Category Archives: blogging

Honey-Do’s Part 2 by John E. Stack

Summer is coming to a close way too fast and I will soon return to school. After nineteen years of teaching math, this year I have the opportunity to teach 7th grade Social Studies, but that is a story for a different time. This is a continuation of my last post about my adventures in the remodeling of our master bedroom and adjoining bath.
First off, let me say that even if you pay fifty dollars a gallon for paint (with primer), there is no such thing as one coat paint. I guess if you prime the walls with a flat paint the same color, but that defeats the concept of one coat. Anyway, the job that should have taken about three days took about a week.  The eleven foot ceilings didn’t help much either.
We used a real cool paint called “Sandstone”. Feels like sandpaper. We used a light gray on three walls and an aqua blue on the fourth. I trimmed it out with white. I thought it was looking pretty good, and I was almost done when my wife suggested that we should also paint the ceiling. Did it need it? Probably. Did I want to spend another day cutting in the edges and then staring at the ceiling for a few hours? No. Did I do it? Yes, and it looks good.
I used an aqua semi-gloss in the bathroom, trimmed in white. I didn’t do the ceiling yet, but probably will before all is said and done. By this time, I was used to doing two coats, so no big deal.
About three years ago, my oldest daughter won a shower door. She could not use it, so gave it to me. She asked if I could take pics of the installation in order to show how easy the install was. Since we were re-doing the bath, I figured that this would be the perfect opportunity to install the door. Well, I took everything out of the box and started looking at the instructions, only to find out that the maximum width of the door was one-half inch less than the opening we had. So, I placed it back in the box and ordered a new door. Maybe that one will be installed within the next month or so.
Before the paint was even dry, it was time to go look at flooring. We needed new flooring for the bedroom and for the bath. It started out with bathroom flooring, but I guess the bedroom floor was jealous, so we caved and purchased flooring for the bedroom first. We found an engineered hardwood that looks like weathered planks. It’s nice, and was very easy to install. It took about two and a half days. Since we had no place to store the bedroom furniture, it was move furniture – remove carpet – lay floor, move furniture – remove carpet – lay floor, etc. I got my work-out for those three days, but it looks pretty good with the paint scheme.
The next day, we went to pick-out/pick-up the flooring for the bathroom. We found a gray vinyl plank system that was waterproof. It looks similar to marble. It took about three hours to remove the existing vinyl floor. It consisted of adhesive tiles on top of sheet vinyl. It was nasty. It took another couple of days to place and cut into all the nooks and crannies, and then replace the toilet.
Over the next couple of days, I have to install quarter-round trim in both rooms.  After that, I get to build my barn door. This was the small project that started the renovation. I previously purchased the rail and yesterday I bought the wood. I really wanted to have all this completed before school started, but that might not happen since I only have a few days before I have to go back.
Once I hang the door, I will have spent a little over a month working on this. My wife keeps reminding me that a lot of people have volunteered to help, but you know, there is just something about saying “look what I did.” (Anyway, most sane people wouldn’t want to work with me, because I’m very particular about how things are done.) Maybe next time I’ll include pictures.

 

By the way, I know that some of you readers are used to me writing about foster care, and often about our last little boy, Bill.  We had Bill for almost three years.  I won’t place blame, but the transition to the adoptive home was absolutely horrible for us, for Bill and for his adoptive parents.  It took a while, but Bill seems to be adapting and bonding to his new mom and dad.  So, my wife and I decided to take a few months off from being foster parents, and are now trying to decide if it something we should continue doing.  I am still very passionate about foster care and adoption, and maybe one day I will include a few excerpts from the book I have been working on about real kids in foster care.

 

*** John E. Stack is the author of Cody’s Almost Trip to the Zoo, Olivia’s Sweet Adventure, and Cody’s Rescue Adventure at the Zoo.

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Masks from Travels

I guess most of us collect souvenirs when we travel and I’m guilty of that, as well. Along with photographs and pamphlets or coffee table books and gifts for friends, I also like to try to find a mask or face from each place I visit. I’ve been lucky over the years to be able to find the faces I’ve gathered together for a wall in my music room, especially since the places have been so diversified.

