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Archive for February, 2012


One of the things runners in particular seem to struggle with is what to eat that’s going to keep you full for any length of time. Truly, this can be an issue, particularly if you run and then go to work and don’t have the flexibility of eating whatever whenever.

Every runner is different in the eating department. Some hit the trail without eating anything; some eat just a banana; some do something light about an hour before a long run.

Me? I’m in the one hour department. Since I have energy issues to begin with, I am not interested in compounding it by not fueling as well as I could. I’m also kinda picky.

Generally speaking, I am a creature of habit. For years (and I do mean years, literally), my breakfast consisted of cottage cheese and pineapple. Good protein; not a lot of carbs. In some worlds, this is non-ideal pre-run fare. But regardless, it seemed to work well for me until I started increasing my mileage again.

What was fine for 5 miles no longer seems to do me much good at 8+. The hunt was on.

And so too, the struggle with gluten compounded, because it’s not like you can just eat a bagel and call it good.

Yes, I could go the cream of rice route- I’ve heard a rumor that I can find it at a local grocery store.  I’ve never seen it there before, but will have to look the next time I’m there. No one else in town seems to know what this is, and so I’ve been resigned to thinking I had to ask my parents to bring me some when they come from Michigan next week. (I may still do that if I can’t find any by then…..)

I could do grits. I actually do like grits, but usually like a little bit of sugar in it. So that’s out for every day eating. I’m also not one who wants to cook anything in the morning and have to take time making something hot. I’m usually too hot as it is anyhow, so warming up from the inside just to go running and get even hotter is not appealing to me.

See what I mean about being picky?  😆

A few weeks ago, I stumbled across a thread on the Runner’s World forums about the issue of being starving after running- what would be good and solid, not interfere with running, and yet, tide you over? The “solution” was overnight oats.

Now, if you’ve been researching gluten and all the stuff it’s in, you’ve probably learned this tidbit of information: while oats don’t have gluten in them, they are usually processed in facilities that have other grains, and therefore, may have trace amounts of gluten ON them.

If I had Celiac disease, this would be a big deal. I would make sure that the oats I got came certified “gluten-free.” (and really, I’m not doing very well in the gluten-free department anyhow, since I allow myself to cheat a little so long as my pain level is not real high and I’m functioning reasonably well; but I do try to eliminate it as much as I can)

Cheerios, for example, made with whole grain oats- are not gluten-free. AND! One of the ingredients is wheat starch. Definitely NOT gluten-free, although there are people who have been told they are ok to eat.

Did I mention that I love Cheerios?  *sigh*  😦

But- just plain oats don’t have anything else in it. While there is a chance to have some gluten cross-contamination, because I only have a sensitivity, I feel like it’s safe enough until I can find a source for reasonably priced certified gluten-free oats. I may be playing with fire, but so far, it’s been ok.

The original recipe I got was this:

1/2 cup rolled oats

1/2 cup almond milk

about 1/2 oz chopped walnuts

1/2 cup lowfat greek yogurt – (I used vanilla ) 

