Thursday, October 19, 2017

Big is better

IMG_2822

I stopped at a roadside stand selling tomatoes and picked the one that looked the prettiest and dumped them in a bag. I didn't notice until I got home that there was Mr. Gigunda tomato in there.

The little one weighs 5 ounces. The big boy is more than a pound. (And that's a full size (10") dinner plate they're sitting on.) I bet I could make tomato soup for four out of that big boy.

What would you make with it?

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Cut-out Cookie Season begins!


It's getting to be cut-out cookie season. Think about it. Halloween, Thanksgiving, and all the events that happen in December (Hanukkah, Christmas, Kwanzaa). 

LET THERE BE COOKIES!

Monday, October 16, 2017

Don't be SAD

A few years ago, a friend of mine told me she suffered from SAD. That's Seasonal Affective Disorder. My first reaction was ... Yeah, right.

Honestly, how can someone become light deprived?

Well, I thought it was totally ridiculous ... until it happened to me. As the days began getting shorter, I started becoming really depressed. This had never happened before. I asked my doctor (who has a SAD light in her office) about it, and she suggested I get a lamp. She told me to get one that has 10,000 Lux therapy lamp. She didn't promise a miracle cure, but said it would help.

She was right.

I've had my lamp for about 10 days now and I sit in front of it (while working on the computer) for about an hour a day. Half hour first thing in the morning, and half an hour after lunch. It's bright. Holy smoke is it bright. But the lamp I chose has two settings.  White light (that's the 10,000 Lux setting) and blue light (5,000 Lux). I must admit, the blue light is easier on the eyes if you're sensitive, but the white light gives you more ... whatever it is it's supposed to be doing for you. (Vitamin D?)

The results: I'm not quite as depressed. (The fact that I was in deadline hell might have been a BIG part of that. I finished the book and am feeling pretty happy about it.)  But the best thing that happened? I'm actually sleeping better.

I've been averaging 4 hours of sleep a night, which is not enough. (It gives me lots of time to read during the night, but doesn't make Lorraine a happy girl.) Since I've been using my lamp, I've been getting at least 6 hours of sleep a night. Still not where I'd like to be, but better.

I bought a PureGuardian 10,000 LUX Full Spectrum Energy Light with Customizable Blue or White Light Therapy Intensity, Timer, Pure Guardian SPA50CA (directly copied from Amazon). Besides the white and blue light, it has different timer settings for 5, 20, and 30 minutes and then switches off. I like that. Sometimes I can't sit for a full 30 minutes.  (I gotta get my tea refills, you know.) So I like to be able to add a 5 minute pop of extra light if I need it.

It's going to be a long dark winter here in Western NY. As the days get shorter, I'll be able to tell if this things has more benefits than what I've already seen.

Any other tips for SAD?


Friday, October 13, 2017

A vast improvement

Back in May, I wrote about how my thumb had stopped working. My GP (or whatever they're called these days) said (without looking at it) that I had arthritis. My gut feeling told me she was wrong. (And she was.)  A couple of readers suggested my sore thumb might be suffering from something called De Quervain's disease, but that didn't seem quite right (as I looked up the symptoms), either.

All I know is that my hand was in total agony for about 12-13 hours a day. I'm pretty sure it became inflamed because I'm on the computer most of the day and use the mouse a lot, especially when I do graphics. My thumb would get stuck in one position and I would literally scream when moving it back into a more comfortable place. (Mr. L's hair would stand on end when that happened.)

I finally went back to the GP a few weeks back and she referred me to a hand surgeon. (After telling me for a SECOND TIME that it was "only arthritis." HA!)

SURGEON??????? Holy crap.

But I was desperate, so I booked an appointment.

And then a funny thing happened.  Ten days before the appointment, my thumb started working again. Not all the time, but I could bend it back-and-forth for as long as half an hour every few hours and it didn't get stuck in the painful position anymore. YAY.  I could cancel my appointment with the hand surgeon.

Except I didn't. I wondered, what if it gets bad again?  I'd better go.

And I did.  He barely looked at my hand before saying, "Trigger Thumb." Next thing I know, I'm getting a cortisone shot and out the door I go.

