Interesting Myths and Facts about the Moon

This coming Saturday marks the fiftieth anniversary of the one of the most iconic events of the twentieth century- the lunar landing of the Apollo 11, where the American astronaut Neil Armstrong became the first person to walk on the surface of the moon.  This amazing feat was an incredible testament to human ingenuity, determination, and willingness to reach for seemingly impossible dreams.

astronaut standing beside american flag on the moon
Saturday, July 20, 2019, marks the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing.  Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Long before this event, humans have been fascinated by our closest neighbor in the sky, and have used it as a source of inspiration and superstition.  Here are a few of the more interesting stories our ancestors have told to explain the existence of this celestial body:

  • Many cultures worshipped the moon as a goddess. The Greeks and Romans even had three separate goddesses to describe the phases of the moon; Artemis as the new moon, Selene as the full moon, and Hecate as the dark side of the moon.
  • The ancient Chinese explained lunar eclipses as being caused by an enormous dragon that swallowed the sun, and so they made as much noise as possible to scare the dragon away.
  • Multiple cultures have told stories about the “man in the moon.”   Most of these variations say that he was put there as punishment for stealing, some even for the attempted theft of the moon itself.
  • The moon’s phases have historically been linked with madness, and the word “lunatic” comes from this belief. Ancient philosophers such as Aristotle and Pliny the Elder believed that a full moon affected the water in a person’s brain, causing irrational behavior or insanity.
  • Our modern holiday Easter is actually calculated by the moon.  We celebrate on the first Sunday following the first Saturday after the first full moon after the spring equinox.  This tradition has its roots in archetypal symbols involving femininity, fertility, rebirth and the lunar cycle.

    sky space moon astronomy
    Our closest neighbor in the sky.  Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

And a few interesting facts:

  • Humans have attempted to track the phases of the moon for at least 13,000 years, based on an eagle bone artifact found in France that appears to have been used as a counting stick.
  • The oldest known map of the moon was found carved into a rock in a prehistoric tomb in Knowth, County Meath, in Ireland.  It is estimated to be about 5000 years old.
  • A full day on the moon, from one sunrise to the next, lasts an average of twenty-nine Earth days.
  • Common cell phones today are 400 times more powerful than the computers used to guide humans to the moon in the 1960s and 70s.
  • There is an Outer Space Treaty in affect that gives the moon the same jurisdiction as international waters.  The treaty allows the moon to be used for peaceful purposes by all nations, and prohibits military bases and weapons of mass destruction from being placed on the moon.

For more interesting facts about the moon, you can find plenty of resources such as this one.

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Amy Caudill’s Reviews : Michael’s Blood

Michael's Blood by S.S. Bazinet
Michael’s Blood (The Vampire Reclamation Project, #1) by

S.S. Bazinet (Goodreads Author)
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Amy Caudill‘s review -Four stars to Michael’s Blood

 

This interesting but confusing book is the first in a series about redemption, specifically, that of a reluctant vampire named Arel.  Arel’s guardian angel, Michael, is attempting to heal Arel of his curse, but to do so, his charge must be willing to face the demons of his past lives, learn to forgive himself and accept that he is worthy of love.

How do you cure vampirism?  Apparently by feeding said vampire Michael’s angelic blood.  This intervention sets off a process that nearly kills Michael multiple times as it begins to transform him.

Arel doesn’t make it easy for Michael; he’s arrogant, demanding, and needy in turn, not to mention depressed and sometimes suicidal.  He stubbornly refuses Michael’s help over and over again until he is rendered unable to cope anymore.  Still Michael, with true angelic grace, is there for Arel time and time again, picking him up and caring for him till he’s ready to stand on his own two feet again.

Everything changes when Arel meets a group of people who are as drawn to him as he is to them.  Each of these flawed, but giving individuals figured prominently somewhere in Arel’s past lives, and as they become aware of their past relationships, struggle to integrate those old emotions and knowledge into this new life where they are all intertwined again.

While on the surface this story involves a number of different factors- i.e. vampires, angelic guardians, past life regression, the underlying plot is really a study of the human condition, equally parts uplifting and heart wrenching, until the conclusion which ends on a high note, save for an ominous message from someone in Arel’s vampiric past, thus setting up a cliffhanger for the next book in the series, William’s Blood.

I picked up this book as part of the author’s recent promotional giveaway, and shelved on my TBR list for a time.  I finally decided to sit down and read it this past week, and I’m not sorry that I did, because despite the surprising mix of genres, the book is very moving and uplifting, as this extraordinary group of individuals, both human and angelic, face everyday crises and come out the stronger for it.  The overall message of faith and hope is inspiring, and I recommend this series to any who need a little encouragement or who simply like a good read.

Happy Independence Day!

