A Very Good Summer

Well, here I am, actually putting words into the computer once again. I seem to be coming out of some sort of COVID inertia which caused me to, more or less, stop in my tracks for the last year and a half. I see light at the end of a very long tunnel. I just hope it lasts.

This summer helped a lot to bring me out of the doldrums in good ways and really annoying ways. Cicadas! I am not a fan of cicadas. I do not find them interesting or captivating. The incessant noise almost drove me to distraction which, if nothing else, did cause my blood to start flowing freely to my brain thinking up new and nefarious schemes to kill each and every one before I careened right around the bend. I didn’t kill any. And they finally shut up!

Tom and I celebrated fifty years of marital bliss. Our children, Rachel Anne and Matthew gave us a lovely party. Lots to eat, the very best company, a beautiful cake and an ice luge to make sure we didn’t go to bed sober.

Then, of course, we had our glorious month of vaccinated, mask-free shopping, dining, and visiting. Tom and I were able to get out on the bay quite a few times. And, best of all, we had a family vacation! Four houses filled with family and friends. Three of my sisters were able to join in. Happy hours every night with delicious cocktails and tasty treats on the beach, music and dancing and a lot of laughter and love. It was life-affirming.

However, the start of our little jaunt to the Outer Banks could have gone better. It was raining as we set out, not horribly, but you like a vacation start to be sunny and carefree. We were rolling along nicely until we stopped about half-way for a rest room break. Coming out of McDonald’s I noticed that our moonroof was up. We had not put the moonroof up. In an effort to put it down, Tom and I managed to open it about a good three inches. We couldn’t get it closed.

So, fingers crossed, we got back on the road hoping that the rain, which hadn’t been much more than drizzle, wouldn’t get any worse. We were on a stretch of highway with nowhere to pull over when, of course, Mother Nature decided that what Tom and I really needed to get our vacation rolling was a good downpour. If you haven’t had the experience, I’ll just let you know that driving with rain pouring onto your glasses is not ideal. It makes for an unhappy drive. We ended up cruising along with me holding a small towel over Tom’s head and getting pretty well soaked. Finally, the sun came out and we dried off and arrived in a surprisingly good mood. The moonroof continued to amuse us all week, opening and closing on at will adding a hint of mystery to a wonderful vacation.

And now a word from my sponsor. My Cocktails to Die For is, at this very moment, available at Amazon for any who might like to try some rather tasty concoctions favored by the Forrest sisters and get a brief introduction to my Daisy&Rose Mystery Series. And, of course, the Daisy&Rose Mysteries are also available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble and wherever fine books are sold.






Living la Vida ‘Rona’

The other day a strange package was delivered to my door. It was large, slightly unwieldy and the return address was from some company in China. I didn’t remember ordering anything from China, but then again, I do an awful lot of ordering these days. Tom and I circled it for a bit mulling just what it could be. I gave it a little nudge with my foot for no apparent reason and finally decided that it was safe to pick up – gloves and mask on, of course. Guess what – it was the toilet paper I ordered back in March when we were all terrified that we might have to drip dry forever more and were ordering anything that Amazon said was in stock. And only six months late. I opened it and breathed a sigh of relief and was able to uncross my legs for the first time in months.

As with any crisis, you learn to make do. Hair has become an issue for many of us and my hair has become a rather strange sight. My sister gave me a perm at home. It turned out pretty well even though it took three separate orders to get all the parts needed. So, the next logical step in haircare was a bit of pruning of the tresses which I did myself. I now have what I call an old-lady mullet. I found that’s quite difficult to trim the hair on the back of your head while looking in a mirror backward. But as I am going nowhere and seeing nobody, but my beloved Tom and our cat, it doesn’t really matter.

Food has been quite an issue. After months of cooking every damned dinner every night, I laid down the law. We were getting take-out on our anniversary. Tom had been leery of take-out and delivery fearing, possibly rightly, that germs would be on the packaging. I think he was just waiting to see if anyone we knew was getting sick from having food brought in. Well, it turned out just fine. We had a lovely meal delivered free of charge from the Old Bowie Town Grille, a local restaurant. It’s been a game changer. We order take-out on a regular basis. My mood is not now quite as ugly as it has been.

I, also, have grocery ordering down to a fine art and I believe that Harris Teeter has the best curbside pick-up service in the area. The only place I actually get out of the car to shop is the nice produce stand down the road. I’ve become quite chummy with the owner. We discuss how very hot it is, what flowers the deer like to eat, and would I like a receipt? The other day he gave me a free tomato! It’s the little things in life.

All silliness aside, I believe this virus has cast a pall over all of us. It’s hard to plan your day when your day looks just like the one before. When weekends are the same as weekdays. When the job you just got back to has lost the personal connection that made it fun, even though it didn’t pay very well. When you can’t play with your grandkids or have tea with your neighbor. When you can’t hug a friend who has suffered a loss. When it really doesn’t matter what time you go to bed because it doesn’t matter what time you get up. I think to myself, this too shall pass, but it seems unlikely it will pass very soon. In the meantime, I’m trying to focus on all the good in my life. I really have nothing to complain about. We’re healthy, have food on the table and a roof over our heads. I just miss my kids and my family and my friends. I miss picking out my own produce and chatting with the pharmacist or the woman at check-out. And then I tell myself that in the grand scheme of things, it could be worse. I could have a Mohawk!

The Loss of a Friend

Often when I most want to say something, words don’t seem to come to mind. I lost a dear friend in April, a woman I’ve known since I was a teenager and I have been struggling since to find those words. I read a piece by my son yesterday on writing authentically and I guess it inspired me to give it a try today.

Jean Garner Fullenkamp was one of a group of nine friends I have had the privilege of being a part of. Women who have managed to remain close friends through the years. Some of us met in high school, some in grade school. As with any group we have our differences. Lord knows, we’re not all on the same page on a variety of subjects. And to be quite honest, perhaps if we met now for the first time, we might not even become friends.

But we are friends. We make the effort to keep together. We’re here for each other in the hard times and good times. And we’re here for each other now as we try to find our way through this first devastating loss of one of our own.

Even though we got together only a few times a year Jean was a great part of my life. Always kind, generous and loving, Jean could be counted on to host any occasion, to be late for lunch dates, and ready with a compliment. She liked to laugh, enjoyed a good glass of wine, and was always dressed to the nines. She loved her family and her religion. She was passionate about the environment and worried about what the future would hold for her grandchildren. Like all of us, she had good days and bad days, but managed to muddle through, spirit intact. Jean was simply a lovely person. And I, as well as so many others, will miss her.

Keep your loved ones close, don’t forget to let them know just how much you care, and cherish each day as it comes.

The Boy of Summer Are Back – In South Korea

Well, for those of us who miss Opening Day, who miss this year when the Nationals should be basking in World Series glory, who miss the 7th inning stretch, the wave, popcorn, peanuts and Cracker Jack, South Korean baseball is here!Granted this season will be unusual. The coronavirus has seen to that. But South Korea feels confident enough that the season has begun – within coronavirus restrictions, of course. Games will be played in an empty stadium. Umpires wear masks, as do the cheerleaders, and most of the players.