few dashes of cinnamon

about an ounce of dried cranberries

~~~~~~~~~~

Ok, so I tried this with a few alterations. I used regular whole milk instead of the almond milk; I used regular yogurt instead of Greek yogurt, and I didn’t put any cinnamon in it.While I don’t mind eating just nuts, I don’t like nuts in pretty much anything, so I left them out. I do like mixing it up the night before so all I have to do in the morning is open the fridge, grab my spoon and get to it.

A few days in, I came to realize that I didn’t particularly like to chew my oatmeal. I generally do not like food in my food, although I can change my mindset if I have to tackle some Ben and Jerry’s ice cream. But then, I can pick out the chunks and eat just those, so it’s all good.  😆 So now, in addition to no nuts in there, the cranberries are also out.

After another few days, I got bored with the vanilla. Don’t ask me why, because I’m still not sure. 😆

I thought I would take a risk and try strawberry yogurt, even though it has some strawberry bits in it. So far, the bits aren’t bugging me because they are soft enough not to have to chew.

I have not, however, determined whether or not this combo gives me a good boost of energy like traditional carbs. I am leaning towards a “no,” but think I need to try it longer to really know one way or another. I am still looking for pre-race eats that will give me a boost of energy; I’m thinking maybe I should try some peanut butter in there with plain yogurt. Not sure on this combo, but I’ll let you know if I try it.

Any gluten-free runners out there who have favorite pre-race or other pre-run breakfast food favorites?  Tell me what you’re eating!

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Race Report


Near the end of Holiday Challenge, I checked out the supposed race schedule (looking at last year’s races) to see what was coming up. The first thing for 2012 was a race that had the normal 2k walk/run and 10k walk/run. What it also had left me scratching my head.

It also had a half marathon. Well hum.

I have to admit that a HM has *never* been on my bucket list. That’s 13.1 darn miles. That’s a really long way, y’all.

I mean, it’s not as long as a regular marathon (not on the bucket list) or a super marathon (often 50k) and definitely not an ultra (100k- yes, they really do exist, and no, that will NEVER be on my radar or bucket list), but still- it’s nothing to sneeze at. A 10k, for example, is not quite 1/2 of the Half. For someone who struggled a few years ago to stay out of bed and awake for over an hour without doing any running- the idea of running that long and longer was not something I even remotely entertained.

And the half has never been on my radar.

Until that holiday challenge………….

It goes without saying that I am not particularly fast. The miles I was cranking out weren’t at blazing speeds, to say the least. But it got me thinking that I might be able to do a half marathon and not die. So, I thought I would give “training” a go with a 2 month lead time and see where we landed.

Late January and early February brough a round of illness, which stunted my weekly mileage and gave me an entire week off. I think the low point was something like 8 miles for the entire week. My pain level has been higher overall, although it’s gone down the last few weeks, which was the only reason I thought I would give it a try.

During the last few weeks, I had resigned myself to just finishing it and making myself be happy with that. My two goals were: 1) finish in under 3 hours (yes, I told you I was slow) and 2) not walk. In a perfect world, I wouldn’t barf either, but I wasn’t convinced I could put that on the list.  😆

This distance had really been messing with my head, and to be honest, this was one I was not looking forward to. Ya, I could have done the 10k; I could have chosen not to do it all. But then I felt that pushing myself all those weeks would be for naught, so I needed to just bite the bullet and do it.

So I did. I didn’t die, and while my time was better than I had estimated, it wasn’t a personal record or anything. Total time was 150:02 (2 hours, 30 minutes, and 2 seconds). That gives me 11:27 minute mile.

When we started out, my truck said it was 30 degrees outside. No biggy. I was pleasantly surprised to cruise past the 10k turnaround feeling pretty decent, and not like it had taken forever to get there.

And then we turned the corner. And it got windy. The turn wasn’t what got me- but the headwind blowing solidly at least 15 mp did. I hadn’t been pushing to begin with, and having that block of knowing the route and how far it was, it totally made me want to be conservative.

My “training plan” has always been to regularly run the distance of the race. That didn’t happen this time; mostly because I was sick combined with things coming up that didn’t give me all the time to do the long runs. When I compared what I was doing with training plans that are out there, they’d have one long run a week; some of them didn’t even make it to the mileage until race day. So, I convinced myself I’d be ok because of my mileage base.

(Can you tell I’m coming up with excuses? :lol:) Now I know that I need the miles under me so I don’t have that little voice of doubt nagging me, making me question. I didn’t necessarily want to be cautious; but I was because I didn’t want to peter out at the end. I also changed up my breakfast, which I’m not sure if that didn’t help or not.

And then there was the lady I nearly walked in on in the bathroom. She started off running with her husband, but he’s done more training than she has. When I saw her walking, I felt like I’d be able to pass her. And I was planning on it. Until I caught up to her and she said, “I’ve been waiting for you. I don’t know if I can finish this.” Before I caught myself, I said, “I’ll push you to the end. You can do it.”

Well, shoot. This was nearing the end, with about 2.5 mile left (best estimation). This is the time when I change my pace and really push. But now I felt bad, because I didn’t want her to stop and I kinda told her I’d stick with her. So I paced it with her and finished slightly ahead of her. She thanked me profusely at the end again saying, “I couldn’t have finished it if you hadn’t stayed with me.”

At the end of the day, I think that’s what’s important to me, more so than finishing times. I like to see the really fast people telling me “good job” as they are blowing by.  😆 I like to see the camaraderie of people encouraging one another.

I was not happy to see the guy running crazily in front of me, doing his best not to allow me to pass. I don’t know if it was the pink skirt or not, but he was pretty determined not to let me get by. I did, of course. But still.

And then there was the other guy that who raced me as I was closing in on him- this reminded me of being at a stoplight, and then gunning it so the person next to you can’t pass you. There are always those who speed up so they are going faster than you, which means you can’t pass unless you go faster. I got around him, too.

So. While initially, I thought my time was much better than anticipated and was feeling really good, in comparison to my other two races, it’s my slowest race time. Meh.

I don’t know that I’ll be doing the next half marathon because it’s going to be in September, and I cannot run outside in that kind of heat. At this point, I’m not planning on it. But darn, it would be nice to do another one and see if I can do better.

I’ve had a soak in the jacuzzi, but I am ready for a nap.  I’m gonna go eat my race banana and then read until I fall asleep…………

At least I’m on track for my 1,200 miles this year, since this race puts me at 217.1 for the year and means I’ve got 838.3 VFF miles on this pair of shoes………………. *sigh*

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Married?


I have to admit to liking taking the easy route if it’s easy.  😆 Sometimes, what we think is the “easy” route comes back and bites us in the rear. Then, in hindsight, we realize we just screwed ourselves out of some serious time for other things.

There are some things, though, that really do make our lives a little bit easier, and those are the things I try to take full advantage of. Springtime to me means a bit more than wind. It also means that it’s the dreaded tax time of year. Blech.

Years ago, we used to use H&R Block for our taxes. That was an ordeal, particularly with kids. Make the appointment and try not to forget to take anything with you; hope your kids last long enough to get in and out without melting down or make a mess, etc.

Then we discovered Turbo Tax, and cautiously tried it.  Well gosh, that was better, wasn’t it? 😀

Then we evolved a little bit more; did a lot of research on https, crossed our fingers and went for it, praying our information would be safe and not get compromised. Through the years, we’ve done all kinds of online filing (trying to get it for free, of course) only to get the point a few years ago where we totally realized that sometimes, you have to spend a little more to save that aggravation and not have stuff bite you in the rear with wasting time.

One of the things that I like the most is that all the information from last year imports right in. This actually DOES save time and aggravation in the long run.

This year, things were a little different. It wanted to “verify” all the information on the kids. “No biggy,” I thought. I figured this would take a mere seconds.

The questions started with the youngest, and by the time I got to the oldest, I figured I was going to cruise on through and be done. You know you need to pay attention to this stuff, right? So, even though I WAS paying close attention, I was stopped short.

Now, most of the time, I expect stupidity interesting questions, but this one has left me scratching my head, and seriously, it’s been weeks since I did our taxes.

It asked me if my oldest was married. This was after I had already verified his birthdate.

He is 15.

Yep. He’s 15 years old, and they asked me if he was married.  😯

I was eager to be done with taxes, so I answered the question and moved on. But it left me with lingering questions: What would have happened next if I had checked the “yes” button?  Would it have asked if he had children?  Would another yes answer have given me a worksheet to claim his “children” on my taxes?

