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Hello, and welcome to imagic reflections!

Here, we talk about books, history (actual and alternative), the latest discoveries in archaeology, music, movies, and just life in general.  Whatever catches my interest at the time.  Occasionally, I’ll post a scrap kit for you to download.  This doesn’t happen as often as I’d like anymore, but that’s life.

Before downloading any of my scrapbook freebies, please take the time to read my Terms.   Downloading any of my creations implies an agreement to these terms, whether or not you have actually read them.  My terms may be changed at any time without notice, so be sure to check back.  Thank you and have fun!

My book reviews express my own opinions and feelings about books I’ve read, but if you want to repost them elsewhere, then feel free to do so.  With appropriate credit, of course.

DigiScrap Cuteness: Santa Paws by LouCee Creations and Me, My Selfie, and I by Cornelia Designs

I just found this completely adorable kit at Pickleberry PopSanta Paws by LouCee Creations.  The mouse peaking out of the stocking is too cute and I love the lights.

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Another awesome find is Me, My Selfie, and I by Cornelia Designs and GingerScraps.  The colors just really pop.

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Tea Sampler: Cardamom Cinnamon Herb Tea

This month’s sampler from The Republic of Tea is an herbal blend, Cardamom Cinnamon,RepublicofTea_11-14 which also contains ginger, chicory, and black pepper among other things.  The scent is warmly spicy, most of that from the cinnamon, mild, and sweet.  It’s reminiscent of these spiced apples in a jar my mom used to buy.  They were sliced, with a hole in the middle for some reason, and canned with this cinnamony red liquid.

Brewed as per recommendations, the taste is a little mild for me.  I think I’d let it steep longer.  The flavors are good, though.  It’s warm and comforting.  The slight heat from the black pepper is subtle, but noticeable on the tongue.  Just enough to enhance and highlight the warmth of the cardamom and the cinnamon.  It even lingers a bit after the last sip.  Very nice for a cool autumn day, or cold winter’s night.

Just a drop or two of vanilla would improve it, I think.  With a dollop of milk or half-and-half.  I don’t like this enough to order 36 bags of it, but it gets a tentative thumbs up.

Prince Lestat by Anne Rice

Yes! We are back on track. This book is a vast improvement over Blood Canticle, the supposed last volume in the series. Admittedly, that’s not saying much.Chronicles12_Rice I loathed, hated, and despised Blood Canticle.  It royally pissed me off.  It was such a tremendous let down.  The stage had been set for a giant showdown with the Talamasca in which all of the secrets of the Order would be revealed.  Instead, we got a grand romance between Lestat and Rowan Mayfair, who I’ve never liked and liked even less afterwards.  I have not so much as glanced at another Anne Rice novel since.  And then I learned of Prince Lestat.  On a wave of nostalgia, I added it to my most anticipated books list for 2014, eagerly awaiting it’s publication. It does not disappoint.

Benji Mahmoud, the twelve year old Bedouin boy brought into the Blood by Marius in The Vampire Armand, has become the Voice of the Undead.  Taking to the airwaves, first by conventional radio, then via satellite, he communicates with others who walk along the Devil’s Road.  Surprisingly, Maharet and the Old Ones allow this.  And there are now vampire doctors and scientists studying their kind and even performing viable, successful surgeries of a sort.  The Ancients allow this as well.  In fact, one of the Queens Blood sponsors it.  But there is another Voice speaking to vampirekind, one who speaks within their own minds.  It seduces, it pleads, cajoles, threatens, whatever it takes to get what it wants.  Waking those that have gone to earth and ruthlessly killing the vagrants, the “riff-raff”.  The Children of Darkness and their world are in blood soaked chaos.  It needs coherence and leadership and, of course, they look to Lestat to give it.  Though, why anyone would want Lestat to lead them anywhere except into sin and temptation is anyone’s guess.

Prince-Lestat_RiceI had a theory about the Voice almost from the beginning.  I think it was talking to Lestat in that Paris hotel when I figured it out.  What I couldn’t decide was why now.  And how much of certain others was part of it.