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Happy Fourth of July!  Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Tomorrow is officially the day we celebrate our Independence in the United States, but the festivities have already started!  (In my neighborhood, we’ve been hearing firecrackers go off in the evening all week!)

On this most important of national holidays, we recognize that our country, despite our differences, our problems, and our political debates, we all share a core of ideals and values.  We acknowledge that though we are far from perfect, we still have such potential, along with the freedom to choose our own destinies.

Tomorrow, and this week, is the perfect time to set aside our petty arguments and embrace that which makes us all Americans.  Take a moment to remember that we have servicemen and women overseas even now, sacrificing to keep our values and our safety intact.

white and red flag
Happy Independence Day! Photo by Aaron Schwartz on Pexels.com

However you choose to celebrate, by going out to one of the many parades or fireworks shows around the nation, or by just staying home and grilling out in the backyard, I hope this Fourth is your best yet!

 

Amy Caudill’s Reviews : The Sign of the Nine

The Sign of the Nine by G.S. Denning
The Sign of the Nine (Warlock Holmes #4) by

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Amy Caudill‘s review

This fourth volume of the adventures of Warlock Holmes is the broadest sweeping narrative yet.  Out-maneuvering Pinkerton detectives, overcoming Italian Mafioso’s, and uncovering folktale selkies, are just some of the encounters depicted in this paranormal spoof of Arthur Conan Doyle’s illustrious detective stories.

Our story begins as John Watson and Warlock Holmes reverse their characters more than usual for this author’s version of the famous duo.  Watson, determined to find Moriarty and Adler, begins experimenting with introducing a 7% solution of mummified Persian sorcerer into his blood stream in hopes of inducing prophetic dreams.

Watson’s “dream sequences” populate every other story in this anthology of linked narratives, as Watson poisons his body and gains Holmes’ suspicions, under a drug-induced hallucinated state that shows him truths about Moriarty’s past.  Watson’s addiction leads to an even greater role reversal for the master of deduction (Watson) and the bumbling sorcerer (Holmes) who is forced for once to be the responsible one, and attempt to save Watson’s life and soul in the process.

But how does Warlock manage to accomplish such a task with his limited understanding of humanity and human interactions?  Holmes decides Watson needs a love interest of course.  And naturally he chooses the latest damsel in distress to cross their paths, Mary Morstan.  It doesn’t matter that Watson is not the least bit interested in her, not to Holmes. Because he has determined Mary will be John’s salvation, through a magical intervention that rocks the conclusion to this anthology.

G.S. Denning takes these well-beloved characters and molds them to fit perfectly into the new scenarios he has devised, while retaining enough of the original source material that they remain recognizable to fans of Conan Doyle. The author manages to seamlessly insert his own dramatic and paranormally influenced-material into the 1890’s vernacular, while his creations are at home discussing subjects of magic, sorcery, necromancy, and fairy tales.

While G. S. Denning is hardly the first author to imitate, or reimagine, the writings of the classic author, this book and the series are both a humorous and entertaining tribute, one I would recommend to any fans of either Sherlock Holmes or paranormal mysteries.   I award The Sign of Nine five stars.  I’m sad I have to wait almost another year for the next volume in the series.

Amy Caudill’s Reviews : Summer Knight

Summer Knight by Jim Butcher

Summer Knight (The Dresden Files, #4) by

Jim Butcher (Goodreads Author)

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Amy Caudill‘s review

  

Summer Knight opens as Harry Dresden’s life is falling apart.  Reeling from the consequences of the last volume, (Grave Peril, which takes place some nine months before,) Harry is ignoring everything and everyone else in his life in his ill-fated attempt to find a cure for his love.  Susan Rodriquez was infected by a vampire’s venom, and one moment of weakness is all it would take for her to give into the blood lust and turns into a creature of the night.

Unfortunately, the world waits for no wizard, and the events taking place in the Nevernever and spilling out into the mortal world will soon distract Harry from his quest.  The debt Harry owes to his faerie godmother Leanansidhe has been sold to the Winter Queen, Mab, who wants Harry to investigate the murder of the Knight of the Summer Queen.

Meanwhile, the Red Vampire Court is after Harry’s blood and the White Council of Wizards may just be willing to sacrifice him to keep the peace.  Harry has both allies and enemies on the council, and is quickly running out of time to appease them.  The only chance the wizards have of avoiding all-out war with the vampires is for Harry to solve Mab’s case, earning safe passage through the Nevernever into the vampire’s territory, and doing so before Winter and Summer start a war of their own that could literally end the world.

This novel, fourth in the Dresden Files series by Jim Butcher, plunges the reader into a much wider world of paranormal politics and intrigue than is seen in previous volumes.  The epic battle in the clouds above Chicago reminds me of scenes from The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, while the camaraderie between Harry and the Alphas, the pack of werewolf-shifters he befriended in Fool Moon, is reminiscent of other epic tales like Lord of the Rings.

