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Book Review – Malevolently Familiar

Alma Boykin delves deeper into her characters in Malevolently Familiar:

Caught between the Old Lands and the New . . .

Less than a month after confronting an ancient evil, Lelia Chan, her Familiar Tay, and their allies meet an unmovable object. Meister Gruenewald needs their help. A new danger rises across the Great Sea, one that requires more than just his knowledge and power.

What Lelia and Master Saldovado find in the Old Land triggers a race. Can the shadow mages and their Hunter allies bring a power-obsessed sorcerer to justice? Or will his twisted idea of paradise destroy all they have fought to protect? Light-side magic workers have tried to stop the sorcerer, and paid with their lives, struck down by a creature from Elsewhere. One with a grudge.

Worse than death awaits Lelia and her chosen family if they fail.

Like all of the stories in this series, the best part of Malevolently Familiar is the characters and how they interact.  Yes, there is action and suspense, but the true thread running through this tapestry is Lelia Chan’s family.  In this installment, we learn more about Lelia’s employer and semi-adopted father, Master Saldovado.  As this character fleshes out, Lelia herself is evolving from the young mage to an elder.  Looking back on how Lelia started out all those books ago, it’s amazing how well Ms. Boykin has created and molded her.

While this is not a swiftly paced story, it does not drag.  It’s not a simple read, but I found it an easy read.  Boykin’s style is straightforward without being sparse. As her characters move in and out of the story, the reader can easily see them and how their stories play out.  By now, we know almost all of them, but with each book, they come more sharply into focus.

If you’ve enjoyed the series so far, Malevolently Familiar will be like spending a week with old friends.


  • Pool – An Old English word that means “A hole in the yard into which one pours money, time, and liability”.
  • It took two days for the installer to put the pool together, two days to fill it with the garden hose, and one day for Irish Woman to discover the first leak and the definite lean of the pump and filter.
    • I am afraid to say this out loud, because she can kill me with her mind, but not my monkeys, not my circus.
    • One good thing about this boondoggle is that someday, I will want to spend a lot of money on something she doesn’t want on the property, and all I will have to do is point across the yard to her industrial-size algae receptacle.
  • Somehow, a trip to the farm store to get a heavy duty extension cord turned out to be a purchase of an extension cord, a garden hatchet, two solar lamps, and a plastic hollow log.
    • We needed the extension cord because, of course, the pool installers got out here before the electrician did.
    • The garden hatchet is so that Irish Woman can repel boarders while she’s puttering around the yard.
    • The lights are so that Irish Woman can see her opponents while she putters around the yard.
    • The hollow plastic log…. Well, I’m not really sure what that’s for.  I’m sure it will have a purpose someday.
  • There is that magical moment, after four days of banging your head against a problem, when it finally goes away and you’re proud of yourself.  It’s not because you solved it, though.  Rather, you gain a feeling of great accomplishment for not choking the person who knew what was wrong, how to fix it, and yet did not pipe up or bother to write down their knowledge.  Allowing that person to walk away unscathed is the true achievement.