If the rest of the Vampire Chronicles are the scriptures of the Undead, then Prince Lestat is their Book of Revelation.  Finally, oh, finally, we learn who, and what, the Elders of the Talamasca are.  I admit, with a touch of embarrassment, that this never occurred to me.  Yet, it’s so obvious when I think about it.  That isn’t all.  We are told the origins of the Order.  This was a surprise to me.  Frankly, I thought it was older.

And, speaking of revelations, the one at the end of chapter 5, “The Story of Rose”, is a big one.  My jaw just about hit the floor.  Fareed has some serious balls to do this behind a certain someone’s back.

In this second part of the book, we meet so many blooddrinkers.  Ancient Ones and those that are near fledgelings in comparison.  Not just Old Ones of the First Brood but those Akasha made to fight them, what’s called the Queens Blood.  Some of them made me blink stupidly at myself, because I hadn’t thought of them being brought over into the Blood, and I should have.  Others I’d never heard of at all anywhere in the books.  At least, not that I’d noticed.  A few of these, we were lead to believe had met the True Death.  Some did.  Some did not.

I loved Prince Lestat!  I could just keep babbling about it, but I won’t.  This has restored my faith in Anne Rice and reminded me why I so loved these books in the first place.  Maybe I’ll even get around to reading The Wolf Gift and The Wolves of Midwinter the way my sister has been urging me to do.  And hope Rice continues to write of the Tribe, the Children of Darkness.  If so, I’ve officially rejoined The People of the Page.

Rating:  5 out of 5 stars

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Skip Waters

We in eastern North Carolina are dealing with a tremendous loss.  Yesterday morning, just after I posted my review of Archangel’s Shadows, I learned of the passing of Skip Waters, the chief meteorologist at WCTI, the local ABC affiliate.  Skip worked there for 32 years.  I don’t remember a time when he wasn’t there.

Skip was our go-to weatherman.  We watched the other channels, sure, but when it was important, when there was a hurricane coming, when there was a tornado on the ground, we always turned to Skip.  If you heard on another channel that it was going to snow or ice, you’d immediately change channels or tune in to the next broadcast to see what Skip had to say about it.

While tracking storms, he would zoom in on an area with the radar and start naming tiny little towns most people’d never heard of unless they lived there.  He would name back roads and obscure bridges out in the boondocks, say that this was where this old store is, or that gas station, this restaurant.  It was amazing and so very reassuring.

He’d been here a long time and was familiar with the vagaries and rhythms of Eastern North Carolina weather.  Skip wasn’t afraid to go against the forecasts of the National Weather Service or the National Hurricane Center.  He’d show us the tracks they forecasted, the model runs, then tell us what his gut said was going to happen.  He said that Arthur would come in around Cape Lookout even when the official track for the NHC was saying Cape Hatteras.  Skip was right.  He wasn’t always, don’t get me wrong, but he’d still step out there, give us his educated opinion and then tell us why he thought this was the way it’d go.

I remember, when we were in elementary school, back in the mid to late 1980s, Skip took part in my sister’s class play.  I vaguely remember him in a stereotypical yellow raincoat, complete with matching hat and galoshes, playing the weatherman in their play.

He will be missed by all of us.  My condolences to his family and his colleagues, past and present, at WCTI.

Archangel’s Shadows by Nalini Singh

I know this book is about Janvier and Ashwini (I won’t talk about that so as not to spoil it for everyone else), and it was awesome, but my favorite scene was in the rooftop aerie at the Tower with Illium lying around while Aodhan and Dmitri play chess. Then Naasir shows up. I grinned the entire scene. And laughed out loud when Aodhan made his move.  It was a wonderful glimpse into the complex relationships between Raphael’s Seven.