I award Summer Knight five stars, and recommend it and the series to any fans of paranormal detective stories, and fans of adventure epics.

Happy Father’s Day!

This coming Sunday is the day set aside each year to celebrate the man that means so much too so many of us-Dad.  Where would we be without our fathers?  We may not always appreciate the advice or lessons they attempt to teach us, or eagerly jump into the chores they give us.  Still, dads have a way of letting us know they care in everything they do.

family of four walking at the street
How will  you celebrate your father this weekend?  Photo by Emma Bauso on Pexels.com

My own father passed away a few years ago, but I feel blessed that I had the chance to know him, not only from the perspective of a child, but as an adult.  And what a difference a few years made in my opinion of him!  As I grew older and raised my own children, I began to appreciate him all the more, for all the hard work and sacrifices he made in raising me and my siblings.

Towards the last years of his life my dad was more likely to have, and take the time, to tell us some of the fascinating stories of his own childhood, then some seventy-plus years past.

My father was born and raised in rural Tennessee, and received more education about farming, animal husbandry, and carpentry work than he ever did in formal schooling.  He raised wild turkeys, which I learned were actually capable of flight, and which he had to chase out of trees to get them to their roost at night.  He learned to churn butter, and grind pork into sausage by hand, by actually helping to provide for a large family of parents and siblings.

He left farming behind, and moved into the city, when he and my mother started a family, so that his children could have advantages he lacked growing up.  Many of the skills he acquired working the land did not translate well to our little suburb, but he adapted, and till his last year still tended a garden in the backyard, and helped family and friends with home repairs.

My father was not always an easy man to know, or communicate with, but in his own way he always showed he cared.  You could see it in his smile, feel it in his hugs, and tell in the look of pride on his face whenever he watched his grandkids.

I miss my dad, but I know he’s watching over me, and my family.  I hope we make him proud.  When I watch my husband interact with our children today, I am reminded that behind his sometimes gruff manner, he really does have the best interests of our children at heart.  He reminds me of my own father just a little bit, but that’s okay.

Thanks for listening to me ramble on.  The main point I hope to make is that fathers are special, and often underappreciated, so take this time to acknowledge everything they do and mean to us.  Above all, to all my readers out there, Happy Father’s Day!

Amy

Amy Caudill’s Reviews : Leverage in Death

Leverage in Death by J.D. Robb
Leverage in Death (In Death, #47) by

J.D. Robb (Goodreads Author)
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Amy Caudill‘s review

The New York City of 2061 may have flying cars and off-world colonies, but crime is still the same for Lt. Eve Dallas, the NYPSD cop with the tragic past, and her multi-billionaire husband, Roarke, who has a checkered past of his own and tech skills that make Batman look like an amateur.

In the latest volume of this long-running series by author Nora Roberts writing as J. D. Robb, our heroes investigate a family man who is coerced into committing an atrocious crime- going into his workplace wearing a suicide bomber’s vest.  The true villains think they are oh-so-clever, but get greedy and target multiple other victims, until Eve and Roarke find clues to their identities and then go in for the arrest.

While the main plot is thrilling as always, with lots of false starts and leads that don’t pan out and crooks that aren’t necessarily guilty of the major crimes; what I love the most about this series is the amazing continuity in the storylines.  This continuity is largely fueled by the large supporting cast of characters that surround the main power couple.

Minor characters come and go in background plot and occasional main storyline features, but their subplots extend over multiple books and long-term arcs for the series.  The addition of these extra characters as they grow, develop, and live their lives “off-camera” as it were, adds a sense of time and normalcy into the frequently fast-paced murder investigations.  Case in point: this novel features two men who are involved in the kidnapping of three different families, as well as bombs that kill eighteen people, and all the action takes place over three days.

While Eve and Roarke’s lives are exciting in the extreme, they would appear as static, superhuman but unrealistic facsimiles if the reader was not allowed to see their interactions with other characters; to see Eve complain about dressing up for an event with friends, to see Roarke’s love of hanging out with the e-geeks, makes them seem all the more human, and amazing.

I award this novel five stars and would recommend it to anyone who likes strong, female detectives, or police dramas that contain equal amounts of plot and action.

In Memoriam

I wanted to share with you again this post that I wrote last year. I have never re-shared one of my own posts before, but this one so clearly captures what I was feeling at the time, and so feel, when I contemplate the meaning behind Memorial Day.
This is a day we chose to honor the memories of our fallen families, and especially the memories of those who have given their lives in service to our country.
This holiday may not be marked by the chaotic, commercialized excess with which we endow other holidays, but it is no less important in meaning.
So today, however you chose to celebrate, with fireworks and parades or visits to the graves of loved ones or just a cookout with family and friends, I wish you and yours all the best for this most solemn and proud holiday. Happy Memorial Day!

amycaudill.net

Memorial Day...... This cemetary has been in use for perhaps generations.  Photo by Astrid Photography. on Foter.com / CC BY-NC

One of my earliest reminisces of this May holiday, before I even understood its real meaning, is of riding in the back of a pickup truck with my family down winding country roads to reach the old family cemeteries.   Once there, we would disembark and make our way up a hilly path, to a fenced-in area of carefully tended lawn bordered by shady trees.  Laden with plastic tulips and daisies, we would seek the markers for ancestors whose names I only recognized from stories, and place our bounty in careful clusters and rows.

