The Many Deaths of the Firefly Brothers by Thomas Mullen

I don't remember how I came across this book.  Most likely just browsing in the library for something that looked good.  This was published in 2010, so it wasn't my usual grab a book off of the new bookshelf.  It was a risk grabbing this one.  It's a paperback, so no book flap with a  synopsis and no synopsis on the back cover.  Just reviews.  A quick scan of the first couple of pages grabbed enough of my attention to check it out.

Set in the middle years of The Great Depression, The Many Deaths... gives us a taste of what it might have been like for the notorious bank robbers of the era.  The Firefly Brothers rank right up there with the likes of Dillinger, Bonnie and Clyde, the Barker Gang, "Pretty Boy" Floyd and "Baby Face" Nelson.  In The Many Deaths... the brothers become Public Enemy Number One following the death of Dillinger.  For 2 weeks the Bureau of Investigation (precursor to today's FBI) focus their attention on the Firefly Brothers.  Initially, the Bureau believed the men to be dead, as they were shot and killed in the opening pages of the book.  This was their first death.  Rumors of their resurrection flew around the country.  Following their death, they were spotted multiple times a day in various cities around the Midwest and sometimes in places where only teletransportation would have been the only means for them to have appeared.  The Bureau discounts these rumors and once the Bureau decides the brothers are still alive, local and state police are believed to be at fault.  Perhaps it wasn't really the Firefly Brothers who were shot and killed as was initially believed.  Perhaps it was two other men, misidentified.  What ensues is a journey of constant movement by the brothers as they try to stay one step ahead of law enforcement and gain freedom from the life of a fugitive. 

We get glimpses into their lives outside of infamy, as sons, brothers, lover and husband through flashbacks and current (setting) action.  The reader is given insight into how the brothers, Jason and Whit Fireson, came to be the Firefly Brothers and Public Enemy Number One.  The author provides an impression of life for the common members of the era as well as for the more infamous members of society.  The author, Thomas Mullen, researched the era and the notorious characters of that time.  He provides resources at the end of the book.

The four main characters are portrayed in such a way as to evoke sympathy, no matter what side of the law they occupy.  Mullen gives them depth and dimension.  We come to understand what drives them to do what they do.  Other characters are merely sketches compared to the 4, but are depicted enough to lend significant meaning to their role in the lives of the brothers and the "good" guy.

Mullen has 3 books in his repertoire.  His first, The Last Town on Earth, received excellent reviews and was one of the top 10 debuts of the year when published in 2006.  His most recent tome, The Revisionists (2011), has also received rave reviews.  The premise in each of his 3 novels is quite different from story to story, but each has the thread of politics and history (history in quotes for Revisionists) coursing through and a bit of sci-fi in the 2 latter novels.  I look forward to reading The Last Town on Earth  and The Revisionists as I really enjoyed The Many Deaths of the Firefly Brothers.

I Still Hate You, Winter

I don't think my Trumpet Vine Trellises will ever be the same!

This is a Dogwood Tree.  Looks more like a Weeping Cherry.
Have you ever heard this story?
A man was walking down the street one day.  The wind bet the sun that he could force the man to take off his coat and the sun could not.  The sun agreed to the bet.  The wind began blowing, straight into the man.  The man put his hands in his pockets and pulled his coat a bit tighter around himself.  The wind blew harder, thinking he would blow that coat right off the man.  The man buttoned his coat tightly, all the way up to the neck and shoved his hands deep into his pockets, hugging his secured coat as close to his body as he could.  The wind blew even harder, but to no avail.  The man was not taking off his coat.  Then it was the sun's turn.  The sun shone.  The man unbuttoned his coat.  The sun shone even more brilliantly and the man took off his coat, slinging it over his shoulder.  He even began whistling a tune as he walked.  The sun turned to the wind.  "See.  All it takes a little sunshine to warm a man from the inside out." 

I might be a little off on the ending of the story, but you get the point.  As beautiful a spectacle the snow and ice can be, it does not win me over to winter.  The weight bears down on the branches of the trees and the shrubs and everything else.  It will all sparkle later if the sun comes out, making the woods look like a crystal cathedral.  The trees, however, can only stand so much.  The ground is littered with smaller branches and I sit here listening to the bigger branches falling to the floor of the woods through the icy arms of the trees.  The sound is different this time than when a branch falls in any other season.  The sound can even be musical.  However, it still does not change my attitude.  Our snow adventure this winter season began early in December and has not stopped.  Looks like February is going to be a loooong month.  Oh well.  Might as well make the most of it.  I do not have to go anywhere today and there is plenty of wood for the fireplace.  Maybe I'll roast a weeny. 

Winter, I'm Breaking Up with You!

Dear Winter,

That last bout of arctic weather is the final straw. I have put up with your coldness for way too long. I cannot stand the feel of your icy breath in my face and down the back of my neck. You chill me to the bone!

