Monday, April 27, 2009

Responsibility or Fear Mongering?

It is necessary, of course, for the Board of Health to notify people when a contagious disease has manifested itself in one's country, state or city; Swine flu has emerged with the suddenness that illness often uses to ambush the seemingly strong public immune system. People are healthy and then, in an instant, some of them are not.

So I understand the tv news, the internet headlines, the newspaper accounts, updating us about the flu and the precautions one should take. But I wonder, just as people always wonder when the media inundates us with one idea--how much is TOO much footage of the masked and frightened people in Mexico? When does one cross the line between responsible journalism and fomented fear?

My sons, who had never seen such a thing but were born into a world that faced the potential threat of germ warfare or "new" plagues, were terrified last night and couldn't sleep. They wanted reassurance that this had happened before and would happen again. They wanted me to tell them it was normal.

And, when I think about it, it is. We have had other outbreaks; we have faced plagues in other forms; and we have had times in recent history where we watched the news and looked out our own windows with the gloom of people who wondered if the world was coming to an end. In recent days, between our sagging economy and its attendant layoffs, the endless warnings about terrorism, and now a weird illness named after pigs, we must once again try to find a sane place amidst the visual rhetoric that suggests potential chaos.

Sometimes, as Robert Frost sagaciously suggested, we must focus on a distant star to escape into objectivity. Sometimes, the world is too close for us to see it in focus.

(image: not a star, but the full moon, last month).

Food and Fun

I love to read mysteries, and I love snacks. So I posted at PDD about which snacks are my favorite mystery-reading fare. What's yours?

Friday, April 24, 2009

On Spring

"If we had no winter, the spring would not be so pleasant."

--Anne Bradstreet

"Everything is blooming most recklessly; if it were voices instead of colors, there would be an unbelievable shrieking into the heart of the night."

--Rainer Maria Rilke

Here is my favorite spring sight: last year my husband and I planted a tiny tree for our 20th anniversary. It broke once over the summer, but it did bloom in its miniscule way. Then it looked like an unimpressive stick all winter. But here it is, ready to bloom again! This is why spring may be the best of seasons--it's all about promise and potential. I have high hopes for my little tree!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Happy Birthday, Shakespeare

The bard turns 445 today, and his relevance remains, along with his fan base. All over the internet people are chatting about their personal favorites from Shakespeare's vast array of work.

I find it very difficult to narrow it down to one work or one quotation, but today I was thinking about Caliban's beautiful speech from The Tempest, in which this "uncivilized" creature waxes poetic about the notion of the island's magical beauty:

"Sometimes a thousand twangling instruments
Will hum about mine ears; and sometimes voices,
That, if I then had wak'd after long sleep,
Will make me sleep again; and then, in dreaming,
The clouds methought would open, and show riches
Ready to drop upon me; that when I wak'd,
I cried to dream again . . . "

My husband's favorite line comes from Julius Caesar, when the resentful Cassius speaks of Caesar's unquestionable power:

"Why, man, he doth bestride the narrow world
Like a Colossus; and we petty men
Walk under his huge legs, and peep about
To find ourselves dishonourable graves.
Men at some time are masters of their fates:
The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars,
But in ourselves that we are underlings."

It's hard to fault either his diction or his impeccable iambic pentameter. How wonderful it would be to travel back in time to meet the fellow who wrote these words (whether they truly belong to the man named Shakespeare or not--that is a debate for another post. :)

The Prisonhouse of Language

In writing there is always that terrible disconnect between what is in one's mind and what translates into text on paper. It's never the same, no matter how hard we labor. I always end up thinking, "Well, it's not exactly what I was thinking, but it's pretty good."

This notion that we can't even translate our own language has always fascinated me. I've blogged before about the Romantics who thought that writing inspiration was "magical." But recently I read a reference to Fredric Jameson (a literary scholar and Marxist political theorist), who described this disconnect as "the prisonhouse of language" because we are, in a sense, trapped with the thoughts that we can never entirely express.

I wonder if there is a better way to tap the thoughts that float in our brains. Are they hard to access because we think in symbol and metaphor, and therefore cannot always translate those into words? Would we write better under hypnosis? Or would our thoughts, like translated dreams, make no sense at all?

These are my thoughts (badly translated) on Shakespeare's birthday. More about him later. :)

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Defining Bedlam

The word "bedlam," which is defined as 'noisy uproar, chaos or confusion,' has a strange origin which links it to a much darker and mysterious meaning.

