Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Daisy’s Bag of Tricks

Writing a cozy mystery series set in the 1920s in Pasadena, California, requires a good deal of research. Since I love both research and my old home town (Pasadena, of course), I don’t find the historical research burdensome.

What I do find burdensome is Daisy’s job as a spiritualist-medium. As someone who has absolutely no talent for spiritualistic things, I need to scramble a good deal in order to figure out what the heck the lines on a palm mean or a tarot layout says. Forget the crystal ball altogether. I’m pretty good with the Ouija board because I’ve had lots of practice, thanks to my daughter, Robin, who bought an old Ouija board at a yard sale one day maybe twenty-five years ago.

When Robin brought the board to my house, she was frustrated because when she and her boyfriend had used it at her apartment, the stupid board kept spelling out MOMMOMMOMMOM and nothing else. When she and I fiddled with it, we discovered (this is a true story, even if it is rather odd) Rolly! I gave Rolly to Daisy, who seems to make much better use of him than I ever did. His background story is correct, however. According to the Ouija board that long-ago day, Rolly and I had been married in Scotland in 1055 or thereabouts and had five sons together. Sounds like heck to me, but he claimed we were soul mates and he’d followed me through all my various lives. Ooooookay. If you say so, Rolly. Anyway, about fifteen years or so ago, I had my very own “channeling board” made by a woman recommended by a writer friend of mine (Stobie Piel). I think it’s lovely. Neither Stobie nor I can remember the woman’s name, so I fear I can’t pass along the information if you’d like to have one of your own made by her. She does great work.
At any rate, the Ouija board presents no problems. The tarot and the palms, however, are a whole ’nother kettle of fish. In order to attempt to do them justice, I got myself a Rider Waite tarot deck and some reference materials: two books on the tarot and one book on palmistry. I still can’t figure out the tarot without a great deal of reading, no matter which pattern I have Daisy deal out, generally for the fictitious Mrs. Pinkerton, her best client and one of the dimmer and wealthier of Pasadena’s denizens during the period. Fortunately, I have a dear friend, Elizabeth Delisi ( ) who does read tarot cards. Mind you, Liz and I have never met in person, but she got me a job teaching for Writer’s Digest once, and she helps me understand (vaguely) tarot cards. Very useful source of information, is Liz, bless her.

As to palmistry, here’s a picture of my old, wrinkled right palm. Pay no attention to the Band-Aid on my finger. I wrap a Band-Aid around that joint every day because it’s so painfully arthritic. When I first got my palmistry book, I attempted to read my own palm. That didn’t work out too well. For some reason, my Mount of Apollo, which is supposed to be connected to a person’s artistic nature, seemed to have vanished. That came as a little bit (but not much) of a surprise to me. Mind you, I have no artistic capabilities if we’re talking about drawing, painting, sculpting or anything else along those lines, but I do like to think I have at least a little bit of a leaning toward the literary. Or, if not precisely literary, at least … well, writing. You know? Anyhow, somebody told me the various mounts tend to blend together in some folks. Whatever. I have no reason to doubt whoever it was who told me that.


The palm-reading book has come in handy a time or two, but Liz and my tarot-card books are even more helpful, even if it takes forever for me to figure out what the heck the cards mean, especially when they’re laid out in any specific pattern.

While Daisy herself has a crystal ball and actually sees unusual things in it from time to time, I don’t. So I had to find a crystal ball like that Daisy might have used on Google. Daisy doesn’t take it with her all the time, because the stupid thing’s heavy. However, Daisy is no shirker, and if someone wants a crystal-ball reading, she’ll gladly tell them anything she believes they want to hear.

As for the rest of Daisy’s tricks, Spike, her late husband’s beloved dachshund, is patterned directly after my very first dachshund, whose name was Hansel Schnitzel Fritzel von Poncho Pooh Puddle Monsieur la Puppy Stink Duncan. Really. I took him to dog-obedience school at the Pasanita Dog Obedience Club at Brookside Park in Pasadena, California, during the summer between fourth and fifth grade, worked with him every single day, and took him for walks that went on for miles and miles. What’s more, he really could add, subtract, multiply and divide, at least as well as I could (which wasn’t very). All it takes is time and patience. Mind you, I have neither any longer, but when I was a kid I had a lot of both that summer, and I spent all of each commodity on Hansel. All the dachshunds I’ve had since Hansel have trained me. Darn it.
Also, unlike Daisy, I love to cook. So Daisy’s Aunt Vi is kind of me, only she prepares much fancier meals than I ever have. I’ve never even attempted to fix beef Wellington, for instance. I have, however, prepared floating island. Both my mother and my father were excellent cooks. Good thing I don’t like to eat as much as I like to cook, or I’d weigh approximately as much as Mrs. Bissel’s house. By the way, that house used to belong to my very own aunt, Maren Fulton. Ah, life. I tell you, there’s a whole lot of me in my Daisy books!

I’ll be in touch with the winners of November’s contest. Bam-Bam will proceed to pick wieners this very evening.

If you’re interested in visiting my sort of, kind of out-of-date web site, please do so at: . And if you’d like to be Facebook friends, just go to my Facebook page:

Thank you!


Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Good Grief. Is it Really November Already?

October was a great month. Well, except for the fact that I’m kind of sick again. But I got to go to California and see both of my daughters and one of my grandsons and a whole bunch of my friends. I’m a Californian to my toes, but I can’t afford to live there anymore. Sniffle.

