Talking Crow

Well, so much for the Oreo cookie sharing in Shawano. I stayed sick, very sick, all weekend and now into this week I’m still sick. Didn’t eat anything substantial – or anything much at all until yesterday and lost it by mid afternoon. Already had an appointment with my rheumatologist Monday and so kept that. And he said this is worrisome and if it’s not better by Tuesday, go see your GP. Which I am going to do (I’m writing this Monday evening). I don’t feel really sick, like you do with flu, but I can’t eat and have no control at the other end. I’ve taken anti-diarrhea meds, probiotics, I even found an unused bottle of oxycodone from when I was truly ill in a nursing home and have taken one two nights in a row – and as soon as they wear off, we’re back to square one. God, I sound like a hypochondriac, complain, complain, complain! But I’m truly sick of being sick and want it fixed.

On the other hand, I think we have at least the beginnings of a breakthrough on the muse front. Got a pair of big ideas on the plot and I think she’s starting to breathe. Yay!

Had a pleasant but curious experience a week or so ago. I was standing out on our balcony, which I call a “porch,” because it looks more like a porch than a balcony. A friendly crow who has come around before came back and perched high in a tree across the street. He began making soft, gurgling “remarks” to me. I tried to reply in kind and he responded. We had a kind of conversation that lasted at least five minutes. This was not the call-and-respond caw-caw-caw exchange I’ve had with several other crows; they call twice, I call twice, they caw three times, I caw three times. I think they get it, it’s a kind of game with exclamation points. This was gentle, almost tender. I wonder what it was about. I almost expected him (her?) to fly across and land on the porch railing – which probably would have scared me into dashing into the apartment. Crows are large birds with sharp beaks and claws. Or maybe not. I’ve been looking for my friend since but – see above – I’ve been sick and not going out very often. I don’t understand these intelligent, impertinent, bold creatures. But they fascinate me. Especially when they turn gentle.

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Sorry about this …

Due to illness, the signing in Shawano, Wisconsin, on September 10, 2016 is either cancelled or postponed. Watch this space for further information.

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Summer’s Over

Well, the carpets got cleaned, as scheduled, and so the last remnants of our cat Snaps are gone (ground-in cat hair, urp stains – so we’re not all that sorrowful about it).   And Wednesday went as scheduled: Bible study, lunch, stitching, pizza night sleepover.

But Thursday morning, during the hasty wash and dress part, I had a dizzy spell so big I actually fell down. It scared all of us, and I elected to stay home from the State Fair. Bummer. The other three had a great time: perfect weather, good food, interesting exhibits. I, on the other hand, was unsteady on my feet the rest of the morning – but fine in the afternoon and thereafter. I think the dizziness is the result of a med I’m taking. There is a warning of dizziness on the label, though it seems now it was a one-off, I haven’t had another “spell.”

As expected, I didn’t win a ribbon for my Christmas stocking – but amazingly, Tanya did, for her needlepoint of thirteen colorful lizards. She came in fourth, and a pink ribbon draped her entry. Wonderful surprise to her, though IMO she deserved it, and I’m only a little jealous.

The weather has turned cool, there are trees just starting to show color.  It’s been an eventful spring and summer.  I’ve been to the driving range but have sprained my ankle and so not met my goal (yet!) of going a round of par-three, nine-hole golf.  But it hasn’t snowed yet, nor have we had frost, so there’s still a chance I’ll make it.

This Saturday at one in the afternoon I’ll be doing an appearance and signing at Books and Beans, a coffeehouse in Shawano, Wisconsin. Address: 1235 E. Green Bay Street. My brother and his wife live in Shawano, and we’ll be staying with them. Come on by, I’ll have a package of Oreo cookies to share!

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Nothing much has happened since my last entry, but quite a bit is going to happen.

Thursday four of us are going to the State Fair. Two of us have bad knees and one of us had surgery on her foot, so three of us are going to rent electric carts and one unfortunate is going to walk – though we are, I am sure, going to arrange for her to ride at least some of the time. The rental will run from seven to three, if we last that long. Tanya and I each entered a needlework project in a competition, so it will be interesting to see how we did. (We’re not anticipating a ribbon, it was more for the experience, because next year we’re both entering something more elaborate.) The carts are rented first come-first served, and they tend to go fast, so we have to get there very early in the morning. So my friends are coming over Wednesday to spend the night.

Wednesday is my busiest day of the week. I have Bible study in the morning, then lunch with my stitching group, then the group does a stitch-and-bitch in a needlework shop till four. Two of my State Fair buddies are in the group.

I am a member of the Northwest Coin Club, I joined because one of the running characters in the Betsy Devonshire series collects coins. And somehow one of the members, who is elderly and getting frail, persuaded me to take over the newsletter. We meet the second Thursday of the month. And somehow I failed to see that day after tomorrow is the first of September – and the first Thursday. The newsletter, which I have been shilly-shallying over, is due to go in the mail that day. Which means, because we are not going to be home Thursday, I have to get it out by tomorrow. So I have a LOT on my plate today.

And today we are scheduled to have our carpets cleaned.

I better get to it.

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Be The Help

We had a very successful signing at Kate Birkel’s The Mystery Bookstore in Omaha this past Saturday. Kate had set out chairs for her customers, who all came at once, so I had to give a talk, and it got rather rambling since I hadn’t come prepared. But we sold a lot of books, including a set of my first series, written as Mary Monica Pulver, featuring Det. Sgt. Peter Brichter and his horse-breeder wife, Kori. Kate is going to close her store, probably late this year, which is sad. But, like me, she’s getting older and the work doesn’t get any easier.