Bedlam is a corruption of the word "Bethlehem," and the allusion is not to the birthplace of Christ, but to the St. Mary of Bethlehem Insane Asylum in North London. This is said to be the oldest mental institution in the world.

According to the Sadlier Oxford Vocabulary book in which I read this, "Though it began by admitting the poor and destitute, it soon took in 'lunatics,' as they were called, in the 1300s. By the 1700s the patients were seriously mistreated, and the staff members sold admission tickets to the wealthy so that they could see the mentally ill up close."

I tend to forget that simple words we use each day often have long and involved histories, some of which are rather horrifying.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Farewell, Resort Town

Today, against our instincts, we returned to work and school. Despite the joys of spring break, I realize that it's important that I get back into my routine--not only because I was eating everything in sight in the name of vacation, but because I was also spending lots of money using the same excuse, and now I am plumper and poorer. :)

At school I found that the students were also having difficulties making the adjustment (though the island-visitors were all having fun showing off their tans). When I asked my sophomores to journal about what they remembered about MACBETH, they looked at each other bleakly. Were we supposed to remember something?

Still, we all met the challenge of the day and came out of it relatively unscathed. We can dream of our spring breaks and imagine what we might do with the same vacation a year from now.

But in the meantime, it's back to work, back to study, and back on the diet. And that is exactly how it should be.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

The Delightful Digressions of Sheldon Goldfarb

Sheldon Goldfarb, author of Remember, Remember, is a wonderful and most interesting interviewee. Here he supplies information about many things literary, historical, mysterious, and Canadian.

Sheldon, someone recently suggested that Canadian mystery authors don’t get any good P.R. in the U.S. As a Canadian writer, do you find PR to be a problem?
Actually, my problem has been less with PR than with distribution. My publisher is in England, and it’s been tough to get my book distributed in North America even after I do the promotion. (Oh, and of course I’ve had to do my own promotion, which I’ve grown to like actually: panel discussions, conferences, book signings, but I don’t do them on anything like the scale of, say, Troy Cook, who was on a panel with me at the Bloody Words conference in Toronto, and who called every bookstore in town even though he was just visiting.)That said, though I’m somehow on a website called Famous Canadians or something like that, I haven’t really made myself known. I mean, I have to go up to people and say, “Psst, I’m famous.”

Your book, Remember, Remember, is considered a young adult mystery. Aside from having a fourteen-year-old protagonist, what else makes the book “young adult” in classification?
When I was asked to write a YA novel, something I’d never done before, the publisher who was asking me (though not the publisher who ended up publishing the book) said a Young Adult novel is just like an adult novel, “except no sex.” I tried to keep to that. I assure you there is no sex in Remember, Remember, though a couple of reviewers professed to find a hint of youthful romance, which alarmed me--but if people are going to Remember, Remember in order to get, um, excited, I think they’re going to the wrong place, unless they want to be excited by a protagonist in danger and trying to figure out a puzzling mystery.

But if you’d like me to be serious for a moment, I remember hesitating when writing the first chapter over using the word “reverie.” Ten-year-olds won’t know what that means, I thought, so I wrote “daydream” instead. But the next time this came up (my protagonist being the daydreaming type, this came up often), I wrote “reverie” and thought, Oh, to hell with it. (Oh, sorry, no profanity in a YA novel either.)

Actually I wanted to write something adults could enjoy too, and was pleased with the reviewer who said adults could profit from reading it. Being rather modest, I thought perhaps I had constructed something like Alice in Wonderland, which I read when I was 7 and then when I was at university and a couple of times since. I guess I’m thinking that since I have only one book out there, fans will have to content themselves with reading it several times. I do have a second book, by the way, and it’s strictly for adults (so it does have sex in it, and even a word or two of profanity). It’s not out yet, though; in fact, it’s looking for a publisher, but I hope to hear back from it soon.

I did realize that the key really was the age of the protagonist. My fourteen-year-old protagonist in Remember, Remember dealt with issues a fourteen-year-old might encounter. In the new novel (tentatively titled Decentred), the protagonist is 31 years old, and so she has adult concerns, interests, romances, etc. (And female ones too, since I decided to switch genders for this one, though I didn’t make her old enough to have to deal with menopause, the topic someone on DorothyL was looking for the other day.)

Your novel is set in the Victorian era. Is this a time that particularly fascinates you?
Well, I have a PhD in English and specialized in Victorian literature, especially in William Makepeace Thackeray, whose writings get a cameo role in Remember, Remember. So yes, I guess you could say the time fascinates me, and I certainly enjoyed reading up on it as background for the novel.

