‘The First Principle’ — first impressions….

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FirstPrinciple-258x400OK, so I got this book in connection with the Christian science fiction and fantasy blog tour— which reminds me, I have to post this:

In conjunction with the CSFF Blog Tour, I received a free copy of this book from the publisher. 

And, you know, getting another Christian fiction novel— especially when it’s a ‘YA’— doesn’t always thrill me. Too often it’s a trip into the world of bland. But this book is not that trip.

The setting is— well, there are some states going pretty far this way already. Have you heard that story about the public schools dishing out IUDs as ‘birth control’ to schoolgirls? IUDs work by preventing a conceived child from implanting in the uterus, so it’s not really ‘contraception’, it’s something else. I’ve heard a defender of the IUD say that children killed by the IUD are so young it doesn’t really count as abortion, so in fairness we’ll just have to call it something else. How about ‘child killing’? And back in the day the IUD damaged so many women that even the feminists were against it. NOT something most parents want government schools to stick into their young daughters’ bodies.

In ‘The First Principle’, all high school girls are required to receive contraceptives, but the contraceptives do not work as well as advertised. The answer to that is government-required ‘termination’ of the unwanted life. Vivica Wilkins, a high school girl, defends a pregnant classmate against harsh treatment of a government agent out to enforce the law. And then Vivica discovers her own illegal pregnancy.

What protects this book from the blands is that Vivica is NOT a born-again believer from a churchy family. She’s the daughter of a female governor (with no father currently in the picture), and so a part of the system, brought up to think that the required contraceptive use and even the terminations are a good, right policy that prevents harm. She has no traditional moral training as earlier generations of young people had through their religious education and catechism classes. She has nothing to go on but a sense of wrongness in her heart when she contemplates some of these policies.

Vivica’s problems increase because of her mother’s political ambitions. Mommy can’t become the next president if she has an illegally pregnant daughter who won’t go along with the termination law. It will ruin her mother’s life if Vivica lets her child live.

What Vivica does next and where it leads are something you’ll have to discover by reading the book. [Available here: http://www.amazon.com/First-Principle-Novel-Marissa-Shrock/dp/0825443571/]  And it’s worth reading. When the book arrived at my place I opened the package. I opened the book intending to take a glance at the first page of the book. Before you know it I was halfway through the book and the laundry was NOT getting done!

And when I finished I quick hopped over to author Marissa Shrock’s FB page: https://www.facebook.com/marissa.shrock.writer. I also shared the book with a small FB writers’ group I’d joined, Pro-Life Speculative Fiction Readers and Writers: https://www.facebook.com/groups/776019142490663/ This is a small group and always in need of new members, by the way.

Marissa Shrock’s author page: http://www.marissashrock.com/

And now, the blog tour. Here is the list of participants in the tour. I really would suggest that you go and visit the participants list and comment on their posts. It will do your own blog good.

Julie Bihn
Thomas Clayton Booher
Beckie Burnham
April Erwin
Victor Gentile
Carol Keen
Shannon McDermott
Meagan @ Blooming with Books
Megan @ Hardcover Feedback
Rebecca LuElla Miller
Joan Nienhuis
Nissa Annakindt
Jalynn Patterson
Chawna Schroeder
Jessica Thomas

You still here? Still? Well, why not jump over to my Facebook page at: https://www.facebook.com/nissalovescats  and see my picture of a kitten in a boot. Because the world need more kitten in boot.

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Pictorial Tour of the Wild, Sometimes Edible Plants in my Yard

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Unidentified wild plant. I do believe I've seen pictures of it in books but don't know the name. And so it is NOT EDIBLE until identified.

Unidentified wild plant. I do believe I’ve seen pictures of it in books but don’t know the name. And so it is NOT EDIBLE until identified.

For legal reasons this blog cannot recommend the consumption of any wild plant unless you can reliably identify it, your doctor or Primary Care Provider approves of your eating it, Obama has issued a presidential decree including it in the MyPlate food guidelines, and the zombie apocalypse has occurred and it’s eat wild things or die for you.

For several decades I’ve had a certain curiosity about wild plants, particularly the edible ones. I’ve learned to identify a few reliable species that grow around here. Some of them are edible— like the Queen Anne’s Lace flowers that I cooked in an omelet for supper last night. (Be warned: Queen Anne’s Lace seeds, listed as useful for a flavoring, is believed to be a contraceptive/abortifacient herb and so is NOT SAFE.)