Anyway, we had a good time. Robin (younger daughter), Riki (younger grandson) and I went to Anni (older daughter) and Razmik’s (Anni’s husband) place in Kernville, which is a charming town, right smack next to the Kern River. Anni and Raz sell good sandwiches from their food truck and love living where they live. Anni is also a brilliant artist (so is Robin) and knits pretty much everything there is to knit. Heck, she even managed to get her hands on some alpaca wool once and washed it, carded it, spun it into yarn and made me some slippers with the result! She also quilts and does needlework. Robin works with polymer clay and just about everything else and makes lovely things with it. Here's the food truch, Anni in her knitted skirt, and a whole bunch of polymer-clay gift tags Robin made for someone who paid her to make them:

Riki (and Anni, for that matter) is a marvelous classical guitarist. I asked him to play and sing Leonard Cohen’s song “Hallelujah” for me, and by gum, he did! Here he is, playing and singing next to the Kern River, with the water rushing past and birdies chirping in the trees (fortunately, the ravens didn’t begin cawking until after he’d finished). Riki is also an origami master. He’s been origami-ing since he was about five years old. By the way, Riki wasn't wearing this Nissei outfit when he played in Kernville, but I couldn't find a still of him playing his guitar:

Amazing young man, Riki. So’s my older grandson, Dai, but he lives in North Carolina with his wife Emily and their two kids, so I never get to see them. Sniffle. However, Dai and Em and the kiddles just moved into their new-old house in time to be smacked by Hurricane Matthew. This isn’t a very clear shot, but you can see my great-granddaughter, Kasumi, having fun in the back yard with all that extra water.

I also was privileged to see a whole bunch (well a few) of my old dancing buddies. We got together at a place called the Flintridge Proper and had a lovely lunch. It was fun seeing them again. Had a good time and a good meal. Karen Boggs took this picture, so she's not in it, but she was there:

While in Pasadena, I also took pictures of Mrs. Bissel’s house (which used to belong to my aunt). I basically grew up in this house, and it haunts my dreams. It’s difficult to get a good picture of it, because you pretty much need to be in a cherry picker to shoot it head-on (so to speak). I had to stand in the yard (hope the owners didn’t mind) at the foot of the slope and shoot upwards. I also took a picture of Daisy’s house, which is actually a house I used to own. Oddly enough, the photo refuses to open on my computer here at home. I think it’s all for the best, because the place looks like heck. If my second ex-husband, Old Weird Robert, still lives there, he’s definitely not taking good care of the yard. Harrumph.

Got to have lunch with Lauri, my oldest friend (she’s about two weeks older than I am, actually) and Riki at a place called Yes Sushi in Pasadena, and that was mega fun! We ate all the sushi in Pasadena (again) and babbled for hours. I can’t get [decent] Japanese food in Roswell, so I always try to eat as much of it as I can when I visit my old home town.

It was also great seeing another of my very good friends, Barbara, while visiting. Barbara has cancer, which I think is totally unfair of the universe, but the universe didn’t consult me before attacking Barbara. We had a good time anyway, and I hope we’ll be able to see each other many more times.

And one more wondiferous, fantabularious thing happened in October. I CLEANED MY OFFICE. Anni and Raz visited earlier in the year and fixed up my house with new floors, new paint, new shelving and stuff like that. I had all sorts of things piled in my office, but I’ve been fairly well crippled for the last two or three years and never tackled the piles. Well, my back still hurts, but my hip replacement worked beautifully, and I CLEANED MY OFFICE! No photos yet, because I’m having pictures I aim to hang in it framed, but if I can manage to keep it organized for a month, I’ll post pics in December. Whew!

In case I never mentioned him, Bam-Bam is my special winner-picking wiener dog. Bam-Bam had a rough beginning at a puppy mill in Big Spring, Texas. He never experienced any human contact except the negative kind before a nice lady named Delynda Reed picked up him and his companion, Bella, in Texas and drove them both to Tatum, New Mexico, where I met her and got Bella and Bam-Bam. Tragically, Bella died last autumn, murdered by two of my other dogs, Jazzy and Cookie. I feared Bam-Bam might go into an emotional decline, but he was fine. I, on the other hand, needed heavy therapy. Every time I think about Bella, I wanna weep. Oddly enough, someone finally landed a very good picture of Bam-Bam. This is the best photograph anyone’s ever taken of Bam-Bam, because he’s so excruciatingly shy. This is extraordinary because the person who took this picture is a man, and Bam-Bam is terrified of men. I’ve had him for five years, and he’s still scared to death of men. But Barry (the Horrid Man) Lasky, husband of Ann Wilmer-Lasky, my neighbor and partner in wiener-dog rescue, took this picture of him while I was in California! Amazing:
By the way, Ann and I rescued a couple of semi-wieners from a couple of shelters in Roswell during the month of October, too. They’re cutie-pies, even if they aren’t purebreds. Here’s a picture of them with Ann. Ann’s the one with red hair.

I’ll be in touch with everyone who won an audio copy of ANCIENT SPIRITS (Daisy Gumm Majesty’s sixth adventure) and will offer a couple of my other books (don’t know which ones yet) at the end of November. If you’d like to enter my contest, just send me an email with your name and home address to . Thanks!

If you’re interested in visiting my sorta-kinda out-of-date web site, please do so at: . And if you’d like to be Facebook buds, just go to my Facebook page:

Thank you!