“If I’ve told you once,” Papa Red Warty Thing said. “I’ve told you a dozen times not to stray so far. Look at you. You’re already at the end of your tendrils and into the road. When the tractor comes, you’ll be smashed flatter than a fritter!”
Turning toward his parents, Papa Red Warty Thing and Sweet Sugar Pie, unruly Harvest Jack huffed, “I’d rather be a fritter than bored to death, lying face up in the sun like my cousins, Baby Boo, Wee-be-Little, and Jack-be-Little. They never stray past the first twist in their vines.”
Harvest Jack’s pumpkin cousins gasped. Such disrespect! Such defiance! And with Halloween and Thanksgiving right around the corner. Unheard of in polite Cucurbita Pepo society! They turned away from the disobedient cultivar and buried their tendrils and stems beneath their prickly leaves.
“That child shall be the death of me yet,” Sweet Sugar Pie declared. “How does he ever expect to become a pumpkin pie acting like that? It’s your fault. Your ancestors never looked like the rest of us. They were always rebellious.”
Papa Red Warty Thing shivered. “If the lad doesn’t change his attitude, he’s likely to end up gutted, with an ugly smirk carved on his face.”
Sweet Sugar Pie waved her sticky leaves in dismay. “Don’t even think such a thing. My family has a proud history of becoming harvest pies for the past 72 generations. Grandma Sirius Star would roll over in her mulch if she heard of such a vulgar future for one of our clan. I know that some of the Rock Star and Howden crew across the field plan to be gutted and carved up. Some even look forward to lighted candles stuck where their innards used to be. That’s not the future I want for our boy.” A drop of morning dew trickled from her stem, down her rounded middle, and plopped into the dirt.
“Now. dear. Don’t carry on so. The season isn’t over yet. It’s just growing pains. I’m sure he’ll come to his senses when he matures a bit.”
Papa Red Warty Thing was wrong, for by now, Harvest Jack had wandered into the road and lay directly in the path of the giant tractor grinding its way down the road, swooping up all in its path, and dumping the unfortunate ones into a hopper to be carried off to an uncertain future. Sweet Sugar Pie shrieked, “It’s coming! Beware!”
Harvest Jack heard the engine and turned toward the sound. “Uh Oh!” The seeds in his belly shook in terror. Papa Red Warty Thing was right. He was about to be crunched into a fritter.
A raven swooped down and landed on his stem. “It serves you right for wandering into the road. Papa Red Warty Thing warned you.”
How he wished to be alongside little, white, cousin Baby-Boo, or little cousin Wee-be-Little’s tiny, orange body. Their future was assured. They would become cute little decorations, perched alongside a costumed vampire doll in the middle of a mantle, or maybe in a wheelbarrow surrounded by harvest leaves and acorns and a couple Rock Star or Howden’s. Even his distant cousin Lil’ Pumpkemon with his white body and orange stripes might end up on the front porch with his larger cousins.
Directly in the path of the tractor, Harvest Jack’s future was destined to be ground into pulp.
Suddenly, he heard guttural, humanoid sounds reverberating through his stem. Harvest Jack felt himself lifted and then felt the cool earth beneath his bottom. What happened? He was lying just inches from Papa Red Warty Thing and Sweet Sugar Pie. Somehow, he’d escaped the wheels of the tractor and was back in his own row of cultivar cousins. “Oh, Papa Red Warty Thing! You were right,” Harvest Jack cried. “I’ll never disobey again. I promise I’ll grow up and become a Harvest dinner pie, but… do I get to choose which kind of pie I want to be?”
“Of course you can, my dear,” Sweet Sugar Pie cooed, stretching her loving tendrils over her son. “Your great aunt was a pumpkin streusel pie with a gingersnap crust, and your great-grandfather was a pumpkin cheesecake.”
“Good! When I grow up, I want to be… let me think! I know just the thing. I want to be a cherry pie!”
Sweet Sugar Pie glared at Papa Red Warty Thing and shook her sticky leaves in anger.