This was separate from the standard “Are there other people living in your house that you can claim as dependants?” question, which had already been answered.

Wow.

I’ve (obviously) not ever had a 15-year-old in my house before, but it makes me wonder if this is something new? Does anyone know?

I guess the upside to this (in addition to having my taxes done) is that now I can steel myself when my girls get older and not go off the “offended” deep end.

Sheesh.

Are there other strange questions that get asked during tax filing? Anything else you think I need a head’s up on?  😆

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😆

Add some veggies and we’re done!  😆

Um, are you thinking that usually the chicken is dead and in parts before it goes into the soup? And wondering why on earth I have a {live} chicken in a pan on my counter?  😆

It’s all about the poop.  :mrgreen:

When we become parents, poop worms its way into our lives, and honestly, becomes a critical component of our every day living. You mothers out there know what I mean- especially if you’ve had a saver-upper prone to blow-outs.  😀 (we’ve had 3 of those anal retentive kiddos here, but don’t tell them I told you……)

You plan your day around the expectation of poop, bringing along the necessary extra diapers and clothes so as to plan for the mess. If you’re lucky enough to be able to stay home when things reach critical mass, you do it, because it’s so much easier than being out and about when the explosion happens.

And, if you’re breastfeeding, you’re lucky enough to deal with mustard poos that don’t stink or stain as much as the artificial baby milk alternative. Plus, they are usually more frequent, too. One of the key ways to tell if your breastfed baby is getting enough is by watching what is coming out- if it’s coming out, it’s going in, as I always used to say…………..

But I digress.  😆

So. It goes without saying that poop is pretty important, and not just in humans.  If you have a dog and kids, you obviously know what I’m talking about. 😉 (thank goodness crayons are non-toxic!)

WARNING: If poop makes you barf, now is the time to either click the little red x in the upper right hand corner of your screen, or get your barf bag or bowl so it’s handy when you need it. 😀

Now is also the best time to go to the bathroom and get something to eat or drink if your stomach can handle it, because this is a longer account………..

Two weeks ago Monday (the 6th), our flock mistress, Butternut,  one of our 3 Buff Orpingtons, was in the nesting box all day. That was the day I took the pictures for my A Family Affair post. I don’t remember seeing her in the run in the morning, and even after we let them out in the yard at lunch, she was reluctant to leave the nesting box. I figured she was going to give us a whopper of an egg and solve the mystery of the too-big-to-fit-in-the-egg-carton mystery.

Finally, she came out, but just sat down outside my window in the sandy area. It was cold and windy that day, so I tried not to think too much about it. After sitting there for several hours and periodically closing her eyes, I knew something was off. It was obvious she was not feeling well.

Normally, I am a sit-back-and-wait kind of girl. You should know that my kids haven’t been in to the doctor in so many years that they don’t even have their files IN the office anymore- they are out in storage. I am firmly in the camp of the need for antibiotics is rare; you don’t need them for colds (because colds are viral and not bacterial, so antibiotics won’t even work), so you just need to ride it out.

I would have happily had all my babies at home had that been an option, and the last two were born under water in a non-hospital setting (yes, that also means non-medicated and no IVs!). I also went home about 3 hours post delivery with those last two, thanks to options we didn’t have with the first two.

I come out pretty crunchy on the granola scale, which you’ve probably guessed because we have chickens. I think it’s safe to say that my minimalist running shoes habit falls into this category, too.

So, you can see that in my world, I usually take a more laid back approach because “cause for concern” does not necessarily = “immediate action” as I see it. 😀 I may panic and get to researching frantically, but most of the time, I am going to sit and wait and see what happens.

Which I did. Until she pooped. (Warning! Graphic picture of poop!)

😯

Y’all know blood in ANY kind of poo is bad, right? Well, of course this applies to chickens, too. The only thing that rang a bell for bloody poo was coccidiosis. Cocci is often fatal. It’s a protozoan parasitic microorganism that can be found, among other places, in soil.

Before we got chickens, I had done a ton of research, as you’ve probably figured out by now. I wanted to be sure I knew what I was getting into, so I could ensure the best chance of success for my peeps.

One thing I learned about cocci that stayed with me was that it most often affects young chicks, and the older the bird, the more likely it was to have developed tolerance. This was one of the determining factors for using medicated chick feed when they were babies. And, since I knew cocci is more likely to occur during the warmer months, Butternut wasn’t totally fitting the profile.

She also hadn’t been exhibiting any other kinds of symptoms prior. The bloody poos usually happen around day 4 of the infection. That’s another way she wasn’t quite fitting the profile. One more reason was that if cocci is in your soil, it’s likely to affect more than a single chicken out of a flock, too, although that’s not a guarantee.

The first thing I did was have the kids bring the big brooder back into the house so I could separate her out and keep a very close eye on her. (truth be told, I have kinda missed not having a house chicken, although it’s good that no one has been injured and needed to be inside…………)

Monday night brought another bloody stool that was all liquid; all blood.

Tuesday morning, Butternut had another smaller bloody poo. J (10) asked where we were going to bury her. 😦  Late morning, she was drinking some, but not really interested in food.

Tuesday afternoon, I went to Tractor Supply and found some Corid because if this was cocci, I could not delay treatment. By this point and time, I had spent *hours* (at least 8!) researching and asking questions without having much luck. By evening, she had done a small but normal poo, which again, was not consistent with a cocci diagnosis, from what I was able to learn.

Wednesday was my morning and early afternoon out, but my son (15) was home with Butternut, and I was calling to check up. He knew he was to call me in the event something (like more bloody poo) happened. The report was that she was drinking, pooing normally (although not a lot) and getting a little interested in food.

By this time, I figured if this was cocci, she would be going downhill and not appearing to get better, so I was glad I had delayed giving the Corid. There was another thought that crossed my mind- I wondered if she could, perhaps, be egg bound. That’s when the egg gets stuck and can’t come out.

Why would I be thinking along those lines? Well, we knew Butternut was not one of our power layers. Best we could tell, she was only giving us an egg every few days. Because it’s winter (which means shorter days for laying) and we don’t use supplemental light, it was not a concern even remotely that she wouldn’t be laying more than every few days.

The thing was, every now and then, we’d get a really bloody egg. This is usually not a big deal- the blood washes off- and it’s usually an indication of a small blood vessel that burst while laying. Not fatal; not a big deal. A little messy, but nothing water can’t take care of.

When chickens are new to laying, weird things can happen, like rubber eggs, for example. (We found one of these under the roost, which meant it was covered in poo so we pitched it without taking a picture.)

But it got me thinking…… what if she is going to be a problematic layer? What if this was an egg bound issue? If a chicken is egg bound, this too, can be fatal. Ya gotta get the egg out! And this is what led me to chicken soup…………..

When a chicken (they can be either pullets or hens) is egg bound, they recommend a steam or warm bath to help the poor girl relax. When this is combined with gentle massage, often, it’s enough for the chicken to get the contractions going which will let loose the egg.

So, how do you know if a chicken is egg bound? The best way is to explore the vent. Now, I’ve never violated a chicken, and it wasn’t on my bucket list. Yes. I just said it wasn’t. 😆

The key here is to go up and not down. Let me explain…..

Chickens have a common opening for “stuff” to come out of the body. This includes waste and eggs. Before you get all grossed out and swear off eating eggs forever, let me just say that eggs don’t come out the poop chute. Nope. They don’t. This means they don’t come out covered in poop; they don’t even come into contact with it.

When an egg is laid, it travels down the oviduct and out the vent. Part of the cloaca (vent) turns inside out and goes back inside the chicken. If it doesn’t, this is called a prolapse, and can be a pretty big problem.

Got it? Go down to get into the intestinal tract; go up to the oviduct. If you are still confused, try here: How a Hen Lays an Egg. Because the hen seals the egg with a protective coating called a cuticle (or bloom) it is not necessary to wash the egg.

According to Dr. Ken W. Koelkebeck of the University of Illinois’ Animal Science Center,“When the cuticle or bloom is deposited by the hen on the shell this acts as a barrier to keep bacteria from entering the egg. When eggs are washed, however, this removes most if not all of the cuticle from the shell surface. Thus, bacteria have an easier time entering the egg after washing.”

Ok. Back to the egg bound issue. When I told hunny I needed to give Buttenut warm bath, he immediately told the kids to “Get the stock pot!”  😆

After the first bath and massage, I was too chicken to probe the vent. 😆 I did, however, feel around the outside, and did not feel a thing.

