Book Review: Scarborough Fair by Margareta Morris (@MargaritaMorris) #RBRT #YA fiction #Historical fiction #time shift mystery

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 I love time shift fiction (thank you, Diana Gabaldon) and am quite content to read a book classified as YA – there is a basic simplicity to these books that appeals to me.  I think Scarborough Fair will appeal to adults, too. This is a smashing historical mystery, alternating with a modern day detective story with young sleuths.

In 1899, Alice comes with her personal maid Mary to the seaside tourist town of Scarborough to find freedom and relaxation. She is escaping for short time from her older, demanding and overbearing fiancé, Henry Blackwood, who has been forced on her by her family because of he is an aristocrat. Alice does not love him and does not want to marry him, but she has a large inheritance that Henry wants and needs. While in Scarborough, Alice meets a young painter and they fall in love. Henry will do anything to own Alice, including sending a man to follow her and report back to him. The prologue of the book recounts the hospitalization of Alice by Henry in a horror of an insane asylum, to keep her isolated until she is old enough for them to marry.

In 2016, Rose comes to Scarborough to spend the summer with her mother and grandmother. She is not happy to be there, since all of her friends are spending their summers in exotic locations and her boyfriend has apparently dropped her. Then she meets Dan, who comes to apologize to her when his father, driving his red Ferrari too fast, nearly runs her over. She and Dan hit if off right away and make a date to go to the Scarborough Fair together. Dan’s father is mixed up with a drug dealer to make money to keep his failing arcade business going, and Dan comes face to face with two menacing men looking for his father. Dan is determined to find out who they are and drags Rose along as he follows them.

The author does a fantastic job linking these two stories, with lots of tension and well-drawn, interesting characters. Even the two thugs looking for Dan’s father are carefully and distinctively limned. There is enough description for the reader to feel at home in Scarborough in both eras, and the relationship between Rose and her grandmother tugs at the heart. The huge building, once a manor house that was an insane asylum, looms menacingly as a character in itself in both story lines.

The only real drawback I noted was the jumping back and forth between eras in the same chapter, without warning; I would have preferred these two story lines to be separate chapters. And Dan’s apparently willingness to drag Rose into danger with him, leaving her behind when they are being chased, seemed a little forced, especially since he didn’t know her all that well.

Those considerations aside, this book is a page-turner and I read it straight through. I highly recommend it and have a few YAs in my family who will get a copy. There is a sequel to this book in the works, and I plan to grab it.

About the author

Margarita Morris was born in Harrogate, North Yorkshire, in 1968. She studied Modern Languages at Jesus College, Oxford and worked in computing for eleven years before leaving to work with her husband on their internet business. Ms. Morris particularly likes writing novels set in historically interesting places, and she has published three other novels, Scarborough Ball and The Sleeping Angel, both time slip stories, and Oranges for Christmas, set in Berlin in 1961. When she is not writing, she enjoys singing in an Oxford chamber choir and gardening. She lives in Oxfordshire with her husband and two sons.

She can be found

On Twitter:  @MargaritaMorris

And on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/margaritamorrisauthor/?hc_ref=SEARCH&fref=nf

Spring Flowers

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A pictorial essay of what is currently in bloom around our house and pool, with a few comments. Enjoy! It’s spring!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Not sure you can see the load of blossoms on our weeping cherry tree. They are dropping already, leading to what we call pink snow!

 

Some late blooming daffodils in the garden: 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Some as yet unpotted blooms on the porch.   

 

 

 

We have some lovely azaleas also in bloom.

  And one even had a yellow visitor!

 

Do you think these are blossoms on our bushes in the front of the house?

Nope, it’s our last snowfall!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Museum Exhibit: Ansel Adams

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This past weekend I went to the North Caroline Museum of Art to see a photographic exhibit by Ansel Adams, fifty-two his photographs that he thought were among his best.

Ansel Adams (February 20, 1902 – April 22, 1984) was an American photographer and environmentalist. His black and white photographs of the American west, with an emphasis on Yosemite National Park, are instantly recognizable.