“What’s wrong,” Harvest Jack cried. “You said I could choose what kind of Harvest pie I wanted to be.”
“My dear, you can’t be a cherry pie, because you’re a pumpkin.” Papa Red Warty Thing patiently explained.
Sweet Sugar Pie screamed. “According to today’s media, if the lad wants to be a cherry pie, then he’s a cherry pie! It’s your fault, Papa Red Warty Thing. You were always too lenient with the lad!”
Jenny’s shrieks followed Tom as he skipped down the sidewalk to his 57’souped-up T-bird parked at the curb. Like many times before, when his girlfriend’s grew tiresome, he’d walk away. Women were like shoes. When the shine wore off, you got a new pair. Women always expected commitment and Tom wasn’t the committing type.
Tom checked his rear-view mirror as he ran his hands through his carrot-red hair. Not to worry. He’d have another girlfriend within the week. He stomped the gas and sped away.
Jenny clutched her black cat to her breast, “I should never have allowed myself to care so much.” A brown Maltese, a golden-eyed, pure white cat, and a tan blue-eyed beauty with Asian ancestry, hunkered nearby, commiserating with her sorrow.
Reflections from the high window bounced off Jenny’s wine glass and cast a rainbow across the far wall. She took a sip and lifted her head. “Lord knows, an orange one won’t make me feel any better, however…” A faint smile twitched her lips. “On the other hand, perhaps an orange one is just what I need.”
The black longhaired cat in her lap gazed into her eyes and yawned. “Come on, guys, let’s get a snack. Then, I’ll go shopping.” Her feline menagerie followed her to the kitchen.
Jenny gazed at the four cats hunkered around a pile of Friskies like four spokes of a wheel; black, brown, white and tan. Didn’t Tom have a lunch meeting today at a little restaurant on Main Street? Jenny whispered. “Let the games begin.”
Jenny lifted a dusty box from a garage top shelf and removed a black hat sporting a long black feather. She ran her fingers over its velvety texture, from nib to tip. “This will do nicely.” Dust rose from the feather and disappeared in a wisp of breeze.
In her closet, she found a black pantsuit. The height of 1980’s fashion with shoulder pads in the jacket and bellbottom pants. She shook the wrinkles from the jacket and frowned at the tiny moth hole in the left sleeve. Had it been that long since she got the last one? She could have sworn it was just a couple years before. It was definitely time for a new one.
Jenny donned the pantsuit and the black feathered hat and topped off her ensemble with a bangle bracelet and a lion head medallion necklace. She nodded, satisfied with the image reflected in her hall mirror.
Jenny drove downtown and parked a half-block from Marvelous Marvin’s Magic Shop, next door to the restaurant where Tom was having lunch.
She stood outside the magic shop, staring at the items in the window. In a few minutes, Tom strode down the street, his head held high, his bright red hair blowing in the wind. He spotted Jenny just as she dashed into the magic shop. Once inside the door, eerie shrieks and squeals of organ music, enough to chill one’s soul, blared through an elaborate sound system.
Startled to see her there, Tom followed her into the store. “Jenny, is that you?”
Jenny hurried through the darkened aisles toward a dimly lit corner piled high with boxes, capes, and baskets heaped with assorted Halloween decorations and magician’s paraphernalia.
Tom followed her into the furthest dark corner, where the black light overhead reflected a neon aura off the logo on Magic Marvin’s Magic Shop black shopping bags.
Tom’s gaze followed the drifting feather on Jenny’s hat, caressed by the air conditioned breeze. “Jenny? Are you headed to a costume party?” His gaze stayed locked on the swaying feather.
“No,” Jenny whispered, “I was waiting for you.”
“For me? Don’t be tiresome. I told you… We have nothing more to talk about.”
“Oh, yes. I think we do.” She tapped her long red fingernail three times on the stack of black Marvelous Marvin’s Magic Shop bags and whispered, “Dinkle, Dinkle, Catzenwinkle.”