Mask Wall

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For instance, one mask came from Branson, Missouri, here in the U.S. and next to it is a mask from the Isle of Malta and below it is one from Tulum, Mexico. Then there is a rendition of the death mask of Agamemnon, the King of Mycenae from 1550-1500 B.C.E. that I bought in Greece and below that a shell mask from Tarpon Springs, Florida, or a face of Vlad the Impaler from Transylvania, Romania near a classic Greek face from Athens. There’s a hand carved wooden mask from Bavaria and not far from it is a clay face from a craft fair in Montgomery, Alabama.

Malta Mask

Branson Face

 

All the faces have memories associated with them either of the place in which I purchased them or of the people I met along the way, so as I look around my home, I can relive those fond memories of my travels and of the wonderful friendships I’ve made throughout the years.

Tulum Mask

Agamemnon

 

Classic Greek

Mexico

Shell Florida

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I’d love to hear if you are a collector and if so, what do you like to collect? Do you have a regular place for your items? If so, are they where you see them and remember your experiences associated with them?

 

 

Coco Ihle is the author of SHE HAD TO KNOW, an atmospheric traditional mystery set mainly in Scotland. Join her here each 11th of the month.

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Talking Trash

Do you have the new automated trash pick-up service in your neighborhood in which each trash container left at the curb gets completely automatically lifted, emptied and crushed, with only the truck’s driver present? No more three man trash guy teams; two for gathering and emptying and one for driving the truck? Well this service started here a few months ago and, call me old fashioned, but I miss my guys I waved to each week, and I worry about how many lost their jobs in the name of modern efficiency.

Homeowners here in my town received advance notice that one new trash receptacle would be delivered to each household and a schedule of pick-up days would be included along with the additional schedule for items for recycling. When my new container arrived, I couldn’t believe my eyes. It was huge! A gargantuan, blue, heavy, plastic, wheeled, garbage can that could comfortably hold several of me inside, it had a handle across the top rear surface so one could tilt it back on its wheels and roll it to the curb. I pulled out my yardstick and measured it: 30” x 30”x 45” deep, it came up to just below my shoulders. Maybe for a family of five or seven, it would be adequate with the two times a week pick-up schedule, but for me, that was WAY over the top! And my poor little 100 year old next door neighbor wouldn’t be able to get it to the curb at all since she used a walker. I solved that problem by putting them both out at the same time.

That got me to thinking, though, about when I lived in Germany. We had garbage pick-up once a week and the container we had was one small circular can approximately 15” wide at the top, tapering some to the bottom, and it was about 35” tall. I have no idea how other larger families managed. It was tough for us, three people. The main problem we had was the American packaging of the products we bought at the military base. We Americans love to put lots of packaging around small objects to fool ourselves into thinking we’re getting more for our money. We often don’t bother to flatten or break down boxes that things come in, either, because here in the U.S. there aren’t always restrictions about this. We’re a large country with the room, we think.

It’s actually rather comical watching me with American packaging even today, all these years later. For instance, I buy my orange juice in a half-gallon waxy cardboard container and when it is empty, I squeeze it in the middle with my fingers and then step on it to fold up the bottom and down the top, and while I’m stepping on it I reach down and screw the top back on the carton so no air can expand it even a smidge. Only if it is perfectly flat will it see the dark interior of my garbage can. I’ve caught my son looking at me with that, “Are you out of your mind?” look, complete with matching grin.

Now, I put my perfectly flat trash out once every three weeks unless an odor requires it go out sooner. I’m one person, I don’t generate much trash, but when I do, it’s FLAT!

 

Coco Ihle is the author of SHE HAD TO KNOW, an atmospheric traditional mystery set mainly in Scotland.

Join her here each 11th of the month.

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Medicare Redicare

For the last three years, I’ve had the same Medicare company and so this year I assumed my healthcare appointments, coverage, providers, etc. would probably remain pretty much the same as in previous years. However, I’m finding changes and they’ve kind of surprised me. A couple of days ago, I received a letter from my company stating they are “making it easier to take charge of my health.” Are they saying it’s going to be easier for ME to take charge of my health, or that they are making it easier on THEM to take charge? Hmmm.

