Tuesday, August 19, 2008

TAG- books you've read

I was tagged by 'reflections'

The Rules are as follows:


1) Look at the list and bold those you have read.

2) Italicize those you intend to read.

3) Underline the books you really love (and strikethrough the ones you hate!).

4) Reprint this list in your own blog.


1 Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen

2 The Lord of the Rings- JRR Tolkien

3 Jane Eyre - Charlotte Bronte

4. To Kill a Mockingbird- Harper Lee

5.The Bible

6. Wuthering Heights - Emily Bronte

7. Nineteen Eighty Four - George Orwell

8. His Dark Materials - Philip Pullman

9. Harry Potter series- JK Rowling

10 Great Expectations - Charles Dickens

11 Little Women - Louisa M Alcott

12 Tess of the D'Urbervilles - Thomas Hardy

13 Catch 22 - Joseph Heller

14 Complete Works of Shakespeare

15 Rebecca - Daphne Du Maurier

16 The Hobbit - JRR Tolkien

17 Birdsong - Sebastian Faulks

18. Catcher in the Rye- JD Salinger

19 The Time Traveller's Wife - Audrey Niffenegger

20 Middlemarch - George Eliot

21 Gone With The Wind - Margaret Mitchell

22 The Great Gatsby - F Scott Fitzgerald

23 Bleak House - Charles Dickens

24 War and Peace - Leo Tolstoy

25 The Hitch Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams

26 Brideshead Revisited - Evelyn Waugh

27 Crime and Punishment - Fyodor Dostoyevsky

28 Grapes of Wrath - John Steinbeck

29 Alice in Wonderland - Lewis Carroll

30 The Wind in the Willows - Kenneth Grahame

31 Anna Karenina - Leo Tolstoy

32 David Copperfield - Charles Dickens

33 Chronicles of Narnia - CS Lewis

34 Emma - Jane Austen

35 Persuasion - Jane Austen

36 The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe - CS Lewis

37 The Kite Runner - Khaled Hosseini

38 Captain Corelli's Mandolin - Louis De Bernieres

39 Memoirs of a Geisha - Arthur Golden

40 Winnie the Pooh - AA Milne

41 Animal Farm - George Orwell

42. The Da Vinci Code- Dan Brown

43 One Hundred Years of Solitude - Gabriel Garcia Marquez

44 A Prayer for Owen Meaney - John Irving

45 The Woman in White - Wilkie Collins

46 Anne of Green Gables - LM Montgomery

47 Far From The Madding Crowd - Thomas Hardy

48 The Handmaid's Tale - Margaret Atwood

49 Lord of the Flies - William Golding

50 Atonement - Ian McEwan

51 Life of Pi - Yann Martel

52 Dune - Frank Herbert

53 Cold Comfort Farm - Stella Gibbons

54 Sense and Sensibility - Jane Austen

55 A Suitable Boy - Vikram Seth

56 The Shadow of the Wind - Carlos Ruiz Zafon

57 A Tale Of Two Cities - Charles Dickens

58 Brave New World - Aldous Huxley

59 The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time - Mark Haddon

60 Love In The Time Of Cholera - Gabriel Garcia Marquez

61 Of Mice and Men - John Steinbeck

62 Lolita- Vladimir Nabokov

63 The Secret History - Donna Tartt

64 The Lovely Bones - Alice Sebold

65 Count of Monte Cristo - Alexandre Dumas

66 On The Road - Jack Kerouac

67 Jude the Obscure - Thomas Hardy

68 Bridget Jones's Diary - Helen Fielding

69 Midnights Children – Salman Rushdie

70 Moby Dick - Herman Melville

71 Oliver Twist - Charles Dickens

72 Dracula - Bram Stoker

73 The Secret Garden - Frances Hodgson Burnett

74 Notes From A Small Island - Bill Bryson

75 Ulysses - James Joyce

76 The Bell Jar - Sylvia Plath

77 Swallows and Amazons - Arthur Ransome

78 Germinal - Emile Zola

79 Vanity Fair - William Makepeace Thackeray

80 Possession - AS Byatt

81 A Christmas Carol - Charles Dickens

82 Cloud Atlas - David Mitchell

83 The Color Purple - Alice Walker

84 The Remains of the Day - Kazuo Ishiguro

85 Madame Bovary - Gustave Flaubert

86 A Fine Balance - Rohinton Mistry

87 Charlotte's Web- EB White


88 The Five People You Meet In Heaven - Mitch Albom

89 Adventures of Sherlock Holmes - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

90 The Faraway Tree Collection - Enid Blyton

91 Heart of Darkness - Joseph Conrad

92 The Little Prince - Antoine De Saint-Exupery

93 The Wasp Factory - Iain Banks

94 Watership Down - Richard Adams

95 A Confederacy of Dunces - John Kennedy Toole

96 A Town Like Alice - Nevil Shute

97 The Three Musketeers - Alexandre Dumas

98 Hamlet - William Shakespeare

99 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory - Roald Dahl

100. Les Miserables- Victor Hugo


I wish M M Kaye's books had been listed- or James A. Michener-- I love both of those authors and have read almost all their books!

