Thursday, 31 August 2017

What August Was Like

Today is the last day of August. Can you believe September starts tomorrow? And is this the end of summer here?
Most of this month was sunny and warm, if not hot; we've had thunderstorms with hail and rain in between. Yesterday was so warm and humid, I didn't feel like going for my usual Wednesday evening run. The air felt as if you could spoon it. It rained during the night but at the moment does not feel much cooler, although it is supposed to get no warmer than 20 C (68 F) today as opposed to the 32 C (90 F) or so we had yesterday.

I guess a cool break this weekend will do us good, and apparently, we're in for beautiful late summer weather in September. We'll just have to wait and see!

August was a very busy month for me. Work picked up the moment I came back from my Yorkshire holiday, and there have been many things besides work: Three birthdays to celebrate (my Mum, a friend and O.K.'s Mum; it was his sister's birthday this month, too, but as it was during the week, I could not be there); walks and runs, barbeques, other meals and a trip to the cinema with friends, plenty of nice food and drink to enjoy. Train trips were often much longer than planned, and not always pleasant, but in the end I arrived where I wanted to be.

I took a few pictures with my mobile phone during the month. They are not brilliant but they offer some glimpses into what August was like for me.

You could easily mistake the above for a dish of plums - but they are not, they are blue potatos, grown by my Dad on my parents' allotment and cooked for me a few weeks ago by my Mum. They taste just like "normal" spuds, and they are blue throughout, not just on the outside.
The drink next to it is a very popular cocktail on Germany, and has been for years. I remember exactly where and when I had my first Aperol Spritz: At a friend's 40th birthday in February 2011. This drink was already firmly established then, but I had never tasted it before. It is based on Aperol, an Italian bitter orange liqueur. The glass is filled up with sparkling wine and soda water, some ice cubes are added and a slice of orange as garnishing. It is refreshing and not too sweet, and you can find it at nearly every bar, restaurant, festival or even beer tent here.

The above pictures were taken on the 14th of August from my office window at one of my customer's. I know you have not much to compare those hail stones to in terms of size, but trust me, they were about 3 cm or 1 inch, more or less the size of ice cubes to put in a drink!

It was so noisy we had to stop work and just watch the spectacular show out there. One of my friends who had parked her car in front of her house had it looked at for insurance claims, and it was classified as a total write-off due to it being totally covered in dents.

Torrential rain is falling as we speak, interspersed with lightning and thunder. It is 8 o'clock in the morning right now, and I shall wait a few more minutes before leaving for work.

Good-bye, August; as a month, you were very good to me!

Addendum: Here is a picture I took on August 15 from my kitchen window:

Also, in respone to comments below, my Mum told me the name of the blue spuds my Dad has planted. They are not Adirondacks, but Blaue St. Galler, "Blue from St. Gallen" - Saint Gallen being a place in Switzerland, and that is indeed where this particular kind was bred.

Speaking of my Mum, after a break of several months during spring and summer, she has now re-opened her Etsy shop (see left side bar of my blog). Just in case anyone needs warm socks or a woolly hat or mittens :-)

Wednesday, 30 August 2017

Read in 2017 - 29: Adam on the Inside

"Adam on the Inside" by Kelbian Noel

This YA novel was something different, and although I am not really into the whole paranormal thing, I kept reading because I really wanted to know where this story was leading and what was going to happen next.

Adam is your typical rich, spoiled brat. Materially,he has everything: flash car, suite of rooms at the family mansion with huge TV screen, and plenty of money to spend on girls, drinks and other drugs. He is bright enough not to run into academic problems, either, but with all this, he is ungratefully bemoaning his fate that has him stuck with a controlling father and disinterested mother. There are constant rows with his Dad, and one evening, Adam storms off and out of spite throws a party on his parents' yacht. One thing leads to the other, Adam falls overboard, hits his head against the anchor, and drowns. He was 18 years old.

Next thing he knows, he wakes up - 20 years later, and in the body of an 18-year-old girl. Roxy's life could not be much more different from Adam's: Not only because she is female, but also because she is black and being raised by a single mother in a poor neighbourhood. But Roxy is bright and dreams of going to Harvard. She has a crush on the boy next door, and a best friend to do girly things with.