Your website informs me that you have four degrees and one cat. Are there days when you wish you had four cats and only one degree?
Four cats! No, no, no. One is enough, thank you. I don’t want to turn into a “cat - ” ... well, I was going to say “cat lady,” but though I can adopt a female identity in fiction, it would be harder in real life, and yet there’s really no such thing as a “cat gentleman,” is there? It must say something about Martian-Venusian differences. Women can become cat ladies; men just watch football. Or something like that. Sorry, what was the question again?

Tell us about the adult mystery set in Saskatchewan. And while you’re at it, tell us a little about Saskatchewan.
Oh, Saskatchewan. A fine place, though I’ve never lived there. I follow the school of Graham Greene in this. I can never write about someplace I’m currently living or even someplace I lived for long in. He was, of course, British, but his novels are set in Africa, Haiti, Vietnam, Cuba, everywhere but England--except for the one he wrote while serving in British intelligence in West Africa during World War II. (Which is one of those rule-proving exceptions.)

So I’ve visited Saskatoon, for instance, and found it a lovely town or small city. It’s the largest city in Saskatchewan, which is one of Canada’s 10 provinces. One of the ones in the West, but towards the middle, one of our prairie provinces, just north of Minnesota, I think, or something like that, with similar weather. If you think cold when you think Canada, well, then Saskatchewan may be what you have in mind. Not Vancouver, where I currently live, which has weather much like Seattle’s, all wet and limp. (I prefer cold and snow, or think I do when I’m not in the middle of it.)

As to the adult mystery set there, well, it features an expatriate American university prof from California who really does find it cold in Saskatchewan (by the way, I never name province or city in the novel because I wanted to take a few liberties with geography and the like, so it’s an imaginary city and province which just happen to be located more or less where the real city and province are, but of course if I’ve gotten anything wrong, well, I wasn’t writing about those places).

Anyway, there’s Rachel, a 31-year-old English prof in her first year teaching at this Canadian university on the frozen prairie and feeling a little homesick and some culture shock, because Canada may seem just like America, but you know, really it isn’t. And there are even these currents of anti-Americanism around which my American friends find a bit disconcerting.

Anyway, here’s Rachel up in Canada feeling a little lost, and she goes to the local synagogue of all things, which is strange for her because though she’s Jewish she’s never been religious. But somehow she gets caught up in local synagogue politics and then--why, then there’s a murder. (You can hardly have a murder mystery without one.) And somehow from rabbis and synagogues she ends up mixed up with Hare Krishna types. So there you have it: rabbis, university profs, and Hare Krishnas on the Canadian prairie. I hope no one’s done it before.

I think you have a good chance of being unique.

In your YA book there is a murder on Guy Fawkes night. I have a vague sense that this somehow involves fireworks and someone’s treason. Or something like that. Remind us who Guy Fawkes is, and why he has a night.
Guy Fawkes, naughty man, tried to blow up the British Parliament in 1605, though some people say it was a put up job and he was just the ultimate fall “guy.” In any event, Guy Fawkes Day became a national holiday in England, which is a bit odd, but it’s a celebration of the foiling of a terrorist attack, so I suppose it makes sense. Perhaps I should market the book that way, playing up the terrorist angle. Hmm.

Anyway, my book’s not really about the 1605 terrorist plot; it’s about a murder that happens on Guy Fawkes Night in 1872 during the fireworks that are set off every year to mark the occasion. They also burn effigies of “guys” and ask for money (little kids do, I mean; they say, “Penny for the guy?” and you’re supposed to give them one, a penny, I mean; they’re usually sitting there with an effigy of Guy).
By the way, if you’re wondering why Americans don’t get to celebrate this holiday, you can blame George Washington. Really. I’m not making this up. During your War of Independence, Washington was concerned about the anti-Catholic associations of the Guy Fawkes celebration.

Perhaps I should explain that Guy Fawkes and his group were disaffected Catholics who were upset by the increasingly Protestant direction England was taking; that’s why they wanted to blow up Parliament. Luckily, we live in a more civilized era in which religion never gets mixed up with terrorism.)

Anyway, Washington was hoping to win supporters for the American Revolutionary cause among French Catholics in Quebec, so he ordered the anti-Catholic Guy Fawkes celebrations stopped, and that’s why there isn’t any Guy Fawkes Day in North America. You have to make do with Halloween (so do we; we don’t have Guy Fawkes in Canada either). It’s on November 5th, by the way. Hence the rhyme for the day which goes, “Remember, remember the Fifth of November.” And that is where I got the title of my novel.