Queen Anne's Lace, or Wild Carrot. This plant looks vaguely like Poison Hemlock, do not use unless you can identify.

Queen Anne’s Lace, or Wild Carrot. This plant looks vaguely like Poison Hemlock, do not use unless you can identify.

The omelet with the Queen Anne’s Lace turned out quite delicious. I’m certainly planning on gathering more, and perhaps preserving some for winter use.

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Stinging nettle, at the early stage of growth, is a good cooked vegetable and can also be dried for tea. Very nutritious.

I once bought some Stinging Nettle seed for an herb garden. The plant has spread all over the place, mostly in semi-shady nooks. The nettle plant is good food for people and livestock, but the fresh plant WILL STING YOU. Though the stings are supposed to be good for arthritis, I’d recommend wearing gloves to gather it. It has many culinary uses, and in addition, when dried is a good livestock hay with lots of protein.

Stinging nettle gone to seed. Leaves not very tasty at this point.

Stinging nettle gone to seed. Leaves not very tasty at this point.

If your stinging nettle has all gone to seed, cut the plants down at the bottom and wait a week or two. Regrowth will be tender and good.

Red clover.

Red clover.

Red clover is a common edible plant for humans and livestock. I have read that too much red clover harms the fertility of breeding animals, so I wouldn’t cook up big messes of cooked clover for humans food on a daily basis. The flowers, if fresh and newly opened, are good raw.

Wild Burdock, in the early, friendly stage.

Wild Burdock, in the early, friendly stage.

At the early stages Wild Burdock root can be eaten. Burdock root is a common table vegetable in Japan. The small leaves of the first year plant are also edible, mostly in spring. I understand they can be bitter, though. For bitter plants, one usually cooks it in several changes of water to make it milder.

Second-year burdock--- the evil, burr-filled plant we all know and hate.

Second-year burdock— the evil, burr-filled plant we all know and hate.

In the second year, or perhaps in the fall of the first year sometimes, burdock develop burrs that stick to everything. Escaped sheep with fine, valuable wool have a natural instinct to seek out the nearest burdock patch so they can come home covered with burrs. At this stage the plant is not eaten, so feel free to cut it down and burn it. You might save some seeds to plant in a favored location for your burdock leaf or root crop next year.

I don't know what this plant is, therefore it's NOT EDIBLE until identified, but it does look familiar.

I don’t know what this plant is, therefore it’s NOT EDIBLE until identified, but it does look familiar.

Here is an unidentified (so far) plant. I think it looks like an illustration in one of my plant books but even if it’s an edible I’m going to have to do some research to make sure I can identify it reliably.

Plantain--- not the same as that banana-type plantain. Edible.

Plantain— not the same as that banana-type plantain. Edible.

I have a bumper crop of plantain around the edges of my newly graveled driveway, but it has the seed heads and will likely be bitter. The solution is to shade the plant with newspaper or lawn clippings for a week or so. This blanches it. The same trick is used for dandelion leaves that have passed their prime.

The interesting thing I’ve learned about wild plants is that many of the wild edibles are more nutritious than garden vegetables. When man adapted plants for agricultural use, some of the nutrition was lost in the effort to make bigger, tastier plants. Many easy-to-find wild plants are a health boost to your diet. But be sure to use a good field guide to learn to identify the plants. You might also watch some of the many YouTube videos on wild plants to see videos of these plants in natural settings. And a copy of an old Euell Gibbons book is great to learn some good recipes for wild plants— though many will have to be adapted to remove ingredients like sugar, honey, maple syrup and grain-based flour if you are really interested in healthy eating.

Repeat of warning: this blog does not endorse the eating of wild plants and I bear no legal responsibility if you do so.

September 11th Anniversary: Not a Small Thing

world-trade-center_1986818cToday is a day which will forever live in infamy, like Dec. 7th, 1941 (attack on Pearl Harbor.) Many in the media don’t want us to remember this day. They won’t show us images of that day for political reasons.

But it’s just the things that the mainstream media want us to forget that we need to remember. Americans tend to be in an isolated bubble when it comes to events in foreign countries. In 1941, most Americans thought that the news from Europe and Asia was sad, and that the dictators of Japan, Germany and Italy were bad men. But they didn’t think it could touch them until the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.

In the same way, Americans in 2001 thought that events in the Middle East were sad, and the terror organizations in operation, from the PLO to the new Al Queda, were a bad thing. But who on September 10th ever thought it could hit home in such a big way?