Must you always precipitate on the roads and sidewalks? Why can't you do that in the yard and landscaping?! I am so sick of cleaning up after you. It is one thing to clean up after a small child, but you too?! You have fooled me time and again, allowing my good friend the sun to come and visit, only to ruin it with your below freezing slap in the face. How cruel! I swear you are laughing at me as your North winds blow through the trees. Your promises of crisp, clean air and unmarred blankets of white snow are no longer enough. Warm, toasty fires while in the midst of you please me no more. You make my back ache shoveling your snow. My joints stiffen at the mere thought of you. I have become an expert at the icy sidewalk shuffle (not an area of expertise I desire). I have had enough!

Winter, I am leaving you for Summer. At least when he rains, I don't risk falling on my backside when I step out the door.

Goodbye, Winter. I am leaving my parka and snow boots behind. I will not need them where I am going.

With a bitter-cold heart,
Mimi "Cold Feet"

Cold Enough for Ya?!

As of last Friday night, all 4 of us are together once again. 10 weeks our daughter was away at college in Savannah, GA. As the temperatures here have steadily dropped, we heard way too many times about the nice weather down there. And how she was wearing shorts the day before she came home. All I can say is: "Paybacks are hell!" This is SAW at home tonight:
Get used to it, babe! It's not even December yet and you are here until January 3!

Blowin' Smoke

Here is a link to a restaurant review I posted on my other blog, A Girl and Her Grill:

My Daughter is a Bee

A SCAD Bee. Savannah College of Art and Design Bee. According to the laws of physics, a bee should not be able to fly. The size of its wings in proportion to its body should deem flight impossible. Yet it flies. SCAD founders were told the same thing. "An art school in the South? It will never fly!" SCAD celebrates 35 years of educating and preparing artists and designers of all disciplines since the school first opened its doors to students in 1978. Enrollment continues to increase along with the accolades and awards. Big names in all industries regularly recruit SCAD graduates. Why? Because SCAD is innovative in the approach to student success. From the moment a student is invited to attend, a team of SCAD professionals surround the student to encourage, guide and mentor in order to convey that student to success. Ultimately, the student is responsible for his or her success; however, with the resources provided, success is not an impossibility. In the time that I, as a parent of a new Bee, have spent on campus, talking with students, alumni and staff (and I mean all staff-even maintenance staff are friendly and engaging!), I find SCAD truly cares about each student and nurtures each one to reach beyond his or her potential. SCAD, thinking outside the hive!

Pickin' Friends and Pickin' Noses

"You can pick your friends and you can pick your nose.  But you can't pick your friends' noses."  An internet search attributes this quote to many different people.  I first heard it on Saturday Night Live.  "Pick Your Friends" first aired in 1986.  Wikipedia says it is a popular saying in English speaking countries.  I find the phrase pretty funny, no matter how many times I hear it or repeat it.  Can you imagine the absurdity of reaching over to pick that hanging booger out of your friend's  nose or vice versa?  Saturday Night Live did.  And  it is just...ewwww!

There are plenty of other things we can't pick...someone else's pants out of his/her crack, spinach out of someone else's teeth, how much tax we pay, our parents and other family.  There is absurdity in all of those things, should we be given the opportunity to choose.  How much tax-who wouldn't choose to pay nothing?  Choosing family-how about that couple with the 7-figure income?  Life just doesn't work that way.  Some things just are, whether we like it or not.  Picking our friends is one thing we can control.  Choose well.

So, we don't get to pick our family.  Pick your haircolor, pick your job, pick out where you live, but  not Mom and Dad, brothers and sisters, etc.  Like them or  not, they are yours (I'm talking the family you are born into, not the one created with a significant other).  As a kid, there were times when I wished my friends' parents were mine.  You know the ones.  The parents that let you drink as much soda as you wanted, eat junk food, let you stay up past bedtime when you spent the night.  Other people's parents were always so much cooler (you know you had those times, too)!    And when a friend would say how cool your own parents were, you gave him/her a look like, "what drug are you on?" 

As adults, we can pick how much time we spend with our "born-into" family.  Some people move out and never see their family again.  Others move away and visit as much as possible.  Still others never move out at all! 

I'm one who moved away.  Our visits to our families are few and far between.  But we are not totally isolated from them.  Facebook, e-mail, cell phones (with texting) keep us in touch.  What we lack in actual time together, we make up for virtually.  We see each other's children grow up through pictures and posts.  We even sometimes still argue over petty differences.  One nice thing about being with my family virtually:  there is time to think things through before posting something that may be regretted later.  Live visits, not so much.  I have 3 sisters and 2 brothers.  When we are all together, the competition to be heard and understood still exists!  Some subjects are avoided completely (religion and politics-know what I'm saying?).

Love them, hate them, your family is all yours.  I didn't pick them, but I'm keeping mine.