I decided to continue reading to see if the answer lay further on. Ah, ha! The very next sentence stated my company was working with another company to bring a mobile clinic to my neighborhood in order to give me preventative health screenings close to home. And these screenings would be custom geared to my specific health needs and could be completed in one appointment. Then to top it all off, these screenings would be provided to me at no extra charge. Gosh, I feel as though I’ve won the lottery! All I needed to do was call a certain phone number and I could get scheduled. Wow, huh?

I couldn’t decide what to do with the letter, so, like Scarlett O’Hara I left it sitting on the counter in my kitchen and went on with my day. Then the next day, I received a phone call from a cute sounding young man from my company (we’ll call him “Brad” since he may have called you, too) who asked if I’d gotten a letter from them recently about this screening company. I told him I had and he said he was calling to get me signed up and scheduled for an appointment. How efficient! “Brad” explained that when the results came back from the different tests conducted, they would be sent to my primary doctor and she would discuss the results with me in a subsequent visit.  I told him I thought that would work out well since I was already scheduled to see her for a checkup in early August.

I secretly was thinking it seemed strange to me to have this company schedule screenings this late in the year since each Medicare year begins in January. I may have already had these screenings because I see my primary doctor for a checkup about three times a year, as it is, and each time she covers a screening or two—but what do I know.

I asked “Brad” where the location was of this screening place and he told me it was a mobile unit near my local Winn Dixie grocery store. Then he asked me if I was able to climb a few steps. I told him I was old, but not too old to get into a trailer. I guess it must have been the way I said it, because “Brad” burst out laughing, which caused me to get tickled, too. I was becoming fond of “Brad.” He told me I had a good sense of humor and suddenly I thought of him calling seniors all day who were likely seriously obsessed with their own health issues and probably not much fun to talk with. Poor kid. I asked him if his job was tedious and he said, not at all. He was helping people get the care they needed. Okay, his reply may have been scripted, but he answered so quickly, I felt he was being sincere. Now I was ready to adopt “Brad!”

So I can honestly say I spoke with someone today who seemed to sincerely care. How often do we feel that way these days? I hope all you other seniors out there get a call from “Brad.”

 

Coco Ihle is the author of SHE HAD TO KNOW, an atmospheric traditional mystery set mainly in Scotland.

Join her here each 11th of the month.

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Favorite “Treevia”

Dear readers, I had hoped I would have a progress report by now on last month’s rock wall project, but alas, my schedule hasn’t allowed me any time spent with paints since then. Maybe next month.

However, spring is in full force here in this area of Florida. We’ve already experienced the lovely and pungent orange blossoms and delicate blooming ligustrums, but right now, the spectacularly vivid, purple, trumpet-shaped blossoms of the Jacaranda tree are enough to take one’s breath away! The intensity of the color is right out of a fairytale! This tree tends to grow tall (66’ to 98’) with a huge canopy that can span the width of a whole yard. I grew up in New Jersey and hadn’t even heard of a Jacaranda until I moved here and saw it bloom. Absolutely stunning!

                                Jacaranda Tree

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jacarandas, (Jacaranda mimosa folia), truly hot weather plants thriving in zones 9 through 11, like sandy soil with good drainage and show off their blooms best when planted in full sun. That’s great for Florida lawns that need some shade for nice green grass.  The only downside might be that they tend to litter lawns, sidewalks and streets with the spent blossoms, and could clog pool filters, so placement is important. It took me a while to find the tree below because many times these trees are in a fenced-in yard and getting a good photo is a problem.

The next two trees are in my front yard and they are a part of the reason I bought my house. I love these trees. The first is a Canary Island date palm, (Phoenix canariensis), commonly called the pineapple palm because the fat trunk resembles a pineapple. My tree was only as high as my roof when I moved here in 2002. I used to string icicle lights along the lower fronds and cover the trunk with web lights at Christmas. It looked so pretty. I’d need a crane to do that now. I understand they can get to be 60’ tall. So far my tree man uses ladders to trim it and take the seed bundles away.

                          Pineapple Palm

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I have a family of squirrels who have a nest way up in the fronds and they travel across my roof to get to the back yard where my bird feeder is. I recently took the bird feeder away when I got new sod and I’m afraid I’ve confused the squirrels.