He told me that if you have to have something bad happen to your hand, trigger thumb (and I assume finger) is the easiest thing to fix. Even if the cortisone shot doesn't work, out-patient (as in his office) surgery can fix it with a few snips--good as new and it would never happen again.

According to him, the cortisone shot would take 5-7 days to work, and that it may or may not be a long-term fix. But I'm telling you, even if it was only the placebo effect, my thumb was already back to 90% after only two days. Holy crap! It's like a miracle! Okay, a week later it's still not 100% -- but I'll take 90% better.

Of course, my health insurance has a high deductible, so it cost me $202 to get my thumb fixed. The best $200 I ever spent. I sure wish I'd insisted on having someone (with actual hand knowledge) look at it sooner. I could have saved myself an entire summer of pain. But it's working now and I'm a happy camper.

Have you ever had an experience like that?



Thursday, October 12, 2017

Monday, October 9, 2017

A Public Service Announcement

So what if the Stoneham, NH Chamber of Commerce decided to do a public service announcement to entice you to the village?

Take a look.

 

So, would you like to visit Booktown?

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Teacup Tuesday: 9-26-17


Happy Teacup Tuesday. Love this Stafforshire bone china cup that was part of a grocery store giveaway years ago. I've got four of these, plus matching plates and a sugar and creamer, plus I've got several set aside for future giveaways.

What's your cup today?

Monday, September 25, 2017

Me? Carve?

My Dad did a lot of crafty stuff. He framed houses, fixed plumbing, put on roofs, did just about any home repair you could think of--and always on a budget. But he also made jewelry, fixed watches and clocks, and he carved. When he passed away almost eight years ago, I had the task of clearing out his workshop, and I was rather surprised at how many carvings were left unfinished. The ones below are some of them. Before my mother passed, I had found a box of "hounds" that were finished except for painting. He had one or two done, so I was able to figure out how to "finish" them off.


The box above held the rest. Or rather, I found them squirreled away all over his workshop and put them in this box. And I decided that painting them would be a nice summer job. Except ... they sat there for a year and nothing happened. I'm a busy person! But earlier this summer I thought I might like to take a crack at them.  The first thing I did was buy some acrylic paint and a yard sale that featured a LOT of craft items (including a bunch of rubber stamps, which I've been happily using all summer). But -- here we are on the first day of summer and I haven't done much more than photograph them for this post. (I did buy some paint brushes, so it's not like I'm not thinking about them.)

Aren't these snowmen cute? Or at least the finished one. But I suspect that  Dad didn't paint the finished one. He had two carving buddies that he met at a class he took at continuing education here in our town. After the last was over, they met at each other's houses. There was Estreter (I spelled that phonically--because I don't know how she actually spelled her name. She may have been Belgium (or maybe from one of the slavic states) and John.

My Dad was in charge of making the blanks, and Estreter was a wiz at painting. Dad's first carvings were rather drab, but once Estreter started pointing out painting techniques, my Dad picked up on it fast. But at least this gives me a guide as to how I should approach painting the one on the left.

 By the look of these bears, I can deduce that once Dad was happy with the carving and the sanding, he put a base coat of white acrylic paint on each carving. I think I have two bottles of white, and it looks like I'm going to need them.  The brown stuff on the bear is saw dust. Wow--that basement was full of saw dust, and so is the box that holds all the carvings. It makes me want to sneeze when I get near it. I will have to haul my compressor outside so that I can blow all the dust off each piece before I paint it.  Although quite a few of the carvings look like they could use a bit more sanding.  Where's my sandpaper?

As I said, Dad made the blanks. On the right is a finished angel blowing a horn, and the rough cut for the blank. I probably won't do anything with it because A) I am afraid of knives, and B) I don't think I would have any carving talent. Just thought you might like to see how they start out and how they were finished. (He would put brown shoe polish on the finished product to give it some "texturing.")


The top hound above is a blank, and the hound below just needs a little more sanding before it can be painted.  Sanding I can do.



This guy is holding up a canoe. What's with that? The little slab of wood he's standing on? My folks had cedar bushes/trees (whatever) at the side of their yard and one got cut down. Dad chopped it into slices and quite a few of his carving stand on them.  (Smells nice before the polyurethane goes on.)



