Wednesday, November 1, 2017


November

Happy Hallowiener! And on to November. Another year almost shot to heck. Amazing. Kind of depressing maybe. Or maybe not. I dunno.

Not much to report this month. I haven’t injured myself in a couple of weeks (knock wood), the last injury being a sprained ankle, which is getting better. Whew!

The wieners of my October contest, who will get either a paper or an e-copy of BRUISED SPIRITS (Daisy Gumm Majesty’s tenth adventure) are: Val Reed (Val, you’ll get an e-copy because it costs too much to mail a book to Canada. Let me know if you’d prefer a Kindle or a Nook copy. Thanks!); Caroline Ruth Molloy; Virginia Winfield; and Carole Goerz! I’ll get whichever (paper or e-book) to you as soon as you let me know which one you’d prefer. Thanks! Please e-mail me at alice@aliceduncan.net to inform me.

Anyone dressing up for Halloween? I’m kind of loath to admit it, but costumes for Halloween have never been among my favorite things. My girls generally had to dress up as Gypsies or something equally boring because I could throw a Gypsy costume together without much fuss. My mom made them both Raggedy Ann costumes one year, and that was cute. Mind you, if I’d had all the money and time in the world, they’d probably have had cool costumes, but I had neither when my daughters were young. My older daughter, Anni, won a Halloween costume contest one year when she was twelve or thereabouts by attending the contest as herself! Go figure.

And I don’t dress up the hounds, either. For one thing, they’d hate it. For another thing, I’d hate it. I do, however, love to see my great-grandchildren all dressed up for trick-or-treating. Their parents (my grandson, Dai, and his wife, Emily) are great costume-makers, as is Emily’s sister, Catherine. Yet one more thing I feel guilty about: not making my kids nice costumes for Halloween. Oh, well…

So, anyway, I guess I’ll just mosey along to tell you about the book I’ll be giving away at the end of November. Lemme think for a minute. Ow. That hurt. However, I did think of contest books to give away: Lucky winners will receive a hardback copy of THANKSGIVING ANGELS (Mercy Allcutt’s fifth [and perhaps last] adventure), PECOS VALLEY REVIVAL (Annabelle Blue’s second [and probably last] adventure, HIGH SPIRITS (Daisy Gumm Majesty’s third adventure), or SIERRA RANSOM (written by me using the pseudonym Emma Craig). SIERRA RANSOM is an historical romance novel set in California’s Gold Rush Days. I like this book! It’s also the only book for which I wrote the last chapter first. Did that make any sense? Oh, never mind.

Anyhow, if you enter the contest, none of us will know the names of the winners or the book they won until Bam-Bam, my winner-picking wiener dog, scarfs the name for each out of his special contest doggie dish. So you might end up with an historical romance novel if you aren’t careful. But it’s a pretty good one, even if I do say so myself. It even won a contest once, although I can’t remember which one. I don’t enter contests as a rule. Oh! I remember! It wasn’t a contest I entered at all. It was a reviewers’ choice thing. PECOS VALLEY REVIVAL was a finalist in the New Mexico/Arizona Book of the Year Awards, too. I didn’t enter it myself. A really neat guy named Michael Orenduff, who writes the Pot Thief mysteries, entered it because he liked it. I thought that was very nice of him. Mike is also incredibly tall, not that his height has anything to do with anything. Just thought I’d mention it. That’s probably because I’m really short and have always envied tall people. Oh, never mind again.

Here are cover pictures of the books. They’re all first editions! If I were famous, that might actually mean something. I’ve been really lucky with covers during my as-yet unprofitable writing career:
 



 

A word about my monthly contests. I love giving my work to people; however, I found out quite by accident a few months ago that sending books to Great Britain, Australia, and other countries outside the United States is beyond my monetary capability. If a resident of a nation other than the United States has an e-reader, I’ll happily supply that person with an e-book. If a person doesn’t have an e-reader and still likes to read book-books, he or she is on his or her own. I’m sorry, but what I laughingly call my writing career hasn’t made me wealthy yet. And it probably won’t, but let’s not get in to that because it always depresses me. So. That’s that.

If you’d like to enter the contest, just send me an email (alice@aliceduncan.net) and give me your name and home address. If you’d like to be added to my mailing list, you may do so on my web site (http://aliceduncan.net/) or email me (you won’t be smothered in e-mails, because I only write one blog a month, and that’s an effort). If you’d like to be friends on Facebook, visit my page at https://www.facebook.com/alice.duncan.925.

Thank you!

