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Archive for June, 2012


“Yeah, babe, I know. I saw what you sent, too. Finish your cake before we head back in.” Frank thought he had enough information to warrant improvising a bit and changing the plan.

“Frankie,” she said, her voice hitching,” This is way worse than just some guns being smuggled with armor-piercing rounds. If we leave and come back when it’s dark so everyone’s gone, we should be able to access the back door, so long as they aren’t unloading anything in the alley.” Macy paused, momentarily forgetting she still had icing smeared on her fingers.

“We have to get a count. I’m not even worried about the guns. Guns I can deal with. But those flower pots are loaded, and I need you to confirm my suspicions.” She took a quick lick of icing.

“Damn. I think they finally did it, Frank. I think they’ve recreated igron pyr.” Macy went back to eating her cake, trying to project a calm facade.

Her cuss word caused Frank to turn abruptly to her, eyes wide. “Greek fire? Shit.” He rubbed his jaw, hands grating over his stubble. “They might have done it. That would explain the gassy, rotten egg sulfur smell, for sure. And if it’s the real deal, they won’t need water, either.”

Macy, while not an explosives expert like Frank, was, however, a history buff. Igron pyr, or Greek fire, was the ancient incendiary weapon of mysterious composition, thanks to the top-secret nature of the recipe, which was heavily guarded and then lost to time. But she knew enough to know that’s what was in all those flower pots, sitting in neat rows.

And she knew she had to get back inside to get a better look, with her own personal eyes. Remote viewing and astral projection were usually pretty accurate, but she needed breadth and depth. She needed scope.

Her gut told her someone had finally figured out the ancient killer formula, and they were going to use it- soon.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

To read Frank and Macy’s story in order, click on the Gunz-N-Roses link at the top of the page!

Trifecta writing challenge week 31! This week’s word is:
ALLEY (noun)

 
1: a garden or park walk bordered by trees or bushes
2a (1) : a grassed enclosure for bowling or skittles

(2) : a hardwood lane for bowling; also : a room or building housing a group of such lanes
b : the space on each side of a tennis doubles court between the sideline and the service sideline
c : an area in a baseball outfield between two outfielders when they are in normal positions
3: a narrow street; especially : a thoroughfare through the middle of a block giving access to the rear of lots or buildings

Please remember:

Good luck, and we’ll see you back on Friday!

 

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This is a family favorite and super, super simple. For some reason, we seem to do these more at night. I think it’s because it’s probably just easier then.

Needed:

Chicken

Wrap

See what I mean? Easy peasy. Everybody loves these, and not only are they thoroughly enjoyable, but they are completely addicting. You have been warned. 😀

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

:mrgreen:  😆

***No chickens were harmed in the taking of these pictures, although I did have to give a reminder to leave some of her head uncovered so she could get some air.  LOL. This is one of our silkies, Marshmallow (12 weeks old), and she ♥♥♥s being snuggled in like this, believe it or not. See why we love our chickens?!

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Yep. We are. And it’s not the good kind. We got up yesterday to falling ash. There is something deeply unsettling about stepping outside at any point during the day and seeing and smelling smoke.

Don’t you hate it when you’re sure you’ve ranted about something but then you can’t find it? Ya. Me too.

One of the topics that’s taken up a lot of my time through the years is fire. So much so, that while I remember very clearly planning to write about it, it appears I didn’t actually do it, for some unknown reason. Maybe it’s because it’s too depressing.

Last year, I wrote about being in a dry spell. It was really bad. My town recorded the driest start to the year since record keeping began in 1895, with a whopping .09 of precipitation from January 1 to May 12. When you normally get around nearly 13 inches of annual precipitation but only get 5.56 for the entire year, you know you are in trouble. It was no wonder we had bears in town!

And, it was hot. We spent from May on to September at least being mostly 100 degrees or hotter most days. I know some records will say we only had 60 days of 100+ weather, but their data stations aren’t in my backyard. We had a stretch of almost a month where it was around 110 every day, and daily highs were over 105. (Now, you people in Texas and Arizona, I know had it worse, so everything actually is relative…………..)