Tom disappeared. The top shopping bag now displayed the a vivid orange-striped cat with glowing eyes, staring wildly from its paper prison.
Jenny laid the bag on the counter. “I’ll take this one.” She paid and left the store.
Back home, Jenny poured another glass of wine, and filled a plate with crackers and cheese, and set the shopping on the floor. “Come my lovelies,” she cooed.
They came from under the table, from the top of the sofa, from under the bed, off the fireplace mantle, stretching and yawning. Like four spokes of a wheel, black, brown, white and tan, they circled the shopping bag decorated with the vivid face of the cat with glowing eyes.
Jenny sipped her wine and tossed each cat a bite of cheese, grasped the shopping bag and tipped it upside down, “This is Tom,” she said.
Out spilled a carrot-orange striped cat. He gazed wildly around the room, his big round eyes filled with horror… The four cats nibbled their cheese and glared at the newcomer with amusement.
“Tom has come to live with us. Welcome your new changeling companion.” Jenny tossed Tom a bite of cheese, folded the shopping bag and shoved it into the trash .
A Day at the Beach - Vidya Shergil
My friend, Vidya, grew up on the island of Fiji in the 1950’s. She attended a private girl’s high school. She is working on an autobiography. This is one of her memories and an essay she wrote about her experience.
For our annual hostel picnic, Miss Hodge, and the team, took us, by the bus loads, to Saweni Beach. Nothing like a day on the beach with 50 or so girls. We had only a few hours, but we made the most of it. Any amount of time by the ocean is a treat. The simple peanut butter and jelly sandwich, a banana, and water on the beach seemed like a gourmet feast.
Another time, they rented a flat-bottomed freight boat called a barge to ferry us across the shallow waters to a nearby island. Our music teacher played the tapes of ‘The Viennese Waltz’ for us. ‘The Blue Danube,’ which is the English title of a waltz by the Austrian Composer Johann Strauss, takes me to that trip every time I hear it.
Just imagine listening to those beautiful waltzes while gently gliding through calm and serene waters. Heavenly!
That island, like many others, is small, low lying park-like and generally not habitable because there is no fresh water source. If you try to drill a well you simply get salty sea water. But these islands are great for a day’s outing.
Again, we asked for and got the peanut butter and jelly sandwich, a banana and plenty of water. The sandwiches were made from thick slices of crusty, sourdough Fiji-bread.
In the few hours there, we were able to walk around, barefoot on the sandy island many times. It was practically all beach, but ringed by many coconut palm trees. After lunch, a bunch of us lay around under a cluster of these trees and snoozed away.
In one of my college English classes, we were asked to close our eyes, to visualize a special day from our childhood, and write about it in a timed assignment. I recalled those two high school picnic days on the island and here’s what I wrote:
SEA OF LIFE
When life’s hurried pace gets you off track and you feel caught up in a whirlwind of strife, what could be better than a leisurely stroll on a wide expanse of a sandy beach? Better still would be lying on that beach napping lazily as the sunbeams melt your cares away.
You slide into a delightfully hypnotic state, listening to the endless breaking of the waves on the shore, centered and completely at ease. It’s time to relish the fact that solitude is not synonymous with loneliness.
Intermittent sprays of briny mist coupled with sea-kissed breezes cool and soothe both mind and body as you watch the delicate swoops and dives of the seagulls, the living kites, playing out an improvised ballet on the coast below.
You sit up for a moment to gaze at the ocean, an implacable azure entity, heaving and recoiling tumultuously as if to flex its impressive muscles in arrogance. Surely, a subtle reminder from the mighty Neptune of our place in the hierarchy of things.
A day at the beach is all one needs for a renewed zest for life. The seemingly endless ocean could well be a testament to man’s mortality. A feeling that life needn’t be simply about existing, but rather about filling one’s sails with enough passion to successfully navigate the ups and downs of life’s temperamental seas.