The next tree is my Camphor tree, (Cinnamomum camphora). It is a member of the Laurel family, an evergreen that can grow to a height of 75’ and live to be greater than 1,000 years old. I love the rough greyish-brown bark and the gnarled limbs. The leaves that make up the large canopy are small, about three inches long that come to a point, and are dark glossy-green on top and a lighter matte color on the underside. The old leaves don’t fall off until new light-green leaves appear, to replace them. If the twigs and leaves are crushed in one’s hand, a camphor aroma can detected. It’s a refreshing medicinal scent I really like.

                          “Homer” the Camphor

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As you can see from the photo, I have named this tree. He’s my buddy, Homer, and I light up his canopy at Halloween and Christmas. The kids in the neighborhood like him, too and show him off to their friends. Do you have favorite trees or do you name any? I’d love to hear!

 

Coco Ihle is the author of SHE HAD TO KNOW, an atmospheric traditional mystery set mainly in Scotland.

Join her here each 11th of the month.

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Rock of Stages

After moving into my house here in Florida I set about trying to decorate it to suit the eclectic diversity of my possessions. I’d traveled extensively for years and many of my memories were tied to those travels in the form of furniture, statuary, paintings, masks, tapestries, etc. The trick was to try to keep my home from looking like the hodgepodge it actually was, and not, too terribly tacky. I am generally pleased with the way it all turned out, but I have to say, one room in particular presented a huge challenge. My 14’ x 9 ½’ one-step-down sunken sunroom.

I have an open floorplan with cathedral ceilings so my main living area has a living room with an island bar separating it from my kitchen and breakfast area and the sun room is located at one end of my living room with the step down and triple sliding glass doors separating the two rooms.

Each sun room side wall consists of patio type sliding glass doors. One side leads to the breakfast room and the opposite one leads to my office. The fourth wall is the back of the house outside wall which has two, 4 foot-wide jalousie windows starting two feet above the floor and going up to the ceiling, a glass single door/screen combo and one more small window, also starting at two feet above the floor and going up to the ceiling. I explained all this so that you could realize that at least 90% of the sunroom “walls” are clear glass doors and I had no idea how I was going to place any useful furniture in it.

My dilemma was I needed more walls, but I also needed the light the sunroom provided to brighten up the surrounding living room, office and breakfast room. Part of the solution came when a friend gave me her no-longer-needed room divider made of knotted jute cord. And that idea started me looking for other room dividers that were see-through. I found two “curtains” made of 2” coconut shell discs strung with black cord. The two curtains together were the width of two of the sliding glass panels leading to the living room. If all the sliding panels were drawn back or open, the three panels stacked into a recessed area at the end of the wall. If closed or partially closed, the recessed area was a blank single-door-size wall.

I decided to close the panels of the living room glass doors and leave one width doubled and open to walk through and then faux paint the blank recess area to look like a rock wall. Having never attempted painting rocks before, I wasn’t sure I could pull it off, but I wanted to give it a try. I wanted the rocks to look stacked up and maybe cemented in place, but I was having trouble visualizing different rocks. My yard doesn’t have any rocks in it, so I roamed around the house searching for something that looked like a rock. I found what I needed in the kitchen. An Idaho potato! Don’t laugh; it really looked like a rock. Ha! So I got my paints out and started painting with one hand and holding and turning the potato with the other.

After my painting project was done about a week later, I placed my reading chair and a small table against the coconut shell curtain and sliding glass panels between the sunroom and living room. A fountain was placed in front of the “rock wall”, and a knurly tree that I made out of a fallen limb from an outside tree went in the corner at the entrance to my office. The rest of the decorating project fell into place after that. I placed a rustic-painted ice cream table against the glass doors going into my office. My friend’s knotted curtain acts as a backdrop, and I put a wicker storage bench below the jalousie windows and a wicker tower cabinet in the corner near the entrance to the breakfast room.

Rock Wall

Beginning Rocks

Rock Wall

Coming Along

Rock wall-whole - Copy

Recess #1 Finished, Coconut shells – left

After walking past that rock wall for years now, I’ve decided I’d like to try to make the rocks look a little more three dimensional by adding shadows in and under some of them and by darkening grout. I still don’t know how to do it, but I’d like to give it a go.  Anyone have any suggestions? I’ll follow up with more pictures later when I finish. Please cross your fingers for me. FYI, I have noticed that the grout and some shadows look darker in my photos than in real life. Hopefully, I can make them more real looking.