You can see how the bear on the right is pretty much finished, but the one on the left is pretty crude. Dad added the mittened paws and skates, gluing them on. I don't have either, so I can paint the right one, but the left one will never be finished.  : (



These guys (and puppy) are all ready to be painted. Wish me luck!


These guys are interesting. This is the front side.


... turn them upside down and this is the back side. I'm not going to paint them. I don't think I could pull it off and perhaps they weren't meant to be painted anyway.

This bearded guy (Santa?) is from the earliest days my Dad carved. I know because he always dated his carvings, although this one isn't dated--I already have several finished ones that are. I think he'd be happy to join his brothers in one of my curio cabinets.

I think my Dad would be happy to know that I'm going to (at least) try to finish off some of his carvings. I'll never be able to paint them as well as he could, but ... I'm sure going to try.

And my Dad's carving are what inspired me to write the first Life On Victoria Square story, CARVING OUT A PATH. I wrote about it earlier this year. (Click this link.)  I wish my Dad could have read it. I think he might have enjoyed it.  (For more information on that, click this link.)

Do you have some craft projects you want to finish up?

Friday, September 22, 2017

Help the Elephants!


Poachers are still killing elephants in alarming numbers. But AirShepherd.com uses drones to follow poachers so that the good guys can stop them from killing these incredibly intelligent animals that experience strong emotions, including grief at the deaths of their friends and family. Air Shepherd also protects rhinos, too. I support Air Shepherd and I hope you will, too. 

Please spread the word.

Click the link to help: http://airshepherd.org/

Monday, September 18, 2017

Yee-ha! I've got a Cowboy Studio!

I have always liked photography, even when I couldn't seem to take a picture of a friend with an Instamatic camera without chopping off her head.  (Ooops.)

When I was in high school, my brother bought an SLR camera. Some Japanese model that started with an M but I can't remember what else. He started taking much better pictures of his friends and I decided that when I got my first job, I'd get a good camera, too.

I my first three SLR cameras were Minoltas, and I loved them. I had lots of lenses, but I've always preferred to take pictures in available light. I took a lot of black-and-white photos in the 90s because I had access to a darkroom and two professional photographers as mentors, although mostly they just taught me printing techniques (something I do today with Photoshop or Gimp2). But now I'm into digital photography.

I always wanted a Nikon, but when I went to buy one, the guy at the counter convinced me to get a Canon. I'm currently on my 2nd Canon EOS Rebel (T3i). Um... the previous one (only about 3 years old) I dropped on a ceramic tile floor, on the day we were fleeing New York City the day Hurricane Sandy hit. (Writers conference.) That was a bad day. : (

Nowadays, I mostly take pictures of my yard sale finds to entertain my Facebook Group Page members. I bought a tabletop Cowboy Studio a few years ago for just that purpose, but it got stuck in a closet and I forgot about it until last week. What a fun toy!  I comes with all kinds of wonderful things like 4 different
colored backdrops (white, black, red, blue), a tabletop camera stand, and dual lights. In it makes my shots look pretty professional, if I say so myself.

So far I've only used it once, for some wonderful Syracuse china teacups  (and a couple of other things) I got at a yard sale, and I was very happy with the results.  It's just that it takes up a lot of room on a table. But I have plans to clear a space in my basement workroom to set up the "studio" and leave it up.

I think my little Cowboy Studio and I are going to have lots of fun in the future.


P.S. Don't you just love the three variations of this china pattern? And I found out there' a fourth! I got a box lot of seven cups and eleven saucers for only $3. What a deal! They're heavy, restaurant china and the pattern is named after the former governor of NY called DeWitt Clinton, who was the father of the Erie Canal. Pretty nifty, huh?

Friday, September 15, 2017

Instagram = Instant Aggravation

I dislike Instagram. A lot. A REAL LOT.

First, I'm not real good about uploading (or downloading, for that matter) stuff with my phone. I don't have one of those BIG iPhones. I have a tiny iPhone 4 with a little screen. (My brother got it for me; $40 used. He was tired of me not being able to figure out my cheap android phone and put me on his family plan.)

But back to Instagram. The easiest way for me to get my posts onto Instagram is with a third-party app called Gramblr. You log into Gramblr and it connects with Instagram via your computer. Except ... when Instagram cuts you off--and they seem to do that a lot.