I am now officially in love with Naasir.  I want to take him home and pet him and play with him.  And now I sound like the abominable snowman with Bugs.  :)

Archangel-Shadows_SinghWhat is Naasir, though?  I’m dying to know.  Especially after what Ashwini sees when they’re on that balcony during the party.  She gets just a flash of something, but dismisses it.  I find myself more intrigued than I was already.  He sort of reminds me of a changeling with his need for touch and love for play.  Wrong universe, I know, but still.  Some sort of shifter, maybe?  Or maybe some odd after effect of Making?  Akin to Venom and the serpentine qualities he got from Neha.  But that’s not quite right.  And I find myself wondering if the hunter born originated this way, with their sensitive noses.  Remember, vampire’s can still have children during the first couple of centuries after being Made.  And, if it’s the shifter thing, then that doesn’t apply.  Something to think about.

Lijuan needs to die, already.  For real, this time.  I don’t think she will until Raphael’s ready to accept the power the Legion is trying to pass to him.  Am I the only one who finds the Legion creepy?  Seven hundred seventy seven unbelievably ancient men who look exactly alike and seem to have a hive mind thing going on.  Definitely creepy.  It’s getting better now that some individuality his beginning to show through the sameness, though.

I agree with Raphael.  I would be most happy if Charisemnon were to disappear into a bottomless pit.  And what is Michaela up to?  You know what happened with Uram was deliberate.  I’m not talking about her subtle, insidious instigation, but the effects of it on her.  That little bit of his toxic blood that is now part of her.  She looked a tragic victim, but that, all of it, I think, was part of some complex Machiavellian plot.  Michaela wanted the power of bloodlust without risking going into bloodlust herself, thus avoiding execution.  What’s her endgame?

Can’t wait for the next book in the series!

Rating:  4.75 out of 5 stars

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Nerdishness

A couple of 6,000 year old temples have been discovered. The first in Israel, possibly dedicated to Baal or Anat…

6,000-Year-Old Temple with Possible Sacrificial Altars Discovered – Phys.org
October 16, 2014

… the second in what is now Ukraine.  This temple is located within a large settlement that was part of the Trypillian cultural sphere.  I think the remarks about similarities between this complex and temples in Eridu are a bit far fetched and based on superficialities.  Unless, of course, those similarities go deeper than those this article implies.

6,000-Year-Old Temple with Possible Sacrificial Altars Discovered – Live Science
October 20, 2014

There’s an interesting, very sciency, article in the online journal Nature Communications about cultural transitions in the Greater Hungarian Plain and corresponding changes in the genetic makeup of the population.  What most of the less technical sites got out of it was that Europeans drank milk and ate cheese long before they developed the genetic mutation that lead to lactose tolerance, allowing for maximum use of the nutrition provided by dairy products.

Lots of coverage of, and different spins on, genomic data gained from a 45,000 year old thigh bone of an anatomically modern human found in Siberia.

In other genomic news, there is evidence that the Polynesian inhabitants of Rapa Nui, better known as Easter Island, interacted, and interbred, with people from South America at a surprisingly early date.  Just as intriguing, was another discovery mentioned in the article:

… a second article that will appear in the same issue of Current Biology by Malaspinas along with Eske Willerslev and their colleagues examined two human skulls representing the indigenous “Botocudos” of Brazil to find that their genomic ancestry is Polynesian, with no detectable Native American component at all.

Genomic data support early contact between Easter Island and Americas – Phys.org
October 23, 2014

A genetic mutation allowing for the efficient use of fatty animal protein that proved advantageous to people of the Arctic during and just after the Ice Age is now having a negative impact on those same populations, leading to a high rate of hypoglycemia and high mortality.

Gene that once aided survival in Arctic found to have negative impact on health today – Science Daily
October 23, 2014

I remember reading about this super-eruption of Campi Flegrei a few years ago.  Now they’re saying that the impacts of the eruptions on the areas inhabited by Neadertal populations was minimal.  Comparable to the environmental impacts of the 1815 eruption of Mt. Tambora on the same areas.  Which, to my mind, seeing as how both eruptions rate 7 on the VEI scale, how Campi Flegrei is considered a super-eruption, and Tambora is not.

