In the meantime, while you're here, pull up a chair, pour yourself a cup of coffee or a cuppa tea, have a piece of pie and always feel free to speak your mind, and your heart, here at Meanderings and Muses.
Sometimes it's really lovely to just slowly meander along and muse about life.
But sometimes a girl just needs to forget the meanderings and philosophical musing and do a little hard trottin' rambling along with some first class ranting.
Rantin' loud and rantin' proud.
Let me just say - I love Facebook.
I love being able to hang out there with friends who are widely scattered here, there and yonder. It's the perfect spot to have far ranging conversations - from the very interesting to the most mundane, to share news - good or bad, to discuss books and movies, children, spouses and pets. To ask for a prayer for a sick loved one. Share photos and post posters. Talk about your garden or your mother in law. Squeal about the concert or play you went to the night before. To laugh loudly over the ridiculous. And just see what's up in this world of your very own choosing.
But - as in so many other aspects of life these days, there's always going to be some negative people who can step in and mess it up. I gotta say. I am bored to tears with bitterness and negativity. I've mentioned here more than once how I spent a great deal of time a year or two back pondering how to weed my life of these types of people. The quest continues, apparently. Now on Facebook.
Yesterday was a day that could have been reason for this country to celebrate. Could have been.
But. Because this country has become so divided, rather than choosing to join energies, we're busy slapping down any hint of progress for the country as a whole. God forbid the teeniest step forward might happen to come from the group across the aisle, or from our president. We're not a country of two parties any more. We're a country of middle class citizens moving fairly rapidly into becoming a country of poor, homeless, unemployed, uninsured people. All this while watching our elected officials engage in a pissing contest more immature than those taking place in most fraternity houses around the country. But what do they care? By the time most of them have served a term or two, they've made a pocket full of money thanks to special interest groups (Just my humble opinion, of course), their retirement is a sure thing, as is their health care.
This while the rest of us live in fear of facing a catastrophic illness in our golden years, which aren't quite as golden as we were sure they might be when we were working 12 hour days just trying to make a living.
But there are those who would rather push us face down in the dirt and place their foot upon our back and keep us there rather than do the right thing.
And then continually whine about how "we the people" want something for nothing.
Most of us just simply want what's fair and to be left alone.
I posted this at Facebook yesterday -
I'm so stupid, I guess, I just find it hard to comprehend that there are actually people out there who do not want other people in this country to have health insurance. What kind of people would begrudge anyone decent, affordable health care, for God's sake?!
Oh - and for those of you who are so concerned about this being such a massive tax increase -
And while I'm here saying "affordable" let me stop long enough to say to some of you - I NEVER said I wanted FREE health care so please stop saying that I did. You're one of those people, I'm sure, who drove your teachers crazy by never reading the instructions at the top of your tests.
I want - and I think I damn well deserve - the same health care coverage as those people we've elected to run this country.
One of the first comments that showed up under my post about Obamacare was from a family member. It said simply "he ducks."
Realizing she had misspelled her word, she came back quickly with "he sucks."
No alternative plan for health care options was offered, just the simple sentiment that President Obama apparently sucks.
Then there were several comments in agreement with what I had posted. Some of us do prefer to continue living in the possibly naive hope that things in this country will turn around. Then a sarcastic little dig made its way into the comments.
Granted, it's a public forum. I totally understand that. But I feel going to someone's Facebook wall with the express purpose of being hateful is somewhat akin to walking into someone's home and telling them they have terrible taste and start criticizing their lifestyle. It's just tacky. I'm not a real big fan of sarcasm, truth be told. Rather than dropping by with a little shot, why not just put on your big person panties and say "Oh, Bullshit" if you don't agree with what I'm saying instead of a snide little dig. And then tell me how YOU feel and give me your side of things.
So, anyway, I didn't like the dig so I posted this:
"You know - some days are better than others, but having a bad day on Facebook is just beyond ridiculous. I stopped posting political stuff here for the most part because people DO NOT know how to debate in a positive manner any more. It's all sarcasm and bitterness. But you know - I do not go to other people's walls and belittle their beliefs and I would appreciate the hell out of it if people would show me the same kind of respect. Rant away on your own wall - that is why it is YOUR wall."
The "discussion" moved to someone else's wall. They graciously invited comments, but when the comments weren't to their liking they excused themself with a final cheap parting shot. And later referred to the comments as "Facebook Ignorance."
I've been dealt some blows due to my outspokeness most of my life. And quite a lot at Facebook over the past couple of years. So, no - last night's episodes were not bad enough to cause me to write this rant today. The rant's been building and finally made its way through my fingers to the keyboard.