 

Sunday, October 1, 2017


 
October Again

 
Wow, another year is all but over. Pretty soon Halloween will be upon us, then Thanksgiving, Christmas, and 2018! 2018???? Unbelievable!

However, on to the blog. There almost wasn’t one this month, thanks to an infected left hand on my own personal body. As with most of the weird stuff that happens to me, this began with a dog; or, more specifically, a dog bite. I tried to break up a fight between Cookie and Bella, reached the wrong way, and Cookie nailed me. Hard. So I cleaned the wound, disinfected it, put antibiotic gel on it, bandaged it, and it got better. The wound healed and everything seemed fine and dandy. Then, two Thursdays ago, the hand began to get extremely sore. I could hardly move it. Then it swelled up. Then it got blue. Then it was Saturday morning, and I went to the ER. The doctor concluded I had tendonitis and an infection, and he gave me antibiotics and a Velcro splint. The swelling went down, but the hand continued immensely painful. So I went for a follow-up visit to my regular doctor. She told me to get a tetanus shot and gave me a prescription for steroids. Boy, those steroids worked miracles. Within one day, the inflammation began going away, and today, October 1, the hand almost doesn’t hurt at all. In fact, I just allowed several of the hounds to take me for an afternoon drag, and the hand lasted quite well. Mind you, I kept the splint on it for safety’s sake, but I actually think I’m going to survive this infected-hand thing. Oh, and I got the tetanus shot.

Then I sprained my ankle. It's getting better.

Then the lower left side of my face began to swell. It got better, too.

Sheesh.

As for September, a few good things happened in the world of what I laughingly call my writing career. For one thing, I finished Daisy Gumm Majesty’s 12th adventure, SPIRITS UNEARTHED, and turned it in to my publisher. The book begins with Daisy, Sam Rotondo (her fiancé), and Daisy’s dog Spike (a dachshund, naturally) visiting Mountain View Cemetery in Altadena, California. While they’re all there, Spike finds a vagrant shoe. Unfortunately for all concerned, the shoe contains a foot. Thus begins the mystery of to whom the foot belongs, why it was in the cemetery, and what happened to the foot’s owner. If one can be said to own one’s feet. I don’t know why not.

The second good thing was that I began writing Spirits #13, SHAKEN SPIRITS. Ouchily for Daisy, the book begins with her being hit by a car. It hurts. Poor Daisy.

Then the third good thing was that Denise Stradling, who narrates my Daisy Gumm Majesty books for audio, finished reading SPIRITS REVIVED! Nina Paules, who has done all the wonderful covers for my Daisy Gumm Majesty series, even did the cover art for it. SPIRITS REVIVED is technically the 7th in my Daisy series, but the cover of this book says it’s #6 ½ because I don’t have the e-book or print rights back to the book yet. Eventually, I’ll get ‘em back, but I expect it will remain # 6 ½ in the series. What the heck, the cover’s already made and all. I adore this cover:
 
 
So a bunch of people have won copies of SPIRITS REVIVED in its audio form, and I’ll be in touch with them all individually.

This coming month, I do believe I’ll give away BRUISED SPIRITS, Daisy’s 10th adventure. I have a particular fondness for this particular book, because it’s based on a woman’s actual experiences. They weren’t happy. But everything turns out all right.

A word about my monthly contests. I love giving my work to people; however, I found out quite by accident a few months ago that sending books to Great Britain, Australia, and other countries outside the United States is beyond my monetary capability. If a resident of a nation other than the United States has an e-reader, I’ll happily supply that person with an e-book. If a person doesn’t have an e-reader and still likes to read book-books, he or she is on his or her own. I’m sorry, but what I laughingly call my writing career hasn’t made me wealthy yet. And it probably won’t, but let’s not get in to that because it always depresses me. So. That’s that.

If you’d like to enter the contest, just send me an email (alice@aliceduncan.net) and give me your name and home address. If you’d like to be added to my mailing list, you may do so on my web site (http://aliceduncan.net/) or email me (you won’t be smothered in e-mails, because I only write one blog a month, and that’s an effort). If you’d like to be friends on Facebook, visit my page at https://www.facebook.com/alice.duncan.925.

Thank you!

 

Saturday, September 2, 2017



September? Really?