Supervolcano Cleared in Neanderthals’ Demise – Live Science
October 24, 2014

Archaeologists have discovered the remains of Ukek, the capital of the Golden Horde.  This Mongol capital is difficult to excavate because it lies beneath a modern city, but they are finding interesting things, regardless.

Ancient City Ruled by Genghis Khan’s Heirs Revealed – Live Science
October 24, 2014

Rock Addiction and Rock Courtship by Nalini Singh

Rock-Addiction_SinghOkay, to say I’m in love with these guys would be an exaggeration. But, I find myself intrigued by the rock gods of Schoolboy Choir.

I can’t say, however, that I was charmed by Fox.  Is he hot?  Yes.  Sexy?  Definitely.  But I found myself thinking, at one point while reading his book, “Please tell me she isn’t about to go all 50 Shades.”  Thankfully, she didn’t, but I thought that Rock Addiction was lacking in Rock-Courtship_Singhstory.

I loved the glimpses, all too fleeting, we get of their beginnings. Mischievous boys blowing up the science lab and deliberately flubbing choir tryouts. I really loved David’s audition in Rock Courtship.  It made me laugh.  And the memos.  Talk about hot.  Love a man with a brain who isn’t afraid to use it.  And I was charmed by the group’s desire to see koalas in Rock Addiction.

While this series and its characters intrigue me, it doesn’t have the charisma of Singh’s Psy-Changeling and Guild Hunter series.  It had its moments, and I’m looking forward to reading the stories of the rest of Schoolboy Choir and that of Charlie and T-Rex, but I would have liked more interaction between them all, not just inserted between sex scenes.

Rating:  3 out of 5 stars for Rock Addiction and 3.25 out of 5 stars for Rock Courtship

DigiScrap Cuteness: Boy’s’terous and Science Nerd by Bright Ideas

I’ve found two adorable kits at GingerScraps designed by Bright Ideas.  The first is Boy’s’terous.  I just love the bike.   And check out the Lego blocks.  I loved Legos.  Those and my Easy Bake oven were my favorite toys.  What’s not to love about a toy that involved cake?  My sister got an ice cream maker that same Christmas.  Good times.  :)

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The second is Science Nerd.  Perfect for scrapping science projects in progress, science fairs, and, of course, your little mad scientist on Halloween.

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DigiScrap Awesomeness: Count on Me Templates by Cornelia Designs

A few years ago, I released a series of number templates.  They are simple, versatile, and, being sized 1200×1200 pixels (the numbers, themselves, are a little less), more than one can fit in a conventionally sized layout.  And, of course, they’re free.  Always a bonus!  :)

However, if you’re looking for something a little fancier, and are willing to pay a little, I’ve found these amazing templates by Cornelia Designs at GingerScraps.  These are so cute.  I just love them.  As yet, only #1 and #2 are available.

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Dixon Wives: Penelope Keel

From what I’ve been able to piece together, Penelope Keel was born in about 1797 in the Durham’s Creek area of Beaufort County.  She was the daughter of Hardy Keel and a woman named Hannah.  There seems to be a lively debate on the genealogy boards on whether that Hannah was Hannah Peed or Hannah Taylor.  Initially, I found conversations, like this one at GenForum, that led me to think it was Hannah Peed.  Ancestry.com says she was Hannah Peed, daughter of Henry Peed and Hannah.  But look at the dates.  It says she was born in 1806, but had children in 1796 and 1806.  Yeah.  So…

According to Visiting the Past, Hannah Taylor married three times.  First to Hardy Keel, then to Thomas Bland II sometime between 1834 and 1839, and, finally, to Spencer Wise April 3, 1856.  She was about 83 years old at the time of her last marriage and she died not long after, between 1857 and 1859.  I’ve yet to find anything on her parents.  Suzy Bennett lists the children of Hardy Keel and Hannah Taylor, with some of their marriages, in this post.