Isn’t it fun to look back on the thoughts of a teenager raised in a different culture than our own? Perhaps I’ll publish some of her other experiences as a teenager in Fiji during the 1950s. (Elaine)
Rolling thunder drowned out the clanging church bells across the street. Lightning zig-zagged across the sky. Fear clutched my heart as Mother Nature crashed around me. Was this reality, or had I been caught up in a time warp that transported me to another place–magical, ethereal, and terrifying? Stay calm. It’s just a sudden summer storm. A torrent of water rushed down the Austrian cobbled street, threatening to overflow the gutters onto my feet. Were the bells warning of some disaster? Had war been declared? Had someone assassinated the President? Did Austria even have a President?
Cold spines of rain stung my face and bounced off the pavement onto my legs. Another clap of thunder and a flash of lightning made me jump. I pulled my sweater tighter around my chest and huddled closer to the wall beneath the narrow, striped canopy. And then a man stepped beneath the awning and tilted his umbrella over my head. “Do you wish to share my umbrella?”
“Thank you, how kind.” His presence soothed my fear. My pattering heart slowed. “The storm came up so quickly, it caught me quite unawares.”
“Sudden storms are not unexpected at this time of year.”
We stood side by side beneath the canopy, watching the ribbons of lightning zigzag across the afternoon sky, chatting about bells and clouds and weather. I tilted my head toward the church towers. “Why are they ringing the bells? Is there an emergency? The street is flooded.”
“The priests ring the bells to frighten the storm clouds toward the next village.”
I suppressed a smile, doubting that bells could drive away the clouds. “If that’s true, I’m sorry to say, it’s not working. It’s been raining buckets for twenty minutes.”
“Oh, it’s working fine.” A smile lit up his face. “But, the next village also rings their bells, and the storm clouds get confused, so they drift back here again. From village to village they drift. Soon they will find a quiet place where they can rest.”
I was pleasantly amused, but did not wish to dispute his quaint belief in the magical power of the bells. As we talked, we stood shoulder to shoulder. His scent comforted me–a woodsy manly scent, strong and secure.
A train whistle pierced the air. At the sound, he turned. “My train... I’m sorry, I must go. You will be alright?”
“I’ll be fine. Thank you for sharing your umbrella and for the secret of the bells.”
He caught my hand and lifted it to his lips. “It’s been a pleasure. I wish we had more time to… Good-bye.”
We looked deep into each other’s eyes and in those few seconds, as his lips brushed my fingertips, I was whirled through another time warp. In that instant, surrounded by the lightning and the chiming of the bells, it was as though we shared a lifetime together, infinite days and endless nights of love. I heard the blare of a hundred marching bands, saw the night sky explode in a fifty years of New Year’s Eve fireworks, felt the coolness of a thousand springtime rains, the color of a hundred rainbows, and an untold myriad of golden sunsets…
The rain stopped as he released my hand, waved a final farewell and strode toward the train. As he disappeared into the station, the blare of marching bands…became the tinkling bells around the cow’s necks in a nearby field. A final streak of lightning…replaced the image of fireworks in the night sky. The sun came out…and cast sparkling rainbows through the dewdrops dripping from the awning.
His scent lingered, but as I reached for the place where he had stood, the memory of his touch melted through my fingertips. I ran toward the station, “Wait! I don’t even know your name. Wait!”
The whistle blew and the train clacked down the track. The magic spell was broken. Was it a crack in time and space? Was it another lifetime of love that two strangers shared in those few moments, or was it just a dream caused by the magic of the bells and the storm clouds?
Years have passed. I’ve had the best life one could hope for–marriage, a satisfactory career, and children. But, every time I hear church bells, I close my eyes and remember a summer storm in a faraway land.
I am reminded of church bells echoing from mountaintop to mountaintop, as the storm clouds scramble from village to village in their frantic search for a silent, peaceful place. Finally, they drift onto a quiet hillside where the only sound is the tinkling of cow’s bells, as they amble across the meadows and disappear into the mist…. and I remember the man I loved who was only a dream.
If you enjoyed this story, please go to Amazon and look for my eight cozy mystery/adventures ($3.99 e-book) and an anthology of 'cat' stories ($2.99).