It doesn’t seem quite fair that, the older I get, the faster time seems to fly. I remember sitting in schoolrooms when I was a kid, watching that stupid clock on the wall, and wishing I could push the minute hand faster so I could get the heck out of there and go home and play with my dog. Now I kinda wish time would slow down a trifle. Oh, well. If wishes were horses…

SPIRITS UNITED, Daisy Gumm Majesty’s eleventh adventure (well, it’s actually her twelfth, but until I get the rights back to SPIRITS REVIVED, her actual seventh adventure, the numbers don’t reflect the entire series). I appreciate everyone who bought a copy, and I’d appreciate even more if you’d buy copies for all of your friends and relations. Heck, even total strangers! I wouldn’t mind being a best-selling author once. Or even twice. But I’m sorry. Didn’t mean to beg.

During the first week in August of this year, I visited California. This was primarily to attend my best friend’s memorial service, but I also had a chance to revisit several places I recall from my youth back in the early middle ages. Some friends and I went to Mountain View Cemetery in Altadena, where my best friend has finally joined her late husband. I also wandered around the place, said hello to my late aunt and several cousins, and I think I found about where Billy Majesty might have been planted back in 1922. Here it is:

Daisy’s next adventure, SPIRITS UNEARTHED, begins at Billy Majesty’s grave at the Mountain View Cemetery, so you might want to keep the area in mind for future reference. By the way, one of my spectacular beta readers, Lynne Welch, mentioned that lots of town in the Midwest, East, and South have little cemeteries sprinkled all over the place. If you live in Altadena or Pasadena, you either end up at Mountain View or in an urn on somebody’s mantel. My younger daughter told me I could reside in a box on her mantel in between two of her husband’s late dachshunds. Can’t think of anywhere I’d rather be for all eternity!

I also tootled past Daisy’s house. Whatta mess! If my second ex-husband, Old Weird Robert, still lives there, he’s sure not taking care of the place. I object. On the other hand, the house no longer belongs to me, so I guess there’s not much I can do about it.


The lovely and talented Denice Stradling, voice actor and audiobook narrator, is closing in on the final chapters of SPIRITS REVIVED, which will be published soon and will be available on Audible.com. I don’t have the cover art for the book yet, but I do have a picture of the room in which the ghost of Eddie Hastings shows up, much to Daisy’s distress, during a séance she held at Mrs. Bissel’s house in the book. The room doesn’t look awfully large in this photograph, but my aunt, her children, her two boarders (Burke and Jack, who used to own a gas station at Lake Avenue and Altadena Drive), and my own family of four (Mom, Dad, sister and me) used to dine there every evening. Everyone included, that was maybe ten or twelve people, and nobody was crowded. Of course, my aunt’s table was larger than the one depicted below. This was my Aunt Wrennie’s “breakfast room” back in the olden days. She had a dining room, too, which was much larger. I can’t even imagine what a table the size of hers would cost these days. That thing was huge:

 If SPIRITS REVIVED is available by the end of September, I’ll be giving away audio copies of that book. If it’s not, you may pick your own book of those I’ve written (providing I have copies of same). I’ll be in touch with the winners of August’s contest to find out which book of mine they’d like to have either e-delivered or delivered by post, and I’ll attempt to get the books mailed in a timely manner.

Oh, and before I forget again, many people have asked me what “bishop sleeves” are. Daisy’s always making suits and dresses with “bishop sleeves.” So, for your continuing education, below is a picture of a couture gown from 1924 featuring bishop sleeves! Courtesy Jean Lanvin, in fact. Mind you, these are a little puffier at the wrists than lots of bishop sleeves, but that’s because they have slashes at the wrist and inserts of cloth of another color:

A word about my monthly contests. I love giving my work to people; however, I found out quite by accident a few months ago that sending books to Great Britain, Australia, and other countries outside the United States is beyond my monetary capability. If a resident of a nation other than the United States has an e-reader, I’ll happily supply that person with an e-book. If a person doesn’t have an e-reader and still likes to read book-books, he or she is on his or her own. I’m sorry, but what I laughingly call my writing career hasn’t made me wealthy yet. And it probably won’t, but let’s not get in to that because it always depresses me. So. That’s that.

If you’d like to enter the contest, just send me an email (alice@aliceduncan.net) and give me your name and home address. If you’d like to be added to my mailing list, you may do so on my web site (http://aliceduncan.net/) or email me (you won’t be smothered in e-mails, because I only write one blog a month, and that’s an effort). If you’d like to be friends on Facebook, visit my page at https://www.facebook.com/alice.duncan.925.

Thank you!

 

Wednesday, August 2, 2017


Spirits United!

