Wednesday, September 28, 2011

"Done Up The Work"

Done up the work. So many of Mom's entries in her diary during her 17th year began with those words.
This morning, as I was sweeping, dusting and vacuuming, I thought about her words and wondered just exactly what they meant. Did she dust and sweep every morning? Or did the work include other household chores?

This is a picture of Mom's beautiful green leather diary - a gift from her parents for Christmas, 1935. I wonder what a diary like this cost - especially with her name embossed in gold? Did Lois and Evelyn (her sisters) receive diaries, also?
Were theirs different colors? Do some of their kids still have theirs?

Mom's oldest photo album has many pictures all the same size of friends and relatives. They remind me of the 'photo booth' pictures which took eight pictures for a quarter.
There's no date on this picture of Ruth V. Ridnour, but it is obviously of her around sixteen or seventeen years.

The diary entry for September 27, 1936 reads: "Lois Hess was down for dinner. Sure had a nice time."

And here is a picture of Lois Hess. The following year, she married Delbert Garret. I don't remember hearing their names while I was growing up, so I wonder if they moved away and didn't stay in touch.

Continuing the entry: "Had a date with Clare Anderson in Marvin E's Shivey sport Roadster. Marvin had Bunny Lowers." (Another name I never heard.)
This photo from Flickr is of a 1934 Chevy Sport Roadster. Pretty snazzy automobile. I presume Mom and Clare had to ride in the rumble seat.

And just so we know what the owner of that fancy car looked like, here is a photo of Marvin Egleston strumming a guitar. I do remember Mom talking about him, but don't remember who he married or where they lived in later years.

Another one of those photo booth pictures? This one of Irvin Miller. Irvin and his brother, Howard were neighborhood boys. I know Howard lived near New Market in later years. Not sure what happened to Irvin. (Guess I'll have to read more of the old Adams County Free Presses online.)
(Irvin figures in the September 30 diary entry.)

Mom had several dates with Clare (Swede) Anderson in September and October, but by November she was dating Louis L. Lynam and her sister, Lois, had a date or two with Swede. On November 19, Louis asked Ruth to go steady.
This picture of Dad was taken on his 18th birthday. His car wasn't a sporty model like Marvin's, but it held more people.
This entry from September 30: "Date with Lewis* Lynam, I.M., T.M., D.B. & Lois. We kids were coming home. Hit a bump at Bill Williams'. Irvin was asleep. He hit the top; was knocked unconscious."

I love reading her diary entries, trying to match up pictures with names and then learning more about the people in the old newspapers of the day. It is much more fun than "doing up the work."

* Dad's name was often spelled Lewis, but Louis was the correct spelling.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

"It's About The Lies We Tell...."

"It's about the lies we tell others to protect them, and about the lies we tell ourselves in order not to acknowledge what we can't bear: that we are alive, for instance, and eating lunch, while bombs are falling, and refugees are crammed into camps, and the news comes toward us every hour of the day. And what, in the end, do we do?" - Sarah Blake in her 'The Story Behind the Story' at the end of her book, The Postmistress.
I went in search of some new books and/or new authors to read. I found them online via the Beaverdale Books, Book Reviews. Beaverdale Books is an independent book store in Des Moines. I have yet to visit it in person, but I know I am going to love it when I do.
One of the authors reviewed that I thought sounded worth checking into was Sarah Blake. Luckily, our library had both books she has written. Her first novel, Grange House, takes place in the late 1890's on the coast of Maine. Not only is it written with the details and customs of that era, it is convincingly written with the language of that time.
"Every summer Maisie Thomas has come with her parents to Grange House, a hotel on the coast of Maine overseen by the elegant and inscrutable Miss Grange, who resides in the topmost story. The enormous house always thrilled Maisie, appearing to her like something from old novels. But in the summer of 1896, the seventeen-year-old Maisie arrives restless and longing for her life's story to be different from those she has found between the covers of many books. As if in answer, the secrets of Grange House and its attic inhabitant begin to wrest free of their silence."
The novel is part family saga, part ghost story, part love story - all elements that would normally keep me reading. However, it was Blake's beautiful prose which kept me reading until the end of the book. Whether it was the story itself, or the ponderousness of the language, this book did not excite me as did her second novel:

The Postmistress. This book is one I want to say to everyone, "You have to read this book. It is so good. You just have to read it." Not only does Blake's beautiful prose shine throughout the novel, it is so thought provoking that at the end I was left asking, "What can I do?" It is the type of book that always made me wish I could write - that I could affect others as Blake affects me in this WWII novel.
"It is 1940. France has fallen. Bombs are dropping on London. And President Roosevelt is promising he won't send our boys to fight in "foreign wars."
But American radio gal Frankie Bard, the first woman to report from the Blitz in London, wants nothing more than to bring the war home. Frankie's radio dispatches crackle across the Atlantic Ocean, imploring listeners to pay attention - as the Nazis bomb London nightly, and Jewish refugees stream across Europe. Frankie is convinced that if she can just get the right story, it will wake Americans to action and they will join the fight."
Again, it is most likely the subject matter which makes this book so much more interesting for me. Even though its action takes place 70 years ago - and two years before my birth - the era of World War II always resonates with me.
The stories of announcer Frankie Bard, Cape Cod postmistress, Iris James, and Emma Fitch, the young wife of Dr. Will Fitch, weave together to give a most convincing portrait of what it meant to live through the horrors and deprivations of that time. It makes me want to read more about Mary Marvin Breckinridge and Martha Gellhorn.

Kim Edwards won acclaim for The Memory Keeper's Daughter and rightly so. I read the book and found it captivating. But, again, probably because of the setting and characters, I liked Edwards's, The Lake of Dreams, even better.
Lucy Jarrett returns to her home in the Finger Lakes region of upper New York after her mother is injured in an accident. She realizes how much things have changed while she has been away. Her mother is considering selling the lake home that has been in the family for generations. Lucy is haunted by the drowning death of her father, still feeling guilty about her actions the night he died a decade before.
Unable to sleep, she paces the hallways of the rambling house, discovering inside a locked window seat (she inherited the family ability to open locks) a collection of suffragette pamphlets and news clippings which lead her to the discovery of hidden family history.
I thought Edwards characters were very believable and her handling of family jealousies and squabbles rang true. And family history and its discovery is a passion of mine.

Another book review I read in the Beaverdale Books site was My Name Is Memory by Ann Brashares - the author of The Sisterhood Of The Traveling Pants - none of which I've read. But the premise of living more than one life - and remembering those lives - is something I have long been interested in.
The book jumps from present time all the way back through centuries as Daniel keeps trying to reconnect to his one true love, Sophia, or Lucy, as she is named in the present lifetime. He has the ability to remember all his lives, while she does not, which makes it hard for him to convince her they are meant to be together. To complicate matters, Sophia/Lucy was once married to his brother, a mean, revengeful type, who is also looking for Lucy through their many lives.
I have read other previous lives books which I liked much more than this one. If you read one of these four novels, it should be The Postmistress.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

50th High School Class Reunion

Thursday evening, September 15, nearly half of the members of the class of '61 gathered for a reunion dinner. The majority of us still live in the Midwest, but Linda Miller came from Massachusetts and Gary Kuhn came from Texas. Len Bauer, Ed Stroud and Marcy Avaux Stroud arrived from California. Janet Goldsmith and Allen Roberts came from Washington and Barb Beemer flew in from Australia. When you consider that one-fourth of our class has already passed on, our turn-out was really closer to seventy-five percent. A good showing!

Three classmates attended all twelve years together, beginning in first grade at Spaulding # 1 rural school all the way through four years and graduation at Corning High School. Pictured here before her quilt are Bonnie Harvey, Ed Stroud and Doris Johnson.
The quilt was a graduation gift from Bonnie's sister. Unbeknownst to Bonnie, she had all of the girls in the senior class sign a pieced sail boat quilt block which she then embroidered and set into a sea of blue. It was a nice surprise gift for Bonnie's graduation and a lovely memento for our reunion.