My husband, Leland, likes to tell one of his favorite adventures as a boy scout. In 1953, Leland was about eleven years old and lived in Satsop, Washington, with his uncle, Frank, the Scoutmaster for the local Boy Scout troop, That summer, the eleven Boy Scouts made a two-day trip into a nearby region to reforest a field with tree seedlings given to them by a local Forestry Agency.
The boys rode to the planting site in the back of the assistant Scout leader’s truck along with their camping gear and 3-4 flats of pine seedlings in little cups. They set up camp near a river and prepared for the project at hand.
First the restoration site had to be cleared of natural brush or branches, which was gathered and stacked on the far side of the planting site. Leland also remembers picking up litter, bottles, and refuse left by previous campers.
The Forestry Agency provided the scoutmaster written directions of exactly how the tree planting process should take place. The scoutmaster used pre-measured strings to measure approximately 15-20 feet and drove a stake into the ground to indicate where each seedling should be planted.
The scouts followed behind across the grassy field. Natural grass and weeds was cleared about 15” around each stake. This allowed the sunshine to warm the seedling and prevented weeds from encroaching. The scouts dug a hole with a hand spade and tapped in the seedling, then progressed to the next stake. Over the next two days, the scouts planted several hundred trees.
Prior to the trip, Leland’s Aunt Emma had made a batch of homemade root beer for the scouts’ camping trip. Not having enough coke bottles to bottle the root beer, Leland and his cousins approached a local tavern owner, who loaned them a case of brown stubby beer bottles, requesting the return of the bottles after the camping trip.
During the bright summer evening following a hard day of planting trees, the boys sat on the side of the hill above the road, laughing and joking and drinking Aunt Emma’s root beer bottled in the brown stubby beer bottles.
Drivers on the road below saw the Boy Scouts, still in their uniforms, laughing and rolling around on the hill, apparently drinking beer. One driver called the local authorities when she got home, scandalized that the local Boy Scout troop should behave in such an unseemly manner.
As the case of root beer dwindled and the boy’s behavior became more rowdy, the sheriff drove up, responding to the call of drunk and disorderly Boy Scouts drinking beer up on the hill.
The scoutmaster explained that the root beer was bottled in borrowed stubby brown beer bottles. The explanation was sufficient to send the sheriff on his way. However, it is unlikely that the jubilation that followed was the satisfaction of the scouts' hard work planting trees, or their amusement at the sheriff thinking there was real beer in the brown bottles. More likely, their hilarity was the result of Leland’s cousin adding raisins to Aunt Emma’s crock of homemade root beer, making it a light alcoholic drink. The following year, only soda bottles were used and Aunt Emma kept a closer eye on her crock of root beer.
The story of the tree planting and the homemade root beer was a closely guarded secret, told only around subsequent campfires where bottles of store bought root beer was the only type of soda allowed.
If you enjoyed this story, please share some of your own childhood memories that resulted in misunderstanding or humorous outcomes.
(This is an edited scene from chapter one of Spirit Woman.)
"I’d just stepped away from my rig when I heard a noise behind me.” Lou spread her arms wide as she continued. “Not thirty feet away, a black bear stood on a large boulder. I heard its claws click as it scrabbled across the rock, dropped into the grass on all fours, and lumbered toward me.” She wrinkled her nose. “It was so close, I could smell it. I thought I might be the bear’s main course that night and headlines in tomorrow’s Lockleer Mountain Gazette.” Lou winked at her friend.
“Lulu Jane Shoemaker! Is this a true story, or are you telling tall tales? What happened? Tell me!”
“Obviously the bear didn’t eat me.” Lou folded her arms and leaned back. “It’s true. The bear roared. It gave me the chills. Instead of thinking about how not to be eaten alive, I thought, ‘Think fast or die. Wow! That would look good on a bumper sticker on the back of The Pooper Scooper.’”
“Lou! You’re killing us! Get to the point. What did you do?”