Adam meets his "Spirit Watcher" and is told that his spirit has been placed in Roxy's body for a purpose - it is his only chance at redemption, for having been such a "foul" person in his previous existence. He is supposed to help someone, but has to find out nearly everything on his own with few clues to go after. Not even the identity of the person he has to help is revealed to him.

Adam gradually finds out what he needs to know and puts the pieces of the puzzle together. At the same time, he has to manage life as Roxy, which of course leads to some rather comical (and some less so) situations.

When an unexpected deal is put before him, he is faced with the toughest choice. Should he take the offer, and get his old life back (maybe even better off materially than before), or do the right thing for once in his "life"?

Kelbian Noel is an author I'd never heard of before; I didn't even know whether the name was male or female. She does have a blog on here, too, and writes a bit about herself here.
Strangely enough, on both Amazon and Goodreads I only find some other books by her, not this one. Anyway, I found and downloaded it as a free ebook a few years ago and have only now gotten round to reading it. While I did enjoy the story, I found many typos that could have been taken care of with a little editing. But who am I to complain about a free ebook?

Wednesday, 23 August 2017

Read in 2017 - 28: The Audubon Park Murder

The Audubon Park Murder (A Sleepy Carter Mystery)
by Brian W. Smith

Rookie Detective Lizzie Silverman is assigned the case of a beautiful college student murdered at Audubon Park (New Orleans) one dark night - no witnesses, but several people would have either motive or occasion, or both.
As if Lizzie had not enough on her plate with this case and her condescending, chauvinistic partner, she has also taken it upon herself to secretly work on the cold case that is her own parents' death of 10 years ago: They died in a car crash that Lizzie herself sees as murder.

But then, help appears from an unexpected source: A homeless man introduces himself to Lizzie as legendary detective Sleepy Carter.
Lizzie knows him from pictures at the police department and from what older members of the police force have told her: Sleepy solved the "unsolvable" cases and even assisted the FBI, until one day he suddenly disappeared. Most believe him dead, the victim of one of the many criminals he helped convict.

There he is, very much alive and kicking, but for reasons he chooses to keep to himself he wants everybody but Lizzie to continue believing him dead and gone. She lets him stay in her garage while he helps her solve the murder at the park.

As this book was labeled 1st in a series, I did not expect each and every question to be answered, and it wasn't. But the principal case is solved, and I did not guess the solution until the end. The story is written in a way that makes you wabt to know what happens next, and keep reading. Some conversations and scenes are a bit drawn out (read: lengthy) when it is not really necessary, although the overall book is fairly short.
There is a lot of New Orleans "feel" about the book; I guess a reader who has been there (I have not) will enjoy that.
Most of the writing is correct in terms of grammar etc., but there is one recurring mistake that became more annoying every time I came across it:
The book says "pass" when it should be "past", nearly every time but once or twice (not that I counted!). For example, "she walked pass him" or "they drove pass the scene" -
sorry, Mr. Smith, that is wrong, even though it may sound just like that when an American says "she walked past him" or "they drove past the scene".

It was the first time I read anything by this author. Brian W. Smith has written around 20 novels and some non-fiction, and I guess someone at some stage (his editor?) told him the difference between pass and past. They must have done, because from his website I learn that "he serves as an Adjunct Professor of Creative Writing, at two colleges in the Dallas, Texas area."

This was - you guessed it - a free ebook I found some years ago at Amazon's kindle shop.

Monday, 21 August 2017

A Favourite Walk Revisited - Part II

To continue my next-to-last post, let me take you along for the second walk I took that day (on the 6th of August).
You've seen my favourite grassy path several times already, and it really was about time I went there again - after all, I had not been here yet this year, and I have no idea if and when I'll return this year.

Last year when I came this way in June, I found construction work going on at the site of a venue for courses and seminars. This year, it looks very far advanced, as you can see. Click here for last year's pictures to compare.

My Grassy Path was as beautiful as ever, and thankfully, much drier than expected. We've had substantial rain in the wake of several thunderstorms recently, and the sun does not reach some of those woodland areas all that well, and so I had been preparing myself for some mud; there wasn't any.

It was just a very enjoyable walk altogether, along "my" path, into the woods and back up to the fields and across them, until I reached my parents' allotment again and it was almost time to go home.

Isn't late summer with its slow but marked transition into early autumn a wonderful time of year?