A few more days passed before I got brave enough to give her another bath because I knew what else I would have to do, and I still wanted to wait and see. She was doing her egg song, and scratching, so by all accounts, she was acting like she needed to lay. (Yes, I know, our chickens are backward because they do their singing before they lay- I am convinced this is to get praise and adulation when they resurface after doing the deed 😆 Although, if I was laying an egg like that every day, I’d want praise and adulation too! And treats! :lol:)

After the second bath and no results, I knew I had to get in there and check. It’s amazing what we’re willing to do if death is a factor and could be a potential outcome. 🙂

I got the disposable gloves; I got the olive oil. I lubed up, and in I went. 😯

J (13) held her while I explored. I felt the cavity that was big enough to hold an egg. And it was empty.

I might have been convinced to go up a little higher if poor Butternut wasn’t trying to bite J on the arm. She wasn’t happy about the probing, clearly, but it wasn’t too distressing to her, because she wasn’t squawking or trying to get away. She was being as patient with us as she could be. 😆

I was resolved, though: Butternut could not go outside until she laid an egg. I wanted to be sure there weren’t any issues with laying, and plus, it would help us know for certain which kind of egg was hers. And, I’ll admit, it was kinda nice having a house chicken to talk to again. 😉

Besides that, her butt feathers were plucked, so something was still going on.

 

I forget what day this was- I think it was nearly a week after bringing her in. One of things I always keep in mind is that chickens are pretty social, and don’t like to be alone. And, since Butternut was at the top of the pecking order as flock mistress, I didn’t want her departure inside to be too disruptive to her.

By Wednesday afternoon, we had let her back outside for a few hours in the afternoon. It didn’t take her long to re-establish her place at the top; she only had to rumble one time with Pumpkin. 🙂

On Saturday, I brought poor little Bella back inside in the morning, because Daisy was plucking her under the chin again and she was getting a little pink. You may recall Bella was the one who got so plucked that I ended up putting all the peepers on everyone. I don’t know what it is, but she is one that still gets picked on!

Needless to say, she was scared silly of big Butternut. Butternut took to chasing her around the brooder and wouldn’t let her eat, so out Butternut went! Once Bella needed to lay, it was close enough to lunch time that I put her back outside and let the others out. Besides, I thought it was better to not have anyone in the house should the fridge actually get delivered (which it didn’t).

Almost a week has passed since Butternut has been outside full-time, and I can say that the pluckage on Butternut’s behind was the result of her being bored inside the house with no one to play with. Yep. Take a look.

This was taken Friday (the 17th). This is 3 or 4 days of new feather growth.

As far as we know, Butternut has not yet laid another egg. I’m pretty sure that bloody mess wasn’t a thrown ovary, but even if it was and she never lays another egg, we’re going to keep her. At that point, many folks would send her to freezer camp and then into the stew pot, but we don’t eat our friends.  :mrgreen:

Don’t think I’m all sad and mopey because I don’t have a house chicken any more- because I do! ♥

Despite Daisy (Buff Orpington) still having her peepers on, she has surprisingly been smart enough to continue to pluck. At first, she was stretching her head around, trying to look out the side. Then, after some trial and error, she discovered if she continued to aim straight on, she could still pluck even if she couldn’t see what she was doing. *sigh*

After watching her pluck Sunny (another Buff Orpington) on the perch this morning, I had had enough and brought her in. I *have got* to break her of this habit, and I’ll keep her inside until it works. I am hoping that time away from everyone will bump her further down the ladder which might make her less inclined to start plucking again if she can’t stop. The risk here is that she’ll get bored inside and start plucking herself, but I am running out of things to try besides sending her to freezer camp, which I just don’t think I can do.

Although, if I could, I’d end up with REAL chicken soup……………..  😆

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Danger! Danger!


Yep. That’s what I’ve been hearing in my head since yesterday. To be fair, hunny heard it too, as my laptop kept crashing as he was trying to extract stuff. Meh.

The blue screen of death. Sudden and unexpected “sleep mode.” Hard crashes. Meh.

Methinks this does not bode well……………

The solution we’ve come up with is a new box.  Since I’m no longer doing website design and needing to be mobile, the best solution looks to be moving back into a desktop. My purple dragon awaits me……….somewhere buried in the garage.

I did find another neato purple case that is really cool. It’s on backorder, though, so I don’t think it’s going to be part of this emergency package.

Hunny has already speced out parts; now he’s down to comparison shopping locally and online, which will take him maybe another few hours. My son is sitting on a brand new unusued graphic card that we’re going to buy off of him. (Ya, he’s 15, and not only does he build his own computers, he buys his own parts, too!)

I’m not entirely sure what’s up with that card since he got it last week. I think he may have found a better one for some specific game he’s playing. Honestly, that is not my area of interest expertise. Talk to me about books, or running, or {gasp!} even chickens, and you may regret not setting aside enough time.  😆 But computer stuff I leave to the experts in the family.

That said……….. I have my fingers, toes, and eyes crossed, hoping that I don’t have a permanent fatal error that kills my entire system before hunny can get the pieces parts in and put together. Today I spent time purging, in hopes of helping my laptop limp along until we can make the move. I may even think about doing another defrag, just to see if that helps.

I have to say- there’s a lot of stuff I was unintentionally hanging on to that I had no problem dumping. Truly, some of that junk I didn’t even remember I had in there from the last move about 3 or 4 years ago! I actually still have all those things backed up on dvd.  It is staggering to see how much web design stuff I had packed in my machine!

Dumped. Trashed. Purged.

Wow. What a good feeling!

This next machine- I resolve to only fill with stuff that makes me happy. I’m not gonna hang on to stuff that is going to drag me down thinking about it. Less stuff should hopefully = less opportunity for something to get wonky.

The risk we took changing to a laptop was that when you have hardware failure, you can’t change parts out like you can on a desktop. I am really looking forward to having twin drives again, I have to say. In some cases, absence really DOES make the heart grow fonder!

I WILL let my favorites be overrun with running gear and chicken stuff. :mrgreen: Because, certainly, there is no danger with chickens and running……………. 😉

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Book Description

Sometimes the person you most need is the one least like you. 

Kathryn Davies is a bright young woman from a prominent Phoenix family. But after making a leap of faith at a Christian music fest, dropping out of med school, and moving to inner city Chicago, her family has all but disowned her. Kat’s enthusiasm for her newfound faith tempers the sting of their rejection.

When Kat discovers SouledOut Community Church, she longs to become a part of the multi-cultural church family. But her tendency to say whatever she’s thinking and her eccentric ways step on the toes of nearly everyone she meets—especially Avis Douglass, a woman she admires but who seems distant.

Avis is known for her mature faith and her reliance on listening to God more than people. Married to a kind and successful businessman, she is the principal of one of Chicago’s highest performing elementary schools, and a founding and active member of SouledOut. But the country’s economic downturn has thrown both her and her husband’s jobs in question. And Avis hasn’t heard from her youngest daughter in months—an estrangement that gnaws at her every day. Where is God in all this?

Kat’s flamboyant zeal for living a “radical” Christian life is a stark contrast to Avis’s quiet crisis of faith. But in God’s own mysterious ways, the two women discover they need each other in ways neither of them expected.

My Review

I really enjoyed this book. It’s a classic reminder of not only “Don’t judge a book by its cover” combined with “You can never know a person unless you’ve walked a mile in their moccasins.”

I totally identified with Kat, who spent her childhood trying to meet the expectations of her parents. Since everyone one else in her family were doctors, Kat was also expected to follow this planned-out path. Looking to get away from the grind, Kat goes on a trip away from home that lands her at a Christian concert event. Unexpectedly, Kat finds herself getting caught up in the excitement, and she gives her life to Christ.

As a newly minted Christian, Kat has no idea what to do next………… Connecting with some other college student at the event, Kat decides to make a huge change in her life: leave medical school in Phoenix and attend the Christian college there in Chicago. Making a change to education, Kat is actively seeking out the “urban” lifestyle- a lifestyle completely opposite of everything she’s ever known.

Along with her new friends from college, they begin to worship at a multi-cultural church that turns out to have its own issues……

This title is an extension of a series revolving around a prayer group that some of the church’s members were involved in. I hadn’t read any of those titles, but they weren’t essential to this story line. This is book #1 in the SouledOut Sisters series.

I really liked these characters. There were as real to me as any people I know in real life, without being caricatures. They were complex, and I am sure every one of us knows people like these in our own lives. We may even be struggling with what to do with “that one person who really annoys us.” 🙂