Playing to empty stadiums must be difficult. Players thrive on the energy of the crowds, the excitement that seems to vibrate through the stadium. So, Korea has gone to great lengths to simulate the thrill of the game. Stadiums are filled with placards of fans, there is an announcer is doing his utmost to inject animation into his narration, and cheer leaders are gamely rooting on the home team.

I think they can do more. With a little ingenuity I’ll bet they could make everyone believe they are really at the ballpark. First, the crowd noises. You need the roar of the crowd when someone hits a dinger over the right field fence. And the roar – then moan when a ball looks like a homer, but is actually in foul territory.

Then, of course, an entire litany of catcalls, boos, hisses is a must. They could add the rude, raucous taunts one might hear today, but I think they should keep it family friendly and channel that classic William Bendix movie Kill the Umpire. A few ‘are you blind’s, ‘he was safe’, and ‘throw the bum out’ would add color. Also, a few of the placards leaning over the low fence and interfering with the play would be good.

Speaking of the placard fans, I think they should figure out a way they could do the wave with the appropriate whoosh sound we all love to make. It would be a sight to see because they would all actually take part and it wouldn’t just die a somewhat anemic death like it, sadly, often does.

The 7th inning stretch would be great. All the placards could pop out of their seats and sing along to Take Me Out to the Ballgame or Country Roads. I’ll bet they could figure out a way for vendors to toss hot dogs and peanuts to the ‘fans’. A tee-shirt toss would be a wonderful sight, but they’d have to be careful about the velocity. Knocking off a placard’s head with a tee-shirt would be a downer for sure.

Think of it, relaxing in those pajamas which you haven’t gotten out of for three weeks, sipping a Baseball Pleasure at four in the morning because ‘what else do you have to do?’, and flipping channels until you find Korean baseball. It’s a gift. Let’s root for the home team!

Baseball Pleasure
(a Daisy and Rose special)
In a highball glass with ice mix:
2 oz. Vodka
4 oz. orange juice
1 jigger Amaretto
1 jigger Whiskey
Mix well and garnish with a little pennant supporting your favorite team. Go Nats!

Coping with Confinement

Well, here we are caught in coronavirus hell. I have been trying to think of amusing little anecdotes to write about, but I’m afraid they aren’t coming to mind. I just find this scary and depressing. As my older sister, Heather, reminded me, I’m no spring chicken. This virus is taking aim at the likes of me.

I am so very fortunate that I really have very little to complain about. Tom and I are financially secure, able to stay home, and are managing to get along. Staying at home is what we normally do. So why do I feel a burning need to go somewhere, anywhere?

My sister, Chris, calls this the ‘snowplow syndrome’. You know, when a big snow is coming and you are absolutely ready for it. You’re well stocked with toilet paper, milk, coffee, and tea. The pantry is filled with pop corn, the makings for s’mores, and Pepperidge Farm cookies. You have plenty of wine, beer and strong drink on hand, and eight DVDs of Columbo and a complete set of Jane Austen movies, jigsaw puzzles, crossword puzzles, and a fully loaded Kindle. So why are you looking out the window and wondering where in the hell the snowplow is?

I have found that, like I’m guessing many of you have also, much of my day is now consumed with grocery delivery. First thing in the morning I check Safeway, Harris Teeter, Whole Foods and Giant to see which grocery store has a delivery slot open during the upcoming week. If I find one, I quickly grab it and proceed to order everything I can think of.

I’m becoming a pro at this. I started off naively placing an order with Harris Teeter last week which was delivered in a timely manner. It was a fairly normal order, no hoarding, just what we might need for a week or two. I got a call that morning from a man who informed me that they couldn’t fill everything on it. I said, “Fine. Just deliver what you have.” Well, the order was a tad short – consisting of a fairly disgusting cucumber, two bags of croutons, salsa, rye bread, and a couple of other items I didn’t really need. The saving grace was the bag of Tootsie Roll Midgies. I’ve now caught on and order accordingly. I’m not hoarding, but I cover a broad spectrum of goods giving the store a lot of leeway for choosing what I might really want.

And Tom and I have actually been, sort of, rationing our food. While we are in no real danger of starving, as the virus picks up steam groceries may very well be more difficult to get. So we’re pacing ourselves. And what we’ve found is that we really eat too much! And we throw away too much! And we should be much more thankful for what we have.

Anyway, I just thought I would check in with all my friends and let you know I’m still here. Please everyone, stay safe, comply with social distancing, stay home if you can, be mindful of others, and take care of yourselves.

It’s my birthday and I’ll cry if I want to!

Fair warning, this post is not for anyone who doesn’t want to hear all about the joys of turning seventy. That’s right, I said seventy. Seventy. I figure if I keep repeating this number, it will lose its potency.

When I woke up this morning, did I bound out of bed and shout, “Hooray. It’s my birthday?” No, I did not. I sort of rolled out and stood up and groaned. My knees hurt. Why? This is a bit of a conundrum to me. What in heaven’s name can my knees have been doing all night that I wake up and they feel as if I have just climbed the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains. This is only one of the many mysteries I’ve encountered as I quickly approach ‘old age’.

Well, I guess I am actually there, aren’t I? There are a number of things I’ve noticed in the past year that are not particularly amusing and that scream, “Boy, are you getting up there!” For one, my skin has lost all elasticity. I mean I have become walking crepe paper. You could decorate a school gym for the big dance with me if only I had some color.

And let face it, things are drooping – badly. Knees are sagging, butts are dragging. I could send semaphore messages with my arm flaps if I knew the correct formations. Because this is a family blog, I will not go into the hideous result of not wearing a bra. Suffice it to say, it is not pretty.

My hearing is an in and out affair. My end of conversations with Tom consist of a lot of, “What?”, “Sorry, what did you say?”, and “I can’t hear you when the waters running.” Or really any other time.

Tom, whose hearing is a bit more in and out than mine, thinks he’s a bit of a comedian. So, his end of the conversation is always a treat. Instead of just asking what I said, he likes to repeat what he thinks he heard, but knows damned well he didn’t. There is really no reason I can think of that I would ask him if his liver had been dyed. He is a card.

My memory is a bit off. This is putting it kindly. If I don’t write it down, it doesn’t get done. I actually forgot what I was going to make a note of the other day in the time it took me to pick up the pen.

Also, I have an affliction which I call ‘noun aphasia’. I sometimes cannot remember nouns. This leads to a lot of interesting conversations that consist of charades and word clues. Such as, “You know, that stuff you put in a glass to make the drink cold.” “You mean ice?” “Yes, ICE!”

Tom and I had a kind of funny experience visiting the optometrist. We had already been to the ophthalmologist, so we only needed to have our vision tested. We both went into the exam room together and met the doctor. We hadn’t seen him before, but assumed it would be a quick ‘read the chart’, write the prescription, and Bob’s your uncle. At least he was mine. We were not expecting the third degree.

I was first in the exam chair and the doctor started peppering me with questions about my medications and other health issues. I hesitated while I tried to remember exactly what I took and for what reason I took it. Luckily, Tom was able to fill in the blanks. I felt a bit of an idiot. And I’m pretty sure the doctor agreed with me.

On reflection, I think it was the chairs fault because when Tom sat down he couldn’t remember a damned thing and I had to fill in the blanks for him. It was like a weird marital cross-talk act. I’m pretty sure the doctor was happy to see us go.

Seventy. Let’s say it together – seventy. Well, I’m finding that the old adage is correct. Old age is not for sissies. And the other old adage is also correct. Being seventy is better than the alternative.

Crazy Old Ladies

I’ll start with my favorite old lady joke.

Jane and Regina went out for a drive, Regina at the wheel. The day was clear and bright, the traffic was practically non-existent. They were tooling along as they came to an intersection with a bright red traffic light shining right at them. Regina tooled on through without a pause. Jane thought this a bit odd.

At the next intersection with another glowing red light, Regina didn’t hesitate for a second. She just cruised on through. Again, Jane thought this a tad on the odd side as Regina was usually a law-abiding kind of person.

When Regina sailed through the next red light, Jane finally spoke up. “Regina, honey, why the hell are you running all these red lights?”

Regina turned to her and said, “Was I driving?”

Well, that’s what I ask myself much of the time. Was I driving? Am I in charge of anything? And does anyone know I’m here?

My sister Chris and I recently went to Florida for the wedding of my younger sister Martha’s stepdaughter. Since the security crack-down resulting from 9/11, we now fly under assumed names. We assumed them at birth. We were named Jane Christine and Regina Penelope by our parents. No one calls us Jane and Regina.

Martha, Penny and Chris

The wedding was on Memorial Day weekend and flights that suited our timing needs, were non-stop, and weren’t exorbitant landed us with Spirit Airlines.

Spirit Airlines offers a number of fine amenities. It has reserved seats in which you can sit up very straight without crossing (or even moving) your legs for the entire flight just as mother used to encourage – for a price. If you care to travel with more than a toothbrush and change of undies, you can carry-on or check your baggage – for another price. Most of all, you can, and are encouraged to, make all transactions on their very fine website. No need for pesky interactions with other humans.

Well, we started our adventure by trying to purchase tickets on-line. This was not to be and here was the first pesky interaction I had to make. The answer to why I was unable to purchase tickets on the website was, ‘So sorry the website isn’t working properly today. I’ll be glad to sell you tickets for $5 more than the advertised price on-line.’ I didn’t quibble. I bought the tickets.

Second pesky interaction. A few days later, we decided to take one suitcase and check it, this being quite a bit cheaper that carrying on two bags. Nope. Could not do that on-line either. The nice woman told me the price. It was a few more dollars than the on-line price, so I questioned her a bit abruptly. She offered, ever so graciously, to give me the on-line number because the website was being updated and wasn’t working properly. I was getting the picture.

Third pesky interaction. I decided that we had better purchase seats. Our luck with Spirit hadn’t been too good so far and we did want to sit down while in flight. You guessed it. The website was still being tweaked and, no, I would not care to pay more than the advertised price.

The next convenience for our flying pleasure was the joy of self-tagging our luggage. It couldn’t be easier. We just go to the kiosk, print out the tag and drop tagged bag at baggage drop-off. Well, of course there was a fairly long line for the kiosk. Then a longer line for baggage drop-off and when we finally got there, the attendant needed to see our IDs and tickets and then she weighed the bag. So why had we tagged it ourselves? Because if we hadn’t, we would be charged if the attendant had done it.

In the past five years Chris and I have flown Delta and have been TSA pre-checked. We were not this year, meaning we had to go through the regular security line. We were x-rayed or whatever that weird machine does when you put your feet on the feet spots and hold your hands up in the air. And then we were both patted down. Clearly, we looked a bit sinister.

Luckily the flight was uneventful. We landed on time and had a good weekend. I got to visit with my sister, Martha, her husband, Roy, and my great-niece, Madeline. The wedding was lovely. We visited the Dali Museum which is certainly worth seeing. Martha chauffeured us around and generally took care of us.

One quick word about Florida drivers – there are evidently only two kinds. About 2% of them seem to be perplexed as to whether they have actually left their driveway. They move along in a bemused sort of way and annoy all other drivers on the road. The other 98% (of which Martha is one) apparently believe that they have actually taken the on-ramp to the Indy Speedway and just realized that if they don’t step on it they will never catch up to the pack. Our trips to and from the airport were a lot like Mrs. Toad’s Wild Ride. Chris and I were put in the back seat and told to ‘Shut up and READ A BOOK!’. Speed aside, Martha is a good driver and I appreciate all she did for us last weekend.

Finally, we started home and we must have looked equally sinister because once again we were x-rayed and patted down. At least, I was – sort of. By the end of the weekend my left knee was telling me in no uncertain terms that it was not a happy camper. I limped through security, planted my feet and raised my arms once again, and was told to wait for my pat down. The woman looked at me (a fairly bedraggled specimen at that point) and asked if I were in pain. I mentioned my knee. She patted one hip briefly and moved me along. My Kindle, forgotten by mistake in my purse’s zipper compartment, also made it through without detection in spite of the dire warnings from the official about leaving such items hidden in one’s bag. I’m beginning to wonder just how efficacious all this screening is.

We made it home in one piece. I drove us from the airport in the dark and I stopped for every light whether I needed to or not. Just kidding. I’m pretty sure I knew I was driving.

Remembering my big brother

On the anniversary of a death, it’s very easy to recall all of the shock, the disbelief, and finally the deep sadness that the day evokes. And I am afraid I sometimes dwell too much on the event and not enough on the life. I have written before about May 22, 1968, that last light of day when my brother, Tim, was taken from us. Now I would like to recall other days when we were very young, before teenage angst and civil unrest and the Viet Nam War; some good, some not so much. But they were mostly brighter days that bring a smile.

I was born two and a half years after Timmy and we, apparently, were in sync from day one. For example, I didn’t talk until I was well past two years old. The doctor seemed a bit worried, my mother did not. According to Mom, I didn’t need to talk. Tim did all my talking for me.

When we were small, we lived in a row house on 20th Street in Washington D.C. right off Dupont Circle. Washington was a small town then. Small enough that mail addressed only to Mr. Clover, Washington D.C. was actually delivered to my dad. Small enough that Tim and I, and eventually my little sister Chris, were allowed to play outside unsupervised for the most part.

I remember a friend in the neighborhood. We called him “Mr. Man Across the Street”. I have no idea who he was or where he lived, but we would wave and holler ‘hello’ to him as he strolled down the opposite sidewalk. He would smile and wave back and on good days he would roll nickels across 20th Street to us.

There was the old lady that lived next door in a house that sat far back from the street. She did not smile and wave. It certainly never occurred to us that she might send a nickel our way. I never saw her dressed in anything but black. Someone (very possibly my older sister) convinced Tim and me that she was, actually, a witch, although I never saw a broom and I don’t remember any warts. But we were pretty darned scared of the poor woman who probably just wanted to be left alone.

Summers were fun. We stayed outside most of the time playing with our neighbors, Bobby and Earl. Occasionally, the city would open the fire hydrant in front of the house so we could run in the water. High old times indeed! Tim and I got to share a popsicle on the front steps once a week. We caught lightening bugs and went with my dad when he fished in the Tidal Basin. We watched fireworks on the Mall and bought ice cream cones that came with ice cream cubes from the Peoples Drug Store around the corner. On very hot nights Mom would rub on our backs with alcohol to cool us off so we could get to sleep. I can still remember the smell.

Christmas mornings were special. We had no fireplace, so our stockings (Dad’s socks) were hung on the end of our beds. Tim, Chris and I got to open these before anyone else was moving. It was our special time. And now that I think about it, I don’t understand why the custom didn’t continue. It certainly gave my parents an extra half hour or so before we charged into their bedroom.

I remember that Tim and I spent several nights one winter synchronizing our dreams. We’d decide before bedtime to dream of the same thing and our stories always meshed in the morning.

I have one particular memory of that little house and my brother. I was a rather trusting little girl. We were playing inside, so I’m guessing the weather was coldish. I was sitting in the big chair in the living room and Tim decided he would do a little target practice. I was the target. My little toy broom with the red handle was the projectile. He promised that he would miss. So I sat there and let him throw it. Well, his aim was a little off and he whacked me right in the forehead. Copious amounts of blood and a none-to-pleased Mother ensued. He did feel bad and his aim certainly got better over the years, but I never agreed to be a target again.

We went to Calvert School which was the parochial school attached to St. Matthew’s Cathedral where we went to church. We walked to both. And much of what I remember centers around them.

My most horrid memory was the day he fell on the playground and hit his head. The playground for the girls, if it could be called that, was the small yard in back of the school. The boys played in the small yard across the alley from our area. I was in first grade and standing by myself when there was a bit of commotion and suddenly I saw two eighth-grade boys carrying my brother, unconscious, possibly dead for all I knew, across the playground into the school. I have to hand it to the nuns, they did an excellent job of ignoring me. Not one of them thought to reassure me that he would be okay, which, thank God, he was. But that picture is engraved on my mind to this day.

Much more amusing memories come to mind. Tim was an altar boy at St. Matthew’s which is a large church with a large altar. Well, his first time out, he must have been all of eight years old and on the small side, he went behind the altar to get the water and wine as was done in those days, and he didn’t come back. The priest finally had to go get him. We never found out what he was doing. Perhaps he saw something that struck him as interesting? Or he simply forgot that a whole church was waiting? Who knows? This was my brother to a tee – easily attracted to foolishness, as one nun told my parents. But, really, he was a little boy with a vivid imagination and no sense of time.

I love one particularly ridiculous story which I’ll preface by saying that as a whole, we were fairly literal children. My mother and our neighbor, Mrs. Smith, shared the walking to and from school responsibilities. Someone (probably Mother) from our house got us there and Mrs. Smith walked us home. I’m a bit fuzzy on whether I was part of this particular screw up or whether I wasn’t yet going to school. At any rate, my mother was fond of singing and, apparently, was belting out “I’ll be down to get you in a taxi, honey” as Tim was leaving for school. When Mrs. Smith got there in the afternoon to walk him home, he refused to go with her. He told her Mom was coming in a taxi and he had to wait for her. She, of course, had to drop whatever she was doing, pack up my sister and, probably me, and fetch him – sans taxi. She dined out on that story for years.

It’s been over fifty years, but I still miss him. I miss playing in the rain and coming home to tomato soup and grilled cheese sandwiches. I miss our Sheena Queen of the Jungle and Tarzan act as we ran through the woods near our home in College Park. I miss being arctic explorers trudging through a foot of snow for what seemed like hours. And I miss his smile, his laugh, and his always being there. I want his grandchildren to know what a glorious nut he was and what a wonderful big brother I had. Rest in peace, dear brother. You are not forgotten.

Who was that masked man?

Well, he wasn’t wearing a mask, but he was a man. Here’s the story.

As summer approaches and I mull over our vacation options, I’ve been reminiscing a bit about vacations past. Warm, sunny days spent at the beach getting sunburned and bitten by sand fleas. Crazy weeks spent in log cabins hiking trails, dodging bats, and getting eaten alive by mosquitoes. Long car rides to state parks with no air conditioning to a chorus of, “She’s touching me.” Fourteen sweating people in Nagshead, NC sharing a non-air-conditioned cabin. Colicky babies. Hurricane evacuations. Emergency room visits. High old times all. But one vacation sticks in my mind particularly.

Probably because it was it was my first ‘adult’ vacation. It was the summer of 1970 and my best friend, Linda, and I decided we would go on a real vacation by ourselves. After much mulling on what would be fun and, most importantly, cheap we settled on camping in Massachusetts. God only knows why.

I now think of it as a learning experience. We learned rather quickly that we did not like camping. We learned that neither of us is particularly fond of the great outdoors. We learned that both of us had, and still do, deep reservations about any proximity to bugs of any kind.

But it was an adventure. We set off one morning in late June in my little yellow Opel – the worst car in the world – loaded down with every conceivable camping accoutrement Linda could get her hands on. She was working at Atlas Sporting Goods at the time and had ample opportunity to select among other things, matches that would still light when wet. In case, I suppose, we decided to cookout in the rain.

We set out on a bright sunny morning and wended our way up the East Coast toward Boston. Now, I must admit that my memory is a bit hazy. It was forty-nine years ago and I haven’t gotten to that stage of dementia where I can remember past events clearly, but nothing from yesterday. I simply can’t remember either much of the time. Anyway, we got to Boston and spent a lovely day walking around the city. Saw a matinee of Hair and felt quite urbane.

From there we went to Gloucester, Salem and Plymouth. We visited Hawthorne’s birthplace, saw the Mayflower II, stood off the shore and stared at the spot the Hesperus wrecked, and watched a lobster boat bring in its catch. Word to the wise, if you see the odd lobster claw on the ground you probably do not want to pick it up, stick it in your trunk, and take it home as a souvenir.

We spent two nights of our adventure sleeping in the car. One because we saw a large bear in the camp grounds which turned out to be a medium sized dog. The other because a vicious mosquito had gotten into our tent. We had one emergency car repair and, believe it or not, didn’t have one drop of alcohol the entire week. What were we thinking?

However, all of these were just stops on our way to lay in the sand at Cape Cod and frolic in the ocean. When we got there, we found out that there is no ocean beach at Cape Cod. At least none that we could find. There is just an incredibly rocky shore. No wonder the Hesperus wrecked. We finally located a small sandy beach on the bay side of the cape. It wasn’t really what we had hoped for.

The highlight of the week, if you can call being scared silly a highlight, came when we went walking on the sand dunes. The dunes in 1970 were pretty spectacular. Miles of rolling sand mountains under a gorgeous blue sky. I don’t know if they have since been eroded by wind and tourists, but back in the day they were really something.

We seemed to be the only tourists in the area that day. We were trudging along, up and down the dunes, giving our legs quite a work-out when a man approached us from out of nowhere. Suddenly, there we were all alone on a vast expanse of sand with this weird little man. It felt uncomfortable right away. But we said hello politely because we were polite young women and walked on. But he felt the need to chat. He informed us in a, frankly, scary kind of way that four bodies had been found not long before right where we were walking.

I now know that he was not the murderer because that man had already been arrested. But at the time, Linda and I weren’t sure just who we were conversing with. Was this guy implying that he actually had planted the four bodies and was wondering if we would like to make to six? Or was he just an ass with a warped sense of humor? Or, perhaps, a self-appointed tour guide? Whichever, we were not sticking around to find out. We just smiled goofily and made tracks back to the car as fast as you can make tracks when wading through the sand. No doubt he had quite a little laugh at our expense.

The rest of our journey was unremarkable other than a rather exciting drive down a mountain followed by a semi without his load who really would have preferred us to go a lot faster. We made it home in one piece, and icing on the cake, have remained best friends, but have never even considered camping again.

Pride and Prejudice, the rest of the story

What can I say? I love Jane Austen. I’ve read all of her books and seen many of the film versions of them. I simply love the words. I love reading them and hearing them. I love the characters and the setting and the manners. My favorite is Pride and Prejudice which I just finished watching for the umpteenth time. The BBC version, of course, with Colin Firth and Jennifer Ehle. Perfection.

As I sighed at the end – Elizabeth and Darcy’s rather chaste kiss – I got to wondering about just what happened to all the Bennet daughters. What were their lives like? Did they all marry well? Did Mrs. Bennet confine herself to her room for the rest of her life enjoying fits of vapors? These are things I would dearly love to know. I wish Miss Austen had written a sequel. As she didn’t, I have filled in the stories for myself.

I am quite sure that Elizabeth and Darcy had a passionate marriage lasting at least sixty years. No doubt they died in each other’s arms, having had simultaneous heart attacks while attempting some rather athletic love making. Not a bad way to go.

Jane and Bingley had a long happy marriage. Not quite so passionate as that of her sister, but with quite as much love. They had six beautiful children. And as Mr. Bennet predicted the family was a happy, and luckily, quite wealthy one, for they were much too good-natured and trusting for their own benefit.

Mary, quite naturally, married an impecunious curate in a rather obscure parish. She spent her life piously boring the congregation to tears and playing the piano badly.

A good marriage was arranged for Kitty to a dull, but suitable young man. They lived an unremarkable, but satisfactory life together. The only fly in the ointment was that Kitty threw a fit at least once a year because her husband steadfastly refused to take her to Brighton.

And then there is Lydia. She, I think, had the most interesting life. Wickham died of syphilis deeply in debt to various merchants and bookmakers ten years into their marriage. Luckily, he had lost interest in Lydia before he contracted the disease. Having estranged herself from her family entirely, even her mother had given up on her, she was left with only one hundred pounds a year and saddled with her three children who had inherited all the worst traits of their parents. One can only imagine what gems they were. While she was hopeful that her father would pass away and she would come into a portion of his estate, Mr. Bennet seemed not to care to accommodate her in this. Thus Lydia, using her most impressive talents, became a fashionable madame catering to the military stationed in Brighton under the name, Mrs. Flanders.

Mr. Bennet did Mrs. Bennet the favor of out-living her so that she should never be thrown out of Longbourn by Mr. Collins. The dear lady actually had real heart palpitations one afternoon, but no one noticed as neither Jane, nor Lizzy was there to take her a cup of tea. Afterward, Mr. Bennet found that life at Longbourn without any females in residence was so peaceful and so free from worry that he managed to make it to one hundred years old, also out-living Mr. Collins.

So, there you have it. Is Jane Austen turning in her grave or having a good laugh? I rather think the latter.

Happy New Year

Well, it’s 2019 and sadly nothing is looking particularly rosy. The world of politics is a shambles. PBS has little to offer in the way of new mysteries. The weather is unfortunate. And I have what I guess is writer’s block. But I think it’s just that I’ve run out of stories to tell. I happen to be closing on seventy years and am realizing that most of my adventures are behind me.

I did fall down the other evening. I had a package to return to L. L. Bean and the UPS man pulled up across the street. It was after dark, so I trotted down the driveway, continued on the sidewalk, walked up to the truck, and scared the bejabbers out of the driver. I am paraphrasing his own rather descriptive words. Apparently, I move rather stealthily. Who knew?

At any rate, on my return to the house I took a short cut across the lawn because it was a tad chilly. Tom was watching my progress from the window. He, of course, turned away just as the flowering cherry in the front yard deliberately stuck out a root and viciously tripped me. Down I went, banging the hell out of my knee and wrenching my wrist and shoulder while narrowly missing cracking my head on the landscape tie bordering our bed of ivy. No one came to my rescue because no one saw me go down.

After quietly assessing my various bruises and confirming that nothing was broken and celebrating the fact that my bones must be in pretty good shape, I limped into the kitchen. “I fell down,” I said.

My wonderful husband Tom is a master of denial, especially when it comes to my health. So, “No you didn’t,” was his response. And he believed it. Problem solved.

When I assured him that the problem was not solved and that I actually had fallen and would appreciate a bag of ice for the knee which was rapidly swelling, he got me the ice. But then had to tell me exactly where I went wrong. If I had just stayed on the sidewalk and come up the driveway instead of cutting across the lawn, I would not have tripped on a root.

I’m not an idiot. I had already figured this out. I was well on the way to understanding my mistake as I was flying through the darkness. I was saying to myself, “Why the hell don’t you look where you’re going?”

Why do men do this? It’s not just Tom. It’s well documented that men need to instruct even when it’s clear you already have the picture. I don’t understand why can’t men just give you a hug and say, “Here’s the ice, sweetie. Twenty minutes on, twenty off.”

At any rate, I have to admit that after his initial reluctance to acknowledge my little mishap, he was very solicitous. He finished making dinner and cleaned the kitchen. Which is why I’m pretty sure we’ll make it through 2019, politics be damned.

The one that got away!

I would really like to tell you about the very big fish my husband caught – and lost – last week. Last Wednesday we decided to take our boat out for what very well might be the last time before we have to put it away for the winter. The day began well. A light breeze rippled the water softly. Puffy white clouds decorated the azure sky, as the sun gave just enough warmth to make it comfortable.

We made our way from Harbour Cove where we keep our boat, up Rockhold Creek and past the rock wall into the gorgeous Chesapeake Bay. The water level was high after all the recent storms, but the waves were gentle. Tom put out the two planers and we slowly glided north toward the Bay Bridge reveling in the quiet and serenity. We seemed to be the only boat out there. It was lovely.

The only thing marring an otherwise perfect outing was that there were no fish to be had. So, after a couple of hours Tom began pulling in his lines. He had pulled in the first line and had just picked up the second when he caught a big one! A very big one.

Now, I must preface this with the fact that I am not, by anyone’s estimation, nautically savvy. I cannot drive the boat. I cannot swim. And, honestly, I cannot even stand up on the damned thing without becoming perilously close to going over the side.

Tom on the other hand has always had what are referred to as ‘sea legs’. He’s a wonder. He can pretty much bring in fish or hand me a soda or steer the boat and do many other amazing feats without difficulty while standing up. I’m always in awe of this ability.

That day, however, just as he was pulling in the line, shouting for me to get the net, a speed boat roared past and its wake caused our little eighteen-footer to roll dangerously. Tom lost his footing and over the side he went.

Normally, I don’t do well in crisis situations. I am usually the first one to panic. So, I am proud to say that in this instance I did have the presence of mind to turn the key and stop the engine. Then I dithered around, trying to keep my balance, and wondering what to do next.

Tom, who thank God hadn’t hit his head and does know how to swim, was treading water. As he directed me with some agitation to toss him one of the seat cushions that floats so nicely and extend the ladder so he could climb back in to the (well, I won’t quote him verbatim here because my granddaughter may read this) colorfully described boat, I’m pretty sure he was wishing he had married someone a little less cerebral and a lot more physical.

However, I managed these feats without joining him in the water and he climbed back on board, dripping and not in the best of moods. The fish, after having a good laugh at our expense, departed to depths unknown taking the planer with him. On the bright side, Tom was all right. And he had managed not to lose his glasses or his wallet. And he is still speaking to me. So, I call that a win.

As I said at the beginning, I would like to tell you this story. It’s way more interesting than my real life. However, in all honesty I can’t. We did go out. It was a beautiful day. No one went over the side. Tom didn’t catch a fish. He didn’t even get a nibble. The most exciting thing that happened was my sighting of a huge stork that turned out to be some guy pulling in a crab line. I have an appointment with the eye doctor next month.

Long Life to Mrs. B.

Cats are curious creatures. Well, of course, they are. Who hasn’t seen a cat nose into things better left un-nosed. But what I am referring to is that cats are curious creatures – peculiar, remarkable, bizarre little animals who can be at the same time both needy and independent. They can be affectionate one moment and ready to take your hand off the next. Cats enjoy being unpredictable, a trait that I firmly believe that they cultivate from kittenhood. They are also wonderful little pets that the world would be a sadder place without.

As some of you may remember at this time last year I had three little cats. They started life under my shed, born to a feral mother. I adopted them as outdoor kitties. Alas, two met unfortunate ends within weeks of each other leaving me with Mrs. B.

Dear Mrs. B. started life as a little male kitten known as Bigglesworth . When the vet informed us that Bigglesworth was not a he, but a she, she was renamed Mrs. Bigglesworth and, as is usual with longish names, soon became Mrs. B.

Mrs. B. is now fifteen years old. Translated into human years she’s a grand old lady of seventy-six. Interesting how the computation is made. Cats age most quickly in their youth. The first year of a cat’s life takes her all the way from infancy to mid-teens. Second year she jumps up to mid-twenties. Then she ages four of our years for each additional birthday celebrated.

I have recently come to understand one of the more mysterious things I have seen cats do. Have you ever seen a cat jump up, run into the middle of, say, the driveway clearly with a definite purpose in mind, only to stop dead, sit down and clean his ears? I finally figured it out! They are doing what I do all the time. I am at the kitchen sink and need clean towels. I leave the kitchen for the purpose of getting clean towels. I get upstairs only to find that I have no idea why I am standing at the top of the steps. At which point I sit down and clean my ears. Not really. I go back to the kitchen and stand at the sink until I remember what I had forgotten. Maybe cats do the same.

At any rate poor old Mrs. B. is now into her dotage and getting a bit senile. And I can certainly sympathize. She’s a little greyer and a bit slower. She complains a lot. Her meow has changed. It’s a throaty meow that sounds as if she is coming down with laryngitis. She cries for food after she’s just eaten because I’m pretty sure she’s forgotten that she just ate. She’s a bit lonely. I think she still misses her siblings. With any luck Mrs. B. will be around for another few years. I hope so. Each morning I walk out the kitchen door and say, “Good morning, Mrs. B.” and she comes running from the deck to get her breakfast. I dread the day she doesn’t.


Moving on and writing again

Well, I’m finally in the mood to get back to writing – at least, I think I am. It’s been a long couple of years with enough distractions to completely throw me off whatever game I may have had. Some good things, sadly more bad things, have been keeping Tom and me up nights and running around days. But these things are settling down a bit and I feel like I can catch my breath and try to focus.

Mainly because Tom’s cousin’s house was sold last month! And Eileen herself is ensconced in a shared apartment with 24/7 help. While she is not always happy about it, she is safe, sheltered and looked after. And this is a major load off our minds.

Emptying the house was fun! I am being facetious. It was not fun. I freely admit it, Tom and I are too old for this crap. The house was dirty and dusty and there were a fair amount of mouse droppings in rather strange places. Always a joy to come across. But it’s done and in the hands of some other poor schmuck who can deal with the water in the basement and the windows that won’t open. Yay!

And so, as I said, I am trying to return to writing. And I think I will begin with my list of pet peeves and just get some much-need venting out of the way. I’m clearing my mind, so to speak. And my mind could certainly use some clarity. Here we go in no order of importance whatsoever.

1 – People who back into parking spaces when they just could just pull through. I don’t understand this phenomenon, but see it all the time. A practically empty parking lot. Tons of spaces where you can just pull through to face out. But no, these people back in. Why? I would really like to ask one of them someday, but my husband fears for my life (or possibly my sanity).

2 – Bathroom stall doors that open in! Who thought this up and why? There is no room in those little spaces. We spend our time trying not to touch anything and yet to get out we must back into the toilet. It’s just yucky.

3 – Waiters who ask, “Are you finished working on that?” If they think the food they have just served you needs to be worked on, then they should just apologize for serving it. How about, “May I take your plate?” instead.

Here, I must admit that I am rather a grammar-hammer. I love the English language and it hurts to hear it used badly. So, the next few are grammar related.

4 – The use of ‘I’ when ‘me’ is correct. This misuse has become rampant. I heard our eloquent President Obama misuse it at Senator McCain’s funeral. It’s not rocket science. “Tom and I went to the store.” “Matthew went to the store with Tom and me.” When in doubt, take out the other name. ‘Matthew went to the store with I.” No, he didn’t. He went with me.

5 – ‘LIKE’ every other word.

6 – Using there’s (singular) when you mean there are (plural). Newscasters, among many others, say this all the time.

Well, now that I’ve vented and my mind is clear, I will try to come up with interesting tales of life in the slow lane to regale you with in future posts. Right now, I am running to Target run where I will certainly see someone backing into a space muttering, “It’s like real hot out there.” Wish me luck.

This entry was posted on September 7, 2018. 2 Comments

Forty-seven years and counting

Forty-seven years and counting. Yes, today marks forty-seven years since Tom and I exchanged vows and rings. We were incredibly young and pretty naïve. But we were in love and ready for our big adventure.

I have to admit that after all these years there are times that I miss that crazy passion of youth when we couldn’t keep our hands off each other and everything was new. Emotions overwhelmed us. It was intoxicating and powerful.

But then I look over at this nutty guy I’ve lived with for forever, belt loosened, gently snoring in his La-Z-Boy, occasionally muttering in his sleep (the other night it was something interesting about 4000 hot dogs) and I realize I wouldn’t go back there for anything.

Because with all the passion of those first years, it’s easy to forget the angst, the hormonal ups and downs, the stupid arguments, and the tears.