A very strange thing happened on our drive home Saturday from Omaha.  We were on I-35 somewhere near the Iowa – Minnesota border (I don’t know on which side) when we saw this broad cloud formation ahead.  The sun had long set, but the sky was still blue and this formation was dead black.  It was miles across and piled high with cumulus clouds, like black mashed potatoes.  There was no lightning inside it, but we thought there was rain along the bottom in places.  We drove and drove, and never seemed to get any closer to this formation, and began to realize it was really big.  We drove and drove some more, and I noticed there was light coming out of the bottom, as if there were houses with lights on under it – it at first seemed to be right down on the ground, but then it was seen to be only close to it.  Closer and closer we came and yet not coming up on it, it was strange, beyond strange, like an optical illusion. Scary. And HUGE.  “The Gates of Mordor,” remarked Ellen.  Towering high and higher, it seemed to mark the border between the clear weather on our side of it and horrible storms on the other.  But why the glowing light?  It got to be ridiculous, how we came closer and closer yet couldn’t get right up to it. It may have been moving north though it didn’t seem to be moving, nor were the piles of cloud changing shape. Then I noticed it was changing. It wasn’t as far from side to side, and the dead black of it was softening to a very dark gray.  We finally – finally! – got up to it and saw that it was indeed low to the ground, perhaps a couple hundred feet up if that, and thinning fast.  And it was narrow, very narrow, the light showing under it was from the sky on the other side of it. Under it at last, I looked up and saw it was a thinning dark gray. As we emerged, I saw the sky was dark off to the east and it suddenly began to rain, but not hard and not for long. The rest of the sky to the north and west was the same dimming blue as on the south side.

I have never seen anything like it.  It wasn’t a wall cloud, we encountered one of those on our way to Bismarck a couple of years ago and that didn’t look anything like this and it led to unbelievable downpours.  This? Meh.

So what was it?  Was it a metaphor? An omen?  A lesson of some sort? Maybe the lesson was, “Fear knocked on the door; I opened it and no one was there.”  This thing was eerie, even scary, but ultimately harmless.

Some good news and another lesson: A collection of boat-owning volunteers in southern Louisiana called the ”Cajun Navy” has been rescuing people and transporting supplies in the flooded areas, using Facebook to coordinate their efforts. As one said, “In South Louisiana, we don’t wait for help, we are the help.” Well, God bless them and may we act the same if we find ourselves in a similar fix!

I have signed up to be an election judge this November. I’ve done it before, and it’s interesting, important work, though it makes for a very, very long day, all done by volunteers. This will be, I think, an historic election with a big turnout, and your precinct may need extra volunteers. Please consider it.

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Tempus Fugit

We’re going to Omaha the end of this week, will spend one day exploring the aircraft museum there and then Saturday from 3 pm we’ll be at The Mystery Bookstore, 1422 South 13th Street, gabbing with the owner Kate and customers, signing books, and eating Oreo cookies, which I’m bringing as a treat. Drop by if you’re in the area.

The signing at Excelsior Bay Books went extremely well this past Saturday. A customer came in and told me her grandparents bought land around Thunder Lake in Cass County – the setting for my novel Buttons and Bones – and that she actually knew the location of the log cabin I used, having seen the tall pine tree next to it that a pair of bald eagles nest in every year. You’d think after having experienced such “small world” stories all my life I’d not be surprised at another, but I was blown away at this one. As usual.

Our State Fair begins in less than ten days, a marker for the end of summer. Where did the time go? I haven’t even worn all my summer clothing and it’s time to review my fall wardrobe. The only thing moving slow right now is the story of Rafael and Godwin’s wedding. And even it is picking up the pace.

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Had a wonderful adventure Sunday. The man who would be the producer of the movie version of my novel Knight Fall (Murder at the War in hardcover) drove down with Ellen and me to scout a site for it to be filmed. It’s a Boy Scout Camp called Gamehaven and it’s near Rochester, Minnesota, and a really big piece of rolling land (over 100 acres). It’s got a variety of woods (pine, mixed deciduous, oak), meadows, marsh, a little river and a beautiful lake. The Society for Creative Anachronism, about which the movie is to be made, has used the site for events for several years, so Boy Scouts of America know what they’re like. What’s more, the management of Gamehaven is excited at the prospect of a group of film-makers – even just a small company of locals – coming to make a movie.

The weather was perfect, warm and sunny with low humidity and not many bugs. They drove us all over the place, pointing out small and large campsites, a couple of steep dropoffs (maybe one is suitable for the scene where five men on top hold off several dozen trying to pry them loose), and angles from which nothing of the twenty-first century can be seen. It was interesting to see with new eyes, to realize that this place would make a good place for King William to give his pre-battle speech, that over there we might hang tapestries and turn a pavilion into the place where the kings could hold court, that this little clearing would perhaps be the spot the little group from Appleby could set up camp. One almost wanted to do that thing of holding up one’s hands palms forward and thumbs touching to frame a scene. So it seems we have a good site. We already have a good script, an excellent director (well, almost; he’s interested but hasn’t committed), the nucleus of a crew, and a producer. We’re thinking of actors to invite to audition. All we’re really lacking is the money, which is, of course, a very serious problem. Maybe I should buy a lottery ticket?

If any of you reading this are interested in the plot, see if you can find a copy of the book, which was published under the name Mary Monica Pulver.

Meanwhile, I am doing the second signing for Knit Your Own Murder at one pm, Saturday, August 13, at Excelsior Bay Books on Water Street in Excelsior.

On Saturday the 20th I’ll be at The Mystery Bookstore in Omaha, Nebraska, at 3 pm.

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