Sunroom

Sunroom Complete

 

Coco Ihle is the author of SHE HAD TO KNOW, an atmospheric traditional mystery set mainly in Scotland.

Join her here each 11th of the month.

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Caught in the Middle of a Mafia War “Not My Time to Go” by Thornton Cline

cline

Thornton Cline, author of “Not My Time to Go”

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Chapter Seven

       If you’ve been following my monthly Indigo Sea Press blog, you’ll know that I have been focusing on stories of my angelic protection from my new ISP book, “Not My Time to Go”. In this blog I will be sharing with you of how I was caught in the middle of an ongoing Mafia war.

       It would be eight years before any more near-fatal experiences occurred in my life. I was accepted into the Ph.D program in music education at the acclaimed, legendary music conservatory, Eastman School of Music in Rochester, New York. I arrived in Rochester in August 1977 on a Greyhound bus. Rochester, New York was a wonderful cultural arts city and offered me many exciting opportunities in music. But while it was an amazing place to live, there was a downside–crime.  The administration at Eastman School of Music warned the students about the dangers of the downtown area.  They told stories of students being held at gunpoint and robbed in broad daylight. They warned of beatings, murders, rapes and kidnappings that occurred even during the daylight hours. The school advised students to walk together in parties or use a form of transportation other than walking. Most of the students, including me, ignored the warnings and didn’t take them seriously.

Late one night in November of 1977, I was camped out in a practice room, frantically preparing for a violin jury, where I would perform a difficult classical piece memory in front of an entire panel of distinguished judges. I thought that night would never end.  By three a.m. I was exhausted. I had to call it a night and headed home for a few hours of sleep.

         1977 was particularly violent for Rochester. Crime and murders had risen sharply due to a major Mafia war sweeping the city. The war was fought between two Mafia-associated families the Pistilli clan and the Giovanni family. There were numerous reports of deadly drive-by shootings, car bombings and families being sprayed with roofing nails placed inside homemade bombs rigged to front doors of the Mafia family homes. 

       That night in November, I was so exhausted after hours of practicing that I couldn’t keep my head up or my eyes open. I packed up my violin and walked the six flights of stairs to the ground floor.

      “I’m leaving for the night,” I said to the security guard.

     “Be careful,” he replied.

      As I left the school building, I could feel the gentle breeze of the early morning air. It left a cooling mist of dew on my tired face, promising to keep me awake on my long walk home. I was completely alone, with not a single person or car anywhere in sight. The morning was calm and peaceful. I was numb and basically walking in my sleep. As I crossed Elm Street, I passed one of those parking lots where you pay to park for a certain amount of time. Then I saw a lone man walking to his car. It seemed very late for a man to be out doing business. But I reassured myself that the man was probably drunk and had just left one of the nearby bars. As I passed the nearby lot, the lone man went to unlock his car door. Unexpectedly, a colossal, thunderous explosion rocked the streets, forcing me to the ground. A massive ball of fire billowed from the car and engulfed the man, lighting up the dark, peaceful night. I felt glass and shrapnel fall all around me on the sidewalk. I lay there shaking for the longest time, in a state of shock, scared to the death. 

       After awhile, I carefully and slowly crawled on the sidewalk, away from the fire. I felt my entire body to see if I was still alive. The police, firefighters and paramedics arrived shortly after that and began asking me a million questions.

       Needless to say, I completely forgot about getting any sleep. The paramedics checked my vital signs, but couldn’t find a scratch or cut on me. Despite my close proximity to the explosion, I wasn’t injured in any way.

      Some declared that night a miracle. Others said I was lucky to be alive. I knew better than that.  I was definitely protected by angels and the hand of God. Again. it was not my time to go.

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Is It Spring Yet? by L.V. Gaudet

Spring isn’t officially here until March 20th, but it feels like spring already.  Even the Canada Geese have started coming back.  For their sake, let’s hope we don’t return to our normal January through March temperatures of -25 to -35 Celsius, which really converts to -30 to -43 with the winds.

 

Snow is melting, and I haven’t been freezing huddled under blankets for the drive to and from work, while my feet are frozen blocks inside my boots, and my fingers burn with the cold inside gloves that are so thick I have to take them off to pick up my coffee cup or work a key.  (Montana vans apparently don’t do “H”’s well:  heat and headlights).