The world is becoming an ever more dangerous place, but our national leaders say ‘peace, peace, peace’ when there is no peace, and when saying ‘peace’ is only increasing the chance of war. The genocide against Christians by ISIS and Boko Haram is all but ignored, and even the flood of refugees in Europe is only a news story until Donald Trump’s next shockingly uncivil Tweet.

It’s not enough to stop and say ‘how sad’ about the September 11th victims. We must, each of us, make a daily effort to know what is really going on in the world that the mainstream media doesn’t want to bother us with. It’s our duty to know. And we need to pressure our political representatives, the President, and the various presidential candidates to do something about the refugees, about ISIS, and about keeping our country safe in ways that don’t take away our freedoms.

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CELEBRATE THE SMALL THINGS blog hop

Today is a very serious occasion, but it’s still a good time to thank the Lord for the good small things that are going on. For me, I am celebrating the return of my therapist, John Lindt, to work after a few months off when he and his wife were in a serious car accident.

I had my first appointment in months yesterday, and John seemed pleased with some of the progress I’d made in his absence– I’d finished a short story, which I hadn’t done since I’ve known him, and I became involved with the Legion of Mary at my church and did some evangelization home visits with some nuns who came to our parish.

We also touched on the existential horror of my house with its electrical, plumbing and hot water heater problems. John seemed to think that I would find a way to get all these problems fixed. I’m not sure I share his confidence— I’m afraid I may be stuck with no hot water and no working stove for the rest of my life— but it’s nice to know someone thinks there is a solution to my problems in this area.

Believe it or not, this is a post in the Celebrate the Small Things blog hop. It takes place on Fridays and is a good way to get some more readership for your blog.

QUESTIONS:

Where were you on September 11th, 2001? What do you remember most about that day? Do you think America has learned something about the importance of overseas events from September 11th? Are we more likely or less likely to experience *Islamist terrorism again in the US?

*Islamist terrorism: Terrorism perpetrated by terrorists who are Muslims (or claim to be.) These terrorists may be operating under beliefs rejected by mainstream Islam, and non-terrorist/Islamist Muslims are not to be blamed for the deeds of Islamists.

The Secret of Shepherding is Knowing Where to Stand

IM001203If most people have ever taken a thought about sheep today, they think of those misinformed news stories implicating sheep in mad cow disease. Or they think of some animal-rights propaganda about ‘factory farms’. But the thing about American sheep is that they are overwhelmingly raised in very small flocks. And with many of those flocks, they do things the old fashioned way— like old-fashioned shepherding.

Most sheep flocks in the Upper Midwest are kept in fenced pastures, and I do have fenced pastures. With falling-down fences that I should actually be repairing right this minute. But at this time of year my flock has eaten down all the tasty stuff and they are looking for something better. And sometimes escaping the fences to get it.

Though I don’t really blame the sheep for their most recent mass breakout from Azkaban. It’s Paprika the goat’s fault. That particular day she decided what she really wanted to do was:

  1. Go into labor.
  2. Jump the fence and lead the sheep herd into doing likewise.
  3. Break into the barn through the poultry entrance.
  4. Give birth to twins.

The way to get around the pasture problem is to take the sheep beyond the fences and shepherd the old-fashioned way, as Lucia, Francisco and Jacinta were doing when they had those visions in Fatima, Portugal. Or like in the book Heidi, where Goat-Peter took the town’s goats up to graze on the mountain.

Sheep that are grazed this way regularly are used to that and tend to obey their shepherd. Mostly. But my sheep are fenced sheep and figure where there are no fences they can go where they please. So I stand around with my Intimidating Stick and yell YEE-HAW! a lot and still there is a 50% percent chance that rather than chewing down the grass around the barn they will run down my driveway, cross the street and chew on the neighbor’s alfalfa field. Which is unhealthy— too much alfalfa can give ruminants (animals like sheep, goats & cows) a disease called bloat which can be fatal.

I’ve learned that the secret of successful shepherding is to know where to stand. Too close, and you intimidate the shy sheep into moving away. Usually the whole flock goes with them. Too far, on the other hand, and they figure they are on their own and next thing I know I’m running down my road trying to catch up with the damn things and get them turned around and back on my own property.

It helps to have sheep that are familiar with you, and that’s where I go wrong. I should be spending a half-hour to an hour every day with the flock while they are grazing in the fenced pasture, so they are used to my presence. I should also daily herd them from the pasture into the barnyard and lock them in for the night.