The year started off with a cold snap in February, that brought daily highs of -11; lows of -14. No, I’m not joking. The last time I remember that kind of cold was 16 years ago when we lived in NE Colorado. We here in the desert are used to daily swings of 50 degrees. But that cold was brutal, as was the heat and drought that followed.

You may remember the Las Conchas fire last year that threatened the Los Alamos National Laboratories. To date, it was the largest fire the state had seen, at 156, 593 acres.

Las Conchas fire pictures here.

However bad we thought that was, it doesn’t come close to the Whitewater Baldy Complex fire. As of this morning, it has consumed 278,039 acres and is only 32% contained. There are 738 people engaged in fighting this fire. Growth potential is high. This fire is part of the Gila National Forest, where most recently, ultra marathon runner Micah True  (of the book Born to Run fame) passed away in the Gila Wilderness; which is now on fire.

You can see more pictures here.

The fire raining ash on my house yesterday, is a baby fire in comparison at this point. It’s the Little Bear fire. As of this morning, it’s got 26,000 acres and is 0% contained. This is all rugged, mountain terrain. All of our favorite campgrounds have been evacuated. I don’t know if they’ve burned or not. There’s conflicting word regarding a church camp, church, and surrounding homes on the complex. We know people whose homes have been lost. My aunt and uncle used to have a cabin up there. 

I’ve heard that the church and church camp are lost, but I’ve also heard the church is ok. Seeing as a good friend’s brother-in-law is the pastor there, I am sure I’ll be able to get updates once people can get in. It’s heartbreaking. The church and camp there are closely tied to the community here, and many, many people I’m friends with have cabins up there. The Ruidoso Free Press reports the church and campground have been “compromised.”

For more pictures (where I got the one above) and updates, I’ve been checking out the Southeastern New Mexico Weather Web Page.

We’re under a red flag warning, too. This means sustained winds of 20 mph with gusts up to 40 mph. NOT good help for fighting fires.

And, for the record, we’re still in a drought, although rumor has it that El Nino may be showing up soon. We can only pray.

Picture courtesy of MSNBC.

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Some of the time, at least. Other times, it doesn’t matter how much harp music is going on; there will still be those that want to turn the other way and ignore the elephant in the room.

What has me all in knots this morning? We’re going to re-visit one of the topics that raises my blood pressure: giving driver’s licenses to illegal aliens in New Mexico. You may remember some of my other thoughts here and here.

Part of my ranting involved the abuse of issuing NM driver’s licenses. This, folks, goes beyond issuing licenses to document illegal aliens.

August of 2011 brought a bust on a Chinese crime ring of folks obtaining NM driver’s licenses fraudulently. The count that time was 62 illegal licenses obtained.

With February 2011 came the arrest of 5 more people, one on his way to India via O’Hare International in Chicago.

It’s no surprise that there’s been another arrest, given the new governor’s quest to deal with this issue and show the abuse that is no doubt rampant.

“Although investigators identified 54 cases for prosecution purposes, the ring is accused of fraudulently obtaining hundreds of New Mexico driver’s licenses for illegal foreign nationals living outside the State.”

The potential for this ring seemed to be particularly large, since this group was making $30,000 a month on fraudulent driver’s licenses.

There are, however, more stunning numbers.

“About 92,000 foreign national licenses have been issued in New Mexico since 2003. Out of those, only 16,000 license holders filed a return this tax season, Padilla said.

“Where are the rest of them? It appears they’re not in New Mexico, as is evident by this ring,” she said.”

Gee, ya think?  We finally have a governor who is trying to DO something about this issue, and even though there is a majority of actual PEOPLE in NM who want this gone, the legislature can’t seem to vote to get this law undone.

More detail about this latest crime ring is found here.

“According to the attached criminal complaint, Collazo-Medrano fraudulently used eight different addresses – four in Clovis and four in Portales – to establish residential requirements for dozens of foreign nationals between October 2009 and December 2011. Investigators have been able to establish 54 fraud cases involving Collazo-Medrano, so far, as their investigation continues.”

Still up in the air is what’s going to happen in January 2013. Why is this date such a big deal?

That’s the date when the postponed Real ID Act goes into effect. When that happens, those of us with NM or Washington driver’s licenses won’t be able to use them as our identification for flying domestically because they aren’t issued to just US citizens.