“I slowly stepped back toward my truck. With each step backward, the bear advanced. Me─one step back. Her─one step forward, as if we were playing a game of Bear Eats Camper chess. I pivoted, grabbed the lever on the side of my sewer truck, and flipped the switch. As soon as the pump kicked on, the bear turned and scrambled back into the woods, lickety-split.”
“Lou Shoemaker,” Judy said. “I don’t believe a word of it. I think you made up that whole story to get attention.”
“I did no such thing. It’s the God’s truth, every word.”
“Lou, only you would name your sewer truck business, the Pooper Scooper.” Judy reached across the pub table and patted Lou’s hand. “Honey, why don’t you sell that truck? That’s no business for a beautiful woman like you. It’s too dangerous. That bear could have killed you. How can you pump out septic tanks every day? It’s so nasty.”
“Psst. Don’t look now,” Judy jabbed her finger toward the door. “Look who just walked in. Col. Ralph Ramsey. Is that his wife with him? She used to be on the Animal Rescue Committee with me. About three months ago, she said she was too busy to take a litter of puppies found beside the road. You remember when Nate’s twin sister, Suzanna, went missing? Apparently, she spotted a black garbage bag that looked like something was wiggling inside. She found five puppies inside. She called to see if our rescue group would take them. When she didn’t show up and didn’t answer her phone, I called Nate. He drove down the hill and found her car over an embankment and blood on the window. The pups were in the back seat, but Suzanna couldn’t be found. They don’t know if someone picked her up or if she wandered away.”
“The town swarmed with FBI for days. Offering a reward didn’t do any good. I haven’t heard anything about it for weeks.”
Lou stood and walked past Col. and Mrs. Ramsey’s table.
Col. Ramsey nodded as Lou passed. “Evening.” Lou guessed his septic tank needed service again. Perhaps he hoped she would respond favorably should he give the Pooper Scooper another call. She grinned and promised to think about it…not.
(You can purchase this book (e-book) at Amazon for $3.99. hppt://tinyurl.com/y7rp7f3x
Or contact me for an autographed paperback book for $13.00 (free shipping) at Elaine.Faber@mindcandymysteries.com
Not long ago, a dusty manuscript was found while cleaning a closet in the basement of a Washington mansion. Written by an unknown author in 1992, the document appeared to have been prepared as a magazine article. The article appears below. The reader may choose to determine its authenticity.
I was born under a woodpile. My mother taught me all she knew, and I often fell asleep, listening to the thrum of her heartbeat. She shared with me the secrets of the universe, as known to all cats. Instructions in field mouse stalking taught me patience. I learned hygiene by knowing the importance of washing behind one’s ears. I shall never forget those carefree kitten days, filled with peace and love.
I spent my youth basking in the sunshine. One afternoon, the dogcatcher spied us sleeping on the woodpile. Mother escaped, but he cornered me and tossed me into a truck. Mother cried as we drove away, toward… What? I believe it was destiny.
Arriving at the pound, I was put into a small cage surrounded by the pitiful cries of cats and kittens. In the next room, I heard the horrendous din of dogs.
On the sixth day of captivity, a man, lady, and a little girl came to my jail cell. Though it was a new experience, I rather liked being kissed and petted. After some discussion, I was put into a small box. My box jiggled and jounced and vehicle sounds roared. I felt it likely that the end of life as I knew it was near.
I was released from the box into a lovely house with people running hither and yon. I soon realized the people were there to fulfill my every wish, (as is only right.) My favorite napping place was a spot of sunshine on the dining room table but, for some reason, the lady seemed to take exception.
As time went on, the man and I became great friends. Many times he took me onto his lap in his rocking chair. As we rocked, he would talk and stroke my head. I didn’t understand but sensed his distress. I purred and gazed into his eyes to convey empathy for his problems. He received great comfort from this and shortly, would smile and nod, as though we had solved his problem. Thus, I knew my counsel was good.
