Tuesday, 21 May 2013

Runaway Devil (Book Review)

"The most disturbing outcome of the trials is that neither JR nor Jeremy Steinke ever took responsibility for the death of Jacob.  Only they know for certain what happened in that house, and one of them is not telling the truth."

The book club genre for this month was true crime.  Honestly, I've not read very much of this genre.  That may have to do with the fact that I'm generally a very fiction-heavy reader (reading 2 of them at the same time as this book) and if I am reading about a true crime, it is usually involving an air crash incident.*

*Sidenote:  If I could do it all over again, I would totally be an air crash investigator.  Mayday is my favorite TV show, and I think my personality as someone who is ridiculously organized and meticulous (read: anal retentive) in their work would lend itself well to that type of career.  But I never pursued the sciences as actively as I should have.  *sigh*...

 I wanted to pick a book about a Canadian crime, and I ended up choosing Runaway Devil: How Forbidden Love Drove a 12-Year-Old to Murder Her Family by Robert Remington and Sherri Zickefoose.

The story of Runaway Devil was a really big case in Alberta back in 2006, when 12-year-old JR and her 23-year-old (!) boyfriend planned and carried out the murder of her parents and little brother in their Medicine Hat home.

While obviously this was a disgusting crime, I want to focus mostly on the quality of the investigative writing and the style of the book itself rather than passing too much judgement on the individuals involved in this real-life horror story.  Remington and Zickefoose are both journalists who covered the story for the Calgary Herald.  And while the journalistic writing style often falls prey to sensationalism, in this case the authors have managed to do a pretty good job of avoiding the melodramatic.  Which is challenging considering the subject matter of forbidden (not quite) teenage love and family murder.  Remington and Zickefoose do an excellent job of discussing the backgrounds and lives of the murderers equally, and provide many different perspectives and sources in their analysis of the crime, ranging from court records to social media postings and recorded conversations.  The book is not a difficult read from a vocabulary standpoint, but from my experience true crime books don't tend to be exceptionally difficult in their language.  The book is for the most part put together in a sensible chronological fashion, and there weren't too many places where I was confused about which point in time they were referencing.  I also appreciated that they included photos of the parties involved (excluding young offenders) and provided an update on the situation as far as it was available when the book was published.

So while true crime is not my usual choice in genre, I felt that Runaway Devil was a generally well-written investigative look at a truly horrible multiple murder.  I would recommend this book to fans of the genre, or those with an interest in crime and current events in Alberta.

Saturday, 18 May 2013

Garden is planted! - my urban garden

Firstly, I guess I should say something about the "blogging-hiatus" I've been on lately.  It's been a while since I've posted, and I've been unemployed the whole time.  So really, you'd think I'd have tons of time for this, but I just haven't been indoors very much.  The yard has been the obvious victim of years of neglect by the previous owners, so I've been working hard to bring it into some kind of control with large amounts of weeding and chopping and rototilling and the general moving of dirt.  Things are finally coming together so I have a little time to take a break and say a bit about how it's all going.

So, the indoor starters had an accident.  As many of my Facebook associates are already aware, I had a moment of gardening stupidity and accidentally irradiated the baby plants on my back step after forgetting them outside for an entire afternoon on a very hot day.  So there wasn't much left that could be salvaged, pretty much just the marigolds made it through.  Lesson learned, but at a high price. 

Returning then to the garden.  Originally, the plan was to rototill the far corner of the yard, which in a previous life had once been a sandbox.  This has been both a boon and a problem.  It's all very nicely churned up for planting, but with being so incredibly sandy nothing can go in this year.  The plan is to compost on the sandy area, so that next year it will have a bit more soil to work with.  In what soil there is, I've planted the very large crops - the pumpkin, zucchini and cucumber - so that they can eventually sprawl over the sandy part as they grow. In the meantime, I wasn't going to totally take the year off with the main garden, and staked out a smaller bed next to the house as the home for this year's garden. 

The plans!

It's not a huge space but really quite manageable, especially seeing as this is the first year for the DH and I to be gardening without the direct supervision of someone who has done this before.  The only change I made to the diagram is I swapped the spinach and carrots around because I wanted a longer row of carrots.

All planted!

You can't see it in the photo, but the peas will grow right against the step, and will eventually have a cage or trellis to lean on.  I left that rather large gap down the centre so that I can navigate my way to the back without crushing anything.  It's hard to see them in the shade, but on the right there are pepper, jalapeno, strawberry and basil plants that I bought at a local greenhouse.  The day lily at the back used to be WAY bigger than it is now, we got it down to a more reasonable size, but couldn't extract the whole thing without killing it. 

So we will see what develops.  I'm a bit concerned with the soil's hardness, but hopefully that won't impede things too much.

More posts will be soon to come, I promise I won't leave it so long this time!