I've lost most of my accounts.  I had one for each of my author names, and for several groups I belong to, including the Cozy Chicks.

Instagram often wants to make sure it's you and they demand you return to them a code number sent to you either by email or text.  The only problem is THEY RARELY SEND THEM.  I lost six of my accounts because they never sent me the info I need to log back on.

I replaced my LLBartlett account in July because they never got back to me with the code, and now they've blocked that one, too.

Guess what: THERE IS NO CUSTOMER SERVICE.

There's absolutely NO WAY (unless you're Taylor Swift or someone as influential as her) TO GET YOUR ACCOUNT BACK. There's no recourse. NO NOTHING.

And SURPRISE!  They're owned by Facebook, whose customer service is just about as bad.

So, while it's a nice little app, I think I'm going to dump it.

Have you had this happen to you?

Monday, September 11, 2017

Try these books for a change of pace

As a writer, I don't only read what I write. Yes, I adore cozy mysteries, and yes, I read darker suspense, but I also read what I call "fun stuff." Sweet romance and YA books. (Harry Potter is considered YA and boy, did that series get dark--and not just kids read them.)

But a fun series I've been reading is Mary Kennedy's Crazy Love Diaries.  She wrote three of them: Love Signs, The Ten Cupcake Romance, and Only You. They are utterly charming, and laugh-out loud funny.




Here's a bit more about them.

Love Signs: Tracy Adams trusts her horoscope--it's been right 100% of the time. When the stars predict she'll meet a good-looking boy, Jeff Nichols shows up. Tracy falls hard, but the stars warn Tracy not to mistake friendship for love.  Now she's confused. Jeff is everything she wants in a boyfriend, but her horoscope insists Steve Richards is a better match for her, even though they have nothing in common. Have the stars made a terrible mistake? Should Tracy trust her heart or her horoscope?

Kindle US | Kindle Worldwide | Nook | Kobo | iBooks



The Ten Cupcake Romance: Every time Amy Miller falls in love, she eats her heart out—literally! Her latest crazy is cupcakes, but when her friend Sharon finds Amy devouring a whole box of them, she knows that Amy needs to find a better hobby. Why not become a romance novelist? Amy loves the idea and Simon Adams a cute British student fits right into the plot. In fact, he's the main character. Amy knows enough about love to fill a book, but even she can't guess how the story will end.


Kindle US | Kindle Worldwide | Nook | Kobo | iBooks



Only You:  Carla Santini. She's the Italian exchange student who's coming to stay with Jamie Hogan and her family for the summer. Jamie can hardly wait to spend time with Carla—it will be just like having a sister her own age. Everyone is waiting for Carla's arrival at the airport. When a gorgeous Italian boy steps off the plane, Jamie gasps in surprise. Carla is actually Carlo—there was a typo! Can one key stroke turn Jamie's world upside down?

Kindle US | Kindle Worldwide | Nook | Kobo | iBooks

If you want a fun read that will take you back in time to your high school days, you can't miss with the Crazy Love Diaries.

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Teacup Tuesday: Narcissus


Happy Teacup Tuesday. This is one of my collection of cups. It's called Narcissus, by Bell China, but I like it because of the tulips. But you know, I don't think I've ever used it to drink from. Must remedy that--maybe today.

What tea are you drinking today?

Thursday, August 24, 2017

It wasn't supposed to turn out this way

For years, I was able to enjoy the very best quiche in the world at The Sherwood Inn in Skaneateles, NY. It was a quiche like I'd never had before. About 4 inches high with a thick custard center, and usually with asparagus. OMG -- it was good.  And then ... one day, they stopped making it that way. What a bummer. : (

I recently got this very pretty Mikasa quiche pan at a yard sale and that made me determined to try my hand at a from-scratch quiche.  (My mother used to make them all the time back in the 80s and 90s.)

I've been looking for a recipe like that for years, and one of my readers gave me one she thought might fit the bill.  I assembled my ingredients and I figured I was good to go.



My first attempt tasted good, but wasn't at all tall.  (Very pretty pan--but too small. I ended up making omelets with the leftover egg and cream mixture.)