As time passed, I learned that my man was very important. We moved to Washington into a big white house. My man’s rocking chair was placed in an oval office with a big red phone. Now, as I understand it, my man had become the most important ‘Man’ in the country and my lady was called the First Lady. I suppose the child was First Child.
When I walked into the oval office, people got excited and said, “Here comes Sox!” They make a fuss, so I suppose I must be important, too.
As I look back over my life, I get goose bumps thinking about our great country. Only in America, can a fellow be snatched from obscurity and blessed with the opportunity to make something of himself. And only in America, can a cat born in a woodpile find himself in the most important seat in the nation, literally in a rocking chair, in the Oval Office, in the White House, counselor to the President of the United States. I think from now on, people shall call me The First Cat!
This manuscript was subsequently published in the New York Times whereupon seven reporters came forward to take credit for its content. In the end, verification of the author was never authenticated.
I’ve published four cozy cat mysteries, starring Black Cat, who, with the aid of his ancestors’ memories, helps his ‘person’ solve mysteries and murder.
That was followed by three humorous historical fiction novels set during WWII. An elderly retired government undercover agent, Mrs. Odboddy, believes Nazi spies and conspiracies abound. She is determined to expose and bring the miscreants to justice.
Thinking it was time to move on to something new, I remembered a somewhat humorous short story I wrote several years ago about a sewer truck owner. While pumping out a septic tank in a rural community one day, he stumbles upon a drug lab, and uses his truck to facilitate his escape.
Sewer truck driver? Cozy mystery? Humor? Sounded like s story that begged to be done in a full length novel, something right up my alley.
The Spirit Woman of Lockleer Mountain takes place in the CA Sierra foothills where folks still have wells and septic tanks. Despite my intentions that the story follow a typical humorous cozy mystery concept, as so often in the past, when I started to write, the characters took over and sent me in a completely different direction. Where did a Native American legendary spirit come from?
So the story concept” Lou Shoemaker owns a sewer truck, the Pooper Scooper. Her business takes her into the mountainous region pumping out rural septic tanks. There ensues a budding romance with Lou and Deputy Sheriff, Nate Darling. Nate’s sister, Suzanna, has mysteriously disappeared three months previously following a minor motor vehicle accident and has not been seen since. The government is up to some shenanigans, pursuing plans to build a mysterious facility near the town without the knowledge of the city fathers, and the local businessmen aren’t happy. When a drug dealer starts selling drugs to the teens on the Native American reservation nearby, it seems their legendary Spirit Woman, said to protect the community, needs to take a hand. Sightings of a woman and her pet mountain lion are frequently seen at moments of crisis. Nate is even convinced that the elusive woman is his missing sister, suffering from amnesia.
It remains to be seen if the Spirit Woman, real or imagination, can bring about a resolution to the town’s troubles and help find Suzanna.
Check out the book on Amazon at http://tinyurl.com/y7rp7f3x (ebook $3.99) or contact me directly at Elaine.Faber@mindcandymysteries.com for an autographed paperback. $14.00 and free shipping.
Folks often schedule visits to Washington DC in the spring time to coincide with the blooming of the famous Cherry trees. Here is the history of the Washington Cherry Trees and their good will mission.
In January, 1910, Japan sent 3000 Cherry trees to Washington as a good will gesture. Sadly, when the trees arrived, they were found to be diseased and infested with insects.
To protect American growers, President William H. Taft ordered the trees to be burned. Letters from the Secretary of State to the Japanese Ambassador expressed deep regret to all concerned. Good will was maintained and in 1912, Japan again sent Washington, D.C., more than 3000 additional Cherry trees from 12 different varieties. Two thousand of the trees were planted on the White House grounds, and the remainder planted around the city and along the Potomac River from the site of the Lincoln Memorial south toward Potomac Park. They grew and blossomed each spring to the delight of thousands of Washington residents and visitors.
Shortly after the Pearl Harbor attack in December, 1941, four cherry trees were cut down by vandals. Letters poured into the National Parks Commission, calling for “cutting all the Japanese trees down and replacing them with an American variety.” Throughout the rest of the war, in hopes of preventing future damage and ill will, the trees were no long called Japanese Cherry trees, but referred to as those ‘oriental flowering Cherry trees.’