He was born in San Francisco, moving with his family when he was four to a home just south of the Presidio Army base. He experienced the San Francisco earthquake of 1906, which destroyed the city. He was tossed face-first into a garden wall during an aftershock, breaking his nose, which was never reset.  He was a hyperactive child and was dismissed from several private schools for being restless and inattentive (ADHD?). His father decided to pull him out of school in 1915 at age 12, after which he was educated by private tutors, his aunt Mary, and by his father. His father raised him to follow the ideas of Ralph Waldo Emerson: to live a modest, moral life guided by a social responsibility to man and to nature.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Grand Tetons and the Snake River

As a child, he studied the piano and intended music to be his adult profession. However, a trip to Yosemite with his family and the gift of a Kodak Brownie box camera changed his goals. He returned to Yosemite on his own with a better camera and tripod and then learned basic darkroom technique working part-time for a San Francisco photo finisher. His first photographs were published in 1921, and his early photos already showed careful composition and sensitivity to tonal balance. In the course of his 60-year career, the 1930s were a particularly productive and experimental time. He expanded his works, focusing on detailed close-ups as well as large forms from mountains to factories. In September 1941, Adams was contracted by the Department of the Interior to make photographs of National Parks, Indian reservations, and other locations for use as decoration of the department’s new building. Part of his understanding with the department was that he might also make photographs for his own use, using his own film and processing.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Half Dome at  Yosemite

Adams used the gelatin silver process for his black and white films, in which a suspension of silver salts in gelatin is coated onto glass, paper etc. These light-sensitive materials are stable under normal keeping conditions and are able to be exposed and processed even many years after their manufacture. Adams pioneered a zonal system of eleven shades of gray, ranging from black to white. The resolution in his black and white photos is astounding. He never wanted to take color photographs although he tested color film for Kodak.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This was Adams favorite tree – he photographed it many times. Unfortunately it no longer exists.

 

Adams lugged his 40 pound view camera wherever he went, taking pictures of whatever struck him from nature to camp children. I’m sure you will recognize some of these iconic images.

Trust me, though, to really appreciate Adams’ artistry, you need to see the photographs in person.

 

Camp Children

 

 

 

An Unsung Hero: Mary Semple Hotchkin

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I came across the name of Mary Semple while reading a book called Dust Bowl Girls, about a national champions women’s college basketball team in the 1930s. The book itself is a great read about women’s sports at that time, something I knew nothing about. Sort of like A league of Their Own, but a decade earlier and concerning basketball, which is on everyone’s mind with the national collegiate championship coming up.

Mary Semple was a cultured society girl from Steubenville, OH, born in July of 1836. Her father was a dentist so Mary enjoyed the luxuries of an upper-middle class young woman – pretty clothes, parties, and all the social advantages. She was also a top student with a strong Presbyterian upbringing. This religious background exposed her to various missionaries for her church, and when she was ten or twelve, at a lecture by Dr. John Scudder, a famous medical missionary to India, she was told to write in her Bible, “Mr. Scudder asked me to be a missionary.” She apparently felt bound to those words, keeping them in mind as she grew and at age nineteen, while singing a solo in her church choir with the words, “There comes a call and I must go,” she felt it was the call for her own mission and time to leave home.

Being a missionary in those days, as is often the case now, could lead to injury, illness, starvation and even death. When she met with Rev. Cyrus Kingsbury, who was seeking teachers and other workers for missions in the Indian Territory, he disparaged her application. After all, she presented wearing fashionable hoop skirts and a guitar. She didn’t know how to cook, sew or raise vegetables. He told her of the poor food, the isolation, the difficult living conditions and the difficult Indian languages and vile customs (to him). She was not deterred and somehow managed to convince him she wasn’t soft, spoiled or naïve, so he sent her off to eastern Oklahoma, where the Choctaw, Cherokee, Creek and Seminole nations had been sent by the federal government.

She travelled by boat down the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers to Arkansas, then overland by wagon through swamps, brush, streams and rivers, heat and swarming insects. One night she stayed at a plantation with the slaves and 30-40 children. The plantation owner asked her and her companions to stay to teach the children, offering them a salary three times what they were paid for their mission work, but they refused.