I have had a family member (not the same one referred to above) tell me repeatedly, on my Facebook page, that I would surely be going to hell because my religious and spiritual beliefs differed from hers. The woman, in my opinion, is spending so much time being concerned about her afterlife she's forgotten how to live and enjoy life here on earth right here, right now. She finds my belief in the Golden Rule unacceptable and is sure God doesn't mean to include gay people. Once she started spouting Bible verses at me, she got really upset when I spouted back from this letter which was also used in a now famous West Wing episode:
"Dear Dr. Laura,
Thank you for doing so much to educate people regarding God's law. I have learned a great deal from you, and I try to share that knowledge with as many people as I can. When someone tries to defend homosexuality, for example, I will simply remind him or her that Leviticus 18:22 clearly states it to be an abomination. End of debate. I do need some advice from you, however, regarding some of the other laws in Leviticus and Exodus and how to best follow them.
When I burn a bull on the altar as a sacrifice, I know it creates a pleasing odor for the Lord (Leviticus 1:9). The problem is my neighbors. They claim the odor is not pleasing to them. How should I deal with this?
I would like to sell my daughter into slavery, as stated in Exodus 21:7. In this day and age, what do you think would be a fair price for her?
I know that I am allowed no contact with a woman while she is in her period of menstrual uncleanliness (Leviticus 15:19-24). The problem is, how can I tell? I have tried asking, but most women take offense.
Leviticus 25:44 states that I may buy slaves from the nations that are around us. A friend of mine claims that this applies to Mexicans, but not Canadians. Can you clarify?
I have a neighbor who insists on working on the Sabbath. Exodus 35:2 clearly states he should be put to death. Am I morally obligated to kill him myself?
A friend of mine says that even though eating shellfish is an abomination (Leviticus 10:10), it is a lesser abomination than homosexuality. I don't agree. Can you settle this?
Leviticus 20:20 states that I may not approach the altar of God if I have a defect in my sight. I have to admit that I wear reading glasses. Does my vision have to be 20/20, or is there some wiggle room here?
I know you have studied these things extensively, so I am confident you can help. Thank you again for reminding us that God's Word is eternal and unchanging. "
I am SICK TO DEATH of hearing it said those of us who are liberals are freeloaders looking for a handout from our government.
Adding insult to injury, they're also calling us heathens.
Sorry - But the God I was raised knowing would probably send out this message -
Here's my wish.
Let's get rid of the special interest groups who are really running this country and putting the country's wealth in the hands of a very few.
(You might want to take note that this is a quote from a former Supreme Court Justice).
Let's do the right thing for the disenfranchised of this country. Many now facing terrible hardship through absolutely no fault of their own, other than having the misfortune of living in this country during this Age of Greed.
And never EVER be afraid to speak out about the things you see around you that are just wrong.
Again, if you don't agree with me, fine. Really, I don't care. I'm actually pretty happy if you have an opinion. The people who don't have opinions because they think the world will just zip along merrily with no help from them are the ones who worry me the most, bless their hearts.
But, jeez, y'all, stay off my Facebook page with your negativity and sarcasm. Use your own page for all that.
However - a group of us have been playing along for a couple months now, so some of the prompts are ones we have already done. Rather than do a repeat, we chose to amend the list a little and replace a few of the original prompts with prompts of our own.
Belowis the list I'll be working from during July.
began writing poems and stories as soon as she could hold a pencil. She has had a number of historical
articles and personal essays published in academic journals, newspapers, and
anthologies, including a story in A Cup
of Comfort for Weddings. Three of her short stories, Feels Like Home, Meeting Miss Bettie, and Sarah Hornsby’s Dream, have been
published in anthologies written by her writing group, The Final Twist,
published by L&L Dreamspell.
MUSINGS by Shirley Wetzel
My musings today come from that treasure house of wisdom,
“A reader lives a thousand lives before he
The man who never reads lives only one.”
George R.R. Martin
“Reading gives us a place to go when we stay
where we are.”
Books have given me the chance to live many lives, and to go
to places I’ve never been. I started reading before I got to kindergarten, and
I discovered Nancy Drew not long after. To heck with Dick and Jane, I wanted to
ride around in a jaunty roadster and solve crimes with my peeps Nancy Drew and
Trixie Belden. I got to try out the medical profession with Cherry Ames, R.N.,
and decided that was not for me. When I was around ten I discovered Agatha
Christie, and I never looked back. Dame Agatha led me to Dorothy L. Sayers and
the other greats of the Golden Age, and turned me into an Anglophile.
Fast forward a few decades. While I was in graduate school
studying archaeology, Elizabeth Peters began her Amelia Peabody series. It was
great fun to read about the fictional versions of the archaeological greats of
the Victorian and Edwardian Ages while studying them for real in class. Ms.
Peters, aka Barbara Mertz, is an Egyptologist with impeccable credentials, and
knows how to make dusty old history come alive. I can’t go on digs any more,
but Mary Anna Evans lets me tag along with Faye Longchamp on her explorations.