 

This has been a winter of some firsts, most of them packed into February.  I went to Vegas for the first time in January.  It was also the first vacation since the start of “family” vacations that was not a “kid” vacation.  The only kids belonged to other people.

 

2003-nov-11-sidney-5mos-3

This month, we signed up this kid for high school (it starts early with grade 9).  Another first, we made her first resume to apply for a volunteer position.

 

She is also already a pretty good writer.

 

 

I got my Indigo Sea Press books listed in a very local newspaper, the first time I managed to get some public publicity for them.

 

blood-cover

 

I had my first public reading event too.  I submitted my short story Blood for the My Bloody Valentine short story contest at the second annual St. Valentines Horror Con on Valentine’s weekend, fully expecting to not make the cut.  To my shock it was accepted and I had to read it on stage at the Horror Con.  I spent the entire time with my head almost buried under the table, eyes glued to the pages, reading in a terrified monotone.  Unfortunately, I did not win.  Maybe next time.

 

I had my first school guest reading event for I Love to Read Month (Feb).  I read for the grade 7 and 8 classes at a local school, the grades that no one comes to read for.  I found an age-appropriate book and drew names to give one away in each class.  Maybe I’ll make that an annual thing.

 

This is a trend I’m hoping to continue.  With the newfound freedom of kids hitting their teens, maybe I can get more involved in the local writing community and local events.

 

sears-deskAnd with the help of my new toy that’s on its way, (the desk) and finally having an actual tiny spot that is mine, with luck I’ll also find more time for writing and blogging in between being these people:

  •  Cubicle dweller
  • Parent
  • Chauffer
  • Dog parent
  • Laundry service
  • Taekwondo student
  • Cleaning service
  • Cook
  • Life coach
  • Counselor
  • Life partner
  • Friend

Although, I have no idea where I’m actually going to put the desk, and it will still be central to all the commotion of a full house.


where the bodies areL.V.Gaudet is the author of Where the Bodies Are and The McAllister Farm

What kind of dark secret pushes a man to commit the unimaginable, even as he is sickened by his own actions?

 

Where the Bodies Are:  book 1 in the McAllister series.  What secret pushes a man to commit the unimaginable, even as he is sickened by his own actions?

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The McAllister Farm:  book 2 in the McAllister series.  The secret behind the bodies is revealed.

 

 

Links to purchase these L.V. Gaudet’s books

 

Link to reviews of Where the Bodies Are on Angie’s Diary

https://angiesdiary.com/bookoftheweek-web/081-botwoct262014.html

 

Follow L. V. Gaudet:

Facebook author page

Google+

Instagram

Pinterest

Twitter

WordPress:  LV Gaudet, author

 

 

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Dancing With Willard

I was sitting in my office looking around trying to decide what I’d talk about in my blog this month when my eyes rested on a letter on the wall from Mr. Charles A. Whitehurst, Vice President and General Manager of WSFA, a local TV station in Montgomery, AL. It was dated September 21, 1983 and it made me smile.

At that time, I owned my own G-rated “bellygram” service in which I visited businesses, hospitals, restaurants, etc. to help people celebrate their birthdays, anniversaries, farewells, get-wells, etc. Instead of people sending flowers to someone they admired, they sent me. During my lively ten minute dance routine I presented the guest of honor with a personalized banner announcing the special occasion and I crowned them with my veil and tambourine. My job was really fun and I enjoyed it immensely.

When Channel Twelve called me they said they realized I was a belly dancer, but did I think I could do a Carmen Miranda routine instead of a belly dance? They explained that Willard Scott was coming to Montgomery for a charity event and there would be a huge welcoming for him at the airport when he arrived. High school bands would play, Mayor Folmar would present the Keys to the City, that sort of thing. Just days before, Willard had accepted a challenge to dress up as Carmen Miranda on his weather spot on NBC’s The Today Show to raise money for charity.  His appearance caused a huge sensation all over the U.S. In fact, Al Roker later said, “If the Internet had existed the day Willard Scott dressed up as Carmen Miranda, he would have broken the Internet.”

