Mystery...Romance...Sci Fi...Humor... The joy of writing fiction - meeting brand new people in places that don't yet exist.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Memorial Day

You may have seen this quote before. 

"A veteran is someone who, at one point in his life, wrote a blank check made payable to 'The United States of America' for an amount of 'up to and including my life'."

On Memorial Day we honor those who paid that check in full.

Our local Boy Scout Troops place flags at the Veterans' Cemetary.

The graves of those who died for us.

While you're enjoying your holiday weekend, having a cook out or maybe heading for the pool, take a moment and give thanks. 

Thursday, May 26, 2011

After the Storm

It's been a crazy weather week here in southwest Ohio, as it has for much of the country.  Thunderstorms, high winds, baseball size hail, and almost nightly tornado warnings (with luckily, only a few minor touchdowns).  And rain.  Lots and lots of rain.  But this evening, after the last storm had rolled through, we had this...

If you look closely, you can see a second fainter rainbow to the right of the brighter one.  At this point the rainbow only extended from the top of the trees up to where it fades out in the picture above.

As I watched it, the top arc formed (picture above) and began to descend on the left side (below).

Then offered this beautiful finale.

Have a wonderful weekend.

I'm Currently Enjoying: Suspense and Sensibility by Carrie Bebris

Groaner of the Day: The carnival was in town at Nottingham, so Robin Hood told the boys they could go in and have some fun.

There were lots of games and at one booth, you could win a prize by hitting a ten cent silver coin with a lance thrown from twenty paces.

As Friar Tuck was passing the booth, the guy running the game called out to him: "Hey,Brother, can you spear a dime?"

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

What's That Number Again?

Just a quick post this morning.  Got to get out and plant some flowers before it starts raining again.

I had one of those moments this morning.  It's my beloved spouse's birthday so I got up early to make him a special breakfast.  Now, I know how old he is today.  And I know there's a four year difference between his age and mine.  But this morning the numbers didn't work.  Somehow we were five years apart.  It seems when I had my birthday earlier this month, I'd managed not to click the magic clicker in my head.  The birthday had come and gone but my age had stayed the same.  What a shock this morning to realize I was a year older.

Do you ever forget how old you are?  For just a second?  You start to say, "Oh, she's about my age," and realize you haven't been that age for a long time.  You see an unexpected reflection of yourself and wonder who that old woman is.  Is the age you are on the inside getting further and futher from the stupid number on your driver's license?
I don't care.  I've had a coffee mug for years (given to me by my co-workers) that reads: "I may be getting older but I refuse to grow up."  Works for me.  How about you?

Off to my planting.

Happy Birthday, honey.

I'm Currently Enjoying: Suspense and Sensibility by Carrie Bebris

Groaner of the Day: This woman ordered an exotic snake through a mail order operation. When the package arrived, there were only feathery necklaces in the box.

Apparently, the boa cons tricked her.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Scammed by a Dog?

Those of you who have been following this blog for a while know my household is occupied by myself, my hubby of many decades, and our child (canine variety), Brandi.  Brandi is fifteen and suffers many of the usual complaints of old age.  Her vision is failing, as is her hearing, and she has arthritis. 

Because of these various ailments, she takes serveral daily medications.  Brandi is pretty good about taking her meds - if I tuck each pill into a small blob of canned dog food and feed it to her by hand.  Usually I do the meds first and then put the rest of the allotted canned food into her bowl and she takes it from there. 

Until last week.

On Friday I noticed that she wasn't eating the food in her bowl.  She was licking all around the edges but not getting any of the chunky parts.  Concerned, I knelt beside her and started scooping up small amounts of food onto my fingers and feeding her bite by bite.  She ate the whole meal and seemed happy.  I decided she must have been having trouble picking up the chunks.  We repeated this routine on Saturday and Sunday.  I put the food in her dish, she licked around the edges, and I fingerfed her the rest.

This morning, as I was hand feeding her little fingerfulls of dog goop, it occured to me that this can didn't have any chunks.  It was pretty much all goop.  Nice soft disgusting goop.  Which I had put in her bowl and she had given a couple token licks before turning to me for help.  No chunks.  Nothing to pick up.  No reason she couldn't eat it herself.  But here I was, sitting on the floor, fingerfeeding her royal highness as she graciously accepted each morsel. 

Am I being had?  Is the old girl putting one over on me...just because she can?  What do you think?

Feed Me.
I'm Currently Enjoying:  Suspense and Sensibility by Carrie Bebris

Groaner of the Day:  I had a dream the other night. I was in the old West riding in a stagecoach. Suddenly, a man riding a horse pulls up to the left side of the stagecoach, and a riderless horse pulls up on the right.