Our Sophomore English teacher, Neal Brown, was the guest of honor at our dinner. Phyllis Costin (pink jacket) introduced him, commenting that he had also taught some second generation children of ours. Mr. Brown regaled us with the entire Shakespeare "Friends, Romans, Countrymen" speech which we had to memorize in his class.

It has become a tradition for the 50th reunion class to ride in the Homecoming Parade. Here we are clapping and singing the school song: "We're loyal to you Corning High. We'll always be true Corning High....." It was fun riding down main street waving to everyone gathered to watch.

There were some tense moments waiting in line for the parade to begin when it was discovered one of the lowboy tires was almost flat. Thanks to small town cooperation, a service truck was quickly located and the tire was pumped up just in time.

One of the neat (neat was cool back then) things reunion organizers did for us was to make name badges using our senior pictures. You can kinda' see what Wayne Orstad, Marvin Jacobs and Chuck Zimmerman looked like 'back then'.

Don't you just know Ed Stroud and (Harrison) J Means are remembering winning the State Class A 440 Relay their senior year? Corning was defending the title having also won the previous year. These pictures are from the Friday evening social. Not everyone attended all the reunion activities, but it was fun to see old classmates at at least one of the gatherings.

Many of us have attended reunions in the past, but for some, like my friend Donna, this was the first time they had come back since graduation. I had told her how different the reunions the last several years were from our high school days - there were no longer 'cliques' - everyone talked with everyone else. Some of us look much the same; some have gray or white hair; some have had health problems and some haven't.

Left to right in this picture, Doris Johnson, Bonnie Harvey, Donna Hall and Linda Miller. Over Linda's shoulder is Joyce Helvie. She surprised me by telling me I was one of the ones she really wanted to see. "Do you remember after I moved to Hastings and didn't know anyone?" she asked me. "You wrote to me every week." Wow, another memory I had forgotten.

There were a lot of memories shared during these four days. We had fun swapping our stories. We remembered our class members who are gone. We thought of those still alive, but unable to attend the 50th. We said, "See you in five years", with our fingers crossed.

We celebrated being the CHS Class of '61.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Who Doesn't Love A Mystery?

One afternoon several years ago, I was in the Corning Public Library when a group of women came out of the meeting room. They were all chatting about books and checking out books.
I asked one of the Librarians about them. "Oh, they're the Adults Reading Club," she told me. "They meet the first Tuesday of every month at 2 p.m. Anyone can come."

And that is how I started attending this very informal reading group. I learned that they had tried all reading the same book and then discussing it, but that what worked best for them was to read whatever they wanted to and then talk briefly about what they were reading and why they liked or didn't like the book. Discussion was always fun when several people had read a book (or an author) and had differing opinions.
One of the things I remember from this group was a woman who said: "I'll read anything as long as it isn't a mystery." "What? Does she have any idea what she's missing out on?", I wondered. I can't even imagine my reading life without the enjoyment of a good mystery. And in this stack pictured of my most recent reads, there were some really good mysteries.

Let's begin with the two Louise Penny books - #'s 5 & 6 in the CI Armand Gamache series: The Brutal Telling begins with two friends sitting before the fireplace in a cabin hidden deep in the woods of Quebec. One is telling an old tale of people fleeing from slaughter and destruction. It is an old story - a myth told and repeated and embellished over and over around fires just like theirs. It was a story, nothing more, but it seemed like more than that. Especially when the old hermit so clearly believed in it. "It's coming. It won't be long now." "Chaos." "Chaos is coming, old son, and there's no stopping it. It's taken a long time, but it's finally here."

"With those words the peace of Three Pines is shattered. As families prepare to head back to the city and children say goodbye to summer, a stranger is found murdered in the village bistro and antiques store. Once again, Chief Inspector Gamache and his team are called in to strip back layers of lies, exposing both treasures and rancid secrets buried in the wilderness." (From the inside cover of the book jacket.)