On Tuesday, I was all set to make a tall quiche. I bought a springform pan at a yard sale and it was at least an inch taller than the last.  One tiny problem.  I (again) decided to add mushrooms to the recipe (because I like them) and like Julia Child liked to say, "don't crowd the mushrooms." So while I was browning the crust, I was paying more attention to the mushrooms and ... (BTW, my smoke alarms work really, REALLY well!)


I ended up having a salad for supper that night. (Oh well, at least it had a lot less calories!)

Went a little overboard on the Swiss cheese.  Grated 3 times what I needed.

So Wednesday, I decided to try again.  But this time, even though I rolled the crust thinner, it didn't "take" in the pan. It shrunk. I put in as much of the cream and egg mixture as I could but ... (you got it, I'll be having an omelet for breakfast today). It tasted good, but no thick, creamy custard.


It was taller, but not by much.

I'm now in search for a taller, yet smaller (in diameter) springform pan. I'm determined to replicate that quiche if I have to eat a dozen of them to do it. One of my readers told me about a Mile-High Quiche, and I'm going to try that recipe.

Have you ever had a frustrating recipe that just wouldn't work out?

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Teacup Tuesday with Yard Sale Finds


You can have a wonderful tea party for not a lot of bucks -- when you hit the yard sales.

Can you believe this hammered aluminum teapot and bone china teacup cost me just two bucks?

It's always time for tea!

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Kiss of the Spider-Killing Woman

I loathe bugs. All bugs. I don't even like Lady Bugs, and they're cute. (Although sometimes we have an invasion of them--and that's just icky.)

During the winter, I seem to kill a lot of white spiders that hang around my kitchen and I only notice when I'm about to make a pot of tea. It gets worse with spring and fall ande there's lots of screaming and the fly swatter gets hard use. (BTW, I never use poison to kill bugs. Just swats and my shoes.)

I've often referred to my family's summer cottage as "bug haven." Any time you're near water, there are sure to be BUGS--ad especially spiders. Some I can deal with. The very delicate Daddy Long Legs usually stay in the corners of the bathroom or the enclosed porch. If they don't bother, then I won't bother them.

A week or so ago, scores of baby spiders hatched and I must have killed 20 or 30 of them that walked across my desk and/or computer screen. Never saw this before, but hope this means that, since I encountered and killed them at such an early age, in the long run there will be for less of the little black-and-white spiders that seem to live in that room. (They usually stay away from me, too.)

Last Wednesday, while I was working on the computer, I saw a some kind of icky bug with an inch-long ant-like body with long brown wings get caught up in a web on the outside of my porch window. As I mentioned, I loathe bugs, but I felt sorry for that winged creature when Mr. Fat-bodied brown spider came out of nowhere and attacked said bug, wrapping it in a cocoon of webs. I looked away for a few seconds, but by the time I looked back, Mr. Spider had dragged his prey away for what he probably considered a delicious meal. (*Shudder*)

And then there are the fat, juicy-bodied black spiders who RUN-VERY-FAST. Not only do they RUN-VERY-FAST, but they have excellent hearing. For example, I was busy editing the first draft of Victoria Square Mystery #5 (Yule Be Dead), when I spied a particularly HUGE--Hagrid-sized-- version of an icky black spider. I started screaming (Mr. L is glad not to be around when this happens) VERY LOUDLY, and Mr. Icky panicked while I was panicking. He was on the wall near my bookshelf, a particularly tricky area to get to. And while I was screaming and slapping at him with the swatter I keep in my office for just such emergencies, he escaped underneath the space between the baseboard and the carpet. I read where bugs (maybe even spiders) don't like vinegar water, so I grabbed my squirt bottle (which also lives in my office) and squirted the corner like crazy, disturbing a Daddy Long Legs I hadn't known was there. (It smelled like a pickle jar in there for several hours.)

Later that night, I got up in the middle of the night for the call of nature, and saw not one, but TWO more icky black spiders. What is this? An invasion?  I ran to my office for the vinegar spray and spayed him, but he seemed to be very sleepy and didn't move.  So I nudged him with my slipper and then beat the living hell out of him. Then there was his buddy (wife, lover, friend?) on the other side of the bathroom. Same treatment, same end. Both bodies got flushed.  (And I stayed awake for two hours and had to read because no going back to sleep fast after that kind of excitement.)