The man leans down, pulls open the door, and jumps off his horse into the stagecoach. Then he opens the other door and jumps onto the other horse.

Just before he rode off, I yelled out, "What was all that about?"

He replied, "Nothing. It's just a stage I'm going through."

Friday, May 20, 2011

Something Different for Friday Fun

TGIF!   I thought I do something a little different for this Friday.  A couple blogs I follow offer puzzles on their fun days and I've become quite addicted to them.  Well, no one likes being addicted all alone so let's see if I can drag some of you along.  Just click on the play button.

My best time (yeah, I had to try it a couple times) was 2:35.  What's yours?

Click to Mix and Solve

The silly weather people have promised a little sunshine here for this weekend.  I've got my fingers crossed.  Sure would like to get my garden planted. What do you have planned for your weekend?

I'm currently enjoying:  Just finished Wicked Appetite by Janet Evanovich (a fun read)

Groaner of the Day: A college freshman on a dare stole twenty-three bottles of beer one night. He was caught but to his relief the District Attorney dropped the charges.

She said she could not make a case of it!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Cliffhangers and Sequels - Part Two

Continuing on the subject of cliffhangers (if you missed Part One, click here)... 


Since I wrote part one of this post, I've watched the season finales of three network TV shows.  All three ended in serious cliffhangers, including my favorite, Castle, which ended with the classic: Beckett shot and possibily dying in Castle's arms.


But today I want to talk about books.  I love a book series. It fun to start a book already knowing the main character(s), like catching up with an old friend.  Series allow for deeper development of characters and relationships than would be possibile in a single book.  I also enjoy story arcs that run over several books or loose ends/questions that will carry over into a sequel.  But cliffhangers...when the next book won't be out for months or years or possibly (gasp!) ever!  Please don't do that to me.

So where's the line?  What's a sequel setup and what's a chiffhanger?  I tried looking up definitions and there's a lot of gray area on this one, so in lieu of a definitive answer, I'm going to give my opinion.  And ask for yours.

First, the obvious - leaving a main character in immediate danger is a cliffhanger.  Seriously injured, trapped in a burning building, in a car speeding down the hill with no brakes, held hostage, or with the bad guy sneaking in the back door while our hero/heroine waits unsuspectingly.  Definite cliffhangers.  Non-violent versions?  The main character on the verge of a life changing decision (when the choice is not a foregone conclusion for the reader).  A whodunit that ends with "I know who the killer is."

Sequel setups for me are more along the line of unanswered questions or possibilities.  Relationships that may grow or change, problems not completely resolved, a main character heading off on a new adventure, even the classic - the body of the villain that was supposed to be dead is missing. 

Sometimes it's a very fine line.  Say you're at the end of a cop drama.  Crime solved. Bad guy caught. Sadly, the cop's partner was killed in the line of duty.  Final scene, cop is talking to his Captain and hears someone come into the room behind him. Captain says "I want you to meet your new partner."  Final lines:

It was going to be hard; Joe and I were partners a long time.  But he was gone.  I turned around and extended my hand.

It was going to be hard; Joe and I were partners a long time. But he was gone. I turned around and my jaw hit the floor.

To me, the first is a sequel setup. the second is a cliffhanger.

Okay, let's hear from you.  What do you think the difference is between a cliffhanger and a sequel setup?  How do you feel about both or either? 

Special note: Congratulations to Cathy Pegau who won last Friday's Caption Contest.  Cathy selected as her prize, BOOKMARKED FOR DEATH by Lorna Barrett.  Thanks to everyone who played.  You came up with some really great captions.

I'm currently enjoying: Wicked Appetite by Janet Evanovich

Groaner of the Day:   A man walked into a haunted house wanting to get a picture of a ghost with his camera. After a couple hours, he finally saw one. It was a friendly ghost who actually posed for the picture.

The man took the picture, but it turned out too dark. So the ghost posed for another one, and the picture again turned out dark.

The ghost had to leave so the man did not get a picture.

Another case of - the spirit was willing but the flash was weak.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Cliffhangers and Sequels - Part One

It's May.  The end of network television's regular season.  And it seems that every scripted show is finishing the year with cliffhanger.

I'm not crazy about cliffhangers.

Many of us remember the summer of 1980 when the world held its collective breath wondering Who Shot JR, but the cliffhanger began way before someone put a bullet in JR Ewing on the TV show Dallas.  In the late 1800's, many novels were printed in serial format in newspapers and periodicals, and authors employed a variety of such devices to hold on to their readers' interest.  Early cinema included short serials that ended every episode with the hero or heroine facing some grave danger (from which they would miraculously escape in the opening minutes of the next installment).