I apologize for last month’s blog. I was so down in the dumps, I just couldn’t bear to be funny. Losing a best friend and another friend losing her daughter to murder just sort of wiped out the joy in life for a while. For the record, the murderer of my cousin’s daughter has been found and extradited to New Mexico to stand trial. So maybe he’ll be convicted and imprisoned. That’ll be okay, but it won’t bring Anita back, you know? And I doubt there’s any way a mother can ever recover from the loss of a child, especially to murder, so my friend whose daughter was murdered in June (and whose murderer then committed suicide) is pretty much doomed, I guess. As another friend of mine said, if a person decides to commit a murder-suicide, it’s better to commit the suicide first. I think that’s a brilliant solution to a dire problem, but I doubt it’ll catch on, people being what they are.
Anyway, enough of that. I’ll be in touch with the winners of July’s contest via email since I didn’t specify a book to be given away. You get to pick your choice if you’re a wiener. I mean a winner.

SPIRITS UNITED, Daisy’s eleventh adventure (actually, it’s her twelfth, but who’s counting?) was just released, so here’s the cover art and links to it on Amazon and Barnes & Noble:

 

 
Okey-dokey, a little bit about SPIRITS UNITED. I was afraid the book would be terrible. You see, I had such an emotional investment in BRUISED SPIRITS, I figured the next book would be a flop. However, people seem to be enjoying it! Go figure. I’m happy about that, and I’m working diligently on the next Daisy book. It seems to be coming along nicely. In order to prepare for it, which is titled SPIRITS UNEARTHED, I’ll be taking photographs at the Mountain View Cemetery in Altadena, California, when I’m in California next week for my friend’s memorial service. Feel free to speculate from there.
As for SPIRITS UNITED, it begins at Daisy’s home on Marengo Avenue in Pasadena, but Sam Rotondo (Pasadena police detective and Daisy’s betrothed) comes over just as Daisy is about to visit the library (she hangs out there a lot). Therefore, Sam goes with her on her jaunt to the library since he doesn’t trust her not to stumble over a dead body if she visits there alone. Doesn’t work. A woman is murdered in the biography stacks while Sam is with Daisy at the library. Horrors! Worse, Daisy’s friend, Robert Browning (not the poet), is discovered holding the bloody knife used to murder the poor dead woman. This naturally puts Robert at the top of Sam’s suspect list, although Daisy doesn’t believe for a second he did the dirty deed.

Anyhow, Sam, still recovering from the gunshot he got in BRUISED SPIRITS, and still hurting from it and forced to use a cane, is cranky as heck. Nevertheless, he gets to work.

Daisy gets to work, too, although Sam doesn’t want her to. Eventually the murderer is discovered, thanks to a lot of snooping on everyone’s part. Not only that, but Daisy is thrilled that she’s become a matchmaker. Again. She’s almost as good at matchmaking as she is at sewing and spiritualist-medium-ing.

Oh, and in SPIRITS UNITED, it’s Sam’s Voodoo juju that acts up rather than any of Daisy’s spiritualist paraphernalia. Sam neither believes in nor appreciates its help.

In order to get a feel for the library where SPIRITS UNITED begins, I wanted to see pictures of the Pasadena Public Library as it was in 1924. The present library was opened in 1929. I used to practically live there when I resided in Pasadena, and I worked for quite some time in the children’s room there. Love that library and still visit it when I’m in Pasadena. However, that’s not the library in which Daisy’s latest body was found. Here are photographs (found for me by my lovely niece, Sara Krafft, and a wonderful Facebook buddy, Andie Paysinger) of the old library. It looks like it was a beautiful place:
 


 
The only truly awful thing about SPIRITS UNITED is that I murdered a librarian in it. It’s not my fault! Lynne Welch, a valued friend and excellent beta reader, is a librarian, and she told me she’s always wanted to bump off a librarian. So I did it for her. I still feel guilty about doing so, too.
I’ll let folks pick any old book you want from my backlist at the end of August. If you’re name is chosen from my special contest doggie dish by Bam-Bam, my winner-picking wiener dog, I’ll send you the book you select, providing I have a copy.

Oh, and a word about my monthly contests. I love giving my work to people; however, I found out quite by accident a few months ago that sending books to Great Britain, Australia, and other countries outside the United States is beyond my monetary capability. If a resident of a nation other than the United States has an e-reader, I’ll happily supply that person with an e-book. If a person doesn’t have an e-reader and still likes to read book-books, he or she is on his or her own. I’m sorry, but what I laughingly call my writing career hasn’t made me wealthy yet. And it probably won’t, but let’s not get in to that, because it always depresses me. So. That’s that.