This is one way my family honored those who had gone before, ancestors whose faces were etched in the memories of the older generation, and introduced to the children by way of books and boxes of old sepia-toned photos.  My…

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Amy Caudill’s Reviews : Weakest Lynx

Weakest Lynx by Fiona Quinn
Weakest Lynx (Lynx #1) by

Fiona Quinn (Goodreads Author)
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Amy Caudill‘s review

Lexi Sobado has lived an interesting life.  Only twenty, she is a Kung Fu master and has trained with police officers, spy masters, and master chefs.  She can shoot a bullseye, beat trained operatives on an obstacle course, and still appear as sweet and innocent as the girl next door.  She also has gifts that insure her life will never be the “normal” she craves.

Lexi is great at solving puzzles.  Her mentor, Spyder McGraw, a legend at the shadowy government agency Iniquus, trained her in secret to find connections no one else can.  But when Lexi is being hunted by a cruel, obsessive man she calls Stalker, Spyder is off on a secret mission and Lexi must turn to others for help.  She has attracted the attention of a very dangerous psychopathic drug addict who has already murdered six girls, and Lexi is his latest chosen victim.

While this story is definitely a thriller with a heroine who has paranormal abilities, I found myself caught up more by the lead character’s backstory than the plot itself.  For all Lexi’s gifts, she is honestly trying to create an ordinary life.  She spends her time, when she’s not being stalked or helping the Iniquus team sent to protect her, getting to know her neighbors and turning a fixer upper into a home to share with her husband Angel when he returns from Afghanistan.

Lexi’s desire to have a normal life helps make her character more appealing, more vulnerable, than the mysterious and gifted psychic undercover operative who is her alter ego, Alex.  Fiona Quinn managed to instill her heroine with a multi-faceted personality, while still writing a story that will appeal to both spy enthusiasts and paranormal romance fans.

I award this novel five stars and would recommend it to a large body of readers.

I Need a Vacation! Helpful Planning Tips

woman working girl sitting
Someone is more than ready for a vacation!  Photo by Alexander Dummer on Pexels.com

As more and more of my colleagues talk about the plans they have made for vacations this year, or actually have already taken time away from work, I long to head out for some “time off” of my own.  Where to go?  What to see?  Decisions, decisions.  As I buckle down to make my own plans, I thought I’d share some tips that have helped guide me in the past

Consider your group.

Do you have young children that will be going on vacation with you?  Teenagers? Elderly parents?  Every aspect from your trip needs to keep your company in mind, from travel method to accommodations to planned activities.  Tailor your plans to find something everyone can enjoy, whether that be a trip to the beach or mountains, or a road trip with numerous stops along the way.  Remember that some members of your group will tire easily, or need snacks, or distractions along the way- you know who these are!

man holding white pennant beside girl raising two hands in front of lake surrounded by mountains
What is your ideal vacation?  Photo by rawpixel.com on Pexels.com

Consider a “destination vacation.”

There are various places that offer all-inclusive packages, from theme parks that include transport to/from the airport, as well as meal plans and shuttle services; to cruises that offer a variety of on-board and site-seeing tours; to resorts that feature water parks, spas, and quality restaurants on the premises.  This type of vacation means you can book and pay for almost your entire trip in advance, and spend less time on the road and more time having fun!  Plus, there are trips of this type to meet almost every budget.  It’s easy to find good deals on vacation packages to destinations like Florida here

Staycations can work-really!

If you have no desire to spend your free time in an airport or on the road, or if you only have a short break from jobs and other commitments, a staycation could be your best bet.  The key to enjoying this type of holiday is that you absolutely must remember you’re on vacation, and actually taking a break.  No fair checking in with work or completing that household project you’ve been planning to get done!

Play tourist in your home town.  Do the fun and interesting things you’ve always meant to do, like trying a new restaurant, or visiting the aquarium or museum, that you keep postponing until “you have time.”  Take a day trip to a nearby attraction, something you can enjoy in one day, and still be home to sleep in your own bed.  Turn off social media, and pretend that you’re far off the grid.

Hopefully very soon my husband and I will settle on some plans for a vacation,; I think he is just as ready for one as I am!  Until then, I hope you all enjoy the warmer weather, and get to plan a trip of your own!

Amy