeah, I didn't get that picture but that's who flew up and away before any of could snap a pic. We walked on through some of this
before coming to this mowed path
which led to my spotting the purple tree in the distance
and discovering the end of a development (disappointing, I was hoping for something more interesting). On the way back I found these

Most weren't ripe but I did find a few to eat as did my dog, Jonah. He loves blackberries. Also saw these pretty little pink flowers. No idea what they are...

and this stunner, also no clue

 We walked back via a different path and I saw this Mountain Ash, which some 5th graders planted.

Love the bright red.

In other news I'm working on something new which I hope will turn into a real WIP. I'm about 75% sure it will. Also read another book that I loved called The First Fifteen Lives of Henry August which I will talk about at the end of the month for the Cephalopod Coffeehouse.

Now. What have you been doing?