But I didn’t do much of that this year and so I have a whole lamb crop that barely knows me. So they stay away and don’t do what I want them to do or go where I want them to go. I DID run the whole flock through my sorting shed to pull out the male lambs, but that didn’t exactly endear me to those lambs who had to have ear tags put in. That’s why, if you ever own sheep, you should put the ear tags in when they are less than a day old. That way they won’t remember the experience and hold grudges.

Shepherding the old-fashioned way is tough. But my sheep need to eat, and my budget insists that they eat grass and weeds rather than get started on the hay which should be reserved for winter. So I shepherd. And I curse. And now I have to go to confession. But next year I’m doing to do lambing season RIGHT and when it comes time to shepherd the flock to new places, they will all be calm and well behaved and I’ll never have to say anything stronger than ‘oh, sugar!’ Of course, that’s what I resolved last year at this time of year.

Celebrate The Small Things: SP Anthology

Celebrate blog hop

The small thing I’m celebrating today is that I got up the courage to volunteer to write a story for an anthology called No Award, a science fiction and fantasy anthology for supporters of Sad Puppies, which is an attempt to push for a more diverse set of authors getting recognized by the Hugo Awards.

I don’t normally volunteer to write stories for anthologies. I don’t normally know about anthologies I could possibly write stories for. But this time, since I’m now a member of an online writers group for conservative and/or libertarian writers, I found out about this one.

I even mentioned the idea I had for the anthology story. It will be set in the not-too-distant future and center around a scientific discovery— a gene that causes homosexual orientation. And the social fall-out as gay people discover they are biologically straight, and straight people discover they are biologically gay. A situation made hellish by an intrusive government which keeps DNA records on all citizens and which also requires that one-tenth of government jobs be filled by licensed and registered homosexuals.

Anyway, I mentioned a bit about my idea and a couple of group members told me to go for it. And since they are group members I respect, that’s really encouraging to me.

I know I have no guarantee that my short story will get published in the anthology. But I feel optimistic that I could come up with something well-written. And since I’m a gay woman I add diversity to the anthology— not that this ought to be a major consideration.

My life has been a history of writing attempts failed due to either writer’s block or writing avoidance. I think I may have a handle now on improving that, but it’s a little fragile at the moment. I’m going to be starting the story this morning, and I hope my writing day goes well.

If you are a writer, how is your writing life going? Any new projects you are feeling enthusiastic about? Or is your writing energy waning lately?

 

This is a post in the Celebrate the Small Things blog hop.

Review: Honor at Stake (Vampire Novel)

Honor at StakeHonor at Stake by Declan Finn
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Vampire romance is popular these days, but this book is vampire romance for readers who think. How many vampire novels have you read that feature a discussion on philosophy, as it relates to vampires, with references to Thomas Aquinas?

The story is centered on Marco Catalano and Amanda Colt, who meet at Hudson University. One is a vampire, one isn’t. And I suppose telling which is which would be a spoiler.

The story begins with a prologue, in which Marco and his then-girlfriend Lily Sparks, and the violent incident that made Lily into an ex-girlfriend. We then move on to the meeting of Marco and Amanda. Amanda, in spite of her name, is actually Russian, and of course she is beautiful. Sparks— but not Lily Sparks— fly.

We then encounter one of Declan Finn’s patented Clever Chapter Titles: “Always Date Inside Your Species.” Which is a way of raising the question, can a vampire date a human without someone becoming dinner?

Marco, as it turns out, is a feudal lord to a pair of street gangs— the Dragons and Los Tigres— which unlike most street gangs compete to see how many bad guys they can apprehend and turn over to the cops.

Marco introduces Amanda to his father, Dr. Richard Catalano, and invites her to spend Christmas with the family. Richard reports on the murder of a former member of one of Marco’s pet gangs. It is one of a series of vampire murders.

There are some medically unusual things about the vampire killings and Richard sends samples to the CDC. Which action attracts a vampire to the hospital. Marco has to fight the vampire off with a martial art called Krav Maga.

Then there is the matter of the Vatican Ninjas, a vampire fighting force. You see, evidently the Church noticed the sudden demand for holy water and other blessed items from people fighting vampires, and so the existence of vampires is no mystery to them.

The vampire virus is revealed to be parasitic in nature— kind of like vampires themselves. And then there is the late introduction of another character, Merle Kraft, and the useful revelation of how you can up with a 50 gallon drum of holy water when a vampire battle looms.