The National Cherry Blossom Festival, an annual springtime event since 1935, was suspended and did not return until 1947 where a Cherry Blossom princesses and a queen are crowned. In 1957, a wealthy Japanese business woman donated a crown for the festival queen, containing more than two pounds of gold and 1,585 pearls. The queen wears the famous crown for just a few moments when she is crowned. It is then replaced with a miniature crown of gold with a pearl topping each point. The queen wears this crown for the remainder of the evening and she keeps it as a momentum of the event.
In 1965, the Japanese government generously donated another 3,800 trees to Lady Bird Johnson. Mrs. Johnson and Mrs. Ryuji Takeuchi, wife of Japan’s ambassador, reenacted the original planting ceremony of 1912.
In 1982 and an several occasions since, cuttings from the original 1912 cherry trees were returned to Japan to replace trees destroyed during WWII, and when the course of a river destroyed a number of their trees.
Private funds were donated between 1986 and 1988 to replant another 676 trees to restore the number of Washington trees to the original 3000. Between 1997 and 2011, cuttings from the surviving 1912 cherry trees were propagated to ensure preservation of the 1912 trees’ genetic lineage and will be used in subsequent replacement plantings both in Washington and in Japan. Thus, the original 1912 gift have come full circle and will ensure a cycle of giving between Japan and the United States.
Bernhard Plockhorst (March 2, 1825 – May 18, 1907) was a German painter and graphic artist. In Germany, Plockhorst is mainly known only to experts today, whereas his pictures are still very popular in the United States and reproductions can be found in many American homes and churches.
Bernhard Plockhorst’s painting of The Guardian Angel(1886), showing an angel and two little children close to an abyss, was reproduced as a color lithography in thousands of copies and greatly influenced the later pictures of guardian angels.
"The Good Shepherd" showing Christ caring for his flock, graces the stained glass windows of several U.S. American churches; the First Presbyterian Church in Tulsa, Oklahoma; and in the Zion Lutheran Church, in Baltimore, MD., as well as in thousands of copies in churches and homes. To this day, Plockhorst’s painting of Christ’s face has become the most acceptable version of Christ’s face.
In my next Mrs. Odboddy novel, Mrs. Odboddy and the Devious Doctor, TBP perhaps later this year, Agnes learns that her doctor’s Hippocratic Oath becomes hypocritical when she believes he has stolen an early lithograph of The Good Shepherd from her church. When she tracks the suspected doctor to a mansion in San Francisco, she very nearly loses her life. Mrs. Odboddy and the Devious Doctor is the fourth Mrs. Odboddy adventure.
In the first Mrs. Odboddy WWII adventure, Mrs. Odboddy Hometown Patriot, Agnes attempts to locate thieves stealing ration books from mailboxes in her hometown. As she volunteers to serve the troops, she is determined to expose sleeper Nazi agents she believes invade her small town. When Mrs. Roosevelt comes to town, Agnes is called upon to be a hometown patriot and save her life. http://tinyurl.com/hdbvzsv
Agnes’s second adventure takes place on a train from California to Washington, D.C. as she carries a package to President Roosevelt. In Mrs. Odboddy Undercover Courier, Agnes is sure the package contains secret war documents, and is just as sure that Nazi spies will attempt to steal the package along the way. The characters she meets on the train are diverse and intriguing. A WWII wounded veteran helps her in her journey as adverse events almost derail her along the way. http://tinyurl/com/jn5bzwb
Mrs. Odboddy and Then There was a Tiger has Agnes back at home, falsely accused as a burglar and a thief. Her hysterical antics as she attempts to clear her name will keep you in stitches. And, yes, when she becomes involved with a county fair performing tiger, she learns more than she bargained for about tigers as she attempts to save his striped hide and bring miscreants to justice. https://tinyurl.com/yx72fcpx