Today’s Earworm

Happy 4-3-21


  • Well, Irish Woman’s pool is finally starting to happen in ways that involve more than writing checks.
    • Oh, the check writing will never end, but now other things are happening too.  See if you can spot where this makes me a happy bear.
    • I will be paying to upgrade the electrical service on the house because the 1979 breaker box in my basement is full.  Apparently we need electricity for the world’s most expensive cattle trough, and my suggestion to hook up an exercise bike and a generator was vetoed.
    • I cannot have the plumber out to add a new outdoor water spigot where I want it because pieces and parts of the above ground cistern have been stacked in my garage and I am forbidden to touch them.  That means that my darling Irish Woman will have to string together a couple hundred feet of hose to fill her artisanal sump once it’s assembled.
    • The excavating company was out yesterday to do site prep.  I now have a 24 foot hole in my yard, ranging from half a foot to 2.5 feet deep.  Luckily, the limestone shelf upon which Kentucky rests is just a tad deeper than this.  Around here, the sound of a jack hammer is ka-ching, ka-ching, ka-ching.
    • The dirt from said hole is piled up in a nice berm between the hold and the street. Irish Woman, the love of my life and mother to my spawn, says that it will be planted with flowers and grass so that it screens her bluelight-special-looking above ground pool from the street.  This is a desperate scheme to convince me that we are not shooting the value of our new property behind the ear by doing all this.
    • I, on the other hand, am considering where to site the AT-4 and M-60 teams on it to keep the Soviets from advancing across the black top.  Let the godless Communists stay on their own side of the street.
    • Additionally I have about a ton each of gray and brown sand piled up at the end of my driveway.  You know, that little bit of concrete that makes it easy for me to get my truck in and out?  Yeah, not usable for the foreseeable future.
      • I do know where I can get some sandbags, and the boy needs his character built a tad.  Hmmmm.
    • The nice man, and I’m not being sarcastic about this, he’s a saint, from the excavating company had a really rough day yesterday.  First, he had to deal with me. That alone earns him a lot of brownie points.  Second, he was sideswiped on the freeway during one of his multiple trips to get stuff for the project.  The dude who hit him apparently didn’t stop, so he has to deal with a hit and run report to the police and his insurance company.  Next, he backed his trailer over a retaining wall and flower bed next to our driveway.  I’ve been assured by my darling wife that this will be fixed at some point in the vague mists of the future.  Finally, Irish Woman brought him a couple of burgers when she discovered that the poor man had not had lunch.  Unfortunately for him, he discovered that Burger King is now serving Whoppers a nice medium-rare after a couple of bites.
  • I am assured that this addition to our house will make She Who Will Not Be Denied happy for the rest of her life, and that she will take care of it and it won’t be a bother and it will bring peace and tranquility to our house.  Now, look closely and you can see my excitement about this project.
  • I am assured that at some point, I will be able to put in a sauna, which is what I want.  I’m sure that license to do this will be granted by Lady Voldemort a couple of weeks before my doctor tells me that saunas will kill me.
  • Cleaning up the highway with the Boy Scouts went very well.  There is a cadence to these things:
    • The boy discovers a piece of trash nestled in the grass alongside the road.
    • He and his pals examine the bit of flotsam, poking it with various sticks and grabbing utensils.
    • He then attempts to pick it up with said grabbing tool.  He gets extra points for snagging it in the most inconvenient manner.  This will necessitate multiple tries and debates on the best method between him and his compatriots.
    • He then announces what he found.  Loudly.
    • The advertising jingle for the product, if known, is then sung or chanted at least once.  If it has a tag-line, he will sing this out for several minutes after, or until something else catches his attention.  Marketing works, my brothers and sisters.
      • Mothers, who are along to act as speed bumps by standing a couple of inches out into the road wearing bright clothing, will be mortally embarrassed by how many beer commercials their sons know by heart and by pointing out how many of the brands they have at their house.
    • If the article is not identifiable, is rather gross, or is at all interesting, a debate will ensue between him and the Scouts nearest him to ascertain the object’s identity and discuss it at length.
    • The object will then be placed into a trash bag.  50% of the time, he will want to present a dissertation on his findings to the adult holding the trash bag.  The other 50% of the time, the trash will be dropped on the ground, causing the cycle to begin again.
  • Spring break began yesterday.  I am puttering around the house today, and we will be heading off to the mountains for a few days.  Irish Woman told me that she rented a cabin.  My vision of what we are going to be staying in was a few rooms, roughly furnished, with electricity and running water.  What she rented is a 3 story, 3 bedroom/bath wooden house with a gas grill and both a jacuzzi and pool table.  There’s nothing like roughing it for a few days.
  • Pictures from the rental agency include several outside, second story posts with rather prominent claw marks in them, so I’m guessing that either there is a local bear population that has learned that suburbanite tourists equal easy food or that the raccoons in the area have mutated.  More on this to come after we get back.