I just met Gamache in Penny's first novel, Still Life, and immediately fell in love with him, his investigative team and the inhabitants of Three Pines. I just wish our library had all of Penny's books instead of just three. And while I missed reading, #'s 2, 3 & 4, it was no problem picking up the relationships between the villagers in this book. The surprise was when one of those main characters was arrested for the murder of the stranger - a man all of them denied knowing.

I am glad the library did have the next in the series, Bury Your Dead, because while it does have a completely new mystery not set in Three Pines, it does find Gamache sending his second in command, Inspector Jean-Guy Beauvoir, back to the village to unofficially re-open the case. He feels he made a mistake and it wasn't the only mistake he made.

Gamache and Beauvoir are both on recuperative leave. Gamache keeps reliving his mistake in judgment which got four of his team killed and nearly ended his own life. He can't keep Agent Paul Morin's words out of his mind. These memories interspersed throughout the novel inform us just what happened to get Morin and the others killed.
The Chief Inspector has retreated to Quebec City and the home of his mentor in order to heal physically and mentally. His days are spent quietly in the Literary and Historical Library. Not until a murder occurs in the basement of this very old building does Gamache begin to come alive again.

Penny's writing is superb - not just for the mysteries, but for the historical settings and the vast knowledge she presents about her native country. I had previously had my interest piqued by Kathy Reich's books; now more than ever, I would like to visit Canada.

Behind the Scenes at the Museum is Kate Atkinson's first novel and the 1995 Whitbread Book of the Year Award winner. "Ruby Lennox begins narrating her own life at the moment of conception and from there takes the reader on a whirlwind tour of the twentieth century as seen through the eyes of a girl determined to learn more about her family and the secrets it keeps." (From the back cover of the book.)

Ruby is part of a middle class English family living in York. By interspersing flashbacks with the story of Ruby's life, we also meet four generations of women from Ruby's great grandmother on down and see how their lives affected hers. At times it was a bit hard to keep everyone straight, but their stories were all interesting. And while there was no sign of P.I. Jackson Brodie in this first Atkinson book, I still very much enjoyed her writing.

I read The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson upon the recommendation of my daughter, Kari. When she asked me what I thought of it, I told her I was surprised it wasn't scarier - or thicker. (It is a very thin little book.) The book was published in 1959 and was a finalist for the National Book Award. It is considered one of the best literary ghost stories published during the twentieth century.

I always feel like I've missed something when other readers I highly regard recommend books that I don't feel as inclined toward. What did they see in it that I didn't? Should I go back and read the book again? Yet other recommends from those same people I find fantastic - love the books and the authors.

There was a 1963 movie (The Haunting) made from this book starring Clare Bloom, Julie Harris, Russ Tamblyn and Richard Johnson. I do not remember seeing the movie, yet when I look at its promo poster online, I feel some of the suspense and fear I did not feel while reading the book, so maybe I did see it. Please do not dismiss this book because of me. Read Kari's excellent review at and then decide.

Nancy Pickard continues her Marie Lightfoot series in Ring of Truth. Once again Lightfoot is authoring a true crime book - this time about a minister and his lover who have been tried for the murder of his wife. Pickard's mysteries have so many layers as Lightfoot tries to discover the whys and not just the who's. Our library does not have the final book of this trilogy. I'll have to search it out elsewhere.

Who doesn't love a mystery? Not me. I love them for sure.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

From Introvert to Extravert and Back Again

....or how I went from being a shy child to being able to talk to anyone.....