I fear this answer has gone on much too long.

No! Your “by the ways” are the most interesting parts.

You are a member of the Crime Writers of Canada. Is this the Canadian Equivalent of the MWA?

Well, to answer this question properly I would have to know more about the MWA. But the Crime Writers of Canada is an organization of Canadian writers of mystery fiction, other crime fiction, and even crime non-fiction. And membership is also open to non-writers (i.e., fans). The CWC sponsors the annual Arthur Ellis awards for best Canadian mystery novel, best first novel, best juvenile novel, etc. Modesty forbids me to mention that Remember, Remember was shortlisted for the Arthur Ellis juvenile award for 2005--but I didn’t win (sob).

You have two graduate degrees in English. Was one not enough?

Wow, a lot of questions. I should have paced myself. Let’s see. Well, the sensible answer would be that the whole idea was to get a PhD so I could become an English prof (like Rachel in Decentred--which I suppose will have to be titled Decentered in the US, which I don’t mind: there was a discussion on DorothyL on the destruction of regionalisms in translating books into American, which I mostly agree with, but I don’t mind about spelling).

Anyway, where was I? You really should try cutting me off when I’m digressing like this. So the MA in English was just a waystation on the way to the PhD. But also I loved being a student, so would have done more degrees if I could. Well, in fact I did do more degrees. I did an archival studies degree after the PhD, but it was boring. I do continue to take various night courses just for fun.
(Oh, by the way, despite all the degrees, I never did become an English prof, though I did teach on a contract in temporary positions for a few years. That degree in archival studies, though boring, got me a job as an archivist/researcher, which I still have, and which pays the rent, since my income from Remember, Remember is in, let’s see, the low-minus figures.)

What sorts of things have you done to promote your book?

I managed to anticipate this question further up. I phoned up the local library and got them to let me give a reading. I took part in panel discussions, went to the crime writers’ conference, sent out book review copies. I even saw your call for interviewees and answered it. Absolutely shameless, I know.

Well, if my blog helps your career, we’ll both have a nice surprise.

When can readers expect your adult mystery, Decentered?

Okay, I see you’re calling it Decentered rather than Decentred. Probably the publisher will say I have to find a new title altogether. “Decentred?” he’ll say. “What does that mean?” Or if he’s American, “Decentered? What does that mean?” And he’ll be chewing on a cigar. (Cigars are banned in Canada, unless you’re Wayne Gretzky.)

Decentred is a term from post-modernist literary theory (the sort of thing Rachel my protagonist studies) and is often used in the phrase “decentred self,” meaning that, in the view of post-modernists, the self today has lost its central position and is more the passive reflection of various forces in society or of language than the active basis of personality.

Or it can just mean disoriented, off-centre, disconnected and not feeling centred (or even centered). Which is how Rachel feels at the beginning of the novel (part of the story is how she finds a centre, focus, or meaning in her life while at the same time solving the murder).

But I see the question was about when you can expect to see the novel. If it was up to me, tomorrow. But first I expect I need to find a publisher. If anyone has any ideas, let me know. The manuscript is out at one publisher now and also with an agent, but I am as they say waiting to hear.

Like almost everyone I’ve interviewed, you have a pet. Tell us about your animal companion.
Shadow, a six-year-old black and brown tabby, is an avid typist, actually. She’s often up on the keyboard. So I’ll let her say a few words herself:

w phgodxnbe[ y0gu

Okay, that’s enough, Shadow.

And I think that’s enough from me too.

(This is a re-print of a 2006 interview with Sheldon).

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Holmes Rejects Modesty

"I cannot agree with those who rank modesty among the virtues. To the logician all things should be seen exactly as they are, and to underestimate one's self is as much a departure from truth as to exaggerate one's own powers."

--Sherlock Holmes
"The Greek Interpreter"

(photo: Julia Buckley 2009)

Friday, April 17, 2009

Life's Little Mysteries

You know those movies where people find themselves alone in some deserted landscape? Movies where people go back in time, or where everyone is annihilated except one person (think I AM LEGEND) or where somehow people get to inhabit their own imaginations? That's how it feels when you go to a summer resort town in spring. The whole town is there and poised, waiting for the warm weather and all the summer folk. We go there on spring break and we have the town to ourselves. It's curiously silent and lovely, yet rather lifeless--all potential and no action.