  • Apparently, the project plan for my latest endeavor at work was written by Kafka.  After a 3 day cocaine binge.  During a practice run of the Apocalypse.
  • We’ve hit that beautiful part of spring here in Kentucky where it’s too nice to stay inside, but too chilly to hang out on the deck and work.
  • Getting sick was not on my agenda for the week.
    • Woke up Monday with a bit of a headache and feeling pretty crummy.  Since I have it on good authority that I am allergic to everything that grows in Kentucky, and the snow has melted, I assumed it was hay fever.  Took two allergy tablets and a 10 hour nap.
    • Woke up on Tuesday feeling like something scraped off the bottom of a burn barrel in Tegucigalpa. Still had my sense of taste, but a low-grade fever, chills, body aches, and headache all came to party.  After a telehealth visit with my doctor’s APRN, during which I self-reported my own vitals, I drove to the doctor’s office and got tested for flu and Covid.  Upon returning to my 3-bedroom-ranch-of-solitude, I took a random assortment of medications and vitamins, drank a hogshead of cold water, and passed out until Wednesday.
    • Woke up Wednesday feeling slightly less subhuman.  What woke me was a cheerful message from my doctor’s office that I was negative for both flu and Covid.  So, I assume that I either have plague, malaria, or a head cold.
    • By Thursday, all I had was the feeling of being run over, repeatedly, by a wooly mammoth in heat, along with the inability to speak in much more than a hoarse growl.
    • Today, I’m just tired and back to being my wonderfully grouchy self. It’s sort of a cross between a bear, a cape buffalo, and a siamese cat.
    • Irish Woman is glad that I’m up and around, but has reminded me that I am not on the “can have a pissy attitude this week” roster at the moment.  She has offered, on multiple occasions, to adjust my attitude if that’s what I need.  Where would I be without her?
  • The components for Irish Woman’s pool arrived this morning.  All of the things I had ‘organized’ in the garage were ‘reorganized’ to make room in front of the garage door for sundry boxes, bags, bundles, and bull—-.  She is convinced that she will be floating around, drinking a fruity drink, by Kentucky Derby.  I am convinced that I will never find anything in the garage ever again.
  • This weekend’s activities include picking up trash with the Boy Scouts along an overly-used two-lane rural highway, an archery tournament with Boo, hopefully putting 75 strawberry plants into dirt, doing the weekend laundry and housecleaning, and watching at least one classic monster movie for family time.  Everyone always told me that things would start to slow down as I got older.  If I ever get my hands on those lying so-and-so’s, I’m going to be on the 11 o’clock news as the quiet neighbor that never had trouble with anyone until ‘the incident’.

Looking At It From a Different Angle

This morning, Joe Biden had a bit of an issue climbing the stairs on Air Force One.  He tripped three times, the last fall taking him to his knees.

This video shows the incident twice, once from behind Mr. Biden, and then again from the side.  

Notice what was missing?  

Here’s a hint – There was an Air Force officer at the bottom of those stairs.  There were guards next to that officer.  There were undoubtedly staff and security on the aircraft.

Nobody came to his aid, or even seemed to make the attempt.   Even if Mr. Biden was able to right himself and make it to the top under his own power, you would think that someone at either end would have rushed to assist him.  Nobody was even at the top waiting for him to make sure he was all right.

Biden is not a young man, nor even a middle-aged man.  He is 78 years old, the oldest man to ever occupy the Oval Office.  He is still recovering from broken bones in his foot.  

There is no shame in admitting that you’re not 25, or 55, or even 75.  Mr. Biden needs to take care of himself, even if it means that someone stays by his side when he is negotiating steps or doing anything else when he may fall and be hurt. We live in a society that has become a cult of youth, and no-one in a position of power wants to admit that they aren’t as spry as they used to be.  But there is no shame for a 78 year old man to have someone along to help him when he needs it.

When folks approach 80, they become more fragile, and it is not uncommon for them to have balance issues.  Mr. Biden, like him or not, deserves to be taken care of in the manner that any elder deserves.

One question we should be asking now is why was he allowed to walk up those stairs without at least having someone walk up with him?  

The more important question we need to ask is why we didn’t see a man in uniform sprinting up those steps at the first sign of trouble, or someone else stepping off the airplane to check on Mr. Biden?

Dinner Tonight


  1. 1 Large white onion, sliced into thick rings, then quartered
  2. 1 pound sliced mushrooms
  3. 2 slices bacon, cut into 1/2 inch chunks
  4. 2 cloves garlic minced
  5. 1 pound stew meat in 1/2 to 3/4 inch chunks
  6. Salt and pepper
  7. 1 can Rotel tomatoes

Sauté bacon until done to your liking. Add in onions and garlic. Sauté until onions soften. Add in mushrooms and sauté until mushrooms start to give up liquid. Add stew meat and brown on all sides. Pour in rotel and mix thoroughly. Simmer until reduced to about half of liquid. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Serve with steamed vegetables of your choosing. Will also go well with rice. Serves 3 to 4