The wonderful Lyn Hamilton, who became a friend before her untimely passing,
took me to foreign climes like Easter Island, Africa, Mexico, the Orkney
Islands, and Thailand. In a delightful bit of serendipity, her book The Thai Amulet made use of The Royal Chronicles of Ayudhaya, which
had been translated by one of my professors and typed by – me!
Speaking of Thailand, it is one place I have been. Thanks to
Uncle Sam, I lived in Bangkok from 1972-1974, and it was a magical time. These
days I can walk those exotic streets again with Tim Hallinan’s Poke Rafferty.
If I want walk on the gritty side, I turn to John Burdett. If I want to have a
lot of clever fun with my mysteries, there is Colin Cotterill’s new series
featuring sassy reporter Jimm Juree and her eccentric family, trying to run a
motel in a small village in southern Thailand. Eric Stone has taken me to
Cambodia, Hong Kong, and other Asian places, tackling some of the major
problems of the day.
Reading has turned me into a time traveler, with no help
from Doctor Who. Mary Reed and Eric Mayer gave me John the Eunuch, who solves crimes
in ancient Constantinople. Steven Saylor’s Gordianus the Finder opened up the
world of the Roman Empire. In another instance of serendipity, Steven’s
grandfather and my grandmother were cousins, and I was able to thank Steven for
his grandfather’s kind act of giving my widowed grandmother a job at his hotel
in Goldwaithe, Texas. Who knew being a mystery fan would lead me to such
Barbara Hamilton writes a series featuring Abigail Adams as
an amateur sleuth in Boston when it was on the brink of revolution.Rhys Bowen won my heart with her Constable
Evan Evans series, set in modern day Wales, and she continues to entertain me
with her Lady Georgina (34th in line to the throne) Royal Spyness
series and her Molly Murphy series, set in turn of the century New York City.
The late David Thompson introduced me to James Benn’s Billy Boyle World War II
mysteries because he knew I was enthralled with that era, and I am so thankful
he did. I recently discovered a new writer, Graeme Kent, whose two novels, Devil-Devil and One Blood, are set in post-WWII Solomon Islands. One can’t get much
more exotic than that.
In more recent history, Colin Cotterill’s Dr. Siri takes me
back to Southeast Asia just after the Vietnam War. Dr. Siri is a seventy-something
Laotian physician forced into becoming the national coroner because there was
nobody else to take the job. I must admit this is my favorite series. The
characters are –well, real characters, and I and many other fans have come to
love them. Dr. Siri and his best friend Civilai remind me of the grumpy old men
in the balcony of the Muppet show, but there is much more to them than
grumpiness. The crimes are often dark, but the prose is gentle and funny,
making the harsh realities of the aftermath of the war easier to take. Sharon
Wildwind’s Vietnam veteran series brings back memories of a pivotal time in my
personal history. Julia Spencer-Fleming’s Rev. Claire Fergusson/Russ Van
Alstyne mysteries are the first I’ve read that address the aftermath of serving
in the latest wars.
There are so many other authors who have enriched my life.
Jeff Cohen and Chris Grabenstein have given me a new appreciation for New
Jersey. Bill Crider and Joe Lansdale know how to write Texan, in very different
ways. Other favorites: Dean James, Charlene Harris, Cornelia Read, Leann
Sweeney, Gillian Roberts, Carolyn Hart, Patricia Stoltey, Kerry Greenwood, Lee
Child, Alafair Burke, Lillian Stewart Carl, Susan McBride, Rick Riordan, Betty
Webb, Simon Wood, Pauline Baird Jones, all the talented authors at Berkley
PrimeCrime … there are many, many more, but I’m sure I’m running out of space.
A year or so from now, I will be adding the gracious and generous Kaye
Wilkinson Barley to the list. I look forward to that day. Thank you all for
allowing me to live so many lives, travel through time and space, and be richly
entertained while never leaving my house.
Award-winning novelist Suzanne Adair is a Florida native who lives in a two
hundred-year-old city at the edge of the North Carolina Piedmont, named for an
English explorer who was beheaded. Her suspense and thrillers transport readers
to the Southern theater of the Revolutionary War, where she brings historic
towns, battles, and people to life. She fuels her creativity with Revolutionary
War reenacting and visits to historic sites. When she’s not writing, she enjoys
cooking, dancing, hiking, and spending time with her family. For more
information, check out her blog (www.SuzanneAdair.typepad.com) or web site (www.SuzanneAdair.com).