Even when we ran across these shoes that some young wag threw over a telephone wire, there was no evidence of teens anywhere around. It made me wonder who had thrown them, why they had done it, if they miss those shoes now.

Going here was like entering a painting and absorbing its beauty without encountering the life implied by the landscape. It was restful, solace-filled. As spring breaks go, it was great for R and R, but not so much for invigoration. Still, I think my sons had fun anyway, because like the youngster who threw the shoes, they can make fun out of the pure exuberance of their youth.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Hide, Seek, and Horrify

When it rained for a day of our spring vacation, we had to hunt for indoor entertainment. Because we were renting a house that we'd never been in before, I suggested that we play Hide and Seek. My sons loved this idea, and soon we found ourselves hiding in darkened corners in a strange house in the middle of the woods. And suddenly I was in a horror novel. Every time I hid in the darkness (like the above spot, a moody little porch just off the deck), I remembered that, if I were in one of those ridiculous movies, the murderer would find me before my family did.
These stairs between floors made a likely hiding spot, but under them I felt the oppressiveness that hiding always brought me as a child: first, I instantly had to go to the bathroom. :) Second, I was faced with a terrifying choice--did I want to be found and exposed, or never found at all, in which case I would be left waiting?

When I hid under the stairs in the dark, the view looked like this:
My husband and sons continually made horror movie references until they terrified themselves. It didn't help that this was one of those houses that made all sorts of weird noises as it settled itself in for the night. Tree branches tapped against windowpanes and wind tipped over lawn furniture in the darkness; it was easy to believe that the Zombies were coming--in fact, at some point my sons changed the game to Zombie Hide and Seek (that was when I quit).

But my husband, a horror movie aficianado since the 70s, assured our eldest that the most likely scenario in a horror flick would be that we, the hiders, would hear him, the seeker, laughing at us while he searched, but that suddenly his laughter would stop and then (my husband said) his head would come rolling down the stairs.

This is why I never watch horror movies. I also don't recommened playing this game in a strange house in the wilderness. Way too many Jungian archetypes being tapped there.

This long, dark deck was illuminated by the flash of my camera, but you can see the deeper darkness surrounding it--it was my scariest hiding place, and I was relieved when my son found me!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

The Long, Long Staircase

Mary Roberts Rinehart wrote THE CIRCULAR STAIRCASE, and good ol' Nancy Drew found THE HIDDEN STAIRCASE; but if there isn't a mystery called THE LONG STAIRCASE, there should be. The mystery is, why anyone would want to climb one? These behemoth stairs wind upward to Mount Baldhead in Michigan, which is a giant dune. The view at the top is supposed to be spectacular--I have to take my husband's word for it, because I, sedentary woman that I am, only made it halfway before nature mocked me and told me that I was old, corpulent, and out of shape.

Here's my son about halfway up; at this point I was above him, taking the photo; that's about as far as I made it, though, and he continued up all the way to the top. The next day it was rainy, and I stayed in our cabin reading RED LEAVES, but the boys went back out and climbed the same mountain from the other side, this time straight through a hill of sand.

Here's the same view, taken by my husband from the tippy top; you can see that it never looks as intimidating as it really is. As I type this my legs are aching from the effort that going halfway required. :)
It wasn't surprising that my husband and children could make it to the top (although it was embarrassing that I couldn't), but what really made me look bad was the young woman who was training for something--her own personal workout or a triathlon or fighting Rocky--who knows? But she ran up and down that darn staircase three times while I panted at the midpoint, trying not to faint.

There are drawbacks to sitting and writing all day, and this is a huge humbling example of one.

I was glad, though, of the view that Jeff got when he made it to the summit, which looked like this:

Thank goodness for digital cameras, so that I can have the victory vicariously. :)

Monday, April 13, 2009

Vacation Mystery Reading

We made it out of town and after an eventful day it is now time to read in front of the fire. My cold is under control with some awesome medication and I've enjoyed the forested bluffs all day, but now we're tired and enjoying our wee cabin, and I am reaping the rewards of a vacation rental with wireless access. :)

My tonight's reading, since I forgot my Chester Campbell mystery, is Thomas Cook's RED LEAVES. I enjoyed his latest so much that I pounced on this book when I saw it at my parents' house at Easter, and now here we are, my book and I.

My family is here, too--but they all brought their own vacation reading, and it's blissfully quiet.