I tag-

Anyone who reads this entry!!


Monday, August 18, 2008

Guest Travel story- Road Trip From Hell

Guest Traveler: Kenneth M. Rhodes *

It was the summer of ’76 (yes, 1976: I’m not that old) my wife, soon to be six year old son Ken, Jr., and I lived in Eagan Township, a suburb of the Twin Cities in Minnesota. All three of us are Easterners by birth, and we decided to celebrate the Bicentennial that late spring by taking a camping trip across the prairie, emulating the treks of the pioneers a hundred years before.
(The more perceptive of you are already shaking your heads and bracing yourselves for the impending crash…)
Before we left, we went to the local Sears and Roebuck’s to purchase some new camping gear. What did Mr. Sears ever do with Mr. Roebuck, anyway? Do you know? I sure don’t. He’s probably in the same place that Mr. Montgomery put Mr. Ward. Same place the K-Mart folks will be putting Mr. Sears before too long, come to think of it.
I bought all the equipment we needed: a tent, three sleeping bags and air mattresses, a small outdoor stove and ice chest, both decorated in the color du jour, avocado green (“See, honey, they look just like your fridge and oven at home, don’t they?”) and a few sundries. They all bore the endorsement of legendary Boston Red Sox outfielder Ted Williams, a personal hero of mine, so I knew they had to be of the very best quality and utility.
We packed my compact Audi Fox sedan and headed south on I-35 to the scenic town of Albert Lea, Minnesota, thence west on I-90 to our first overnight stop, Sioux Falls, South Dakota. We pulled into a campground, where I began to set up our tent, “assisted” by not quite six year old Ken, Jr. My wife contented herself with the role of spectator, laughing and cheering with irony. I read and puzzled over the instructions for assembly (I meant to put it together in the back yard for practice before we left, I swear I did.) Fortunately, a friendly but slightly scary looking, in a Paul Bunyan way, dude came over and offered to help me with the tent. With one eye on the tent, one eye on his blue ox Babe, and one eye on my wife, Paul erected the tent with me. He seemed in no hurry to leave, so I offered him a cold Hamm’s (“Brewed in the Land of Sky Blue Waters”) which he opened and consumed in one swift motion. I offered him another with my thanks. He finally caught the hint, and with a last look at my wife, off he went, back to his Wagnerian soprano of a spouse and his two Viking linebacker sons.
The evening passed without incident. We woke up at dawn to the sound of a gentle rain pattering the canvas. We decided to break camp, pack up, and move on down the road to our next destination, Chamberlain, South Dakota, on the banks of the mighty Missouri River.
Unfortunately, our campground appeared to be under the mighty Missouri, as the gentle morning rain turned into a torrential, forty-day-and-forty-night, build-an-ark kind of downpour, making pitching a tent, with or without a leering Paul Bunyan to assist me, problematic. I drove into what the folks in Chamberlain colloquially call “town” and found a motel room for the night.
The next morning, we pushed on to our main stop, Rapid City and the Black Hills. Fortunately for us, the rain had stopped by this time. Unfortunately, it was replaced by a gentle… SNOW! Overnight temperatures were forecast to plunge into the low 30’s; this was early June, mind. Once again, we were forced to stay in a motel. With limited funds due to the purchase of my super-duper, Ted Williams-endorsed and now useless camping gear, we stayed at the Peacock Motor Lodge. VACANCY, the sign proclaimed. Rooms for let—with roaches, $4, without, $8. You know the kind of place.
The rest of the trip went without much incident. By the time it was over, we had been underwhelmed by the Corn Palace in Mitchell, S.D., overwhelmed by the Badlands, underwhelmed again by the carvings on Mount Rushmore (I had pictured them much bigger than they were,) and experienced the urban splendor of Pierre, Bismarck, and, yah, sure, you betcha, Fargo.
Oh—the Audi picked up a crack in its windshield that I didn’t notice until I flipped up the sun visor somewhere in SoDak…
Road Trip from Hell
© 2008, Kenneth M. Rhodes
16 August 2008
*If you are interested in reading more of Kenneth M. Rhodes works please go to http://nc_penman.writing.com/

(Kenneth M. Rhodes 1950-2009)

Monday, August 11, 2008

Have camel will travel- Middle East 1992

I'll never know what possessed my parents to plan a family reunion in the Middle East. Our family had not been together since 1972 and we were spread out all over the world. Now we would all meet in Jordan and travel to Israel. There were 21 of us, adults and children combined.