For years, most TV cliffhangers were found in two part episodes.  You know, the ones that ended with "To be continued..." and left you screaming at the TV and tuning in the following week.  But is there truly a point to season ending cliffhangers?   I don't know about you, but I rarely spend the off season (summer for broadcast networks, winter for most cable networks) worrying about a character on a TV show.  Does anyone remember we left Jane Rizzoli bleeding out on the sidewalk in front of the police station last fall.  Okay, maybe now that I've mentioned it, but have you been counting the weeks until Rizzoli and Isles starts its new season so you can find out what happened?  Probably not.

Cliffhanger endings lose their effectiveness when too much time elapses before the next installment, between the set up and the payoff.  This is why they're less effective for feature films.  But what about films that are part of a series with a continuing story arc?  Lord of the Rings.  Star Wars.  Each movie has to include the set up for the next.  Sometimes the set up has a definite 'cliffhanger' feel to it.  (I was seriously annoyed when The Empire Strikes Back ended with Han Solo encased in carbonite and in the hands of the slimy Jabba the Hut.)

So where is the line between acceptable setup for a sequel and a true cliffhanger.  And how does this translate from TV and movies to books?  I'll take a look at those questions on Wednesday.  (When I will also announce the winner of last Friday's caption contest.)

In the meantime, what were some of your favorite or least favorite cliffhangers (TV or movie)?

I'm currently enjoying: Just finished Beautiful Lies by Lisa Unger

Groaner of the Day: Two cannibals meet one day. The first cannibal says, "You know, I just can't seem to get a tender Missionary. I've baked them, I've roasted them, I've stewed them, I've barbecued them, I've tried every sort of marinade. I just cannot seem to get them tender."

The second cannibal asks, "What kind of Missionary do you use?"

The other replied, "You know, the ones that hang out at that place at the bend of the river. They have those brown cloaks with a rope around the waist and they're sort of bald on top with a funny ring of hair on their heads."

"Ah, ha!" the second cannibal replies. "No wonder ... those are friars!"

(Oh, that's so awful.  I'm almost embarrassed.  Almost.)

Friday, May 13, 2011

Friday Caption Contest

Happy Friday!

If Blogger is feeling more cooperative now, it's time for another Fun Friday Caption Contest.

You know the rules.  Give me your best caption for one or more of the pitchers below (more is merrier) and you'll be included in a drawing for a free book - your choice from assorted titles, some print, some e-books.

Don't forget to include your e-mail address in your comment.

Ready?  Let's caption!






Did you come up with some good ones?

I've got some writing, some gardening, and several grandkids' lacrosse games on my agenda for the weekend.  What's on yours?

I'm currently enjoying: Beautiful Lies by Lisa Unger

Groaner of the Day: A young man was in love with two women and could not decide which of them to marry. Finally he went to a marriage counselor. When asked to describe his two loves, he noted that one was a great poet and the other made delicious pancakes.

"Oh" said the counselor, "I see what the problem is. You can't decide whether to marry for batter or verse."
(all together now...grooooaaan)

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

A Mystery, a Sad Note, and a Blatent Plug

I don't normally post on Tuesday but there are things I need to say today.

First - the mystery:

I did so buy my husband an Anniversary card.  I went to the Hallmark store last week and bought three Mother's Day cards, two birthday cards, and one beautiful "to my husband" anniversary card.  As I usually do, I stashed the bag of cards in a drawer in the china hutch.  On Mother's Day, I took out, signed and gave the three Mother's Day cards and one birthday card to the appropriate people.  (The other birthday card is for later.)

Today is our 42nd anniversary.  This morning, I slipped downstairs early to sign the anniversary card and set it beside my husband's breakfast.  The Hallmark bag was still there.  It contained two lovely little gold crown seals, a receipt for all the cards mentioned above, and one birthday card.  My beautiful anniversary card was missing.

Although I'm quite certain I never removed it from the bag, I began to search all through the hutch.  Lo and behold, I found an anniversary card.  But it didn't look familiar.  I know mine said "to my husband".  This one said...oops, I guess my hubby stashes his cards in the hutch, too.  Sorry, hon.

I've searched every place I can think of and still no card.  So help me out, mystery fans...where's my lovely anniversary card?

The sad note:

Jane Kennedy Sutton's blog Jane's Ride contained the incredibly sad news yesterday that Jane passed away last Friday.  Please keep Jane's family in your thoughts and prayer's.

The blatent plug:

For my friend, Maria Zannini - Maria's latest, Apocalypse Rising, was released yesterday.  I read it.  I loved it. I strongly recommend it.  Actually, I recommend you buy Touch of Fire and Apocalypse Rising and read them in order so you can savor this romantic adventure from its beginning. 

Oh, one other thing I have to do:

To our good friends Jim and Karin, who also just happen to tie the knot 42 years ago today - Happy Anniversary!