If you’d like to enter the contest, just send me an email (alice@aliceduncan.net) and give me your name and home address. If you’d like to be added to my mailing list, you may do so on my web site (http://aliceduncan.net/) or email me (you won’t be smothered in e-mail, because I only write one blog a month, and that’s an effort). If you’d like to be friends on Facebook, visit my page at https://www.facebook.com/alice.duncan.925.

Thank you!

Saturday, July 1, 2017


What Can I Say?

The winners of UNSETTLED SPIRITS, my June giveaway book, are Sharon Sambuca, Anne Harris, Marge Hagan and Tracy M. Thurber. I’ll get your books to you probably the week after next. I’ll also be mailing copies of SPIRITS REVIVED to June’s winners, since I didn’t get them mailed in June. Stupid month, June. Mostly mayhem; very little, if any, magic.
 
In fact, June, 2017, was one of the worst months in my life. I had yet another surgery and, while I’m recovering nicely, I’m tired of various body parts going out on me.

The worst thing that happened in June was the death of one of my very best friends, Barbara Masters. When I lived in Pasadena, California, we did pretty much everything together. Our kids grew up together, we went to exercises at the now-defunct YWCA together, we took our kids to the beach together, we went to see all the Gilbert & Sullivan operettas we could find, we held yard sales together, we saw a whole bunch of things at the Ambassador Auditorium together, and Barbara came to all the holiday feasts I prepared in my little Pasadena shack. The only good thing to come of Barbara’s death (for me) was the renewal of my acquaintanceship with her daughter, Kira Steinberg. I hadn’t seen Kira for at least 20 years, and it was great catching up with her. Kira is a dog-rescuer, as am I, and we both agreed we didn’t really understand crazy in people until we began rescuing dogs. We both have stories, which I won’t go in to here.

My grief at Barbara’s passing, however, can’t hold a candle to the grief another author friend of mine is experiencing. Her daughter was murdered by her (the daughter’s) husband in a murder-suicide a couple of weeks ago. I personally don’t care if people want to kill themselves, but think it’s reprehensible to kill another person merely because you’re mad at him/her. I don’t, from personal experience, know how one copes with the loss of a child, thank heaven. To have a beloved child murdered passes my comprehension. What’s worse, this is the third person I know (including my cousin Jerry) whose daughter was murdered by her husband. I’d say it’s insane, but I think it’s actually more evil than insane. There’s got to be some way to stop this sort of thing. Wish I knew what it was.

About the only good thing to come from June, 2017, was seeing the cover art of my soon-to-be-published book, SPIRITS UNITED, which should be available soon. Here it is:

I think that’s it for July’s blog. I don’t have the heart to write anything else at the moment. Or to be funny.

I’ll let people choose their own book from my backlist in July, since I’m too befuddled to choose one myself. If you’re name is chosen, I’ll send you the book you select, providing I have a copy. If you’d like to enter the contest, just send me an email (alice@aliceduncan.net) and give me your name and home address. If you’d like to be added to my mailing list, you may do so on my web site (http://aliceduncan.net/) or email me (you won’t be smothered in newsletters, because I only write one blog a month, and that’s an effort). If you’d like to be friends on Facebook, visit my page at https://www.facebook.com/alice.duncan.925.

Thank you!

Sunday, June 11, 2017


It’s June, by gum!

Good grief, the year’s half over. Seems like the older one gets, the faster time flies.

The four winners of SPIRITS REVIVED are Debra Guyette, Diane Meng, Kathy Otto, Eileen Kenney! I’ll mail your books ASAP, but since I had surgery a week or so ago, it might not be until the end of this next week. At the end of June, I do believe I’ll be giving away copies of UNSETTLED SPIRITS again because I have lot of copies of that one.

Anyhow, since I just had surgery to repair a piece of personal plumbing, this blog’s not going to be very long, but I had a lot of help and fun collecting its various parts.

It all started when my neighbor brought me a jelly doughnut (because he and his wife know I adore jelly doughnuts, but don’t eat them often because I try to eat healthily – I know, how stuffy, huh?) Anyway, he said he got it “from the bottom of his spleen.” That got me to thinking about some of the sayings I grew up with, and I asked folks on Facebook to lend me some of their remembrances. I’ll start with my own home.