The children of Hardy Keel and Hannah Taylor were:

  • Hardy Keel (1794-1840) who married Susan Tuten
  • Penelope Keel (1797-between 1850 and 1860) who married Roland Chosewell Dixon
  • Elizabeth “Betsy” Keel (1798-?)
  • Benjamin Keel (1799-?)
  • Frances “Fannie” Keel (1807-1860) who married Asa Rowe
  • Henry T. Keel (1810-?)
  • Matilda Keel (1811-?) who married Frances Delamar Mallison
  • Mary Keel (1812-?)
  • Sarah P. Keel (1813-1883) who married Thomas Didymus Dowdy
  • Ann “Anna” Keel (1817-1859) who married Joshua Rawls

Visiting the Past gives a different order, and there are a couple of “Unnamed Keels” in there.  Looking at the gap between Benjamin and Frances makes me wonder if there really was a first marriage to Hannah Peed.  Just not the Hannah Peed listed at Ancestry.  Which would make Penelope’s mother Hannah Peed instead of Hannah Taylor.  It’s something to think about.

Hardy Keel is just as difficult to figure out, maybe even more so, because there was more than one living in the same, general, time period.  One of these was Penelope’s brother who married Susan Tuten.  He and his family moved to Tennessee in the mid 1840s.  Another Hardy Keel, this one in Bertie County, was born around 1725/1730.  Here’s a list of some of his descendants I found at RootsWeb.  As you can see, there are two other Hardy Keels on that list.  One born in about 1745, the other in 1818.  There is a Hardy Keel who was the son of Frederick Keel and Elizabeth Gullett, but he was born in 1793.  None of these are my Hardy Keel, who was born in about 1770.  In this post at Genforum, Ron Keel says that Hardy was the son of Joseph Keel and Ruth, Joseph the son of Nathaniel, and Nathaniel the son of William.  These dates, at least, certainly fit.

Roland Dixon is the son of William Dixon and Lydia Caton.  He was born January 24, 1786 or 1789, I’ve seen both.  If it was 1786, then he was the oldest, if 1789 then his brother, William, was.  William was born in about 1787.

When Rollan Dickson married Penelope Keel in Craven County July 6, 1813 with James Martin as bondsman, their son, Pearce, was already a year old. In 1814, we find Rollin on the Muster Roll for the 2nd Regiment, 5th Company, detached from the Craven County Militia.  I’ve yet to find them in the 1820 census, but some of it is hard to read, so I could have missed them.  Or the census taker might have.  In 1830 (163A), Rowlin and Penelope live in Craven County next to Zachius and Nellie Paul.  I’ve also found them in the censuses for 1840 (39A), and 1850 (350A – Roland is listed, for some unknown reason, as Robert, and their youngest son, another Roland, as Robin).  Penelope does not appear in the 1860 census (166A) , where we find Roland living with a Lucy Dixon, aged 13.  I wonder if she’s the daughter of Pearce Dixon.  I haven’t been able to find anything about him beyond his birth.

In 1840, specifically August 10, Roland Dixon was among the commissioners appointed by the County Court of Pleas and Quarter Sessions for Craven County to lay off one year’s provision, what’s called the widow’s dower, for Patsy Scott, widow of John Scott.  If you’ll remember, Roland’s son, William, would marry their daughter.  He also purchased a few things at John Scott’s estate sale August 22.  This is according to John Scott’s probate papers.

I read somewhere, I can’t remember where at the moment, that Roland served, very briefly, in the Civil War, in the 31st North Carolina Infantry.  But, this record of military service says Rowland Dixon was 24 when he enlisted, so it must have been the son, not the father.  This is interesting, because, later in the War, young Roland was fighting for the Union.  Not an uncommon occurrence in this area after the Yankees captured New Bern, but, in April 1864, he requested a transfer to a New York regiment.  I don’t know if he got it, because he died of yellow fever September 30 of that year.  Roland, Sr. died  not long after, on November 26.  Probably also of yellow fever.  There was a major Yellow Fever Epidemic going on in the New Bern area at that time.

Roland and Penelope Dixon had the following children: