What Goes Around…

The Ragtag Daily Prompt this morning is BOOMERANG

Friendship’s like a boomerang
when you give a friendly smile
you’ll find it coming back to you
as you trudge some weary mile.

–Author unknown to me
Verse from an old Friendship Book

The word BOOMERANG comes from an Australian aboriginal language; its appearance in the English language was in the 1820s. However, the concept of things coming back to you is ancient.

In Galatians 6:7 the Apostle Paul writes, “Be not deceived, God is not mocked, for whatsoever a man soweth, that also shall he reap.” Whether you’ve done good or bad; the Lord rewards you for your actions.

Even farther back, Solomon wrote “Cast thy bread upon the waters: for thou shalt find it after many days.” Eccl 11:1 This being written in the more positive sense.

Hinduism and Buddhism teach a system of karma, whereby the good you do sets in motion a chain of actions that rewards or punishes you by your lot in the next life. In general, Good or bad luck, viewed as resulting from one’s actions,” according to the Oxford English Dictionary.

In our day we’ve boiled it down to “What goes around, comes around.” We could even mention Bobby Burns’ “The best laid plans of mice and man go oft astray.”

Boomerang, in my mind, carries a more negative sense. Like getting hit in the back of the head by the boomerang you threw at someone else. Or like the fellow who planned to rob a store by crawling through the heating duct late one Saturday night. Plans went awry when he got stuck and there he stayed until the store opened Monday morning and police were called to investigate.

Constable About

The Ragtag Daily Prompt this morning was MICROCOSM

This is a word I’ve never really understood and never used—I find it hard enough to spell — but I dutifully checked it and came up with “a miniature representation” of a greater thing, “a little world” unto itself that typifies a greater society, or  “a community or other unity that is an epitome of a larger one.” (The last being from Merriam-Webster.)

I suppose you could say that “Amazon authors are a microcosm of writers the world over.” And I hope I’m using it rightly in the following example.

I’ve started reading another of Nicholas Rhea’s “Constable” books. I read this delightful series twenty years ago, when Bob’s mom lived with us. I borrowed them for her, along with the Miss Read books, from the local library. Simple fiction stories divided into cases or incidents, replete with amusing, mild and friendly characters, though some are a trial to the poor constable and his colleagues.

The Yorkshire village where Constable Nick Rhea lived and worked was a microcosm of village life in counties all across England in the 40s and 50s. There are a number of books in this series, which, I understand, was made into a British TV series in the 60s:
Constable Goes to Market
Constable on the Prowl
Constable Over the Style
Constable Versus Greengrass (An amiable “opportunist”, poacher & general layabout)
Constable at the Dam
Constable Under the Gooseberry Bush
And more

Prize-winning gooseberry bushes that must be protected feature first in the Constable in the Dale book I’m reading now. This is followed by the vicar’s successful, if sometimes embarrassing, porker-producing enterprise starring the lovely “White Lily.”

If you like a touch of rural England that’s both nostalgic and a great picture of human nature, do check out these books. I’m delighted to discover that the e-book versions are all free on Kindle Unlimited.

The Irascible Agatha Raisin

Agatha Raisin and the Potted Gardener
Agatha Raisin Mystery series #3

By M C Beaton

I read the first book in the Agatha Raisin Mystery series, Agatha Raisin and the Quiche of Death, and one other short story tacked onto that one. Now I’ve finished the third book in the series and have had my fill. Actually, though I hate to quit before the end of any book, I was ready to toss this one several times before I discovered whodunit.

The setting in interesting; the plotting, pacing and writing are excellent, but the main character is so disagreeable. Back in London she was a hard-nosed — and pretty much friendless — business owner and she carries this personality into her retirement years. She may want to make friends in her new home town and does mean well — at times. Overall, though, she’s self-centered and defensive. I was hoping to see Agatha mellow in this peaceful Cotswold village as the series progresses. She doesn’t.

Pugnacious and mulish are the adjectives the author often uses to describe Mrs Raisin. Belligerent and snarky would also fit. She lies constantly, swears, staggers home tipsy from the village pub, insults almost everyone, and has a real temper. In one story she invites the neighbours for a Christmas dinner, but bashes one lustful old guest over the head with a Christmas pudding.

Always competitive, she cheats in village contests. In The Quiche of Death she’s newly arrived and wants the acceptance of the villagers. She sees her chance when she discovers there’s to be a village baking contest. Culinarily-challenged herself, she buys a quiche from a great little bakery in London and submits it as her own creation. Unfortunately someone adds a bit of poison and serves it to the judge. So the truth must be confessed.

In this third book she wants to impress certain gardeners and win the local flower show, but she’s hopeless at growing things. Supposedly she’s learned her lesson with the quiche, but weakens and buys a nursery-grown rose to enter as her own. Forgetting to take off the tag. Again her deception is exposed, but village folks are amazingly tolerant.

One big plus for Agatha is that she’s made friends with Mrs Bloxby, the curate’s wife, who is a saint for sure. Sanguine, welcoming, accepting, charitable, always thinking the best, she saves and soothes Agatha’s pride several times in this story. Agatha is also friends with her bachelor neighbour James, a retired army colonel — on whom she has a serious crush as this story starts. (I gather they work together in several stories to figure out whodunit.) However, Agatha insults him, too, petulantly calling him a male chauvinist pig when he scolds her for throwing a lit cigarette into the tinder-dry grass.