Ann Parker is a science writer by
day, scribbling verbiage for science R&D national labs and solar energy
start-ups, and an historical mystery writer by night. Her award-winning Silver
Rush historical mystery series featuring saloon-owner Inez Stannert is set in
1880s Colorado, primarily in the silver-mining boomtown of Leadville. The series
includes (from first to most recent) Silver Lies, Iron Ties, Leaden Skies, and
Mercury’s Rise. Ann’s ancestors include a Leadville blacksmith, a Colorado
School of Mines professor, and a gandy dancer. Ann and her family live in
California, whence they have weathered many boom and bust cycles. Website: www.annparker.net
Two Authors, Suzanne Adair and Ann Parker, Chat About their Characters
Kaye, thanks for giving Ann and me this opportunity to chat on your
Ann, let’s talk a few minutes about our fictional characters and
their eras. In the first book of my series, Paper Woman: A Mystery of the
American Revolution, the main character, Sophie Barton, is thirty-something,
twice widowed, and runs her father’s printing press in a small town on the
History provides us with numerous examples of women who
operated or owned such businesses out of necessity or choice during the War of
Independence. However from the beginning, townsfolk regard Sophie as a little
eccentric because she’s been without a husband for eight years. And she’s
obviously in no big hurry to remarry.
Fancy that: a single woman who likes
running a business and not being tied down to a man by the court system! Ann,
this is a great time for you to discuss the main character for your series, Inez
Ann: Sure Suzanne... My protagonist is thirty-year-old Inez
Stannert, part-owner of the Silver Queen Saloon in Leadville, Colorado, 1880.
She is truly a part-owner, on a handshake deal among her husband, her husband’s
business partner Abe Jackson, and Inez herself. This may seem unusual, but then
Mark Stannert (Inez’s husband) and Abe are unusual men!
Suzanne: As the
Civil War was still fresh in memory for some, yes, a business ownership split
between a black man (Abe), a woman (Inez), and the woman’s husband (Mark) was an
Ann: Saloon-owner may seem an unlikely occupation
for a woman during this timeframe, but it wasn’t unheard of. In 1880 Leadville,
there were approximately 300 saloons in Leadville. Of those, three were run by
women. So, the way I see it, Inez is a woman in a man’s world, and she has
learned how to maneuver in this world to survive and thrive. Her favorite
weapons are words, her wits, and her Remington Smoot No. 2 Patent pocket
revolver. Inez pours the drinks, keeps the accounts, and keeps the peace (or
attempts to) in the Silver Queen, even as murder and mayhem constantly dog her
from book to book.
That’s the same situation with your characters, Suzanne.
They are all businesswomen, independent, and tough in their own ways, doing what
they had to do. What about Betsy Sheridan?
Suzanne: “Tough” doesn’t
begin to describe Betsy Sheridan, the seventeen-year-old daughter of Sophie
Barton, and the main character for the second book, The Blacksmith’s Daughter: A
Mystery of the American Revolution. Betsy is the accountant for her shoemaker
husband’s business in Augusta, Georgia. That’s all quite proper and
Then her husband backs himself into an espionage corner and hightails
it out of town to avoid arrest. Betsy, who is four months pregnant, dismisses
advice from “proper” ladies in Augusta and runs after her husband, straight into
the deprivating heart of war in neighboring South Carolina. In doing so, she
reveals herself to be a chip off the Sophie Barton block. For Sophie ended up
chasing her father’s killer all the way to Cuba in the sort of hellish journey
that no “proper” woman would ever have made in the year 1780.
ladies have more important matters on their agendas than conforming to society’s
ideal of behavior for women. And speaking of this ideal of behavior, Ann, let’s
hear about your fascinating secondary character, Frisco Flo.
though Frisco Flo comes across as a bit of a ditz in the first book, Silver
Lies, she definitely comes into her own in the third book of the series, Leaden
Skies. Frisco Flo begins as a prostitute in a high-class parlor house and
eventually advances to running the house itself. She’s one smart cookie, much
like Inez. I based bits of Flo on a couple of real-life Colorado madams from
this timeframe: Mattie Silks and Jennie Rogers. They were both described as very
competitive, astute in matters of business, and good-looking. It’s interesting
how little is known about their early lives. Women “in the trade” tended to take
pseudonyms and change them frequently. They were also both unlucky in love
(which is ironic, given the nature of their business). Mattie liked to say that
she’d never been a working girl, but started right off as a
Suzanne: Madams who were unlucky in love? I also find that ironic.