When my dad thought someone was a meanie, he said the person had a scab over his liver. If he thought someone had done something particularly bone-headed, he’d say, “One more brain, and you’d be a halfwit.” My dad and my nephew Stephen were both in the U.S. Navy for eons and of course, for them both, creamed chipped beef on toast was always shit on a shingle. Stephen also mentioned that his mother (my half-sister, by gum) would say something was slick as a fart in a mitten.

My younger grandson, Riki, called Albuquerque “Albu-turkey” for a long, long time before he learned the proper pronunciation (well, the way New Mexicans say it, anyway).

My daughters both called hamburgers “han-gurmers.” Ever since I was given a black dachshund by a friend of mine, my kids said I was Weenie’s (that was the hound’s name) “grammoi.” So I am now Grammoi to my grandsons and both of my great-grandchildren.

My mom’s cousin’s husband, Miles Gilbert, when asked how he felt, would generally say, “Fine as a frog’s hair split four ways.” I’ve heard other people say “Fine as frogs’ hair,” but Miles had his own unique take on the expression.
Here are some other gems folks added to the list:

J.M. Cornwell produced these: Hope the crick don’t rise; lyin’ like a rug (when someone was fibbing); looks like the running gears of a katydid (when someone is skinny); gimlet butt (for someone who doesn’t have big hips); dumb as a box of rocks; a few bricks shy of a load; and a revolving door on her bedroom.

Judy Reutebach recalls her mother telling her “Your face will freeze like that” when she wore an unpleasant expression.
David Bedini’s family’s philosophy was, evidently, “Today’s plums are tomorrow’s prunes.”

Vicky Fannin offered this from her dad, Byron: “Never say only and money in the same sentence.”

Carola Dunn’s son used to say donedies for donuts. To him all four-legged animals were “maus” (probably for meow).

Nina Paules’s grandmother, when asked what was for dinner, would say, “Layovers for meddlers.”

Diane Jasperson offered these charmers: Those maniac drivers passed me by like a dirty shirt; as well as: drunk as a skunk; purdier than all get-out; coffee is strong enough to curl your toenails; and does a bear poop in the woods?
James C. Work said his mom, when entering a dark room, would say, “It's dark as Egypt in there." His father thought she had mistaken "darkest Africa" but was too polite to mention it. James also remembered these: Somebody sure put a burr unner his saddle; don’t know him from Adam’s off ox; and dead as a doornail.
Here are some delights from Charlotte Westbrook McDaniel: So poor you don’t have a pot to piss in; ain’t that a kick in the head; about as useful as teats on a boar (or a boar-hog); It’s fixin’ to come a gully washer (hard rain).
Marcia-Lee Finocchio’s mom used to say she’d do something “after I eat this egg.” Marcia-Lee still doesn’t know quite what it means. Nor do I, but I like it.
Kathryn McIntyre grew up with these: She looks like the wreck of the Hesperus; time to bring out the brass monkeys; there’s frost on the pumpkin; like chasing a fart through a bucket of nails (when something is entirely futile); colder than a well-digger’s shovel.
Vicki Lemonds’ grandmother would say: It’s cold enough to freeze your pockets off and, when something didn’t go as planned, “Must not have been holding my mouth right.” For some reason, that last one really tickles me (editorial comment).
Sue Krekeler recalls hearing: S/he looks like five miles of dirt road (when someone is really tired).
Sherry Davis Fritz’s father would say something was colder than a witch’s tit in a brass bra; and something was “knee high to a tall Indian.” I have to admit I’d never heard that last one. I recall something being “Knee-high to a grasshopper” (editorial comment #2 or 3 or something).
Donna Weatherfield (another intrepid dachshund-rescuer) recalls the following: Hell’s bells and panther pants; Busier than a one-armed paper-hanger; and as nervous as a whore in church.
Debbie Sanders’ husband’s Pawpaw (whoever that was) used to say: Busy as a one-legged man in a butt-kickin contest; if frogs had wings, they wouldn't bump their butts when they hopped. Her mom liked to say: He don't have the brains of a piss ant; she don't know shit from apple butter; and you’d better straighten up and fly right.
Gina Gilmore offered the following: S/he don’t know shit from Shinola; and s/he looks like s/he’s been rode hard and hung up wet.
Susan Eggers grew up with these: Enough blue sky to make a Dutchman’s pants; it looked like the itch (if something looked really bad). I’m extremely partial to the second one (another editorial comment).