Yep. That means we’ll have to get passports. I wonder if the government is going to offer us all free passports. I know it sure would help me, since I have a family of 6. Prices today tell me it’s going to cost at least $855. Ya, I have that spare change floating around in my couch. 🙄  {snort} At this point, I haven’t seen anything that gives another solution.

It’s also no surprise then, that there’s a run on getting fraudulent licenses right now, because time is running out. Interestingly, an article about this topic on a judicial watchdog site says,

“The Real ID Act would kill those little deals. Under the measure a newly created federal database will link all licensing data that must be checked before states issue new cards. Residents of states that don’t comply with the law will be greatly inconvenienced because their driver’s licenses will not be accepted as proof of identification at airports, federal buildings or when applying for any sort of federal benefits.”

And then on the side bar, there are links to other articles, like New Mexico Won’t Stop Giving Illegal Aliens Driver’s Licenses  and Illegal Immigrants Fight To Keep Driver’s License.

Without getting tangled up in the debate of whether or not the Real ID Act should even be in place, I will say that it’s a load of crap that I, a private US citizen, should have to fork out nearly $1,000 just to be able to fly domestically because the idiot legislatures in this state want to give licenses to criminals.

{/rant}

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“If I had the energy, I’d cover your mouth. We have big issues to deal with, and the last thing I want to think about is your potty mouth. ”

“Shit. Sorry. You had me totally freakin’ out! You’re sittin’ there dead to the world and then your hair starts smouldering? For a minute I thought the cake sent you into blood sugar overdrive. What the hell- heck- is going on? This day has been entirely too bizarre. Seriously, I need answers.”

“Frank,” Macy sighed, “I’m pretty sure I’m not what you had hoped for in a new partner, but we are stuck until this case is solved. I know you think I’m weird, and I can’t say I blame you. Remote viewing and astral projection were not what I went looking for when they were handing out psychic skills. And honestly, I’m not sure how much more my hair can take. Hmmmm.” She paused.

“Maybe it would actually help us if I shaved it all off and just went bald. Nobody would recognize me if I kept changing wigs.” She flipped her visor down, and opened up the mirror, to survey the damage. With a snort, she pushed it back up, not taking the time to properly close the mirror lid so the lights would turn off.

“Ok. Here’s the deal. You heard them making arrangements to transport the cargo, right?” Without bothering to wait for confirmation, Macy went on. “We knew they were getting ready to move. Now we know the how, and that tells us part of the where. But until today, we didn’t know the what.”

The vein in Frank’s jaw was working overtime. Macy could tell he was doing his best to keep quiet. She needed to explain, without interruption. Once she had given him the information, it was his job to turn his explosives expertise into something they could use. She was pretty sure her pocket alarm clock wasn’t the only one ticking.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

It’s week 30 of the Trifecta writing challenge. To read Frank and Macy’s story in order, click on the Gunz-N-Roses link at the top of the page!

On to the weekly prompt. Please remember to use the third definition of the word as stated below.

NEW (adjective)

 
1

: having recently come into existence
2 a (1) : having been seen, used, or known for a short time (2) : unfamiliar
b : being other than the former or old
3: having been in a relationship or condition but a short time <new to the job> <a new wife>

Please remember:

Good luck, and we’ll see you back on Friday!

This week’s word is new.

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Book Description

In a small Southern community where everyone is holding tight to something, the biggest challenge may be learning to let go.

Hope Springs, North Carolina, is the epitome of small town life—a place filled with quiet streets where families have been friends for generations, a place where there’s not a lot of change. Until three women suddenly find themselves planted there for a season.

Janelle Evans hasn’t gone back to Hope Springs for family reunions since losing her husband. But when she arrives for Christmas and learns that her grandmother is gravely ill, she decides to extend the stay. It isn’t long before she runs into her first love, and feelings that have been dormant for more than a decade are reawakened. And when Janelle proposes a Bible study a the local diner–and invites both African American and Caucasian women she has met–the group quickly forms a spiritual bond . . . and inadvertently adds to underlying tension in the community.

Becca Anderson is finally on the trajectory she’s longed for. Having been in the ministry trenches for years, she’s been recruited as the newest speaker of a large Christian women’s conference. But her husband feels called to become the pastor of his late father’s church in Hope Springs. Will small town living affect her big ministry dreams?