I'm generally freaked out by all bugs. Hell, to me, would be to meet up with all the bugs I've killed over a lifetime and and be stuck with them crawling over me for eternity. *Extra BIG Shudder*

Mind you, if spiders stay away from me, they could live long and happy lives. Even if they were in my house, as long as I don't encounter them--Hey, Live Long and Prosper.  Come near me, and it's another story.

Anybody got a safe (non-poisonous) bug repellent recipe?


Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Who will my new neighbor be?


We moved into our home 24 years ago. At that time, the next-door neighbors had teenage boys. In the summer, they would be out in the driveway from about seven in the evening (along with a host of their friends) until after midnight playing basketball.  Okay, it's not that noisy a game, but back then we didn't have air conditioning, so we (who are early-to-bed early-to-rise people) would be kept awake with the doink, doink, doink of the basketball hitting the driveway right outside our bedroom window for hours (and hours and hours) on end.  (And you thought I had no idea about that until I wrote Shooting Hoops in my Jeff Resnick coming-of-age short story collection Evolution: Jeff Resnick's Backstory.)

Two years after we moved in, that family moved out--and the house was bought by a couple of empty-nesters who had relocated from downstate when the husband got a job here in Rha-cha-cha. The wife moved her baby grand piano in and gave lessons for the the next twenty years. We often heard her (muffled, yet exceptional) playing.

They were very nice, if aloof (and so, admittedly, were we) neighbors. They had some odd habits, like Mr. N (for neighbor) would often cut his grass in November AFTER dark, in the driving snow.  Every year (except this one) they grew a number of tomato plants on the south side of their house, but never once harvested any. (What's with that?) They poured tons of toxic chemicals onto their grass, but often had the worst lawn on the street. (We have the second worst, but at least it's green--because I learned at an early age that poison on your grass causes cancer on your dog's feet, and any other animal (or bird) who walks across it or eats its bounty.

Two years ago, we noticed that Mrs. N was not looking well. Apparently she didn't go to the doctor for it wasn't until a year later that she was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and three weeks later died. We were very sad. Never again would we see her cheerful smile. Never again would we hear her playing the piano. Mr. N told Mr. L (my guy) that he intended to sell the house and move back to where they came from (downstate), but month after month went by and nothing happened, so we figured (and hoped) maybe he would stay.

And then last Thursday, a moving van showed up and took away a bunch of furniture (probably for storage). Maybe their son (who had returned about 10 years ago) was going to finally move out on his own. But, no. The next day, late in the day, a FOR SALE sign went up in the yard.

Okay. So what does this mean? You never know what kind of neighbors you're going to get. And on a street like ours (where there are mostly retirees and its BLESSEDLY QUIET) you really hope it will be more quiet neighbors. I sold my mother's house last June (2016) and her neighbors were fearful, too. The older woman who bought it seemed like a very nice, quiet retired lady and her neighbors on both sides were happy. Until she decided to chop down every living thing around the house, exposing her neighbors not only to the people on the street behind them, but also to the noise on that very busy street--and the expressway another block away. Suddenly I'm persona non-grata for selling the house to a person who apparently didn't care if she was bombarded by noise from the east.

So, who will we get as neighbors?  I don't care what color or creed people are as long as they are QUIET! Will that happen?  We'll just have to wait to find out.

Do you have a neighbor-moving horror story?

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Teacup Tuesday at Blythe Cove Manor


Happy Teacup Tuesday! I thought it might be fun to talk about how teacups relate to my various series. Today's series is Blythe Cove Manor.

Blythe Calvert,the hostess at this upscale B&B on Martha's Vineyard, does all her baking in an ivory Aga cooker. I've shared a couple of her recipes on my website. Feel free to take a look.

http://bit.ly/2w6qfxr

P.S. This cup will be a prize in and upcoming giveaway on my Facebook group page. We're having an event in September. Don't miss it!.

Monday, August 14, 2017

Available for Preorder: A Part Of The Pattern

A writer never knows when inspiration is going to hit. Sometimes you get it from reading something in a newspaper (yes, I STILL read (and highly enjoy) newspapers, both the local rag and USA Today), or hearing something on the radio, or reading a book.