Ann Watson Smith’s kids used to say nip-nops for flip-flops and pasghetti for spaghetti. My own kids said the last one (editor again).
Julia Anderson grew up with: Mad as a wet hen; I have so much wind, if I could finger it just right, I could play “God Bless America.” The latter was generally said after a meal containing beans, which “Stretch a meal and also cause gas.”
Debra Iverson recalls people looking as if they’d been drug through a knothole backwards.
Jeanell Buida Bolton recalls hearing Hells bells and little fishes.
Johannah E. Zimmerman (and I, too, actually) recalled people being bright-eyed and bushy-tailed.
Susie Lonsinger remembers, when someone was getting uppity, s/he’d be told to get down off your high horse.
Lea Hood’s dad used to say she and her friends were a bunch of “wild Bohemians” when they were having fun (maybe too much fun).
Tabitha Hall and I remember calling a refrigerator the ice box. Becky Muth recalls the refrigerator always being the Kelvinator.
Thanks, everyone, for your input! I came away from this particular Facebook experiment with a whole bunch of new (to me) colorful expressions to use when life is dull.

If you’d like to enter June’s contest, just send me an email (alice@aliceduncan.net) and give me your name and home address. If you’d like to be added to my mailing list, you may do so on my web site (http://aliceduncan.net/) or email me (you won’t be smothered in newsletters, because I only write one blog a month, and that’s an effort). If you’d like to be friends on Facebook, visit my page at https://www.facebook.com/alice.duncan.925.

Thank you!

Sunday, April 30, 2017


Yay for May!

 
Okey-dokey, so my neighbors and I were chatting about stuff a couple of evenings ago. I recommended they watch The Knick, which was a Cinemax series starring Clive Owen as Dr. John Thackery, a sort of early-days House, if you’ve ever seen that series. House starred Hugh Laurie, whom I still think of as Bertie Wooster, but that’s not his fault. Anyway, my neighbor began watching The Knick and is enjoying it. He doesn’t mind gore as much as I do.

All this contemplation of early medical practices and cures got me to thinking about why I write historical novels. The reason, I concluded, is that I like to think of the 1920s as somehow nicer than the 2000s. I’m wrong, of course, and one only needs to think about what was and wasn’t around back then to realize it.

For instance my mother, who was born in Roswell, New Mexico, in 1913, remembered cholera epidemics, flu epidemics, dysentery problems and all sorts of other conditions we hardly consider these days. So I started Googling (Google wasn’t around in the 1920s either, natch). By the early 1900s people routinely got vaccinated for smallpox, thanks to Edward Jenner. Jenner noticed that people who contracted cowpox didn’t come down with smallpox, and the realization prompted him to invent a vaccination for smallpox. But other than that, there was no penicillin, no other antibiotics, and the only pain reliever people knew about until the mid-1880s was either laudanum or morphine, both derived from the opium poppy. Unless, of course, you wanted to go out and find the right kind of willow tree and gnaw on the bark thereof. Not too many people knew about the pain-killing properties of willow bark, however.

By the way, my mother’s father, William Jones Wilson, a circuit-riding Methodist minister, died two days after my mother was born in November of 1913. The family’s regular doctor was away from Roswell, and the substitute thought my grandfather was suffering from sympathetic labor pains. He wasn’t. He had a ruptured appendix. But that’s a story for another day.

Here’s a fun semi-medical fact: Dr. Pepper was originally touted as a “brain tonic” (I could use one of those, but I don’t care for Dr. Pepper). The drink was first bottled and distributed at the Louisiana Purchase Exposition, informally known as the St. Louis World’s Fair, in 1904. From 1889-1914, its advertising slogan was the “King of Beverages”. And people still drink it today. Well, except for me, since I don’t like it. However, I don’t believe it ever contained any actual medicinal properties.

 
A guy named General John Pemberton, a former Confederate surgeon, invented Coca-Cola after the Civil War (actually, he’d probably have called it the War of Northern Aggression) in the 1870s or 1880s as a cure for his own morphine addiction. He formulated the original product in his Eagle Drug and Chemical House in Columbus, Georgia. Coca-Cola originally contained a combination of caffeine and cocaine. Coca-Cola was intended to be a patent medicine, but folks found other uses for it. It still has the caffeine, bless its heart, but somewhere along the way the cocaine was dumped. Probably disappointed a whole lot of people, as it undoubtedly gave folks a happy lift. Don’t have a clue if it helped cure Dr. Pemberton of his morphine addiction. Oh, by the way, my mom said her mother used to give her Coke syrup when she had an upset stomach!