And Stephanie London has the ideal life—married to a doctor in St. Louis with absolutely nothing she has to do. When her cousin Janelle volunteers to stay in Hope Springs and care for their grandmother, she feels strangely compelled to do the same. It’s a decision that will forever change her.

As these women come together, facing disappointments both public and private, they soon recognize that healing is needed in their hearts, their families, and their churches that have long been divided along racial lines. God’s plan for them in Hope Springs—and for Hope Springs itself—is bigger than they ever imagined.

My Review

I don’t know that this is a book in a series as much as there are other titles that focus on other characters that show up in this book.

Since I got this as an e-book, I’ll address that first. At the very beginning, there is a family tree. It’s not possible to adjust the settings so images get enlarged, and, as with other titles, this was one I couldn’t see well enough to do me any good because I didn’t have a magnifying glass handy. In addition, books with these kinds of helpers are generally best as hard copies because it’s much easier, in my opinion, to flip back and forth in a hard copy.

I found the number of story lines and characters to be too many. I had an awful time keeping up with who was who, and who was black and who was white. Race and relations between the two were a primary theme in this title. The issue of race relations was done tactfully and presented well.

I really do think this would have been better had the number of characters been decreased. There were just too many story lines going on at the same time for my personal taste.

It was a fast read and relatively engaging. Because of the level of character confusion, I’m going to have to give this 3.5 out of 5 stars. At the end of this book, there was the first chapter of a previous story. I will say that I am not interested in reading it because I’ve already read this book. There are other series I’ve read where I really do feel compelled to go back and read earlier titles to help me have a more complete picture, but this isn’t one of them.

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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On the cusp of the Civil War, Virginia’s Colonel Jeffrey Jordan and his daughter Jenny know they will likely face the decision of where to place their allegiances. Before war breaks out, newly elected President Lincoln makes the choice to appoint Colonel Jordan the military expert on the Senate Military Committee. What President Lincoln didn’t know then, despite asking outright, was that Colonel Jordan has decided to stand with the South. In fact, his position puts him just in the right place to act as a spy.

Jenny, Colonel Jordan’s daughter, also feels pulled as a southerner. She’s caught between a rock and a hard place, though, because she enjoys President Lincoln and his family, particularly his two young boys. And, she’s working in the White House as a receptionist.

Falling in love with a Yankee soldier- a Zouaves no less- was not on her agenda. When her father forbids her to see any soldier, but particularly one in the Union, she is heartbroken.

At the onset of the war, a spy ring is formed, using a few people situated in delicate positions to gain the information which is then passed across enemy lines using the most unsuspecting of spies- young women. Lieutenant Colonel Jordan obligates Jenny to act as one of the spies, which tears her heart apart, as she tries to steer clear of any involvement that might harm her beloved soldier.

On Jenny’s first spy mission, she is caught. The commander in charge of her execution is none other than her love, the newly promoted Colonel Buck Brownell.

Can Buck save her from the firing squad? If he can, is it possible for their love to survive, now knowing of her traitorous act?

I thought the plot was sound. I’ve read one other Al Lacy book, and said then that I would be interested to read another or two of his titles. This book follows a very similar pattern to the previous title, less the use of scripture.

This book took forever to get moving. The first few chapters felt like a history lesson. I love history, as you know, but this one focused more on the situation than the relationships, which were ultimately the point of this story.

I intensely disliked the father, who not only interfered with her relationships, but then also demanded she become a spy. The analogy of being a soldier on the field and being in harm’s way does not equate, in my opinion, to the actual execution of a spy if caught. I thought the father was deplorable. It would have been totally different if it was her idea and she wanted to be a willing participant, but that’s not what came across.

Nonetheless, towards the end, I did want to plough through, to see what happened. We already knew (via the bit on the back of the book) that Jenny gets caught in Buck’s territory. It seemed like it took forever to get to the actual point of the book. Although I understand the ground work that needed to be laid for the resolution, it just seems that it could have been done in a more engaging manner.

I’m going to give this one 3 out of 5 stars because it wasn’t terrible.  It was average. You need to like history, though, because if you don’t, you will most likely be bored enough to put this one down before it gets interesting.

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

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