Like all amateur sleuths in all cozy mystery stories, she’s nosy. When the local CID inspector Bill Wong, who has taken a liking to Agatha, tells her to stay out of the investigation, she slips on her halo and nods a meek “Yes.” As soon as he’s out of sight, she and James are off hunting for evidence and interviewing suspects. In this book she’s trying to find out why a lovely divorcee, Mary Fortune, a newcomer and enthusiastic gardener, has met a sad end in her conservatory.

Because this is fiction, the writer is able to say that in spite of Agatha’s abrasive character she’s well liked by the villagers. Some characters testify that “Mrs Raisin has many good qualities.” In real life this would be highly unlikely. I know a woman much like this: not as insolent or combative as Agatha but just as self-centered and flexible with the truth. Her friendships and relationships are all short-lived.

I have some sympathy for Agatha Raisin because she is so lacking in interpersonal skills, but find her lack of conscience hard to take. Since the villagers of Carsely are stuck with her it’s a good thing they like her. And since it’s such a popular series — as I gather from the reviews — a lot of readers are willing to tolerate her faults, too.

Ragtag Daily Prompt word: Evidence
Word of the Day Challenge: Sanguine

The Winnings Disappear

Here’s Sammi’s latest writing challenge. You can check out the rules at her blog HERE. Many thanks for hosting this, Sammi.

 

 

 

 

 

 

My 89-word tale is a take-off from an account I read on another blog. The writer was the one watching the frustrated lotto winner waiting for the check that never came. Be careful out here. As someone once said, “If it seems too good to be true, it probably is.”

The Winnings Disappear…And What Else?

“Unbelievable! Great! See you there.” Gord hung up and turned to Marlyss. “We’ve won big, sweetheart! They’re bringing our check to CrackerJacks. Let’s go.”

“We’ll replace this furniture,” Marlyss said as they dashed out.

“We’ll replace this house,” Gord amended.

Two hours later, frustrated, Gord ended the call. “Three times I’ve given them directions. I can’t believe they can’t find this place!”

Another diner leaned their way. “Better check what’s happening at home. Maybe better take a cop along.”

Exchanging looks of horror, the couple dashed for the door.

Yesterday

Today’s Word of the Day prompt is YESTERDAY. I can hardly miss this one, as I have lots to say about yesterday.

We were off to the city shortly after 9am yesterday; I had a doctor’s appointment in the morning and we had a writers’ group get-together in the afternoon. Once a month some of us Christian writers in this area get together to catch up and keep in touch. It’s always an encouraging sharing session. One of our group, Darlene Polachic, has written several Christian romances. Here’s Amazon link for the first book in her Ever Green series, of which there are five so far.

Yesterday I finally finished a jigsaw puzzle I started Sunday. It was a toughie, a 1000- piece artwork picture, the artist’s depiction of some southern (Tuscan?) village with background vineyards and trees, which means the whole puzzle is mostly shades of green-grey-aqua. I was convinced quite a few pieces were missing until the very end, when it turned out only one was. Smack in the middle of the sky! Do you throw out jigsaw puzzles with one piece missing?

Yesterday while I was waiting for my husband I downloaded and started to read a cozy mystery, one of the Aunt Bessie series by Diana Xarissa. I finished it this afternoon, between excursions outdoors to clean up the flower beds and pots. We’ve had some serious frost that’s left my annuals looking pretty limp. Time to get the pots cleaned up and put away.

Overall the series feels mild and homey. Aunt Bessie lives in her little cottage by the sea, on the Isle of Man, and gets together often with her friends for meals and discussions about whodunit. She seems to have a knack for being on the scene when a crime’s discovered and it helps that her good friends are Inspector John Rockwell, Bessie’s friend Doona, who works at the Police Dept., and Hugh Waterson, a local bobby who loves his food. Lately they’re often joined by Hugh’s new girlfriend, Grace. (They marry later in the series.)

This story starts out well but the middle slows considerably as they go in a lengthy circle of who committed the crime and get nowhere. Plus it’s Christmas and they get lost in a rather long discussion and sampling of seasonal goodies. I feel a mystery should move fairly fast and this one definitely could speed up some. If readers are really interested in the various kinds of cookies made in the US and how they differ from the English biscuits, they may not mind this detour from the investigation, but 3/4 of the way through I was ready to skip ahead and find out who the guilty party was.

Still, for a cozy mystery series this one is quite good. I really don’t like the ones where an aggressive amateur sleuth gets in people’s faces, demanding answers. I read and enjoy the Markham Sisters Bed & Breakfast series, by the same author. It also moves sedately for the most part and the mysteries are minor ones, like what their guests might be up to, or who might be spreading counterfeit bills in the little village of Doveby Dale.

This series reminds me of the Miss Read books I used to read long ago, “Life in a small English village” type of stories. And one thing I can say about both these series is that the writing is improving and the characters are developing more, and more sensibly, as the series progresses. Nice to see the writer learning and improving her craft.

I wonder how many of you recalled that old Beatles tune, “Yesterday,” when you saw today’s word prompt? If you’re under forty you maybe never gave it a thought, but that was a big hit when I was a young teen. Dates me, right? 😉

And I think that’s enough said about yesterday.