I can still remember how shy I was as a very young child. If someone tried talking to me, I would hide behind my mother's skirt. If I was with a group of kids I didn't know, I would hang back and watch them play.
Maybe shyness has nothing to do with being introverted, as one website states, but I think it did contribute to my preference for being alone.
It was the shyness I had to overcome when I joined the working world after high school graduation. My first job was as secretary/receptionist/bookkeeper in an insurance agency in my hometown. I went from only having to talk in class if I was called upon or raised my hand, to having to greet and talk to anyone who came through the door at work. At first I was only able to "talk about the weather". Eventually, I gained some poise and could converse on more subjects.
I was most comfortable with farmers who came in wearing their overalls or jeans. Insurance company representatives or claims adjusters in suits intimidated me until the time I convinced an adjuster to pay a claim he had originally turned down. One of our policy holders had turned in a claim for a cow killed by lightning. The adjuster didn't think that was the cause of death. I told him the farmer knew more about how a cow died than he did - at least "my Dad can always tell if a cow has been killed by lightning, or bloated or died from old age." The adjuster decided to pay the claim. After that, it wasn't so hard for me to talk to the 'suits'.
This picture of me was taken outside that insurance agency office in the fall of 1961. Note the football schedule in the window behind me. I don't know if the black scarf was some kind of fashion statement, but I remember those boots. I loved them; wore them until they fell apart; remember how they laced up the back. I think I was watching the homecoming parade. Friday I will be in that parade - on the float with other classmates as we celebrate the 50th anniversary of our graduation.

So, I got over my shyness and entered a new comfort zone dealing with people in a small town. I might have stayed at that level if a life change hadn't propelled me across the state to a new job and into a position where I knew absolutely no one.
(This picture was taken by my boss at that new job. Had I known what an eccentric person he was and the scary situation I had gotten myself into........but that's another story for another day.)

I had learned to talk to people one-on-one, but I still had a fear of talking before a group. Taking a first year Speech class at Kirkwood Community College helped me get over that. Which was a good thing because future job changes would find me giving talks before large groups.

I became a reader of self-help books - one of which was Barbara Walters' How To Talk To Anyone About Practically Anything published in 1970. Thanks to her, I wasn't afraid to approach Dick Van Dyke and visit with him while asking for an autograph for the friends I was with. I wasn't afraid of the belligerent boss I had to interview for the company newsletter. And I was able to relax and socialize with the president of the Chicago office of Burson-Marsteller - one of the largest ad agencies in the country at that time.

I overcame my shyness. I was extroverted when it was necessary. I even enjoyed large social gatherings, community activities, political gatherings and company conventions. But now that I no longer have to meet and greet as part of the business world, I can once again enjoy being the person I have always been - someone concerned with the inner workings of the mind, someone who enjoys thinking, exploring their thoughts and feelings, someone who needs to be alone in order to recharge - the introvert.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Coat of Many Colors

"Back through the years I go wandering again, back to the seasons of my youth. I recall a box of rags someone gave us and how my momma put those rags to use. There were rags of many colors, every piece was small and I didn't have a coat and it was way down in the fall. Momma sewed the rags together, sewin' every piece with love; she made my coat of many colors that I was so proud of.

As she sewed, she told a story from the Bible. ("Now Israel loved Joseph more than all his children , because he was the son of his old age: and he made him a coat of many colors.") [Genesis 37:3] She had read about a coat of many colors Joseph wore and then she said, perhaps this coat will bring you good luck and happiness. And I just couldn't wait to wear it and momma blessed it with a kiss.

My coat of many colors that my momma made for me, made only from rags, but I wore it so proudly. Although we had no money, I was rich as I could be in my coat of many colors my momma made for me."

My momma was probably just as thrifty as Dolly Parton's momma was, though my coat of many colors wasn't stitched from rags. And it wasn't an outer garment, but a housecoat made from some very colorful, very inexpensive material. The material was such a good deal that Mom bought the remainder of the bolt without knowing for certain what she would do with it. It became housecoats for both of us with enough left over for some pillow covers.

I know this was around 1970 because I have a picture she took of a very pregnant me wearing the housecoat shortly before Preston was born in 1971. My coat of many colors is still as good as new. I never wore it much - the colors were a bit bold for my taste - but I could never part with it because it was one of the last clothing items Mom made for me. Her matching housecoat was one of the garments I saved after her death. If any of the granddaughters or great-granddaughters want it, I would gladly give it to them.

