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.

Book: Patrolling the Heart of the West

True Tales of a Nevada State Trooper

by Steve Raabe

Patrolling the Heart of the West: True Tales of a Nevada State Trooper by [Raabe, Steve]

Every now and again I finish a book and think, “Everyone should read this!” That was my reaction yesterday when I finished the final chapter in Trooper Steve Raabe’s accounts of incidents in his life patrolling the highways in Nevada.

Five Stars from me! I found the writer’s on-the-job tales informative as well as interesting and well told. I think every American — and motorists everywhere — should read this book to get a clearer picture of what the job entails for the man behind the badge, the officer who pulls them over to warn them about that missing tail light, hand them a citation for speeding, or order them to buckle up.

I learned something myself in regard to an experience I once had in the States, when I came up to, and finally passed a patrol car going about 10mph below speed limit. Officer Raabe explains why this is a practice among patrolmen, how it’s helpful for spotting problems, like expired license plates and shifty-looking drivers. 🙂

Raabe shares his memories with compassion and a delightful humor. I appreciate that he hasn’t sensationalized or gone into gruesome details of accidents. He tells a few stories about speeders who paid the price, and of needless deaths because the driver and/or passenger wasn’t/weren’t buckled in. Yet he doesn’t come across in a preachy tone.

In addition to the on-the-road threat of armed-and-dangerous criminals, department favoritism or hostilities can sometimes make a cop’s job miserable. In one chapter we read how, sadly, even in the police force, administrative high-handed interference and imprudence can derail a promising career.

I think this book would be useful in driver training classes, a great asset for fostering understanding and compassion between police and beginning drivers. While the writing is overall quite clean, there are a few places where the author repeats the exact words spoken to him.

What Goes Around…

Like Calls to Like

by Edgar Guest

If you walk as a friend you will find a friend
wherever you choose to fare,
if you go with mirth to a far, strange land
you will find that mirth is there.
For the strangest part of this queer old world
is that like will join with like,
and who walks with love for his fellow men
an answering love will strike.

Here each of us builds his little world,
and chooses its people, too;
though millions trample the face of earth,
each life touches but the few.
And the joy you’ll find as you venture forth
your fortune or fame to make,
lies not in some stranger’s power to say,
for it’s all in the joy you take.

If you walk in honor then honest men
will meet you along the way,
but if you be false you will find men false,
wherever you chance to stray.
For good breeds good and the bad breeds bad;
we are met by the traits we show.
Love will find a friend at the stranger’s door
where hate would find a foe.

For each of us builds the world he knows,
which only himself can spoil,
and an hour of hate or an hour of shame
can ruin a life of toil.
And though to the farthermost ends of earth
your duty may bid you fare
if you walk with truth in your heart as a friend,
you will find friends waiting there.

From The Collected Verse of Edgar A. Guest
© 1934 by the Reilly & Lee Co

Of Bugs & Bucket Lists

I’ve been thinking LOTS but writing little, owing to feeling down in the dumps lately. It’s a type of writer’s block: you know that lingering line: “Why should I bother who cares anyway?”

This started a few days ago as I was reading and admiring a number of online haiku verses. Such talent! A wave of blue (green?) swept over me. I’ll never be able to write meaningful haiku with clever twists of phrase. Here’s a sample of mine:

grasshopper munching
the eye of my daisy
instant mashed

(Historical note: I’ve observed that grasshoppers just love to munch the tender eyes of coneflowers like rudbekia. Justice is dispensed speedily.)

I read a quote by fellow writer “Biff” that made me smile; I think his words will resonate with writers everywhere:

The only item on my bucket list is to someday be satisfied with something I write.

While this quote is part of his reply in the comments, the article itself is something all writers can relate to. Do take a moment to pop over and read his post: A Writer’s Lament.

On the cover of the latest issue of FellowScript Christian writers magazine I read the question, “Should You Write For Free?” And my obvious answer is, “Of course not! I should be getting thousands of dollars for what I write.” Okay, hundreds. I’d even welcome tens.

Do what you love and the money will follow.

Ha!

I’m somewhat cheered today, seeing the haiku I submitted to Troutswirl, the Haiku Foundation’s blog, has been published. Also, I accept that, even though I don’t ever earn a penny, I have the complete freedom to write and post on my blog.

But now that I’ve shared my ups and downs with you, I’d best get back to digging my flower bed in preparation for some pretty blooms.

ducky digging in the flowerbed
trying to win it back
nary a feather to be seen
but sure no lack of quack
🙂

Failures

Wise words from Edgar A Guest

‘Tis better to have tried in vain
sincerely striving for a goal,
than to have lived upon the plain
an idle and a timid soul.

‘Tis better to have fought and spent
your courage, missing all applause,
than to have lived in smug content
and never ventured for a cause.

For he who tries and fails may be
the founder of a better day;
though never his the victory,
from him shall others learn the way.

From his book A Heap O’ Livin

Free Book News!

If you want to read a really great book, Dan Walsh’s The Deepest Waters is free as a special promo for a couple of days on Amazon. Here’s the Amazon.com link.

The Deepest Waters by [Walsh, Dan]

In 1857 newlyweds John and Laura Foster sail from San Fransisco en route to New York, where John intends to introduce his beautiful bride to his family. He sent a letter informing them of his arrival, but they have no knowledge of his recent marriage. Nor has he informed Laura of that fact, thinking it will be only a short time he can introduce them all and they’ll be so impressed with his wife that his strained relations will be soothed and they’ll welcome the couple.

When the ship founders and death seems certain, the couple hold hands and prepare for the end. However, the women and children are rescued from the sinking ship and taken to New York where, after a letter from his “prodigal brother”, Joel Foster is expecting John’s ship to dock. He’s shocked to hear that the ship sank and bears the sad news to the family.

It takes several days for the rescue ship to reach port and Walsh has woven some intriguing episodes into this period. The story cuts periodically to John, after their ship sinks and the survivors are clinging to debris, keeping themselves alive and hopeful of rescue as best they can.

Sadly, a watchful, thieving crewman on the rescue ship spies all the pouches of San Fransisco gold the women are carrying and before they reach port he relieves the naive women of their little money pouches. Thus Laura finds herself penniless in a strange city and facing a family that know nothing about her. Of course they suspect her of being an impostor, as John had all the legal proof of their marriage and their trunk of wedding gifts, with him when the ship went down.

This really is a compelling tale, well told, with vivid and believable characters and a Christian perspective.