Even at its best I think marriage has a fairly sharp learning curve and we’ve certainly had our ups and downs – births, deaths, family upheavals, illness – all the things that most of us deal with at one time or another. What we’ve learned is that simply courtesy, thoughtful timing, and keeping our mouths tightly closed lest we say something that cannot be taken back, seem to be the key to muddling through. That and remembering why we married each other in the first place.

So, as I look over my best friend and my rock, emotion once again overwhelms me. It’s not just comfort and contentment that I feel – though I think that comfort and contentment are often under-rated – it is deep enduring love.

Happy Anniversary, Tommy. With so much love.

PS: Shameless promotion – I will be signing books at Bethany Beach Books on Wednesday, June 20th from 6:30 to 8:30. Hope to see you there.


Book Club Doesn’t Disappoint

You know how it is when all you want is to go to a movie, sit back with your popcorn, and get ready to have a really good laugh, only to find that the advertising was specious and those hysterical scenes in the trailer were the only ones in the movie? Well, Book Club is not one of those movies.

My sister and I took the afternoon off yesterday to watch Book Club. Between personal heartbreak, political chaos, and a level of societal animosity that I’ve never seen in my sixty-eight years, she and I needed a good laugh. And we got one!
If you are looking for depth, substance, and an deep discussion afterward, perhaps you should choose another picture. Book Club is a solid B movie with a great cast and nothing to make you think. It’s the story of a book club made up of four old friends, women of a certain age as we say, and their responses to Vivian’s (Jane Fonda) selected book – Fifty Shades of Grey.

The weakest plot line is that of Vivian and Arthur (Don Johnson) who were lovers forty years ago who meet once again. Sadly, there’s just no chemistry between them. One scene where they end up in a fountain together was painful to watch, really. Seventy-year-old people (the average age of the cast) don’t do cutesy very well and Jane Fonda and Don Johnson are too dignified to be asked to do it.

Diane (Diane Keaton), a widow, has a wonderful encounter on a plane where she meets Mitchell (Andy Garcia) and the attraction is immediate. Keaton is funny, but Andy Garcia steals the scene with his charmingly wry reaction to her antics. The relationship proceeds as it should with a bit of a hiccup and nice resolution.

Carol (Mary Steenburgen) and Bruce (Craig Nelson) are a long-married couple facing a difficult time in their relationship. Carol’s efforts to revive a stagnant love life has some hysterical side-effects, and Bruce’s admission of insecurity and purposelessness after retirement is, I thought, the most poignant moment in the movie.

And then there is Sharon (Candace Bergen). I love this woman. Divorced for eighteen years, a highly successful judge, she is quite happy without a man. She never the less agrees to try on-line dating and ends up on a show stealing date with George (Richard Dreyfus). Sharon is self-assured, self-doubting, witty, sardonic, and vulnerable. She is clearly the most interesting character and Bergen plays her beautifully.

As I said Book Club is a good B movie. It is predictable. The end is as it should be, everyone is happy. It was worth every penny of $9.50. I laughed out loud. I left smiling and light-hearted. I had not one minute of existential angst. It was just what my sister and I needed on a Wednesday afternoon.

Losing Another Friend

Well, springtime seems to be, once again, a difficult time for our family. My brother-in-law, Mike Dillon, passed away March 29th. It was somewhat sudden and I think we are all in still in shock.

Mike was quite something – a true gentleman, a loving and supportive father, step-father, grandfather, great-grandfather, and uncle, an avid antiques collector, an ethical businessman, a basketball phenom (I consider anyone over the age of fifty who still plays a phenom), and a bit of a free-spirit. When I met him thirty or so years ago, he was rocking long hair, peace medallions, and designer jeans. And pulling it off with aplomb, as he continued to do.

For my husband, Tom, he was his conversation/discussion guy. Mike always had an interesting viewpoint, strangely interesting in some cases, but always thoughtful and considerate of another’s perspective.

For me, though, he was the man who loved my sister and gave her great joy. I think I will always remember his voice clearly. It was so smooth and melodic, an actor’s voice. And I can hear him clearly now talking about Chris. He was so proud of everything she did from making biscuits from scratch to her beautiful artwork. They had thirty years of happiness together for which I am so thankful.

Mike was truly one-of-a-kind and he will be missed.


This entry was posted on April 12, 2018. 2 Comments

Cell phones and the Technologically Infirm

I have been having a rather uneventful time lately. No unfortunate tumbles on public streets, no gluing fingers together, no more dead cats. While this makes for a peaceful life, it does not make for a good story.

I have, however, rocketed into the new century and bought an iPhone. Why, you may ask. Because I found myself looking wistfully at those lucky few – well, many really – who, while at dinner with a friend who is wondering what the GDP of Uganda is, can tell them in a few short taps on a handheld mobile device. This was just so intriguing. All that information at my fingertips anytime, anywhere. I couldn’t resist. And so I went big and got myself an iPhone 5 or it could be an XS.

Well, nothing is easy, is it? Other people don’t seem to have these problems. I was so excited. I was going to use this new technology to call someone, maybe even text! But my beautiful new iPhone with the pink butterflies on the cover wouldn’t shut up. It kept talking to me. Telling me to do things. I didn’t know why. It demanded that I ‘Tap twice.’ I would do just that, but it didn’t help. It just kept telling to tap until I thought, perhaps, it actually meant I should throw it into the garbage disposal.

I don’t think I’m alone, although I am probably only joined by people over sixty, in that I like paper manuals. Everything used to come with directions on paper. You went to the index, looked up troubleshooting, found the problem, and voila! But new technology does not come with paper. God forbid they stick a little user guide in there with the stupid phone.

After a few hours of having the damned thing yak at me, I calmed down and thought, “What would my daughter do?” She would sit down at the computer, log onto the world wide web and type, “How do you get the damned cell phone to stop telling you to tap twice?” Which I did. And it did. I can’t remember now what it told me to do, but whatever it was worked. My phone became a source of endless amusement. I became a texting fool. I looked up inane information about the cast of Leverage and how to make Eggs Benedict. All was well right up until New Year’s day when the phone just sort of froze.

I did not freak out this time. Inconvenient, yes. A little annoying, yes. But I already knew the GDP of Uganda and nobody calls me anyway. So I waited a couple of days and took it to my local AT&T store after dire predictions of needing a new battery from my beloved and that I should not pay more that $25 for it. It was not the battery at all. A very nice man fixed it in just a minute. Apparently, I had somehow gone into settings and told the phone that I was blind. I don’t know how I managed this. I do not recall going into settings, but then I am, apparently, getting a little doolally.

The best part is how the nice man fixed this little problem. He tapped it three times, just like Dorothy and her ruby slippers. So now we know, tapping your iPhone can do all sorts of things, but I still wish they would write it down on paper.

(In case you’re wondering the GDP of Uganda is $27.53 billion USD. If you want to know what a GDP is, get your own iPhone.)

This entry was posted on January 24, 2018. 1 Comment

A Feline Tragedy

I spent the weekend trying to come up with something to write about on my blog. And then my week got off to a rather rocky start. And now I have something to write about. Fair warning, it isn’t pretty.