Mary’s first school had been founded in 1832 for Choctaw orphans, situated north of the Red River and the Texas border. Her arrival there caused great consternation among those running the school. How could a delicate teenager who spoke no Choctaw manage a classroom. She surprised them all – by the end of her first year all her students new English and she spoke fluent Choctaw. The next year, she was sent to the Bennington Mission Station, close to what is modern day Durant, OK, and the following year to the mission called Living Land, established by Ebenezer Hotchkin, Sr., where she met his son, Henry. Food was scarce – mainly bacon, corn bread and sorghum – and the accommodations wherever they lived, were primitive. Soon after Mary and Henry were married, he left to serve in the Confederate Army and I can only imagine how desolate she must have felt.

A few years after Henry came home, the couple was transferred to a new mission in Caddo north of Denton, TX, bringing with them their five children, four of whom were born between 1861 and 1866. They had the luxury of a two-room house near the Missouri- Kansas-Texas Railroad. Mary taught school wherever she was sent, and often taught with a baby in her lap since she eventually had twelve children (three died).

Her husband then moved his family to a wilderness called Chikiki one hundred miles north of Caddo. She and the children moved by covered wagon, camping in the wilds, and when they arrived, found her husband had purchased for them a two-room log cabin with one small window in each room. The school was an even more primitive one room affair, although over time her husband expanded it to six rooms.

Henry eventually went back to farming, but died soon thereafter from pneumonia. Mary ran the farm but broke her hip when she was thrown from a buggy, and lay in pain until she was  discovered by a search party. The hip was not set and thereafter she walked with crutches. She kept teaching the Native American children throughout this time and at the age of 60 was teaching at a Chicasaw academy when she was asked to run the Oklahoma Presbyterian College for Girls, founded in 1896. Assisted by her son Ebenezer, the school grew and prospered.

How is she linked to the Dust Bowl Girls? Her son was the President of this college for which the dust bowl girls played basketball while earning a degree.

While mainly a teacher, Mary was also a nurse, doctor, friend and spiritual advisor to her classes, giving marked copies of the New Testament to her students. When she died in 1919, her last words were, “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet.” She is buried in the Stigler, OK, cemetery under a white marble stone, with the inscription, “Came to Indian Territory as a Missionary to the Choctaw Indians in 1857. Taught for 40 years among the Choctaws and Chickasaws.” An inscription that understates her importance in the growth of the western United States and her devotion to Native Americans.

From her bones was this country made.

 

Way of Life – a Post from Siddhant Jain

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I recently went to the blog site of a new follower, Siddhant Jain. Siddhant is 17 years old, studying in college.

This post touched me, because it contains such good advice from such a young person.

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Life is very beautiful, we get to live it once , so we should bring the best out of it.

We must realize the importance of family and friends. Without these people around, we all will be alone and lonely. We must resptect them and love them no matter what. Just imagine your life without them , then you’ll understand their importance.

Every person has flaws , but we must accept that and move along with it. We don’t have the right to make someone feel down because of any flaw or con.

According to me one who accepts his mistake , who shows the act of gratitude and the one who is not judgemental is a true and a pure human being.

We all have flaws , we must accept it and live with it or we must work over it and change the flaw into our strengths.

Being flexible is the key for a smooth life. Accepting different situation, accepting changes and always ready to change as per the situation for good and for the betterment of the society will bring the smoothness of life. Whereas if we stay intransigent, we’ll be pointing out mistakes, keep on complaining about the change and will never progress in life.

Think about your contribution to this world , have you contributed anything for the betterment of this world? Make an aim that you want to contribute something for our mother Earth….

You can read the rest of this post at https://siddhantjainblogs.wordpress.com/2017/03/20/way-of-life/

*****

I hope you like this as much as I did.

You can follow Siddhant on Instagram: siddhantjain_99. and on Twitter: siddhantjain99

We Have Amazing Bodies

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I excerpted the following from an email I received today from an MD..