"So with patches on my britches, holes in both my shoes, in my coat of many colors, I hurried off to school just to find the others laughing and making fun of me in my coat of many colors my momma made for me. And oh I couldn't understand it for I felt I was rich and I told them of the love my momma sewed in every stitch. And I told 'em all the story momma told me while she sewed and how my coat of many colors was worth more than all their clothes.

But they didn't understand it and I tried to make them see that one is only poor only if they choose to be. Now I know we had no money, but I was rich as I could be in my coat of many colors my momma made for me - made just for me." (Dolly Parton)

I have admired Dolly Parton for so many years. I don't think there is a single song of hers that I don't like. Coat of Many Colors is just one of the ones that reminds me of my own childhood and my own dear momma and the coat she made for me.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Psychology - "You Know Better"

This picture of myself on the left, my sister, Betty, and little brother, Leslie, could illustrate so many different memories - only one of which is the way we used to dress him up and then act out "plays". (No need to comment upon the subject matter of this one.)

However, I am using this picture because it shows me around the age I was when I heard my teacher say, "Ramona, you know better than that!". Or maybe it was "You should have known better", there are several variations on the theme of doing something wrong when we obviously knew what was right.

Spelling and reading were two of my favourite subjects. Spelling and reading just happened to be the two subjects for which annual county-wide contests were held. They began with several country schools getting together to compete in order to determine first and second place winners who would go on to vie for county champion.

I have no exact memory of the reading contests, nor of any of the other spelling contests - just the one when I was in 8th grade. It was my last chance to beat all the other Jasper township kids and advance to Corning for the finals. I was feeling pretty confident - after all, I was in 8th grade and had plenty of experience. My teacher, Mrs. Kimball, had been helping me prepare for the contest with longer and more difficult spelling lists. She thought I had a very good chance, also.

We met with three other Jasper schools - #3, #4 and #5 (our school was #2) - for the spell down. I was doing great until I was given the word psychology. I believe I spelled it something like
p-h-y-s-o-c-o-l-g-y. Whatever, it was wrong. I wasn't going to be in the county finals. Seventh grader, Connie Septer from Jasper #4, advanced and went on to win second-place county-wide. Larry Palma from the Prescott area was the champion that year.

Mrs. Kimball didn't say anything to me at the spell down. She knew how disappointed I was in myself. She didn't add to my embarrassment in front of the other students. I think our contest was on Friday and she didn't even say anything until the following Monday when she had me spell psychology to her in the relative privacy of our own school. I spelled it correctly, of course, which is when she said, "You knew better" regarding my fiasco.

As I look back at this memory from the advantage of some fifty-five years experience, I find it ironic that the definition of my misspelled word is: "the science of behavior and mental processes". Did my own smug complacence about winning trip me up? Or did I crack under the pressure of competition?

Perhaps just worrying about how to spell a word was enough to cause my failure that day. I never participated in any more spelling bees, contests or spell downs, but I maintained my good spelling mantle, many times being asked by others "how do you spell......?". It has only been the last two or three years that I have noticed my spelling prowess decreasing. I no longer worry about how to spell psychology, but I do wonder and worry whether not remembering how to spell a word is an early sign of dementia.

P-s-y-c-h-o-l-o-g-y: the science of mental processes.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Reading for Comprehension

From my days at Jasper # 2, I remember an exercise called "Reading for Comprehension". It was not one of my favourites. I was (and still am) a slow reader. I think some of the reading for comprehension activities were less stressful - more an assignment to read a chapter and then discuss with the teacher what it was about.
The exercises I felt anxious about were the timed tests. We were given a page or two to read within an allotted time and then a test over the material we had just read to determine how much we had comprehended. Comprehended: Understood (and remembered).
Perhaps if I had carried the reading for comprehension principles into my later reading life, I would be a better writer. i.e. I would have picked up on the different writing techniques and devices and applied them to my own attempts. Instead, I do the same as Carl V admits in his comments on my daughter's Bookishdark blog: "I usually get so wrapped up in the book that I am not even paying attention to the clues, just wondering and being carried along by the story."*

All of the above as introduction for a writing device I did notice and appreciate in Nancy Pickard's The Whole Truth which I just finished reading. This novel is the first in a series featuring Marie Lightfoot, a true crime novelist. I liked Pickard's interweaving of her novel with chapters from her character's novel (a novel within a novel). It gave more depth and suspense to the mystery. It is not a typical whodunit, because we know from the very beginning who committed the murder - he has already been tried and convicted. It is the motive that's missing. It is Lightfoot's search for the motive and what she discovers that make this novel such a fascinating read.