While the ending of this book wrapped up the primary story, it also left it open to a sequel.  I absolutely would love to follow these characters and see how they mature.

I give this title 5 out of 5 stars.

This book is available March 13, 2012.

To see all of my BookSneeze reviews, click on the badge on the right hand side of the page!

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com <http://BookSneeze®.com> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.

 

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No, not like that. Nope, not like that either. (Sheesh, people!!) 😆

I have been putting this off for like, a year. Maybe even more. Not just because of the time and effort involved, but mostly because I’m scared. In many ways, I am a creature of habit.

I have my own method of organization, and I see it in my head, where everything is stashed. I like to avail myself of all the options, and the last time I went down, things didn’t work right on the other side. It worries me to think I’ll lose something I need or things won’t work the way I want them to, because that makes me frustrated.

And I’ve put up with it for what- 3 or 4 years now? My level of frustration has been increasing to the point where I’m spending more time being frustrated than being productive. When things start coming to a standstill more often than not, I have to admit it’s time, and just bite the bullet and go down………….

Yep. It’s time to rebuild the laptop.

The last time we did this, the computer was new. I decided against a Mac (silly me) because my web design software was PC based, and I didn’t want to have to the big $$$ on new software, particularly after getting a new sooper dooper PC. Well, that blew up in my face.

After numerous installs, including re-doing my ITunes a gazillion times (literally, hours and hours and hours several consecutive weekends because I was moving IN to ITunes and hadn’t migrated all the music over from Windows), it became pretty clear that my old Dreamweaver (Macromedia MS) was not going to play nicely with my new laptop at 64 bit.

Here’s something I learned about design software- much of the time, if you are homeschooling, you can get a deeply discounted rate. Pretty neat, eh? Because I had a new PC, that’s the version of Adobe CS4 I ended up with. NOT the way I had hoped things would work out, but too late to do anything about it. I had been wanting to switch to a Mac for a long time, but the stars aligned against me, and it was not to be. Boo.  😦

In the years and years of having Windows machines, we’ve learned a few things.  One big thing we learned was that every year or two, you’d get to the point where things were running soooooo terribly that it was hard not to pitch the whole thing out the window. The solution we came up with early on was to totally rebuild the OS.

Now, I don’t do any of that, because y’all know I have this fantastically magnetic personality, right? I know I’ve talked a little bit about this, but this is a serious problem around our house. Fortunately for me and all involved, Hunny is the antidote.

Whereas I’ve been screaming at my printer because it won’t print for some magical, unknown reason, Hunny can talk to it and stand up to take the few steps to get to it- and it will magically start working again. Seriously. He can stand right over me and see that I’m doing everything I’m supposed to do, and it doesn’t work. The second he tries, though- everything works just fine.

This applies to everything mechanical in general, including autos and power tools. I am a force to be reckoned with.  😀

So, it goes without saying that I won’t mess with the rebuild. I let Hunny deal with it, and in reality, this will only take him a few hours. Having an engineer in the family definitely has its perks!

For example, my laptop was the first one we actually bought. Prior to that, he’d rebuild obsolete machines or start from scratch. You ought to see all the pieces parts in the garage….

My son built his first machine all by himself when he was 12. Hunny always sweats putting in the motherboard, because they are $$$ (that first one for the boy was over $200), but he dropped it without thinking twice. 😯 Because they are gamers, they go with build-your-own boxes because it’s easier to change out parts.

For a long time, I had a very nice purple box. I was annoyed that I couldn’t find a purple monitor to go with it, but I’ve since moved past tube monitors, so it’s all good. 😀 I even managed to find a wireless keyboard and mouse that were nearly the same purple. I seem to think the actual case was called something like “Purple Dragon.” Pretty cool, eh? (yes, I AM a girl!)  😆

Those turned out to be a total bust. The mouse battery only lasted a few hours (there was no dock for recharging- this was back when wireless mice were new) and while the batteries for the keyboard lasted a bit longer, I wore off the letters on 2 keyboards both within a week.

The box over here was basically the one I had, except mine had solid sides. It rocked.  😀

To make the switch to a laptop was a leap for me, but at the time, I was doing some travelling and needed the option to take it with me for presentations on the website(s) I was building. That was the trade-off, because I knew the days of slapping in more RAM and new graphics cards, etc, were over. Boo.

So, it’s time. I’m going down for a rebuild. I am past being frustrated with lag time. And I’m pretty much done with Windows, too.

At this point, I’m going to be dual-partitioned, with primary boot in Ubuntu. I have not been a fan of some OS applications, but this one doesn’t bother me a whole lot. I’ll still be able to use anything MS based that I need, like my design software and my MS Office suite if there’s something in Linux I can’t find.

I assume I’ll be back online by tonight, barring catastrophe and mayhem. If you don’t hear from me for a few days, you can assume I probably got more involved with the rebuild than I should have, and have caused myself problems.  😆

Let the games begin……I’m going down!  :mrgreen:

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Book Description

Disgraced dime novelist Kate Tenney fled the city that banned her latest novel for the emptiness of the desert. Answering an ad to be “heiress” to a vast cattle ranch in the Arizona Territory, Kate hopes ranching turns out to be as romantic as she portrayed it in her novels.

But what awaits her is a life harder than the one she just left. There is no room for mistakes on a working cattle ranch, and Kate is ill-prepared for her new life. She quickly learns that dawn comes early. But she is tenacious.

Having been abandoned by a string of men, Kate has no intention of ever marrying. But she didn’t expect to meet Luke Adams, either. Luke awakens feelings inside Kate she doesn’t recognize, and his steady presence is a constant distraction. She has only written about love in the past, never known it herself. But her feelings for Luke stand in the way of all she has to gain if she is chosen as the heir.

Perhaps God brought Kate to the barrenness of the desert to give new life to her jaded heart.

My Review

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. The advertisement right at the beginning snagged my interest:

HEIRESS WANTED

Looking for hardworking, professional woman of good character and pleasant disposition willing to learn the ranching business in Arizona Territory.  Must be single and prepared to remain so now and forevermore.

How could I resist?  🙂

When the train dumps Kate Tenney at Cactus Patch in 1895, she begins to understand the pitying looks she got while getting off the train. A disgraced potboiler (dime-store novel) author from Boston, she replied to the advertisement based solely on her feeling that because she had written about ranches in her novels, she would have no problem working on one. 😆

“Hands on her waist, Kate glanced around with a growing sense of dismay. This couldn’t be Cactus Patch.  Please don’t let it be so. Never in all her twenty-nine years had she imagined such a desolate place.”

Those of you who know me and my feelings on the desert where I live will no doubt know that I was laughing out loud by this point. I absolutely could identify with Kate’s predicament and her struggle to acclimate not just to the climate, but to the West.

Kate lands at the Last Chance Ranch on the heels of a good number of other heiress wannabes, the longest of which made it a week. The town seems deserted, which she finds unusual, since there was supposed to be a driver waiting for her. It doesn’t take her long to figure out something is seriously amiss in town, and the sole reason for that wastes no time in taking her hostage.

This book is not heavy reading, but the characters are completely delightful. I was laughing out loud through much of it, particularly when Stretch (known for way he told tales) gave his westernisms for current happenings, like “It was so hot, the hen laid hard-boiled eggs, ” and “It was so windy, she laid the same egg three times.”  😆

Along the way to proving she is “the heiress,” Kate has a lot of struggles and struggles to conquer, like staying on a horse, for example. And then there’s the inner struggle she feels when she’s around Luke…….

Initially, I was going to give this title 4.5 out of 5 stars, because there was one particular story-line I wished had been wrapped up. Then I discovered that there is a sequel, and that there is a series. This is book #1 in the Brides of Last Chance Ranch series.

With that in mind, and plans to get the other books when they become available, I give this 5 out of 5 stars.  You won’t want to miss this one if you like books and characters that are just plain fun!

This book is available March 13, 2012.

To see all of my BookSneeze reviews, click on the badge on the right hand side of the page!

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com <http://BookSneeze®.com> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.

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“Can you read it without disturbing it?”

Jeff moved around, positioned at an angle and the bold black print became clear. “I can read one word.” Chills slammed through his chest, spread like fingers to his limbs. He jerked away, stiffened.

“What does it say?” “Boom.”