Sometimes you may feel (or know, like me!) like your body is beginning to creak and fail you on the outside, but have you ever stopped to consider the incredible work going on inside? What is, is pretty miraculous!

1. Your heart pumps around 2000 gallons (7571 liters) through its chambers each day. To accomplish this, it beats 100,000 times a day.

2. You take around 17, 00 breaths a day and you don’t even think about it. You can hold your breath to stop breathing but eventually your brain takes over autonomously and you have to take a breath.

3. Did you know your body gets rid of thousands of potential cancer- causing cells a day? Cancer cells are formed when their DNA is altered and this happens tens of thousands of times a day. But there are enzymes in each cell which essentially inspect each new strand of DNA and fix the errors before the cells lead to a tumor.

4. It’s estimated that 50-60,000 thought run through your brain every day, 35-48 thoughts a minute.

5. Some of the cells lining  your stomach produce acid strong enough to dissolve metal, but in reality just digest your food into a substance called chime. Why doesn’t your stomach digest itself? Because other cells produce an alkaline substance to neutralize the acid.

7. Most of your body’s energy is given off as heat during the day. You produce about as much heat at 25 light bulbs (the incandescent kind).

8. A red blood cell can make a complete circuit of your body in less than 60 seconds! Pretty fast! So it makes it around 1440 times a day, delivering oxygen to the cells and picking but the carbon dioxide. The cell lives for about 40 days before breaking down and being replaced by a new cell.

Are you impressed yet? There’s more…

9   Your hair (assuming you have any) grows a half millimeter a day. If you have a full head of hair (about 100,000 hairs), you grow 50 meters of hair every single day!

 

10. You shed about 1 million skin cells a day, but your skin doesn’t get thinner (except as you age) because those cells are constantly replaced by new cells coming from layers beneath them. You skin is actually your largest organ (yes, an organ) with a area of 18 square feet (about 2 square meters).

11. Our brain runs our mouth and larynx to allow us to speak around 5,000 words a day, unless you are a teacher and/or a woman. Men only speak around 2000 words a day, Duh! Research says that only 500-700 of these words are constructive and useful, i.e. contain relevant information.  I’m sure there will be some blowback from women on this – I’m not sure I trust this data.

12. Your liver is so busy, it’s nearly impossible to summarize all that it does. It manufactures blood plasma, Vitamin D and cholesterol (which is necessary in some amount), it stores nutrients, and filters 1.53 quarts of blood every minute and produces about a quart of bile for food digestion. And that’s just a few things.

Image result for free picture of liver

13. Your salivary glands produce about 1.5 liters of saliva every day, in order to keep your oral cavity moist, inhibit bacterial growth and begin the digestion of food.

14. The average man’s testicles produce over1 million sperm cells a day – what overkill, right? Those that aren’t used eventually break down and are resorbed.

15. Each of your kidneys contain about 1 million tiny filters called nephrons that together filter 2.2 pints of blood each minute. That’s 3168 pints a day, but only about 2.5 pints are expelled as urine because the nephron resorbs water.  

There’s lots more, but I don’t want to overawe you!

 

A Fantastic Review for Death by Pumpkin

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Mallory at http://malloryheartscozies.blogspot.com/ – do check out her blog if you like cozies – gave me a five star review for Death by Pumpkin. You know what that does to a writer, right?

You have to watch this – it’s me!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XVpXjr0-3ZQ

Here’s the review:

An entertaining and highly intriguing Maine cozy, DEATH BY PUMPKIN is third in a series. Imaginative in premise, this mystery begins with a bang and strongly hooks the reader, and enwraps us with the characters and storyline. Rhe Brewster is an ER nurse, mother of an ADHD son, widow, and sister-in-law of the police chief of her community. She is also a part-time police consultant. The author warmly endears the characters, as murder rears its very ugly head (even though it’s performed creatively), and emotions run high (and for some, even higher). DEATH BY PUMPKIN is a mystery delineating the adage “Keep your friends close, and your enemies even closer.” I’ll definitely be looking to review other mysteries in the Rhe Brewster series.

http://malloryheartscozies.blogspot.com/2017/03/death-by-pumpkin-by-n-grangerreview.html

Thank you, Mallory!

