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The sifters came yesterday, a lovely group of Baptist volunteers from northern Texas. They prayed before getting started, which was nice, and diligently worked for a few hours, focusing on the areas where I thought they’d most likely find things. Sadly, they came up disappointingly short, being unable to find anything from my trunks or any remnants of the two antique rifles from ex-Pat’s family. I had no expectations for the search, only faint hope.

They found some very charred items from a silver tray that sat on one of the dressers, but no trace of the tray itself. They found the lid to a small porcelain dish that I think came from my grandmother. They found two china pomanders from my Mother that had been in K’s dresser drawers. One of the sifters shouted “Hold up your hands!” and threw one to me from about 20 feet away. Which I caught. Had I not caught it and had it broken, I’m pretty sure I’d have been pissed. I know one of the other volunteers (a lady) scolded him for taking the risk of the toss.

They also found the remnants of several pairs of handcuffs. Not something I felt compelled to explain. Though I did feel like they prayed extra hard for me once they finished sifting.

But their most precious find was a ring. A single stone with three smaller stones on each side. The stone looks blue to me in most lights, though MKL saw hints of pink and purple. The thing is…..I don’t know this ring. I had a costume ring when I was little that had a blue solitaire but no other stones. It burned up in the trunks. So this is not that ring. Had it been a diamond or even glass, it wouldn’t have survived the heat.

Curiously, it fits the third finger of my left hand perfectly. Like it was made for me. Ex-Pat only gave me one ring – my engagement/wedding ring, which I have. I have my great grandmother’s and grandmother’s engagement rings. I have my Mother’s wedding band. It is none of those. My Dad gave me an amethyst ring – it’s not that. It is truly a ring from the fire. Just as the Bungalow insisted that I put a ring on it before I moved out (which I did, and which the tenants have left hanging on its ceiling hook), I think my cozy first house has given me a ring to forever tie us together, to confirm our commitment even in its passing. So for now, I’m wearing it, above my current durable silicone wedding band, until I feel like I don’t need to anymore, which will happen.

I know that sounds a little crazy. I think I’m just a little crazier than usual these days.

I don’t know. But I feel that there are people I love waiting there – people and animals. And there were people waiting for all of those who arrived so suddenly yesterday. I imagine that when I get there, I’ll see something like this. Peaceful. Beautiful. Tranquil.

Somewhere over the sea.

Quote of the day: “As the rose-tree is composed of the sweetest flowers and the sharpest thorns, as the heavens are sometimes overcast—alternately tempestuous and serene—so is the life of man intermingled with hopes and fears, with joys and sorrows, with pleasure and pain.” — Edmund Burke

Daily gratitudes:
The concept of Bolivia
The man listening very intently to the pillar on the corner of 15th and Wynkoop
A little girl in the dancing waters
That Kelsea is (still) on her way home
How beautiful my cousin looks

To start this tale, I should tell you I’ve been sick. But sick in a balanced way. A kidney stone on the left and an ovarian cyst on the right. That’s me, always balanced. Pain on both sides. A post-bath collapse as I tried to feed the cat. A trip to the ER on a busy Friday night. Pills to kill the pain, pills to make me relax, pills to help me sleep. As many pills as a 92-year old woman. Enough of that. Now, I’m just going to get better, since medicine doesn’t seem to be doing the trick.

But perhaps cat treats will help.

The night after all the hoopla of pain, after my hero MKL had gone home, I crawled into bed and felt something hard. Upon further drugged investigation, I discovered a single cat treat – Purina Whisker Lickins, to be exact. I didn’t really think anything of it. I wasn’t really thinking anything about anything. And I slept. I think that was Sunday. I spent Monday on the couch with pain pills and a heating pad and my computer. When I got in bed on Monday night, I noticed that there was a lot of …. debris in the bed. Like crumbs. I often produce sand in my sleep (yes, it’s a thing), so I wasn’t really that concerned. I figured Mr. Man had tracked something in, since I hadn’t made the bed that morning.

Tuesday was another at-home-drugged-on-the-couch day, though this time I did make the bed before moving to the couch. When it was time to shift back to the bed, I again found the debris, and after sweeping it out and crawling in, I discovered another cat treat. I was puzzled, but still not too aware of my surroundings to be curious.

Let me say that Mr. Man does like to be in the bed, but he has consistently crawled between two of the comforters – never between the sheets. When I look everywhere for him and can’t find him, I know to look for a lump on the bed, and if I pet it and it’s warm, I trust that it’s Mr. Man. But he has not left my side since I got back from the ER.

So now we come to Wednesday. Another day at home. The bed made, and again kibble debris on Wednesday night. When I awoke this morning, I went to make the bed, and found three cat treats positioned neatly in a triangular shape on MKL’s side of the bed, near the pillow. And now I’m stumped.