A trip with children can be interesting. In a hotel in Jerusalem, my children went out on the balcony and started yelling ,"mom, Michael is climbing over to our side!" I rushed out to see my 7 year
old nephew teetering on the outside of his balcony. He inched his way along with the intent of climbing over to ours. I looked straight down at the street far below. What was I to do? He was too far to tell him to go back and yet he wasn't far enough for me to reach him! I held my breath. If I startled him with any noise he might fall! So all I could do was speak calmly and reach out to grab his hand. It was an eternity before I grabbed his arm and pulled him over. How can a person be filled with so much relief and anger at the same time?

"What were you thinking????!!!!" Tears and hugs abounded.

The e
ntire trip was not filled with crisis moments. The sea of Galilee proved to be a restful place. Petra was spectacular. A horse ride through the pass brought us into a marvelous place with structures carved into the rocks. If not for the heat, I would have liked to stay there all day long. There are only a handful of places which I consider phenomenal and Petra is definitely one of them.



Our final boat ride on the Red Sea in Jordan was another memorable experience. The tour guide told us we would go out on a glass boat. Well, the boat was not glass but there was a glass panel in the bottom of the boat. As the boat glided along you could look down through the panel and see the fishes below. The weather was kind to us and the company was lovely. Afterall, what better way is there to spend a day in Jordan on the Red Sea than with your family?

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Guest Traveler Story: A Train Journey in China

Guest Travler: JoeFunza (DES)*

A Train Journey in China, 2007

Getting around China is very easy these days. The Chinese have always had an excellent railway service and Western countries could improve their services by taking a look at how the Chinese run their national railway system. Buses, taxis and now new, modern aeroplanes are all readily available and relatively cheap.


But my tale is about my first rail trip from Jinhua to Yantai, - a journey time-tabled to take a mere 26 hours. I asked my Chinese companion what types of tickets were available and the corresponding prices.


“Standing, a seat or a bed”.


In an instant and without hesitation I said, “a bed, please!” But being a 52 year old, overweight traveller I was curious to know a little about the other types. Apparently, one can ‘stand’ in the seated carriages for the entire journey if one chooses to do so. Who would be crazy enough to stand for 26 hours? Is it possible? Well, no it isn’t. The standing passengers usually sit, or lay, anywhere they can on the floor where there is a space.


The ‘seats’ were not able to be reserved so they would be allocated on a first-come first-served basis. That means there would be a stampede to get on the train…hmm…I didn’t really fancy being part of that especially as I was towing all my worldly possessions in my suitcase and backpack. I inquired about the bed option next.


“You want bottom, middle or top bed?”, came the reply.


“Are the prices all the same?”, I inquired.


“No. Top ones cheap - bottom ones more money”, my Chinese friend uttered.


There was no way this lad was scaling the inside of any railway carriage! So, we bought two bottom bed tickets.


Trains depart at any hour of day. Ours left at 4pm – a civilised hour and would arrive at 6pm the next day – if they ran on time. Inside our compartment were: six beds, a small (dirty) table, a very large thermos flask containing hot water, and attached to the ceiling, a small fan. We hadn’t rushed to board so when we found our beds the compartment already had four occupants, two of which had made themselves at home on our beds! I was not impressed. I checked our tickets then looked at my companion.


“Ask them to move, please,” I said somewhat tersely.


The look on my face made them move a little quicker than I think than they would have for my companion. The floors were unclean, but after rearranging the other passengers’ items already under our beds, I reluctantly slid our luggage underneath with some difficulty.


The train left on time (not a common occurrence) and we settled down on a rather narrow, uncomfortable bed about 6 feet long by 2 feet wide. I am 6 foot tall and big but I coped.


The lights were due to go out at 10pm so I considered it to be prudent to pay a visit to the facilities. I wish I hadn’t but I knew I needed to. Smelly, unclean, cramped and no toilet paper. Lovely - not! Enough said. When the lights went out the compartment was very dark. The only lighting came from a few small lights on the floor running the length of the corridor.


I was awake before 6am after a restless sleep, but at the hour the train burst into life with several purveyors of food pushing noisy metal trolleys down the corridor. The trolley paused near me. I scanned the items on plastic trays and knew there was nothing there that I could stomach. I shook my head somewhat disappointed.


All was going well until we passed the half-way point then the train stopped in the middle of the countryside. After 15 minutes it recommenced the journey but for the next few hours it repeated this delay several times.


During the day I was entertained by a steady stream of peddlers visiting me. Their wares included: children’s novelties, torches (a little late I thought), socks and books. I flicked through the books, all written in Mandarin, and handed them back. But the seller was most persistent so I bought an A5 sized atlas of China for a modest amount. My purchases also included torches and rather small socks!


Eventually we arrived in Yantai, tired and sticky, at 10pm; some four hours late and thirty hours after we had left Jinhua.


*If you want to read any more of JoeFunza's writings please go to this link:

Des