 

Andrew Joyce and Danny the Dog: These Are a Few of Their Favorite Things

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I am absolutely delighted to be able to share this topic with Andrew and his pal, Danny – two of my favorite bloggers!

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Hello, my name is Andrew Joyce. Noelle has asked me and my dog over to her blog today to discuss some of our favorite things. But first of all, I’d like to introduce you to my dog, Danny the Dog.

Say hello, Danny.

Hello.

Could you be a bit more enthusiastic?

Could you get on with it? You dragged me away from a Lassie rerun. She was just about to save Timmy, who fell into a well. I wanted to see how she was gonna do it, seeing as she has no opposable thumbs. You never know, I might have to save you from a well someday. Then you’ll be sorry you didn’t let me finish watching my show.

Okay. Let’s just get down to it. I’ll say my favorite things first and then you can tell the nice people about your favorite things.

Why do you get to go first?

It really doesn’t matter to me, Danny. Do you want to go first?

No.

Boy, oh boy! You are something else. I’m sorry, folks, but Danny seems to be in a mood today. I’ll start the ball rolling by telling you some of my favorite things.

Make sure they’re not too sappy.

Be quiet, Danny. Okay, here goes. I like getting up early to see the sun rise out of the ocean. I like rainy days when I can stay inside and read a good book. I like a good cup of coffee, and happy endings in movies. Now it’s your turn, Danny.

Whoa! Are you kidding me? What are you trying to do, fool these poor people? I’ll tell ’em what you really like.

No need to do that, Danny. I’m just trying to sell some books here.

Hush. If you want to sell books, then be honest with the people. It’s my turn and I’ll use it to tell the people what you’re really like. Andrew’s favorite thing is vodka. Then there’s his obsession with beer. You should see him when he has a snootful. He’s just like Hemingway. I don’t mean he can write like Hemingway, but he sure can drink like him.

Thanks a lot, Danny.

I’m not done yet. Sunrises? Andrew hasn’t seen a sunrise since I was a pup. And coffee? Of course, he loves coffee. He puts three shots of vodka in every cup. I will admit he does read a lot, rain or shine.

You are a bad doggie, Danny. Alright, you blew my cover, but we still haven’t heard about your favorite things.

I thought you’d never ask. I love to sniff where other dogs have peed. I love our walks in the morning when it’s just the two of us. I love it when, after our walks, you give me those treats. But do you want to know what I love the most?

I’m afraid to ask.

I love you. I’m hard on you because I’m trying to keep you on the straight and narrow. An impossible task, I think. But I’ll keep trying.

Aww shucks, Danny.

Can we get out of here now? There’s an old Rin Tin Tin movie on TCM that I don’t want to miss.

Sure, Danny. Let me just thank Noelle for having us over.

Thank her for me too. It wasn’t so bad.

Thank you, Noelle.

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Loved having you for a visit. Come back any time. I’ll provide dog biscuits.

About Andrew Joyce

Andrew left high school at seventeen to hitchhike throughout the US, Canada, and Mexico. He wouldn’t return from his journey until years later. He has written five books, including a two-volume collection of one hundred and forty short stories comprised of his hitching adventures called Bedtime Stories For Grown-Ups (as yet unpublished), and his latest novel, Yellow Hair. He now lives aboard a boat in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, with his dog, Danny, where he is busy working on his next book, tentatively entitled, 10,000 Miles: An American Journey.

Synopsis
Through no fault of his own, a young man is thrust into a new culture just at the time that culture is undergoing massive changes. It is losing its identity, its lands, and its dignity. He not only adapts, he perseveres and, over time, becomes a leader—and on occasion, the hand of vengeance against those who would destroy his adopted people.

Yellow Hair documents the injustices done to the Sioux Nation from their first treaty with the United States in 1805 through Wounded Knee in 1890. Every death, murder, battle, and outrage written about actually took place. The historical figures that play a role in this fact-based tale of fiction were real people and the author uses their real names. Yellow Hair is an epic tale of adventure, family, love, and hate that spans most of the 19th century.
This is American history.