No groaner today.  Two days in a row would be too much for some of you to handle.  (You know who you are.)

Monday, May 9, 2011

A Birthday Present

It was a lousy way to spend his birthday.  Working all day then spending his evening in school.  Of course, there were a lot of guys in the same boat back then.  They had left to fight as soon as they turned 18 and now that the war was over, they were married with kids, trying to get through college the hard way. 

He got off the bus around 10:30, expecting to walk the several blocks to his in-laws where they were staying so her parents could help his very pregnant wife take care of their two year old son.  Then he saw the car waiting at the corner.  Hey, the day might not be a total loss after all.  They had come to meet him.  Probably going to take him out for an ice cream or something.  Not wanting to admit how pleased he was at the prospect, he assumed a Joe Cool saunter and strolled on over.

"Hi.  What are you doing here?"

"Get in the damn car, " his father-in-law barked.  "She having the baby!"

They reached the hospital in record time, popped his wife into a waiting wheelchair and hurried into the lobby.  A nurse armed with a clipboard stopped them.

"She having the baby," the frantic husband announced.

"Just a few questions," the nurse insisted.

The figure in the wheelchair looked up and said quietly, "Oh, I don't think we have time for that."

There must have been something in that soft voice, or perhaps in the young woman's eyes, but the nurse handed the clipboard to the young dad.  "You start on these.  We're going upstairs."

Fifteen minutes later, his daughter was born. 

For years two running family jokes would be the daughter complaining that every birthday cake she ever had bore two names and the father compaing that she was the most expensive gift he ever received - one he'd been paying for ever since. 

Happy Birthday, Dad.

I'm currently enjoying: Apocalypse Rising by Maria Zannini

Groaner of the Day: Most people don't know that back in 1912, Hellmann's mayonnaise was manufactured in England. In fact, the Titanic was carrying 12,000 jars of the condiment scheduled for delivery in Vera Cruz, Mexico, which was to be the next port of call for the great ship after its stop in New York. This would have been the largest single shipment of mayonnaise ever delivered to Mexico.

But as we know, the great ship did not make it to New York. The ship hit an iceberg and sank, and the cargo was forever lost. The people of Mexico, who were crazy about mayonnaise, and were eagerly awaiting its delivery, were disconsolate at the loss. Their anguish was so great, that they declared a National Day of Mourning, which they still observe to this day.

The National Day of Mourning occurs each year on May 5th and is known, of course, as Sinko De Mayo.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Remembering My Moms

Remembering my moms on Mother's Day...

Kathleen Hazel McLellen Masterson

My mom was, in many ways, a wounded bird.  She suffered from terrible health problems all of her life.  But she was one of the kindest, gentlest, most loving souls there could ever be.  There was never a day when I wasn't secure in her love.

On her wedding day, age 15.  She and my Dad were together almost 65 years.

She took great pleasure in anything that made any of us happy.  I loved her laughter.

It's been five years since she left us.  I miss her every day.

Eleanora Lasota Leszczuk

Few wives are lucky enough to get a mum-in-law like mine.  Mama was a woman of great courage who survived the forced labor camps in Nazi Germany, years in refugee camps, and imigrating to this country with practically nothing but never lost her faith or her kindness. 

She became a US citizen at the age of 80.

She loved to play cards and I loved it when she played with all the guys in the family and "cleaned their clocks".

This is our first Mother's Day without Mama.  It's going to feel terribly empty.

I've been incredibly fortunate to have had these two beautiful ladies in my life. 

Happy Mother's Day, Mom
Happy Mother's Day, Mama
I love you.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Serious Questions from a Hazy Mind

Still fuzzed up with pain killers (and other assorted happy drugs) and trying to type and mouse with my left hand so in lieu of a regular post I offer these...

Why doesn't Tarzan have a beard when he lives in the jungle without a razor?

Why do Kamikaze pilots wear helmets?

Why does someone believe you when you say there are four billion stars, but check when you say the paint is wet?

What is the speed of darkness?

If the temperature is zero outside today and it's going to be twice as cold tomorrow, how cold will it be?

Why do people pay to go up tall buildings and then put money in binoculars to look at things on the ground?

Why is there a light in the fridge and not in the freezer?

If corn oil is made from corn, and vegetable oil is made from vegetables, then what is baby oil made from?

Why do the Alphabet song and Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star have the same tune?

Stop singing and read on......

Did you ever notice that when you blow in a dog's face, he gets mad at you, but when you take him on a car ride, he sticks his head out the window?

Why do people point to their wrist when asking for the time, but don't point to their bum when they ask where the bathroom is?

(Does the fact that I laughed at the last one mean I'm taking too many drugs?)

That's it.  I'm done.

Monday, May 2, 2011

One Word at a Time - All I can manage