You’d think men would be lined up to claim the virtuosas. :-)
they were, Suzanne. But sometimes, they were just after the money. And when
these hard-headed practical women fell, they often fell hard. Now, you have
another character, Helen Chiswell, who “worked her way up” from society page
journalist to war correspondent. Tell us a bit about her and how this came to
Suzanne: Helen Chiswell, a widowed, ambitious journalist in her late
twenties, is the protagonist of Camp Follower: A Mystery of the American
Revolution. In 1780, a representative of a government with interests in the
outcome of the Revolutionary War might visit an army’s camp to monitor how well
his country’s investment was being used. But he wouldn’t be considered a war
correspondent because there were no war correspondents as we know them
However it wasn’t unusual for women to write the Society page for a
magazine during this time. That’s where we find Helen at the beginning of the
book. When her publisher wants an exclusive profile on the commander of the
British Legion, Banastre Tarleton, she jumps at the opportunity and agrees to
visit the Legion’s camp posing as the sister of an officer. All very exciting
for Helen -- until she’s caught up in a winter battle campaign in South
Carolina. Then her eagerness to explore new journalism territory is submerged by
her will to survive. Modern war correspondents can find themselves in the same
Ann, one of your secondary characters does her own bit of
exploring new territory: photojournalism, if I remember correctly. Tell us more
Ann: I have a secondary character who is at the fringes of the
“printing” business. Susan Carothers is a photographer, a young woman who has
come West to “make her mark,” if you will. I see her as a low-key,
self-possessed young woman who doesn’t make waves (as Inez is prone to do!).
Although I’d come up with Susan on my own, I discovered while researching my
most recent book, Mercury’s Rise, that there was a female photographer working
out of Manitou Springs, Colorado: Anna Galbreaith! I even have a cabinet card
that is a photograph she took in Williams Canyon in “The Narrows.” I was
fascinated by Anna G, but could find very little about her.
That’s cool! And not by a long shot was Anna Galbreaith the only woman
photographer back then, so keep looking. The book Awesome Women by Leslie
Sackrison lists two-dozen women photographers in the 1800s. You know there must
have been even more.
Ann: Thank you! I’ll check out the reference. You
have a character that also runs her own business. Like Inez and Frisco Flo, Kate
Duncan’s business caters almost exclusively to men. Could you tell us more about
Suzanne: Sure! In her mid-twenties, Kate is a supporting character
in Regulated for Murder: A Michael Stoddard American Revolutionary Thriller.
She‘s widowed and owns White’s Tavern, formerly owned by her uncle, in
Wilmington, North Carolina. The court system and inheritance laws of the time
didn’t usually confer ownership of property on women, but laws can be
circumvented. Kate has a shrewder head for business than her younger
Notice that most of my main women characters are widowed. Married
women during the Revolutionary War were legally subsumed in their husbands’
lives and had almost no rights. “Unlucky in love” definitely describes Kate. Her
husband married her to grab the tavern while continuing an affair with his
mistress. Women who’d been delivered from such a matrimonial hell by the deaths
of spouses were understandably reluctant to remarry.
Ann: At least, the
smart ones were reluctant to remarry, right? ;-)
Suzanne: Right! All our
women characters are doing what they have to do, engaged in business, showing
the innate, capable nature of women, not some trend of early feminism. For the
supporting cast that shares the adventures, life is certainly more comfortable
when expectations of women are straightforward and women do what they’re
“supposed to do.” The minute these women start down new paths, they’re labeled
“eccentric.” And there’s some fear and envy involved in that label.
personal experiences of yours led to your development of Inez, Frisco Flo, and
Ann: I grew up in the 1960s, at a time when girls were required to
wear skirts or dresses at school. I can still remember the fervour caused in my
senior year in high school (this would be 1970), when one of my classmates wore
a very nicely tailored pantsuit (as they were then called) to school. She was
immediately pulled out of class and ordered to go home and change!
at that time, the roles and rights of women were changing dramatically, just as
fashion was. No longer were the stated choices for “women’s careers” limited to
nurse, teacher, and secretary. (I still remember as a third grader saying I
wanted to be an archaeologist... who knows where that came from?... and being
gently put in my place.) In college, I studied physics, a field with very few
women. It was not uncommon for me to be the only woman in a class. After
college, I went to work in a scientific R&D organization as a technical
writer at a time when every single tech writer in the group was male (and mostly
What about you, Suzanne?
Suzanne: Whew, I hear ya. I was
about five years later in the days of “roles and rights” changes. By then, high
school administrators had realized that pants were not the Great Evil, because
girls were wearing micro-miniskirts to school. Administrators need to pick their
battles, yes? :-)
I grew up watching the contrails and first-stage
separations of the Apollo missions from the roof of my house. It’s probably why
I became interested in science. At one point, I declared my intention to become
an astronaut. I was promptly shut down by a family elder who expressed doubt at
my ability to handle the math. Nevertheless, I became a microbiologist. My
classes were on the pre-med, pre-dent, and pre-vet tracks, with about a 3:1
ratio of men to women. Like you, I migrated later to tech writing.
early 1980s, I did a considerable amount of world traveling, even living in
England for half a year. Much of the traveling was done in association with
plant pathologists from other countries. Many were women. That’s when I learned
that the United States was way behind in turning out women scientists.
why did you fashion your women characters as you did?
