Friday, May 1, 2020


May 2020

Merciful heavens, but life can change quickly, can’t it? Last month when I wrote my newsletter, I had no idea Covid-19 would make such a huge impact on the world. Silly me.

The truth of the quarantine, at least for me, is that life hasn’t changed a whole lot. Because the hounds and I live in Roswell, New Mexico, there’s nowhere for us to go and nothing for us to do anyway. Church services have been held via video for a few weeks, and choir practice has been suspended for the duration, but that’s about it. The dogs still take me for our daily drag around the neighborhood (if I’d ever managed to train them properly, they’d walk like good little doggies, but I never did, so I get yanked). That’s on me. Mind you, if I could still afford to live in California, I’d probably be pining away, but I don’t, so I’m not.

Did that make any sense? Never mind. It really doesn’t matter.

In recent weeks I’ve heard from a few people in other parts of the world (other than the USA, I mean), telling me they enjoy Daisy’s and/or Mercy’s adventures but can’t quite equate what they’re reading to what they know in their world. I understand this situation completely, since I love reading British mysteries. So far, among other things, I’ve learned the boot of a car is our trunk, the bonnet is our hood, a fish pie is a fish concoction with mashed potatoes on top (I think mashed potatoes are just mash), and flapjacks aren’t just another word for what we call pancakes. In fact, Carola Dunn sent me her mother’s recipe for flapjacks. It looks delicious, although I haven’t made any yet.

Anyway, because people seem interested, I decided I’d create a more pictorial newsletter than usual, showing Daisy’s street, her house, Mrs. Bissel’s house, etc. And even, because someone asked, I'm posting a photo of clam chowder (pronounced CHOW-dah)! Not my favorite dish, but don’t tell my father. Well, you can’t because he’s dead, but . . . never mind again.

 
 
All right, on to Marengo Avenue, where Daisy and her mother, father and aunt live. This is approximately what Marengo looked like in Daisy’s day:

 
Here’s a lousy photo of Daisy’s house. Below it is approximately what her house would look like if anybody took care of it. They’re not the same house, but they’re close:
 
 
Daisy goes to the Pasadena Public Library a whole lot. This is the library she went to. It was replaced in about 1927 (maybe 1929), but this is the one she went to. It sat in its own park with a pond and a gazebo for sitting and reading in:


 
Here’s the new self-starting Chevrolet Daisy bought to replace their old 1909 Model-T. In fact, here’s the Model-T, too. It had no door on the driver’s side, which created some problems in Fine Spirits:

 

And here's Sam's big, clunky black Hudson:
 

Here’s Harold’s bright red Stutz Bearcat:

 


And here’s Harold’s new Kissel Gold Bug Speedster (which makes its first appearance in Exercised Spirits, which I promise I’ll finish writing soon):
 
This is Mrs. Bissel’s house. This house is of special import to me, because my aunt used to own it, and I pretty much grew up in it. It was a huge part of my life. I used to dream about it all the time. Since I gave the house to Mrs. Bissel and began writing about it, it doesn’t show up in my dreams so much. While I’m showing you Mrs. Bissel’s house, I’ll also show you a monkey-puzzle tree, one of which used to grow in the middle of the circular driveway in the back yard. The leaves on that tree tore up my own personal legs more than once when I was a kid!
         

This is the breakfast room, in which Daisy conducted the séance in which she conjured the ghost of a poor murdered young man, much to Daisy’s (and pretty much everyone else’s) horror. My aunt used to serve dinner in this room unless she was hosting a huge gathering, as on Christmas Eve, etc. Notice the door to the right? Not the door into the kitchen, but the one next to it? That door leads to a suite of rooms (a sitting room with a fireplace, a bedroom and a bathroom). I expect when the house was first built and occupied (early 1900s) that apartment housed the cook/housekeeper. My aunt used to rent it out:

 
And here’s Daisy’s church, where she sings alto in the choir: the First Methodist-Episcopal Church on the corner of Marengo Avenue and Colorado Boulevard (back then it was Colorado Street). It’s pointy!
 