What? Isn't that plagiarism? No, not when it's just a sentence. And that sentence was written by one of my favorite authors, Barbara Michaels. In fact, it was her romantic suspense novels (with a paranormal thread) that inspired me to write my Jeff Resnick Mysteries.

Authors do variations on a theme all the time. My friend Pat Ryan did a variation on Hitchcock's film, Rear Window, with one of her historical romances. There have been scores of take-offs based on the work of Jane Austen, etc. (Pride and Prejudice with zombies, for instance.)

I've been wrestling with how to continue Jeff's story arc after the devastating events in the most recent novel, Shattered Spirits. I often reread my favorite books and about three weeks ago I reread Ms. Michaels' book The Dancing Floor. In it, one of the characters tells another: "You're a part of the pattern." I got stuck on that one paragraph and that sentence, and reread it several times. I kept thinking about it over and over again and that got me inspired to tell Jeff's story--how he became a part of the pattern. And, truthfully, until I started writing the story, I had no clue there actually was a pattern.

I knew there wasn't a novel in this tale, so decided to make it a bridge story. By dealing with the subject of Jeff and Richard starting their own business, they are free to jump right into a case in the next novel. Whew! Big relief.  Of course, what that case may be--I have no clue. I have two other books to write before I can deal with that, but that lets me start noodling, and there's where the story will come from; my subconscious

So, Jeff has a mini-mystery and readers have a new (longish) short story to read. And, of course, it's called A PART OF THE PATTERN. It'll be available September 18th from all ebook distributors.  Here's the description:

.Jeff Resnick finds himself drawn to solving crimes. His brother, Richard, thinks that could be the basis of a paying business. Reluctantly, Jeff agrees, and their first case is about a a child who vanished more than two decades before. Meanwhile, Jeff bumps into an acquaintance whose history is very similar to that of the missing girl. Is it coincidence or is there a pattern that links him to her and his future? 

Kindle | Kindle Worldwide | Nook | iBooks | Kobo | Smashwords

If you've been missing Jeff, get ready for your next fix!

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

My Dad's Cardigans

Even though it's summer, I still wear sweaters ... a lot. First, the house is often cold because of the air conditioning. Mr. L likes it around 72. I could be happier at 75, but ... I just put on a sweater.

I have a LOT of sweaters. My Mum was into machine knitting and made a LOT of them. I have a couple I wear on REALLY cold days because they are really long (I think she must have made them extra-long), and ... I couldn't bear to part with them when she died.

When my Dad passed away almost nine years ago (how can he have been gone that long already????), Mum started wearing his sweaters. He had quite a collection and most of them came from England. Marks and Spencer to be exact. I'm sure my mother picked them out for him while they were on their frequent trips "back home" in England. He wore them from the 1970s through the early 90s and then for some reason stopped. (Maybe because he gained too much weight?)

Anyway, a couple of them hung in my mother's big walk-in closet. She had anemia and was cold 24/7, so she often wore three layers in the summer. Turtleneck, sweatshirt, sweater. I'd come over in the summer and it would be broiling in the house and she'd think it was just fine.

After she passed away, it was my job to clean out the house. I gave away nearly all her clothes, and she'd already done that for Dad, but hanging in the closet were two of his sweaters. I found even more packed away in a suitcase. In all, I think I kept at least ten sweaters. And I wear them. My favorite is one of Dad's. It's navy blue and it's got moth holes. They're tiny and don't detract from the cardigan's warmth. There were two green ones, which are in excellent shape, and they are HEAVY. I didn't wear them last winter, but I will this year.

I love those sweaters. They're a tangible remembrance of both my parents.

One winter day not long after Dad died, I visited my Mum on a snowy day. I was COLD. She handed me a polar fleece jacket that belonged to my Dad and said, "Take this. And when you're sad (I was crying every day back then, and I can be reduced to tears in a heartbeat when I think of either of them now) and when you're sad, wear this and wrap your arms around yourself and it'll be a hug from your Dad.

On a day when things don't go right, I put on that jacket or one of his sweaters and give myself a hug. It's not as good as the real thing, but it'll do.

Are you sentimental about certain items of clothing?