Monday morning I lost one of my little furry friends in a really horrific way. For those who are unaware of my feline situation, I was the owner of three semi-feral cats. They were born under our garden shed over fourteen years ago and I knew them from kittenhood. I had them spayed and neutered. My husband built them a cat house and they become my outdoor friends. Mrs. Bigglesworth or Mrs. B for short, Buster, and Flufster.

Well, about two months ago, I noticed that Buster had lost a lot of weight. He was still a sweet, gentle, purring kitty, but not an eating one. Then one day he wandered off and didn’t return. It was sad, but expected. And he was happy until the end.

But last Monday was a different story. Two large dogs, Huskies, I believe, got loose in the neighborhood. I think you may guess where this is going. And I’m afraid you’re right. They attacked little Flufster. She was losing her hearing and so, she was slow off the mark.

It was a brutal attack. Tom and I ran outside and tried to chase them off. Even as we were doing this I was thinking, “What the hell am I doing? What if they turn on us?” But they didn’t. The dogs were after our cat. It took Tom turning the hose on them to finally get them gone.

Our poor little cat was terrorized and dying. My heart was breaking and I very stupidly tried to pick her up. At which point the little thing attacked my hand. Well, after the burial in the backyard she knew so well, there was the trip to the doctor.

For those of you who are not right on top of the latest medical news about feline bites, they are much more prone to infection than the canine type. By the time I got into the office Tuesday morning, my hand was red and swollen. I got through the visit with a minimum of tears as I related my sad story and managed not to pass out on the floor (as all my sisters are prone to do) when I got a tetanus shot. Then home with an antibiotic to nurse my very sore hand and to take a much needed valium.

I’m still sad, as is Mrs. B. who will now probably die of obesity because I keep feeding her to make up for our loss. I know Fluff was only a cat, but she was my cat and it was a terrible way to go.

Mrs. B.                                       Buster                                 Flufster






Reunions and other happy events

As some of you may know the past year has been less than stellar for our family. In fact, it was a very difficult time. I could go into detail, but I prefer not. Because in August I had a birthday marking the beginning of a new year for me. I turned sixty-eight. I know. It’s hard to believe. I don’t look a day over sixty-seven. But I am and since then things are looking up. I’ve had a reunion and I’m looking forward to a book launch, and my son’s wedding in March!

Just last weekend I attended the 50th reunion of Regina High School Class of 1967. Regina was a small all-girls Catholic school in Hyattsville, Maryland, now defunct. But back in the day it was a good place to be. It was our extended family. And I am so lucky that I’m still close to my best friends from that time.

And that time was a bit different from today. We wore saddle shoes and brown woolen uniforms causing the school to smell like a large wet dog on rainy days. Slacks were forbidden and skirts were supposed to touch the floor when kneeling. There was actually a smoking lounge for seniors. But the basics were the same. We went to class, complained about our uniforms, cried over boys, and worried about exams.

The reunion was a lovely event. An excellent turn out of thirty-one attendees out of a class of one hundred and three. We all looked fabulous! And, magically, we were all still friends. It was a warm and intimate weekend and, sadly, it was probably the last time we’ll have such a party. After all, we are in our 69th year. And we have already lost quite a few. So, I will treasure the memory for as long as my memory holds out.

Now for a little shameless promotion – Upcoming Events. November 4th, 1 p.m. join me for a Mystery Author Extravaganza at the Howard County Library in Ellicott City or for a Sisters in Crime author panel on November 12th at 2 p.m. at the Crofton Library in Crofton.

And my newest Daisy&Rose mystery, Pushing Up Daisies, is being released December 15th. It’s available for pre-order and just to whet your appetite, I’m including a little glimpse into the Forrest ladies’ new adventure. I hope you will enjoy.


An excerpt from Pushing Up Daisies

Rose handed her a large martini glass filled with a dark purple mixture.

Daisy grabbed the glass and downed half of it. She threw herself into a chair, decorating her sweater with a good bit of the drink, and gulped what was left. “Do you have any more of this stuff?”

“That good, hmm?” As she refilled Daisy’s glass, Rose took a good look at her sister. “Daisy, what’s the matter? You look like you’ve seen a ghost.”

Daisy squeezed her eyes shut and grabbed her short blond curls with both hands.

“Daisy, what in God’s name is wrong? Did you have an accident?”

“I saw one.”

“You saw an accident? Was someone hurt?”

Daisy opened her eyes. “A ghost.”

“A ghost was hurt? What are you talking about?”

“I saw a ghost.”

“You did not see a ghost.”

“I did too. So did Malcolm and Percy.”

“There are no such things as ghosts.”

“Yes, there are. And we have just seen one.” She took a sip out of her newly filled glass. Her voice sank to a whisper. “It was so weird. We’d dropped Mother off at the airport and I decided to take the back roads home. We were on Laurel Road coming up to Holly Hill Mansion. It looked so beautiful in the distance, glowing in the moonlight. I was thinking how much I liked being a docent there and of how much we still had to do to get ready for our Gothic Evening when a huge ball of fog rolled right across the road. Kind of like a bale of hay, only it was fog.”

“Daisy, there’s no fog tonight. It’s crystal clear outside.”

“Well, there was fog on Laurel Road. The dogs started howling when an even bigger bale of the stuff rolled out of the woods. I couldn’t see the road. It was freaky. I had to pull over onto the grass. Then the dogs shut up in mid-howl and started climbing onto my head.

“We sat there in this eerie muffled silence until the fog rolled away.” Daisy thought a moment. “Well, it might have been muffled because the dogs were covering my ears. Anyway, it was so spooky I just wanted to get out of there. When the fog cleared a little I got the mutts back in their seat, gripped the wheel, and edged the car back onto the road. And there she was. I almost hit her!”

“Hit who?”

“Sophia Amelia Meade Long. She was all wreathed in mist, standing right in front of the car looking at me.”

A deep voice asked, “Who?”

Daisy jumped about six inches, completing the sweater decoration. “What the …? Peter, I didn’t see you there.”

Peter Fleming, Rose’s handsome friend, had been sitting quietly in the corner of the room. “Sorry I startled you, but who is this Sophia Amelia whatever?”

“Peter, don’t encourage her.” Rose got a napkin and mopped up a bit of Spooky Juice from the floor.

“Well, she clearly saw something that frightened her. Why not a ghost? Who is this woman, or I guess I should say, was this woman?”

Rose snapped, “There was no woman. She probably saw a tree.”

“I think even Daisy can tell the difference between a woman and a tree.”

Daisy pointed at herself and shouted, “Hey! Right here. And I did not see a tree.” She puffed out a sigh. “Just what the heck did you mean ‘even Daisy’?”

“Sorry. Bad choice of words. I meant, of course Daisy can tell the difference.”

Daisy gave him a look. “Hmm, mmm. I’ll bet. Well, Sophia Long is the woman who bought Holly Hill Mansion in 1790 and I saw her standing in front of my car not an hour ago. So either it was her ghost or she’s looking incredibly good for being two hundred-some years old!”


This entry was posted on October 13, 2017. 2 Comments