~~~~~~

Beth and Sara are best friends, and heart sisters. Beth promised Sara’s mom she’d watch over her when they were roommates back in college. After the death of Sara’s parents, she’d done just that. Since Sara’s marriage to Robert, though, Beth has felt like Sara is falling through the cracks……… 

Sara is a stress asthmatic, who’s nearly lost her life several time due to her fragile medical condition. Wealthy co-owners of a technology based business, Sara and Beth were connected at the hip until Robert came into the picture.

And now, Robert is missing. Robert is missing, and Beth is the prime suspect.

Since the incident at the attempted wedding of friends Roxy and Harvey, the entire town of Seagrove Village is on edge.  Has the terrorist organization NINA (Nihilists in Anarchy) returned with a vengeance?

Will Robert’s disappearance kill Sara? Why has Sara been acting so bizarre and cryptic for the last several weeks?

Who is Raven? Can they stop her before it’s too late?

Are you sitting on the edge of your seat yet?  🙂 This was a page-turner I did not want to put down! It has everything I like in a book: chemical weapons, terrorists, a desperately impossible time-table that needed to be met to avoid disastrous results, love, faith, and some redemption thrown in.

While there were references early on in the book to the Crossroads Center, I didn’t really “get” that all of these characters were well-known in previous books.  In fact, it wasn’t until the epilogue letter that it dawned on me that this book must be part of a series because otherwise, that information didn’t make any sense.

Now, this either tells you that I am pretty dense- (which I’m not, by the way :lol:) or it tells you that this is excellent writing, because getting involved in the content of this title doesn’t entirely depend on having read any of the other books in the series. Not This Time is the third book in the series.

Because the other books weren’t missed, this author goes on my A++ list and into the category of the few authors I would actually be willing to pay to read. I will *definitely* be going to get the preceding books in this series.

Even though this book ended with some unanswered questions (like who was the faux Joe and what was he really after?), I can only hope that this means there are more books coming in the Crossroads Crisis Series. I would give this book 10 stars if I could, but alas, the system maxes out at 5, so 5 stars it is.

After the trailer, I’ve included the full first chapter as found on the author’s website: http://vickihinze.com/books/fiction/not-this-time. This book goes on sale February 21, 2011.