I wondered if Mr. Man was somehow getting cat treats from the bag on the Boat Anchor and bringing them into the bed, but have ruled out that theory because:

1. He can’t reach the bags on the Boat Anchor

2. He doesn’t have opposable thumbs to open the bags, even if he could reach them

3. When he gets a treat, he wolfs it down completely as one watches.

He’s not one to squirrel things away.

Then I thought perhaps, horror of horrors, a mouse had made some kind of nest in the bed and was nibbling breakfast and saving lunch for later. So I have stripped the bed completely, and found no sign of rodent. If I had, I’d have had to burn the house down.

My next theory, which I have not ruled out, though no doubt most of you will, is that the house spirits are leaving treats for Mr. Man, as a way to help me out since I’ve been sick, making sure he’s taken care of. It’s possible.

My final theory is that I’m doing this. The sleeping pills I’m taking (and have been taking for a month or so) are ones that do not make people inclined to sleep-eat, sleep-drive, or sleep-murder (my doctor and I discussed this), but it does happen, and back in my college days, I had a tendency to sleepwalk. Is it possible that I am getting up at night and bringing Mr. Man cat treats? And further, was the unexplained extremely strange taste in my mouth of late evidence that I have been eating the cat treats? And all this in my sleep?

This would make me just about the best cat mom ever, and would assure future purchases of Listerine by the case if I ever want MKL to kiss me again.

So tonight, I have washed all the sheets and comforters. We’re starting fresh. I have woven a complex maze of my work badge lanyard around all the cat treats. I am about to drug my pain-ridden self and go to bed. If the treats are disturbed in the morning and there’s kibble in the bed, I’ll have my answer.

If not, perhaps I’ll fall back on my Mother’s explanation of “A man came in and did it.” (Kelsea uses that phrase now.)


My Mother died this night eight years ago, and I miss her beyond words. (Maybe she’s been feeding Mr. Man.)

A new year means a new list of books read! There’s never enough time for reading. This is what I made it through last year. I’ll keep this post up on the “Books” tab as well.  I know I’m missing some that I took to Anegada and Topsail, so if I find my notes about them, I’ll update this.

While I’m not very good at the typical reviews, I think you can tell what I liked and what I didn’t, so if it looks like I liked something, well, go read it, because it was wonderful! And ask if you have any questions.  Happy 2013 reading!


Dr. Mortimer and the Aldgate Mystery by Gerard Williams.  (223 pp.)  In the Holmes genre, this Victorian mystery was only fair. The plot was simple and complex at the same time, and didn’t feel fully developed. It was as if Williams thrust in too many characters and did not fully develop any of them.

Suck Your Stomach In and Put Some Color On! by Shellie Rushing Tomlinson (304 pp.) A Christmas gift from my 2-year old neice, this quick-to-laugh-at book takes me back through the carefully touched-up roots of my Southern upbringing.

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Ausen (272 pp.) The classic Jane Austen, it was tough to get through, but good. I wonder if I would have liked it as much had I not seen the movie (doesn’t that sound shallow?) It’s just that the language was a bit of a challenge. Ms. Austen did not stir my emotions like the Bronte sisters can.

Hearts and Bones by Margaret Lawrence (344 pp.)  A good, slightly frustrating romantic mystery set in Colonial Times.

An Opened Grave by L. Frank James (230 pp.) I love a good Sherlockiana book. And this was AWFUL. It was just….dumb. I don’t know how else to describe it. It was so far-fetched and foolish. I didn’t want to finish it but I did.

The Map of Time by Felix J. Palma (611 pp.) Wonderful! Can’t wait for the sequel. And the fact that it’s translated from Portuguese (I think), makes it even more amazing.

The God of the Hive by Laurie R. King (372 pp.) A continuation of a previous book, it felt like they were sort of stretching for money by making this into a second bood. Again, a bit of a frustrating read, though I generally like Laurie R. King.

Oscar Wilde and the Vampire Murders (366 pp.) I liked this. I love this series. A little more supernatural than the others, but still fun.

Murder on Astor Place by Victoria Thompson (278 pp.) I had read this years and years ago, but had forgotten, and I enjoyed reading it again. The first in the Sarah Brandt midwife mystery series.

More Information Than You Require by John Hodgman (656 pp.) I think this is the second John Hodgman book. I loved the first one. I didn’t really like this one. It just felt silly and repetitive of the first one. It was hard to finish and became a “bathroom book”.