Ann: When I was
working out who my female characters were in the series, I figured I could write
“woman in a man’s world,” having lived it myself (albeit in a different time and
location). So, I picked roles and occupations for my female characters that
would be unusual, but not impossible for the times. How about you,
Suzanne: Same here. I found that modern readers had a mistaken
impression of women’s roles and occupations during the Revolutionary War. That
made me determined to enlighten those readers. I also factored in some of my
experiences, particularly the wariness I received from some people when they
realized I was a scientist, or (much later) divorced. The centuries pass, but
some things just don’t change that much.
So, readers, we ask you: What
was the last novel you read in which the protagonist's occupation struck you as
unusual, maybe non-traditional? What did you think about it?
Beth Anderson is the author of seven novels; Harlequin Superromance--Count On
Me, followed by a mainstream mystery at Dorchester titled Diamonds, then All
That Glitters at Ballantine/Ivy, three more mainstream mysteries at Amber Quill
Press: Second Generation, Murder Online and Night Sounds. Last (so far) another
mainstream mystery, Raven Talks Back from Krill Press in June 2012. Beth
recently moved to the upper northwest (Washington state) where she is
currently unpacking AND mulling over a new mainstream novel, this time taking
place in a wine dynasty in Washington state where she quite enjoys
her research. She swears she's writing another mainstream murder mystery, but
she keeps laughing at her characters who are appearing one by one, peeking
around and through the grapevines and smiling at her, so we'll see who they
really are. The photo is of Beth and her son in law, Chris Cary, at a
winemakers' dinner party. It's all research, folks. Honest. It is. ;-)
DENALIDAWG TO THE RESCUE
by Beth Anderson
We all hear stories about animals being rescued. This
time, one animal went way past the extra mile for another animal of a different
This all happened at my youngest daughter’s home in
Las Vegas while she was entertaining visitors, one of whom happened to be our
family dog, Denalidawg. Side note: I added the dawg to his original name,
Denali, partly because it seemed to fit him so well, being the laid back good
ol’ southern boy he always appeared to be, and partly because, let’s face it, I
see the funny or quirky side of just about everything. Anyhow, a bowl of his
favorite kibbles, clean water, pats and hugs and kisses galore from every
available human in the area, and he’s good to go. He a bit slower now, though, since
this happened years ago.
A little background.My daughter and her two daughters rescued Denali from a kennel in
southern Illinois where they were about to do the unspeakable until, looking
for a dog to replace their old one who had died a while back, one of the girls
said to this new dog, who was sniffing around and looking lost, “If you’re
going to come home with us, you’d better say so.”Denali, never one to miss a trick (or a meal)
walked over to her and put his paws up on her shoulders and gave her several very
wet kisses. Of course that was all it took. Denali had his new family firmly
wrapped around his paws. He had settled it. He went home with them.
A few years later my oldest granddaughter Kristen took
him with while she traveled around the country preparing with several jobs for
med school. She was spending a summer in Las Vegas working for some medical
place and living with my youngest daughter Beth Lyn for that time. And of
course, Denali went with Kris and made himself right at home. Beth Lyn had, at
the time, three Basset Hounds, one parrot, and God knows how many cats, so what
was one more dog? Fortunately, Denali got along famously with all of them as he
does everywhere because by this time he had been just about everywhere and done
just about everything a dog could do.
Then came the afternoon he became famous, at least
in Beth Lyn’s town. Their neighborhood was pretty much an open world, where
people visited and partied with each other all the time and no doors were ever
closed.Kids, dogs, cats ran around
playing all the time and that was fine.
However, one day while Denali was taking his
afternoon nap, Sleepy, one of Beth Lyn’s cats happened to go outside at just
the wrong time and one of their neighbor’s new dogs got loose, grabbed Sleepy
and started shaking him. Hard. Nobody could get the cat away from the dog and
they all thought Sleepy was a goner.
Eventually, the dog got tired of his game and
dropped Sleepy, who shot back into the house and ran under a bed. My daughter
thought he went under the bed to die. He wouldn’t come out and nobody could get to him until Denali came into
the room, somehow made himself small enough to get under the bed, and went to
Sleepy, who was in shock, covered with dirt and mud, his own urine and feces, and
Denali started cleaning him. Lick by lick, it took
him a couple of hours, but eventually he got Sleepy clean. Denali stayed right
there with him, periodically licking him all over, basically forcing him to
keep breathing. Denali didn’t move from his side. Dinnertime came and went. Denali
skipped one of the things he loves most, his dinner, and stayed under the bed with
Sleepy all night.
The next morning both Sleepy and Denali crawled back
out from under the bed, and from that day on, as long as Denali was there,
Sleepy was his closest bud. They were inseparable.
Soon it was time for Kris and Denali to move on.
Kris went to Israel where she entered Columbia’s Ben Gurion University,
specializing in international womens’ medical issues, and Denali moved back
home with Barb. Time moved on, Kris graduated, Barb remarried, and Denali moved
here and there with whoever in the family could take him while all this moving
and changing was going on.