I have previously read Nancy Pickard's The Scent of Rain and Lightning and The Virgin of Small Plains - both set in Kansas and both which I really enjoyed - and one or two of her Jenny Cain series, including I.O.U., which I was tepid about. I'm already into the second Marie Lightfoot novel - liking it as much as the first - and plan to read the third of this series if I can find it and any others Pickard writes. Maybe I should give the Jenny Cain series another try. Is it just that I like books set in Kansas and Florida better than ones set in New England? No, that's not true. It must be Jenny Cain I'm ambivalent about.

Fannie Flagg has to be one of the best "feel good" authors I've ever read. Her latest novel, I Still Dream About You, was perfect for a palate cleanser between mysteries. Former Miss Alabama winner, current 'over-the hill' real estate agent Maggie Fortenberry has decided today is the day she is ending her life. She has devised the perfect way to do it, tied up all her lose ends (given away her clothes and money, cleaned out her refrigerator and put clean sheets on the bed, had her leased car detailed and mailed the keys back to the dealership) and is finishing her "To Whom It May Concern" goodbye note when the phone rings. It is her friend Brenda calling to excitedly tell Maggie than she has front row tickets to see "The Whirling Dervishes". Maggie can't let Brenda down. She figures she can put off her suicide a couple more days.
Flagg's characters and writing style are so funny, yet true. I've enjoyed all her books so much and always feel positive and uplifted after finishing one.

Chief Inspector Armand Gamache thankfully has come into my life just in time - just when I was needing a new lovable CI. Louise Penny is a new author for me and I'm delighted to have found her. Still Life is the first novel featuring Chief Inspector Gamache of the Surete du Quebec. It won the Arthur Ellis Award for best first crime novel and four of the subsequent Gamache books have been Agatha Award winners. Penny is one of my new favourite authors. I can't wait to read all of her mysteries.

Delectable Mountains by Earlene Fowler is the twelfth book in the Benni Harper mystery series. I have not been able to read them all nor read them in order, but I always enjoy reading about Benni, her husband, Gabe, grandmother, Dove, and all the other characters who inhabit San Celina, CA.

The title of the book is also a quilt pattern dating as far back as the 1840's. It has a long tradition of being connected to John Bunyan's allegory Pilgrim's Progress (published in 1678). This quilt pattern is similar in design to Kansas Troubles and Indian Trail.

Cooked Goose is the fourth book of at least sixteen in the Savannah Reid mysteries by G. A. McKevett. (Sonja Massie's pseudonym) All the books have titles dealing with food; for instance: Just Desserts, Killer Calories, Sugar and Spite, Peaches and Screams, etc. I don't think I've read any other of McKevett's (or Massie's) books, though "Death by Chocolate" sounds familiar. (I'm probably thinking of one of the many cake and dessert recipes with that name.)
This was a quick little read and while I liked the title character, I most likely will not devote my reading time to this series unless I need a quick read or until I am out of my more favored authors.

* Carl V is the instigator of the annual RIP (Readers Imbibing Peril) reading challenge which occurs every fall from September 1 through October 31.) Kari enjoys this challenge very much and has invited me to join in. (Readers must read and review books that could be classified as: Mystery, Suspense, Thriller, Dark Fantasy, Gothic, Horror or Supernatural.) And while I read and write about some of those types of books, I don't think my reviews are up to the RIP standards. Nor are my blog design capabilities. But I'll think about it - maybe next year.