There is a major battle against the bad vampires, which by no means ends the war, since this book is going to have a sequel (Yay!)

FLAWS IN THE BOOK
(tongue in cheek)

Marco says some rude stuff about Mormons and also does not care for the Twilight series (I liked that series well enough, myself, and some of my imaginary friends are Mormons.)

A priest-character expresses the opinion that ‘no one’ believes in Adam and Eve any more. Which is not accurate since the Catholic Catechism mentions Adam and Eve and the Fall of Man rather than rejecting them. But I contacted the author and he says he ran this concept past a couple of priests. So it is possible a priest would say this.

The Yiddish word ‘schm-ck’ (rhymes with duck) is used. It’s a dirty word in Yiddish.

The Star Trek series is mentioned and the character who does so gets it WRONG! He mentions ‘Kojo the Executioner’ and later corrects it to ‘Chronos the Executioner’. It’s KODOS the Executioner! You know, like Kang and Kodos on the Simpsons.

A character mentions that Boston, as home of the Red Sox, is EVIL. I am a Red Sox fan and therefore know that this is wrong, and that there is a whole other baseball team that is EVIL, and their initials are: New York Yankees. I shall have to get revenge on the fictional character that said this.

CONCLUSION:
This book is an excellent read for anyone who loves vampire fiction. The love story does not get in the way of all the action. And there are no sex scenes or rants featuring foul language, so you don’t have to hide the book from your kids or your parents.

“Sikh and ye shall find.” (For some reason, some people groan at lines like that.)

There is a fair bit of violence mentioned, most either violence committed by evil vampires or violence defending against them.

And this novel represents a return to the vampire traditions of Bram Stoker’s Dracula in the fact that the evil vampires, at least, are vulnerable to holy items.

I can’t wait until the next book in the series comes out. If you read this book, you may feel the same way.

View all my reviews

IWSG: Why Is There Just One ‘First Thing in the Morning?’

InsecureWritersSupportGroup2This is a post in the Insecure Writer’s Support Group blog hop. Click on the link to see more.

Some days I think we need more than one ‘first thing in the morning.’ Because one just doesn’t cut it for me.

First thing in the morning is the best time for me to write poetry, so some days I do that. But since people don’t much read my poetry (even when the poetry e-book is free at: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/480237 ), sometimes I work on my prose writing. First thing in the morning is also the best time for that. Recently I actually completed a bit of prose, which is rare for me, by tapping in to the power of first thing in the morning. You can read the next-to-final draft of the story here: https://www.facebook.com/notes/nissa-annakindt-poet-aspie-cat-person/the-skin-shirt-a-short-story-thats-not-about-race/449762488528479

But first thing in the morning is also essential for other things. When I have gone off my ketogenic/low-carb diet and am having difficulty getting back on, I need to read inspirational bits from one of my ketogenic diet books, and perhaps discover a good low-carb recipe to try out. If I do that first thing in the morning, I am more likely to have a successful day.

First thing in the morning is also a good time to handle essential paperwork, or to get my bill paying chore over with. I don’t handle these things well— just ask my gas company— and so doing it first thing in the morning is best.

First thing in the morning is also the right time to tackle a big project around my house, either indoors or outdoors. Like a couple of days ago when I got serious about hauling some manure out of the barn to make a better living area for my 9 year old mama goat and her two out-of-season newborns.

First thing in the morning is also the right time to write blog posts. My writing energy is at its peak and morning-posted blog posts are more likely to get read.

It’s also a great time to attend to spiritual needs. To get in there and read my daily readings from the Bible and Catechism, and to pray a rosary or two. On Wednesday mornings I can even tap into the power of mornings to make it to the daily Mass before I go to the Legion of Mary meeting.

Some days, though, my first thing in the morning is taken up with things I didn’t plan for. Like Sunday morning when I got up early, looked out the window, and noticed that my sheep had escaped. Rounding them up, I noticed that my elderly female goat had given birth so I had to get her set up in a private location. (My goat seems to do her best work in the evening, when she must have jumped the fence— perhaps while already in labor— led the sheep to escape with her, and got into the barn through a door left open for the free-ranging ducks and turkey, where she had her babies.)

So sometimes I get frustrated. I’d really like to get my writing done first thing in the morning every day. But there are so many other things that also need the first thing in the morning treatment. We really need more than ONE first thing every  morning.


If you have a Twitter account and would like to help me out, you can click on the link below to send out a Tweet that promotes this blog post— I’m trying to get more blog readers. Thanks.
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