I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review.

~~~~~

CHAPTER EXCERPT

ⓒ 2011, Vicki Hinze

1

Saturday, June 5 at 6:00 p.m., Seagrove Village, Florida

He was late. The country club’s parking lot was nearly full, but Detective Jeff Meyers spotted an empty slot in the last of five rows. He parked and cut the engine, grabbed the invitation to Harvey and Roxy Talbot’s renewal of their wedding vows off the center console, and then rushed through the humid heat back to the main entrance.

Cold air blasted him in the face. He breathed deeply, relishing it. No doubt all the Crossroads Crisis Center staff was already out in the courtyard. He hated to show up for a classy event late and sweaty, but thanks to clashing factions over the coming mayoral election at Ruby’s Diner, there hadn’t been time to shower and change clothes.

Bypassing a grouping of sofa and chairs, Jeff headed toward the back of the building. With all its polish and gold-framed original art, the club was too elegant for his tastes, but the people were friendly enough to make it semicomfortable. There was no need to ask anyone where to go, which was a good thing since not a soul was in sight— kind of funny, that—but Annie and Nora, the self-appointed Seagrove Village wedding planners, had made sure if a body found the front door, there’d be no confusion.

Rose petals on the cool marble floor created a path between stretched white columns to a set of French doors that led outside to the courtyard. A sign would have worked, but the club didn’t allow them. There were limits to its tolerance for things that pricked at its perception of class.

Since Roxy had her heart set on the inner courtyard, they had scheduled the ceremony later in the day to avoid the relentless heat, but it still radiated. With reluctance Jeff left the cool lobby and closed the French doors behind him. Doing his job or not, he would get his ears blistered by Nora for being late. His only hope was that the village matriarch was so focused on the ceremony she wouldn’t notice. She was getting up in age and bat-blind, seeing walls only when she bumped into them, but Jeff had never known Ben Brandt’s housekeeper to miss a thing that mattered to her, which meant Jeff was going to get reamed. He resigned himself to it.

Nora had put everyone on notice. This ceremony had to be perfect for Harvey and Roxy. Dr. Harvey Talbot worked at Ben’s crisis center and Nora worked for Ben. That put Harvey under Nora’s protective wing as one of her “boys.” She was beloved in the village, and anyone who messed with her would answer to everyone—Jeff included.

Truly, Harvey and Roxy getting back together was a miracle, and all the villagers were glad to see it. They never should have gotten divorced. Harvey hadn’t wanted it, but Roxy was with the FBI and she’d pulled a case that involved NINA—Nihilists in Anarchy—a group of terrorists with a criminal wing so ruthless, it gave Homeland Security, law enforcement, and crooks cold chills. Roxy had divorced Harvey to get him out of the line of fire so NINA wouldn’t hurt him or use him to get to her. Not that she’d explained that to Harvey, which is why he’d been as miserable as the men on death row. Apparently, so had she.

Jeff followed the rose-petal trail onto a stone walkway that wound between fat shrubs and fountains that cooled the air with a welcome mist. He’d like to pause to cool down but didn’t dare; if he was lucky, he’d get to hear the “I do agains.”

Intended to seat fifty, the intimate courtyard was surrounded on all sides by brick buildings that held in the heat. He rushed his steps, rounded a cluster of petite palms and spiny palmettos—and came to a dead halt.

Bodies lay everywhere.

All the white-slatted chairs stood empty, and every guest who should have been in one was sprawled on the ground. Under the arch draped in leafy greenery and pink roses lay Harvey and Roxy and Reverend Brown.

Jeff didn’t dare move. Hyperalert, he scanned the scene. The Crossroads group was clustered together. Nora lay facedown, her arm outstretched as if reaching for her companion, Clyde Parker, who was flat on his back with a toppled chair parked half on his stomach. It wasn’t moving. With breaths, that chair should be moving.

Jeff whipped out his phone and hit speed dial, phoning the station. Busy. No surprise; most who’d answer were here, supine on the grass. The silence in the courtyard was deafening. They all lay motionless. What had happened here?

His heart thudding, he pulled his gun, continued searching. Nothing. Fearing a trap, he checked the rooftops but saw only clear blue sky. The lingering scent of something pungent burned his nose. It sure wasn’t the flowers, but he couldn’t tag its source. The building’s walls had trapped the scent, but now a breeze stirred. Whatever the smell, it was faint and fading fast; another minute or two and it’d be gone.

Chemical. Get out of here. You’re getting exposed.

He ignored the warning. He was already exposed, and these people mattered to him; he couldn’t just leave them. Keeping his eyes pealed, he thumbed off the safety and readied for rapid firing, then moved toward the people closest to him: Beth Dawson and her SaBe, Inc. co-owner Sara Jones-Tayton. Sara’s husband, Robert, wasn’t with her. Strange. He seldom missed a social event, and Sara rarely attended one without him. Beth and Sara volunteered at Crossroads, kept the center’s computers safe from hackers, and helped out Quantico when it got in a pinch. Crumpled on the grass behind the chairs, they too must have arrived late and not made the last half-dozen steps to their seats.

His mouth went stone dry. These were all his friends—many of them, since birth. Were they all dead?

Nothing. Not one unexpected sight or sound or movement. He tried the station again. Still busy.

A table draped in crisp white linen stood between the others and him. Flowers and crystal filled one end; a two-tier wedding cake, the other. The breeze bent all the leaves to the north and that faint, pungent smell had disappeared. Whatever it had been, it’d dissipated.

Get out, Jeff. Wait for Hazmat.

The internal battle escalated to a war. He should wait for a hazardous-material team, but his heart wouldn’t let him. Covering his mouth and nose with his handkerchief, he stepped behind the table and bumped his back against the brick building, then slid down the rough wall to Beth. Don’t let her be dead. Please.

In a cold sweat, he squatted and pressed his fingers to her throat. A steady thump pulsed against his fingertips. She was alive. Thank God.

“Beth?” No answer. “Beth?” They had dated a couple times. He had been crazy about her, but she just hadn’t been into him so they settled for being friends. “Can you hear me?” No response.

What about the others?

No. Backup first. You need backup.

Reverting to his life as a beat cop, he reached for the radio clipped to his collar before remembering he no longer had one and his phone was already in his hand. Darting, wary, he tried the station yet again. Finally, it rang.

“Seagrove Village Police.” The rookie, Kyle Perry. “It’s Jeff Meyer. Who’s there with clout?”

“The chief’s in, but he’s in conference.”

“Get him.”

“I can’t, Detective. He said not to disturb him.”

It was quicker to switch than to fight a rookie under orders. “Who else is there?”

“Coroner Green.”

Hank would do. “Get him on the phone.”

A moment later, Hank came on the line. “Hey, why aren’t you at the ceremony?”

“I just got here. Everyone’s out cold, Hank.” Jeff briefed him, requested backup, and then added, “I need a Hazmat team—medical too, but put them in a holding pattern away from the building until Hazmat gives an all-clear.”

“What do you think happened?”

Sara Jones-Tayton was breathing. Shallow and slow, pulse thready but there. “I don’t know.” Jeff stood, his knees crackling. Still no one conscious in sight. He moved on to the next closest group. “No signs of a struggle. They’re just all on the ground, out cold.”

“White powder? Oily residue? Funny smell? Anything like that?”