The Egg and I by Betty MacDonald (287pp.) The true tale of a woman who moves west with her husband as he starts a chicken/egg farm. Somehow or other, this book is the inspiration for “The Egg and I” restaurant chain. I enjoyed it. It did reflect the mores of society of the time, and was very anti-feminist, slighly racist, and frankly, her husband seemed like a total ass-hat. But that was then. It was a great and entertaining glimpse into an era that’s now past.

The Lost Duchess of Greyden Castle by Nina Cooms Pykare (320 pp.) This was a classic mindless gothic novel with the woman running away from the castle with the light in the window cover art. Girl marries brooding man, threats are made on her life, they’re in a remote castle with a cray-cray family, and she’s sure it’s her husband who’s out to get her, but no…..

The Red House Mystery by A.A. Milne (239 pp.) This was fabulous. It was the only mystery ever written by A.A. Milne, the author of the Winnie-the-Pooh tales. It’s a shame it’s the only one he ever wrote, to please his father, who loved mysteries.

The Old Reliable by P.G. Wodehouse ( 217 pp.) Can you imagine? A P.G. Wodehouse I’ve never read? It’s true! MKL bought it for me. It was…ok. But even with it being just ok, it was a treat to read a new-to-me Wodehouse.

The Victoria Vanishes by Christopher Fowler (323 pp.) A Peculiar Crimes Unit series entry, I love this series — so creative and quirky. The books are surprisingly hard to find. But definitely on my list. You’ll like them if you like a little bit of modern English mystery fixed with sci-fantasy dribbles.

The Complaint of the Dove by Hannah March (266 pp.) I liked the hero in this one – an English tutor and pretty cool guy in a Georgian England setting.

The Dancing Star by Berta Ruck (337 pp.) Somehow or other, I got enveloped into WWI fiction novels this past fall, generally romantic triffles written by women with three names and a slightly feminist bent. While this was a two-name woman, she is my favorite of those I read. The writing was lyrical and felt new, as if woman writers had never expressed themselves this way before.

Silent in the Grave by Deanna Raybourn (509 pp.) I think this is Deanna Raybourn’s first novel. I liked it, but it felt slow and shallow for a long time, only picking up in the last 150 pages or so. But the plot was pretty good. I’d try her again.

Cocaine Blues by Kerry Greenwood (176 pp.) The first novel featuring Australian detective in the 1920’s Phryne Fisher, this was light, fluffy, fun with a risque rogue heroine.

The Distrubing Charm by Berta Ruck (179 pp.) Another WWI romance, and a wonderful one.

Still Life with Murder by P.B. Ryan (324 pp.)
Murder in Mill Town by P.B. Ryan (276 pp.)
Death on Beacon Hill by P.B. Ryan (276 pp.)
Murder on Black Friday by P.B. Ryan (244 pp.)
Murder in the North End by P.B. Ryan (288 pp.)
A Bucket of Ashes by P.B. Ryan (288 pp.) This series of P.B. Ryan books was probably my favorite historical mystery series that I’d read in years. Each book was great in itself, I LOVED the heroine, and at the end, the author wrapped the series up neatly. I was sorry there wouldn’t be more books, but super happy about the books in general.

Miss Million’s Maid by Berta Ruck (407 pp.) A fun WWI-era lovey romp.

A Wicked Wager by Anna Wylde (240 pp.) A romantic comdey-ish Georgian mystery.

A comfy corner in the Murder and Mayhem Bookstore in Hay-on-Wye, Wales

A comfy corner in the Murder and Mayhem Bookstore in Hay-on-Wye, Wales

Is it the sun? Or the moon?  You be the judge, because it’s whatever you think you see.  And I’ll never tell….

Boulder County, Colorado.

Quote of the Day: “The real lover is the man who can thrill you by kissing your forehead or smiling into your eyes or just staring into space.”  —  Marilyn Monroe

Daily gratitudes:
The way dogs’ jowls flap in the breeze when they stick their heads out of moving car windows
The lady so moved by the spirit of gospel that she was singing and dancing in her car this morning
How tolerant MKL is of ring shopping
A cooler day today

Time Playing On Wazee

Time unfolds before me in a flutter of silk,
Unwinds behind me in a sweep of rain,
Full, rich, nurturing
Soft, swift, sweet

A thread of sunlight creates shadow
Mingled with silence
As a silhouette pauses poised against
The metal exoskeleton of a wall
waiting for something.

My steps echo on the cavern of the street
Too early to be busy,
Too late to be so still.
A figure emerges from a dead alley,
Lights a cigarette,
His hat tilted rakishly over one eye,
Dark suit, spiffy shoes,
When did men stop wearing hats.

And the silence roars and laughs,
Chortles and moans.

Time holds sway with me,
Playing, taking me with it
As it plunges and traipses across this street
This morning
Until it settles, tremors finished,
back into place.


October 2022


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