Later I'll have some phenomenal photos, the most embarrassing of which is a giant staircase that I was unable to ascend more than halfway--now I know that I'm MUCH older than I thought I was. Ah, youth. I never saw you go.

To add to my humiliation, a young fit woman kept running past me as I plowed upward, first up, then down, as she did her daily workout. She was Rocky and I was a snail--it's a good thing I have books to read, because physical fitness is not, I have learned, my strong point.

The Definition of Irony

We've spent the last couple of sunny days getting ready for a long-awaited spring break. I've managed to avoid, in the last two weeks, getting my husband's cold AND my son's cold.

So, of course, on the day we are to head off to our two-day retreat, I have awakened with a cold, and it's raining.

Mind you, I haven't been sick since last spring, so I've managed to stay healthy until the tiny two-day window when I really wanted to enjoy myself--then my body brought on the germs.

In a way, it was entirely predictable. :0

This is what the Ancient Greeks meant by reversal, isn't it?

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Judy and Fred Say Happy Easter

This movie not only puts me in a festive mood, but it makes me realize just how different the city used to look--back when cars drove down the street next to horse-drawn carriages.

Happy Easter!

Friday, April 10, 2009

Winners of Marple/Poirot Drawing

My son has selected the names for the Marple and Poirot DVD drawing, and the winners are:

Margaret Franson
Jeanne Powers

Sherry Moran
Carol Mintz

Thanks to everyone who entered, and I hope you win next time!

To these ladies, I will be submitting your addresses to Acorn for your DVD prizes. If you have not sent me your snail mail addresses, please do so. :)

Thursday, April 09, 2009

On Waiting

I always feel existential in spring, both because of the philosophical contemplation of the changing weather and budding life, but also because this is the time when I teach existential literature.

So I tend to view everything through that lens, and at Inkspot today I have a brief post on the nature of waiting. It's elicited some interesting responses, if you have a moment to read them.

Sunday, April 05, 2009

For the Love of Marple (and Poirot)

I do love dear Miss Marple. She has aged so well that I find her just as endearing in my forties as I found her in my teens, and Agatha Christie's stories translate quite nicely to the screen.

Perhaps this is why the Marple series on PBS continues to thrive, through three incarnations of Miss Marple. Recently I was given the opportunity to view the Geraldine McEwan Marple Season Three videos which Acorn is releasing in its new catalog. I had avoided the new Marple movies, fearing that I wouldn't like new versions because of my loyalty to Joan Hickson, the first Marple for PBS. However, I must say that Geraldine McEwan won my heart almost instantly with her quiet presence and her winsome expressions.

The episodes themselves are visually arresting, really lush and beautiful--even when I had to watch one on my laptop it seemed to jump out at me and draw me into the action. The casting is also quite good, and I am, once again, a fan of this series and its beautiful English settings.

Acorn sent me a pack of 9 Poirot episodes as well. While I never loved the Poirot books as much as I did the Marples, I do find David Suchet quite charming as Monsieur Poirot, and in these episodes, too, I found wonderful casting and the kind of scenery that makes one long for the English countryside.

Katie at Acorn was kind enough to give me a few more to give away, so I'm sharing this info on my blog. If you want to be in a drawing for a Marple or Poirot DVD pack (the Marple box contains 4 90-minute episodes, the Poirot 9 60-minute episodes), send an e-mail to and I'll put your name in the drawing. I'll have my son pick four winners on Friday, so get your response in before then. Please put MARPLE/POIROT DRAWING in the subject line so that I don't accidentally delete your mail.

And now I shall take a break from my daily chores and watch another DVD. :)

Friday, April 03, 2009

Spring Sanctuary

The scene: sunrise from a balcony on the river. This was our spring break last year, and the March weather was so mercurial that the first day was sunny, and the second descended into the worst snow storm Michigan had seen in quite some time. It was like vacationing in bizarro world. This photo, as you can see, was taken before the storm hit.

This year we have planned another tiny getaway in the same town--but it's a month later, and we're almost sure to avoid snow in April. Or are we? With spring vacations one can never be sure.

But a respite is a respite, and we are looking most happily toward those three days on the calendar when we make our mini-break.

Snow or not, I'll have some wonderful pictures to share when we get back!

But first . . . a bit more work, and one more night school class, and then out with the suitcases! :)

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Ellis Peters On Spring

"Every spring is the only spring - a perpetual astonishment."

~Ellis Peters

"The sun was warm but the wind was chill.
You know how it is with an April day."

~Robert Frost