“No residue or powder. I caught a whiff of something when I arrived, but it’s gone now. There’s nothing else to see—wait a second.” Beth lay on her side, her hand buried beneath her. He looked closely, then checked the others, homing in on their hands. Beth, Sara, Kelly Walker, and Lisa Harper all had strings tied to their fingers— and Roxy did too. “Five women have strings tied to their fingers. Looks like monofilament.”

“Fishing line?”

“Appears so.” He followed the lines to where they converged. “All five lead to one place—the wedding cake.” Jeff double-checked, then added, “To the bride. She’s half buried in the bottom layer of the cake—not Roxy, the plastic bride that usually sits on top of the cake.” He moved closer. The plastic was cracked, its edges jagged. “The plastic groom was ripped off.” Jeff checked beneath the table. “He’s missing.”

“The plastic groom is missing.” Hank stuttered. “Harvey—”

“Is here.”

“Then what does it mean?”

“I don’t know, but this was no accident.” Not with those strings. Jeff didn’t like where his mind was going, yet he’d have to be a brick short to ignore the obvious. “Professionals knocked out everyone and singled out specific targets.”

“Oh, man. Not NINA again.” Hank sounded as nervous as Jeff felt.

The international terrorist organization that, to fund its ideological objectives, black-marketed anything of value—weapons, intelligence, drugs, people. “It’s crossed my mind already.” They’d had two run-ins with NINA; of course it’d crossed his mind.

“I could see NINA coming after Kelly or Lisa—and Roxy busted up their human-trafficking operation—but why Beth and Sara? They can’t identify anyone in NINA.”

“They helped us take NINA down in the human-trafficking case.” When it came to computers, Beth and Sara were two of the best on the planet. Their SaBe was a megasuccessful software company, and everyone in the village knew they helped out the government all the time. Quantico tried repeatedly to hire Beth but couldn’t afford her, and before Sara had married Robert Tayton, she’d spent nearly as much time at Quantico as she had at home. NINA could want them both out of the way for that. “Revenge, maybe?”

Jeff turned to examine the next of the fallen. Darla Green, the wife of the deceased mayor, lay alone. Jeff wiggled his fingers into position on her throat. Breathing. He moved on.

Hank grunted. “NINA can’t afford idle revenge. If they’re behind this—”

“Who else has the ability or guts to pull off something like this?”

“No one who’d actually do it. But that means there’s more to it than revenge.”

“We don’t even know what it is yet.” Jeff kept moving through the crowd, person to person, finding throat pulses and growing more and more relieved. “Whatever it is, we never saw it coming. They came in and did what they wanted—they could have killed them all.” That truth sent shards of fear slicing through Jeff’s veins. His friends—all his friends—could have been murdered on his watch.

“But they didn’t kill them.”

“Not this time.” Jeff gazed down, then glanced over, seemingly seeing double senior women. His heart sank, then slammed against his chest wall. “Maybe something is still in the air, Hank. I’m seeing two Noras.”

“Probably Nathara, Nora’s identical twin. She’s here from New Orleans to take Nora to some eye specialist.”

“Oh.” Jeff had never seen her before. He blew out a relieved breath and checked them both. Strong. Steady. He moved on, past Nora and her sister, and placed his fingertips on the next throat. Nothing.

He tried again.

Still nothing.

Tried a third time but it just wasn’t there. No pulse. A lump rose in Jeff’s throat. “Oh, man.”

“What?” Jeff’s eyes burned. Bury it. You’re a professional. Remember it. His throat went thick and strain flooded his voice. “You’ll need to come out too, Hank. I—I, um, can’t lock down the crime scene by myself, and the rookie won’t be much help.”

“Got it. Backup’s already on the way.”

Not the kind of help he required. “I need backup and high-powered help.”

“How high?” Uncertainty elevated Hank’s voice. A tear leaked from Jeff’s eye. “All the way.” Hank was sharp on the uptake. The chief was too. They’d know to contact Homeland Security and to get the FBI on-scene immediately.

“Al won’t like it. Not without some preliminary work being done first.” Hank Green was wrong on that. “The chief will dial the phone.” Jeff looked into sightless eyes that once had twinkled kindness and his own vision blurred. He gently swept the eyelids closed with his fingertips and searched for his voice. “This has to be some kind of chemical attack. We don’t have the resources—”

“Let’s don’t jump to conclusions, Jeff.”

He started snapping photos with his cell phone. Hank, not the chief, was reluctant to call in outsiders. Why? Protecting the village tourism? He was running for mayor… “You either jump or get dragged into this one, Hank. Chemical is all that makes sense.”

“We don’t have to rush to judgment. They’re alive. We can—”

“I’m afraid we do need to rush,” Jeff interrupted. The first forty-eight hours were critical to successfully solving any case. Stats backed him up on that. “We have a fatality .”

A long second passed. Then another. “Visitor or villager?”

Jeff’s voice cracked. He cleared his throat. No way was he identifying this victim over the phone. Word would sweep through Seagrove like wildfire. “A villager.” He moved over to the cake, snapped a shot. A curled edge of paper was half buried in the frosting. “Whoever did this left a message. It’s attached to the bride buried in the cake.”

“Can you read it without disturbing it?”

Jeff moved around, positioned at an angle and the bold black print became clear. “I can read one word.” Chills slammed through his chest, spread like fingers to his limbs. He jerked away, stiffened.

“What does it say?” “Boom.”

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Book Description

David Ponder is back. This time the fate of mankind is in his hands. 

This is mankind’s last chance. Centuries of greed, pride, and hate have sent humanity hurtling toward disaster, and far from its original purpose. There is only one solution that can reset the compass and right the ship, and it consists of only two words.

With time running out, it is up to David Ponder and a cast of history’s best and brightest minds to uncover this solution before it is too late. The catch? They are allowed only five tries to discover the answer.

Readers first encountered David Ponder in The Traveler’s Gift. Now, in The Final Summit, Andrews combines a riveting narrative with astounding history in order to show us the one thing we must do when we don’t know what to do.

My Review

This book was some good reading! While it is a sequel to The Traveler’s Gift which I have not read, overall, I think it wasn’t necessary to have read the first book. There were a few characters that I assume were in the first book that weren’t really needed in this one. Not having read the first title, though, I have to assume that if I had, it would have been nice to visit these folks again.

The concept of travelling is really very interesting. Wouldn’t it be great to have the opportunity to visit with people from history, like Abraham Lincoln, and George Washington Carver (who were also travelers) ? The list of travellers convened for the final summit reads like a who’s who of great people in history.

With the instructions given by the archangel Gabriel, I had an idea of what the answer could be. It’s a good thing they weren’t relying on me, because I, too, was wrong. 🙂 The answers agreed upon and given seemed plausible, and the line of reasoning was sound. I particularly appreciated the information provided by the author at the end of the book, because there were some historical folks mentioned in the book that I was unfamiliar with. To have confirmation that they were real people has left me interested in learning more about them.

That being said, I’m giving this title 4.5 out of 5 stars, because while it was a really good read, it hasn’t left me thinking about the book since reading it. It also didn’t put me in a position where I didn’t want to put it down to find out what happened next. Because I am thinking about the two relatively unknown pivotal people, I’m giving it an extra 1/2 star.

Give this book a go if you want to think! You won’t be disappointed!

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