About Danny the Dog

Danny the Dog is an insouciant blogger with an upcoming book. He is Andrew’s roommate and Andrew is his human.  In dog years, he’s an old man – or an old dog – but he is charming, wise and very snarky. He’s not an old dog to me!

 

 

Impressionistic Spring

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More years ago than I care to admit, I interviewed at Middlebury College and took a tour of the campus with an art major. I learned a new term from that student: impressionistic spring. This is the time of year when the trees are hazy with emerging leaf buds.

We’re at the peak of impressionistic spring here – the trees have leaf buds in bronze, dark red, yellow, and every shade of green from pale green to celery to moss to myrtle to olive and celadon. The colors are more subtle than the brash shades of fall but have a dreamy quality and a beauty all their own. There are also the bright colors of the red bud trees, daffodils, and hyacinths.

Impressionism is a 19th-century art movement characterized by relatively small, thin, yet visible brush strokes, open composition, emphasis on accurate depiction of light in its changing qualities. The Impressionists sought to capture the optical effects of light – to convey the passage of time, changes in weather, and other shifts in the atmosphere in their canvases. Their art did not necessarily rely on realistic depictions.

So who were the Impressionists? Eduard Manet, Claude Monet, Edgar Degas, Pierre-August Renoir, Camille Pissarro, Mary Cassatt, John Singer Sergeant – some of these names should be familiar.

We get the term impressionistic spring from the colors these artists used and their hazy quality. I’ve included a few of Monet’s paintings with all these gorgeous colors.

All That Genetic Stuff: RNA

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What I am going to tell you about RNA is very, very simplified, but I think it will give you the gist.

RNA or ribonucleic acid is much the same as DNA, a chain of nucleotides, but the sugar is always ribose (not deoxyribose), uracil replaces thymine, and RNA is usually single-stranded. RNA is essential in coding, decoding, regulation and expression of the genes coded in the DNA.

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Structure DNA and RNA molecule – Copyright: Designua, Image ID: 124474282 via Shutterstock

There are several types of RNA: mRNA, rRNA, tRNA, and non-coding RNA.

1.  mRNA – Messenger RNA: Encodes amino acid sequence of a polypeptide. mRNA synthesis involves separation of the DNA strands and synthesis of an RNA molecule with the action of an enzyme called RNA polymerase. One of the separated DNA strands is a template.

mRNA carries the genetic code copied from the DNA in the form of triplets of nucleotides called codons. Each codon specifies a particular amino acid, but one amino acid can be coded by many different codons or groups of three nucleotides.

There is some processing of mRNA before it moves from the nucleus to the cytoplasm of a cell.

2. rRNA – Ribosomal RNA. When combined with ribosomal proteins, rRNA makes a structure called a ribosome. The ribosome is the organelle where the mRNA is trranslated.

rRNA constitutes the predominant material within the ribosome, which is approximately 60% rRNA and 40% protein. Ribosomes contain two major rRNA subunits – the large A acts as an enzyme, catalyzing the bond formation between the amino acids. rRNA sequences are of ancient origin and are found in all known forms of life.

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 This is a three dimensional reconstruction of a ribosome, where blue is the small subunit and red is the large.

3. tRNA – Transfer RNA is the physical link between the mRNA and the amino acids that go into a protein. It does this by carrying an amino acid to a ribosome, as directed by a three-nucleotide sequence or codon in the mRNA. As such, tRNAs are a necessary component of translation, the biological synthesis of a protein originally coded in the DNA.

rna3

4. Non-coding RNA (ncRNA) is a functional RNA molecule that is transcribed from DNA but not translated into proteins. In general, ncRNAs function to regulate gene expression at the transcriptional (DNA to RNA) and post-transcriptional (RNA to protein) levels, and there are a lot of them, more being discovered all the time!

 

Hopefully you didn’t find this too confusing. I use to teach a more detailed version of this to my non-biology majors, because they would be living in a world where they will be confronted with these terms.