Finally it was my turn. Barb and her new husband had
to move to Washington and couldn’t take Denali because they were going to be
living in an apartment for a few months while they house searched and got
settled. Denali moved in with me and became Denalidawg. More time passed while
he put up with me, until I got ready to move to Washington. At this point,
Denalidawg was quite old and one leg was getting crippled with arthritis. Not
in good shape at all, we knew he could not make the trip by plane and survive.
By that time, Beth Lyn and Co. had moved from Las
Vegas to Indiana, so it was decided that Bethie’s was the only logical place
for Denali to go. Shortly before I left Beth Lyn came and got him, packed up
all his toys and bankies and food and took him to live with her in her
When they walked in her door, Sleepy ran straight to
Denali and they had a huge reunion, kissing each other hello. As you can see in
the photo, they take their naps together and sleep pretty close to each other
all the time.
Denalidawg has the eyes of an Old Soul, and there’s
not a doubt in my mind that’s exactly what he is. His eyes are the eyes of a
person who has seen and heard it all, and he probably has because you cannot
fool him. Ever. You’d swear, when he looks at you, that he’s reading your mind
and I believe he is. You know how you look at one of your kids when they do
something goofy…well, he’s done that to me more than once, and caused me to re-evaluate
things. He has that effect on everyone. I know a lot of people believe their
animals are human, or have been human, or something of that nature. I believe
that about Denali, and I also believe it’s a good thing he was up on his own medical
schooling when he was in Las Vegas and saved Sleepy.
My good friend WendySis Bartlett sent this to me. I think it may be THE most perfect little poem ever for helping me put things in perspective, and help me realize a lot of things I see as problematic are really fairly easily solved.
I had not see this poem before, and never heard of Kaylin Haught, who seems to be an elusive soul as far as Google is concerned. Anyone know anything about Kaylin Haught??
God Says Yes To Me
by Kaylin Haught
I asked God if it was okay to be melodramatic and she said yes I asked
her if it was okay to be short and she said it sure is I asked her if I
could wear nail polish or not wear nail polish and she said honey she
calls me that sometimes she said you can do just exactly what you want
to Thanks God I said And is it even okay if I don't paragraph my
letters Sweetcakes God said who knows where she picked that up what I'm
telling you is Yes Yes Yes
To those of you who might be interested in what's going on with Meanderings and Muses.
Not really all that much.
M&M is not going anywhere.
It's just going to be different.
Beginning next year there won't be the same structure, no guests booked a year in advance.
I hope for it to have a little more spontaneity. Some of you may hear from me out of the blue saying "Want to blog at M&M next month?" I hope this will work for some of you, but I will certainly understand if it doesn't.
I'm not judging the success of Meanderings and Muses by the number of comments left, but I have felt badly for my guests when there weren't any. Today, however, I am feeling much better about it. From what the majority of you have written to tell me, the comments, or lack of, haven't been the concern to you I assumed it was. Shame on me for the assumption! I should have known that we're all going about our blog reading pretty much the same way - reading, enjoying and not really concerned with always leaving a comment.
I do want to assure all of you who have been guests, the number of hits we receive is a number I'm quite proud of.
While the lowest number of hits has been a paltry 15, the highest number per day has been 7,000. I can live with that. That was for a photo. Most of the posts do receive a number that I think you would all be pleased with. And from the stat reports, your fans continue hitting your past posts long after the original posting date. I find that to be very cool.
Blogs truly are a mystery with what attracts people, at least to me.
So, while I hope the essence of Meanderings and Muses will always remain the same, the content will continue to change and evolve - although not a whole lot.
The number of guests will be fewer, at least for a while.
While I'm working on my own novel, that's where I'll be concentrating my time.
Which means I won't have the time to continue M&M the same way
I have in the past. It's been a huge commitment of time - time given with
love. And if I can't give M&M guests the time and energy it takes to continue presenting them as well as I have attempted to do in the past, I'd rather cut back. But only until I'm able to present everyone with the same high standards they were introduced to when I first started Meanderings and Muses.
What you'll see more of here next year will probably be things I'd like to share with you about me, my writing, Donald, Harley and our life in Boone. Along with my photos - which is something I'm really enjoying. And some more pieces like the "Celebraton of the Color Pink" just 'cause it's fun, along with pictures, cartoons and articles I might run across that interest and intrique me.
I hope to have some more Sissyfriss Sockmonkey and LouLou Skiptoo stories. (They've been feeling pretty neglected and I need to fix that).
You'll see some rants (of course!), and some silliness (absolutely!).
Some books I'll want to rave about and share with you.
And some books I'll want to give away (I haven't done that in a long time either!).
I love surprises, and hope to be able to have some of those here in the way of suprise guest posts. I think that would be fun.