Today’s Earworm


  • Note to self – When your wife asks if you think she’s pretty, do not answer: “Were I not a married man, I would take you in a manly fashion” unless she’s as big a geek as you.
  • Asked at the dinner table – What’s the difference between a hormone and a pheremone?
    • DaddyBear’s Answer – A hormone makes it so you can grow a mustache.  A pheremone makes you not care if she has a mustache.
  • I’m not saying that putting the strawberry beds together wasn’t hard, but when you’ve slapped boards together to make dirt-holding containers in which to grow a cup and a half of produce every year as often as I have, it comes pretty easy.
  • The blackberry frame I put up, apparently, resembles a gallows.  Hey, you build what you know.
  • You know you’ve married the right woman when she agrees that a used bourbon barrel would make a good addition to our patio furniture.
  • Went to the big gun store this weekend, and they actually had a lot of ammunition.  An ammo can of .308 was as much as a decent rifle in .308 used to cost, but hey, there’s ammo.
  • One good thing about all the work to remove movies and books that some find problematic is that it motivates me to check to see if I already own a physical copy of it and correct the situation if I don’t.

News Roundup

  • From the “Petulant Poultry” Department – Peep, a pet rooster that regularly attends Civil War reenactments, recently went missing when his owner stopped at an Alabama Cracker Barrel restaurant.  Searchers combed the bushes looking for the rooster, but their luck was nothing to crow about.  Luckily, Colonel Sanders’ favorite feathered trooper was returned to his owner when a good Samaritan rescued him and drove him to Mississippi.  I can only imagine the stories that chicken told during the trip.  “There I was, I say, there I was, son, up to my pinfeathers in Yankees. It was the second day at Shiloh, and we were running out of both mealworms and gunpowder….”
  • From the “Miracle Worker” Department – President Biden announced today that all adults in the United States will be vaccinated by May.  Additionally, all primary and secondary school teachers will be vaccinated by the end of March, which will allow schools to re-open just in time for the summer break.  I just can’t say how impressed I am with this.  I mean, there was no Covid-19 vaccine when the President took office just a few weeks ago, and already he is making it happen for all of the pharmaceutical companies and teacher’s unions.
  • From the “Wave of the Future” Department – A Kentucky firm plans to deploy two small space stations in the near future.  These will be used as for orbital manufacturing, taking advantage of the negligible gravity in orbit.  Representatives of the Kentucky bourbon industry are reported to be in talks to put a still in space so that bottles of suborbital hooch can finally reach the market.
  • From the “That Didn’t Take Long” Department – North Korea has reportedly restarted work at a remote, secret nuclear facility.  Addressing the country while seated in a high-backed leather chair and stroking a long-haired white cat, Kim Jong Un, leader of the isolated communist country and renowned connoisseur of fine Tazhik fermented camel milk whiskey, maintained that the facility is not related to nuclear development.  Rather, he asserted, it is a medical research compound, where the best minds North Korea can find are working to perfect a peasant that can thrive on 3 grains of rice a day.  President Biden is expected to comment on this after he arises from his latest nap.
  • From the “BDA” Department – The Air Force recently announced that last week’s air raid in Syria killed one militant and wounded two others.  In addition, the seven weapons used to make the rubble bounce in the war-torn country destroyed nine facilities and damaged another two.  It’s good to see that our defense dollars are being used so wisely.  1 enemy KIA and 2 WIA, along with the destruction of two goat barns, three mud huts, and four rusty shipping containers is certainly a good payoff for the money it cost to deploy a pair of strike fighters, their air and ground crews, then fuel and arm them for the mission.  The airstrike is reportedly in response to a rocket attack last month in Iraq, in which $32.50 worth of Iranian unguided munitions were used.
  • From the “Biggest Mouse I Ever Saw” Department – A kangaroo caused a ruckus in Alabama the other day when it escaped its handler and led police in a high-speed chase down the highway.  Local residents seem to be of different minds on the subject of the miscreant marsupial, who is still at large.  About half of those polled think it should be captured before it or anyone else gets hurt, while the other half thinks several of the creatures should be released so that there can be a draw hunt for their offspring in a couple of years.
  • From the “Suffering Cetaceans” Department – A seal was detained by police in Canada the other week after it crossed a highway and headed into the woods.  The seal was overheard by this reporter barking out that it only wanted to go to Tim Hortons for a coffee and a couple of crullers, and wanted to know if it was under arrest.
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