Channel Twelve’s proposal sounded so intriguing, I accepted right away. The problem was, I needed a costume and music and I had a day and a half to pull that all together. Yikes! Furthermore, I didn’t have time to go to the library for research. I had to rely on my memory of Carmen Miranda, the famous Portuguese-Brazilian singer, dancer, actress and film star who was popular from the 1930s to the 1950s. I scrambled together some bright, colorful fabric from my costume supply and started making ruffles like crazy. Papier-mâché fruit I had crafted years before became incorporated into a headdress to top off the costume. Then I rummaged through my varied music selection, and stayed up all night getting it all ready for Willard.

I called my next door neighbor, Chi, who heartily agreed to come with me to the airport. I was supposed to be hidden until Mr. Scott arrived and when he made his appearance in the terminal where everyone was congregated, I needed her to punch the play button on my boombox to start my Carmen Miranda music.  I’d take it from there.

Little did I know how cooperative Willard would be! When the Latin music began and I made my surprise appearance, he came right over and started dancing with me alternating hand to elbow, hand to elbow with the beat, and he even bumped my hip so hard, I thought I was going to sail into the crowd! My nervousness disappeared when I saw him having so much fun. His joy was infectious and the crowd went wild. When the news came on TV that night, Chi and I watched it and relived the whole experience, all over again.

The letter I received from Mr. Charles Whitehurst, which hangs on my office wall, was one of thanks for my participation in making what Willard declared, “a most warm and wild greeting,” with a request he be invited again. Every time I look at that letter I smile as I remember a gracious and fun-filled man.

After note: In December 2015, Willard Scott officially ended his 65 year career at NBC; 35 of those years were with The Today Show. I hope he is enjoying his retirement. He certainly deserves it.

 

Coco Ihle is the author of SHE HAD TO KNOW, an atmospheric traditional mystery set mainly in Scotland.

Join her here each 11th of the month.

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Filed under blogging, Coco Ihle, musings

Witty Writer Book Buttons

I discovered early on that a really good way to learn about becoming a mystery writer was to attend writers’ conferences and conventions. Not only did I learn a lot, but I made lots of friends and had the opportunity to meet my favorite authors as I scampered between classes and also sessions where authors talked about their careers and experiences, and I saw awards being presented and interviews and speeches being made and then there was—shopping! Shopping? What’s shopping got to do with anything? Well, let me tell you.

Conventions always have a book store so fans can purchase the books authors talk about during the event and I did plenty of that. But not all book stores only sell books. One of my favorites sells puzzles, jewelry, clothing (including T-shirts), even tea pots and book buttons!

I have a small collection of clever book buttons mounted on ribbons that hang from a shelf in my office, just to the right of my work space. Whenever I pause to think or rest, I can’t help seeing those buttons. They make me smile, bring me back to where they were purchased, remind me of those writers who have fulfilled my life with their stories and friendships. But I digress.

Topics of book buttons are as varied as the authors who create them. Some are about writing itself, while others have to do with a furry pet assistant, or perhaps the problem of owning too many books, or they may be quotes by famous people.

The following fit that category:

“But for my own part, if a book is well written, I always find it too short.” —Jane Austen

“You can never get a cup of tea large enough or a book long enough to suit me.” —C.S. Lewis

“I have always imagined that Paradise will be a kind of library.”   —Jorge Luis Borges

“To acquire the habit of reading is to construct for yourself a refuge from almost all the miseries of life.”  — W. Somerset Maugham

Since I write in the mystery field, cats are common in that genre.

To a cat, “No!” means “not while I’m looking.”

Cat hair is the new black.

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Or catchy phrases:

Books: the original search engine.

Lit Happens!

Grammar Police: To correct and serve

Grammar Ninja

Warning! Anything you say can and may be used as dialogue in my next book.

The book was better.

Don’t judge a book by its movie.

First drafts don’t have to be perfect. They just have to be written.

Writer’s block: when your imaginary friends won’t talk to you.

Some of my best friends are fictional.

My weekend is all booked.

If you walk a mile in my shoes you’ll end up at a bookstore.

Some more of my favorite book buttons below. Do you have favorites, too?

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Coco Ihle is the author of SHE HAD TO KNOW, an atmospheric traditional mystery set mainly in Scotland.

Join her here each 11th of the month

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Filed under blogging, Coco Ihle, writing