And if any of you have a particular topic you want to introduce for us to chat about, suggestions, or whatever, don't hesitate to let me know.
And - I've done something I probably should have done a long time ago. I've disabled the word verification feature. I'd rather spend a little time deleting spammers and robo-posts than feel as though some of you might have had something you wanted to say but were having to fight with that annoying feature in order to do so. If you do not want to comment, that's fine with me, but if you want to I don't want you to have to fight to do it. Life's full of fights of all sorts without having to deal with it in a blog too. Lord a Mercy. Save us, please, from one more unnecessary energy sapping obstacle to fight our way through.
Finally, to each of you - Thank You for your support, and the kindnesses you continually show me. You grace my life and I am grateful.
When Julie Hyzy isn’t trying to sneak her way into famous homes, she keeps busy writing two mystery series for Penguin/Berkley Prime Crime. Grace Among Thieves, the brand-new third installment in the Manor House Mystery (Grace) series, came out this past Tuesday. Julie also writes the New York Times bestselling White House Chef Mystery series. She and her husband have three wonderful daughters and make their home in the Chicago area.
MANSIONS IN MY MIND by Julie Hyzy
Have we met? You and I, that is… have we interacted in
person? Or even online?
I’m going out on a limb here, but if you know me, even a
little bit, I’ll bet you’d say that I’m an okay person. Nice, polite,
even-tempered. Except in fictional situations I pose no danger to others. I’m
not disruptive. I’m able to keep quiet when necessary (er…make that able to
keep quiet most of the time). I never take what doesn’t belong to me, and I can
be trusted not to touch expensive items in fancy homes.
So then why is it that the White House, The Biltmore Estate,
Hearst Castle, and other mansions/tourist attractions won’t let me wander at
will? How come I’m not allowed beyond the velvet ropes or into the locked rooms?
I’m no threat. Can’t they see that? I’m harmless as a lamb. Come on, White
House! You should be able to back me on this. You’ve run my background check
But no…Invitations to come visit¾and even better, to make myself
What’s wrong with these places?
Can’t they understand that in order to research my novels, I
need to wander their halls, explore nooks and crannies, run up stairs, slide
down bannisters and (:::winking to Kaye:::) “meander” to my heart’s content? Apparently
This I know:
Biltmore would kick me out if they caught me traipsing
through the restricted areas.
The White House would have me arrested if I tried sneaking
upstairs to the family quarters.
Hearst Castle would haul me out of their gorgeous pool
before I completed a single lap.
Fine. Who needs them?
Because none of these prestigious addresses would allow me to
roam their grounds freely I needed to fine one that would.
And so…I invented Marshfield Manor.
Marshfield is mine. Every extravagant inch of it. Named for
the famed and beloved Chicago department store, Marshall Field’s (which was
bought out by Macy’s some years back), Marshfield Manor is—yes¾a
figment of my imagination. But Marshfield is perfect because it’s open to my
wanderings, my…meanderings, if you
will (wink-wink, Kaye), any time of the day or night. Although I know its floor
plan, I haven’t yet learned all its secrets. I get to experience that particular
excitement alongside Grace with every new book.
From the time I was a little kid, I always fantasized about
living in a fabulous home with hundreds of rooms¾one with secret passages
and hidden staircases. (You think Nancy Drew might have had an influence on me?)
With servants and treasures beyond compare. A place I could explore without somebody
(and I’m talking to you, Secret Service) telling me I wasn’t authorized to be
As an adult, I’ve come to the realization that I’ll probably
never live in the sort of mansion I envisioned. You know what? That’s okay.
It’s hard enough keeping up with maintenance on our very normal, very average
Chicago home. I don’t think I could handle anything bigger. But living and
working in a mansion like that—via my imagination?—that’s perfect!
As much as I enjoy writing the White House Chef stories, I
am LOVING writing the Manor House Mysteries. I have to believe it’s because of
my fascination with Marshfield Manor. My protagonist, Grace, who’s just as
fascinated as I am, is in charge of the magnificent estate and does a pretty
good job of it (if you don’t count the murders). At this point—we’re in book
doesn’t possess the level of confidence Ollie (White House Chef) displays. Not
yet, at least. Grace’s story arc is different. She’s coming into her own,
slowly, after a series of heartaches and setbacks that Ollie has been fortunate
enough to avoid.
I’m still getting to know Grace, just as I’m still learning
the history of Marshfield. It’s an exciting time for me. And because I’m
delighted to welcome everyone to visit
Marshfield, to allow them to explore its floors and rooms and secret passages
to their hearts’ content, I hope it’s an exciting time for readers too!
Well, I missed 6 o'clock yesterday. Missed it again this morning. And I'm sure I would miss it again this evening, so I took a picture at 1 o'clock. I'm retired - 6 o'clock/1 o'clock/whatever. Let's just say it was coffee o'clock.