Um . . . I can’t think of any other photos to post. Oh, wait! Boston baked beans. These are the same beans folks in the UK eat, pretty much. At least that’s what I ate when I visited. My daddy made them with either salt pork or bacon (or maybe both), and he served them with home-made New England brown bread, which is sweet and is baked in a tin can. It’s a little too sweet for me, but again, don’t tell my dad. Oh, that’s right. Never mind:


 
Of course, I need to show Daisy’s White sewing machine! According to Leon Fundenberger, who knows about sewing machines, this model dates from later than the 1920s. However, it’s mine, I used to make clothes for both of my daughters and myself on it, and I love it. It’s electric, and it has a side pedal, which runs the thing. I think in the Daisy books I called it a treadle, but that’s incorrect. I’ve learned a whole lot of stuff from Leon and his pal, Iris Evans, who not only collect sewing machines and do tons of sewing, but who also do a lot of fun dress-up stuff:
 
 
Egad! I almost forgot to show you Daisy's engagement ring, made by Sam's father, much against his will (Sam's father's, not Sam's). Sam's family objects to Daisy being neither Italian nor Roman Catholic:




Okay! On to the new book front! Um . . . there’s nothing to say, really. I’m actually getting close to finishing Exercised Spirits, which was supposed to have been published in May but can’t be because I haven’t finished writing it yet. I’m sorry!

I did go through the first book in the to-be-republished “Meet Me at the Fair” series, Coming Up Roses. Boy, oh, boy, I was blabby 25-30 years ago. I slashed and burned my way through that one and felt like a blooming idiot. For one thing, I no longer write romances for a good reason (I don’t want to) and for another, there were just too many words in it. Still have to go through the other two books, Just North of Bliss and A Bicycle Built for Two, and I really hope they don’t require so much editing. Y’know, editing other people’s books and having my own books edited has taught me a lot. I still tend to repeat myself when I’m writing (it takes maybe weeks to write a scene you can read in five minutes), but I’m attempting to curb my repetitive tendency. Just so you know.

A reminder: I no longer have a post-office box, so if you want to get in touch with me, please do so through my web page or on Facebook. Or send me an email at alice@aliceduncan.net. If you absolutely must snail-mail me something (preferably several checks for large sums of money), lemme know and I’ll give it to you. My address, I mean. Oy.

Because I have no clue how long everyone will be on lock-down and don’t want to mail paper books to anyone unless they’re willing to wait six months or so until this little old lady can get to the post office, I’ll be sending ebooks (or regular books if you don’t mind the wait) to the people whose names Bam-Bam has chosen from his special contest doggie dish. And those people are (for April’s giveaway):

Peg Ghrist, to whom I’ll send a NOOK copy of whatever book you want,

Carol Wright, to whom I’ll send a book of any sort if you’ll let me know which one you want and whether you want an ebook or a paper book, and

Teresa Henson, who will get a paper copy (let me know which one you want) as soon as I feel safe going to the post office!

Congratulations, ladies! I’ll send your books as soon as I know which book you want and (in Teresa’s case) when can I get to the post office!

As for May’s giveaway, why don’t we just do the same thing over again? Any old book you want (that I’ve written). Just lemme know either now or if you win which book you’d like. As ever, please send me an email to alice@aliceduncan.net, and I’ll toss your name into Bammy’s dish. Oh, there’s one more thing that might be important to know. When it comes to mailing paper copies of books, I can only send them within the USA. I can send e-copies of books to people pretty much anywhere (or, come to think of it, audio copies, if you’re willing to download the Audible app), but postage to foreign climes is just too expensive.

Okay, what now? I know! Daisy Daze! If you enjoy the Daisy and Mercy books, or if you’re just fascinated by the 1920s (as I am), please feel free to join Daisy Daze. I adore Daisy Daze. Iris Evans and Leon Fundenberger (whom I’ve already mentioned regarding sewing machines) founded the DAISY DAZE Facebook page on which people post all sorts of historical stuff about Pasadena, sewing machines, automobiles, buildings, fashions from the 1920s, houses in which the people in the books might live, stars of the silent screen, and lots and lots of other historical (1920s-era) stuff. It’s fun, and if you’d like to be a member, check it out here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/905100189878318/ .

If you’d like to visit my web page, here’s the link: http://aliceduncan.net/ . If you’d like to be Facebook friends, please go here: https://www.facebook.com/alice.duncan.925

Thank you!

1 comment:

Unknown said...

Oh my, I loved all the pictures and must tell you that although I grew up in Memphis TN both my parents were New Englanders and I don't remember 1 Saturday night that we didn't have baked beans (salt pork) and canned brown bread. Not sure why my mother didn't make her own brown bread as she made other kinds of bread and was a good baker.

I love Daisy and had the new book on my calendar and was sorry to hear of its delay. But I understand perfectly and will look forward to being able to read it.

Was quite happy when I was watching a DIY TV program called 'Restored' that there was a deodar tree. He specifically mentioned the tree and I was so glad to have the pronunciation.

Thank you Alice for giving me many hours of happy reading.

Gretchen