 
Laudanum, an opiate, was routinely sold over the counter for people who suffered from any kind of pain. I know for a certified fact that if I’d been around in the early 1900s (providing I could afford to buy the stuff) I’d have been a laudanum addict because I’ve had so much trouble with various painful conditions for most of my life. That’s kind of a lowering reflection, but it’s true. People could also obtain morphine OTC for many years. In the series House, Dr. House was addicted to Percocet or Vicodin (can’t remember which). In The Knick, Dr. Thackery is addicted to morphine and cocaine. Some things never change, I reckon. Anyhow, Dr. Thackery is delighted to discover heroin because he believes it will be a cure for his addiction. After all, since heroin is sold by the Bayer Company, it has to be safe, right? Well… Maybe not.



Then there’s cocaine, which was used for lots of medical problems. Nobody thought anything about it. After all, it was medicine, right? Again, maybe not. I found this ad when I was browsing:

 
 
Oh! We definitely shouldn’t forget acetylsalicylic acid. In 1899 the Bayer Company made pills out of the ingredients and began marketing it to the general public as a product called Aspirin. Prior to the Bayer Company’s naming and marketing of the drug, one could buy salicylic powders, dump some into a glass of water or another beverage, and drink the resulting concoction. It must have tasted vile, but it was a heck of a lot less dangerous than morphine or heroin. However, by the time aspirin came along, people like me would have been laudanum or morphine addicts for decades. Or dead. I’d certainly have been dead because when I was twenty-two or -three, I got hellishly sick, was headed toward encephalitis or meningitis, and was only saved from extinction by the administration of antibiotics. Which, by the way, were prescribed for me by Dr. Benjamin, who is a frequent visitor in the Daisy Gumm Majesty books.


 
If I’d had that illness before the accidental discovery of penicillin by a Scottish gent, Sir Alex Fleming, in 1928, I’d have been a goner. Penicillin wasn’t available for general consumption until the mid to late 1940s. Luckily for me I got sick in the 1970s. Back in the olden days (1970s and before), you got a shot of penicillin, took two aspirin tablets, and called the doctor in a day or two. These days, antibiotics are generally prescribed in pill or tablet form. Times have unquestionably changed.

Then there were the so-called “operating theaters." In The Knick’s days, the operating theater really was a theater!

And we’d better not forget X-rays. Invented in 1895 by German (well, really, he was a Prussian, but there’s no Prussia any longer) mechanical engineer and physicist, Wilhelm Conrad Röntgen, X-rays revolutionized medicine. Doctors could see inside a human body using Röntgen rays (or X-rays). Back then no one knew that a person needed to be extremely cautious when using these electromagnetic wavelength rays. Sometimes things went wrong and patients (and sometimes technicians) suffered severe burns or even death. Gotta be careful with that stuff.
At any rate, times have definitely changed since the early 1900s. Because I have such honestly terrible back pain, I’m kind of sorry one can’t just waltz into a pharmacy and buy a bottle of heroin anymore, but I’m sure I’m wrong to think that way. Probably. Or perhaps not. Phooey. Don’t suppose it matters. I’m sure not going to hang out on street corners and pray a drug dealer strolls past.

By the way, I'm not in any way attempting to trivialize the current epidemic of opioid overdoses plaguing the country. However, I had a lumbar-spine operation in September of 2012. Recovery was the most painful experience I've ever been through (well, except maybe labor, but labor didn't last as long). I was given, I think, morphine and Percocet. I took the meds as prescribed. No more. No less. When the drugs ran out, I went through withdrawals!!!! Not bad withdrawals, but I felt like a wilted lettuce leaf for a week or two and was sweaty and shaky. That's no joke. Opioids have their place, but it isn't in our kids! Okay, off the soapbox now.

Anyhow, I’ll be in touch with the winners of April’s giveaway book, UNSETTLED SPIRITS, individually. At the end of May, Bam-Bam, my winner-picking wiener dog, will select winners of SPIRITS REVIVED. SPIRITS REVIVED is Daisy Gumm Majesty’s seventh adventure, but since I can’t get the rights back from the original publisher, it’s sort of languishing out there in publishing limbo and there’s a hole in the Daisy series. Maybe one of these days all of the books can reunite and Daisy will throw a big party. Or maybe not.

If you’d like to enter the contest, just send me an email (alice@aliceduncan.net) and give me your name and home address. If you’d like to be added to my mailing list, you may do so on my web site (http://aliceduncan.net/) or email me (you won’t be smothered in newsletters, because I only write one blog a month, and that’s an effort). If you’d like to be friends on Facebook, visit my page at https://www.facebook.com/alice.duncan.925.

Thank you!