Sunday, April 26, 2009


Caryn has drawn the winning names for her book give-away, and they are:

Brothers Boswell - Vicki Lane
Probable Claws - Auntie Knickers
Life Sentences - Carol H
Killer Keepsakes - Writer's Porch Carol
Flip Out - Helen

Please get in touch with Caryn by either leaving a comment here, or sending her a note:
She'll need your mailing address.

Thanks to Caryn for a fun post. And generous!!!!

and thanks to all of you for popping in!

If you're new to Meanderings and Muses, I hope you've found us to your liking and will visit often. And to those of you who do drop in often - see you again soon!


Some of you are probably wondering who is this person that Kaye has asked to blog this week? Let me briefly introduce myself.

I'm Caryn St.Clair, a 50 something year old from St. Louis Missouri. I met Kaye on DorothyL and then in person at Bouchercon last fall. Kaye and I have a shared interest in good books and interesting people.

When I am not reading, I can often be found at the St. Louis Zoo where I am a volunteer and docent. My husband and I are often at the zoo 3 or 4 days a week in one capacity or another. My involvement with animals extends beyond the zoo though. We are active friends of the Wild Canid Center (commonly called the Wolf Sanctuary). My husband and I share our home with two dogs and two cats and our backyard with many wild birds. I try to change the feeders with the season to catch the migratory birds as well as keeping feeders for our year around residents.

Besides books and animals, I follow Big Ten football and basketball (Go Boilers-class of '74), the St. Louis sports teams- the Blues hockey team (I have to have something to do in the winter), the Rams (and the Arizona Cardinals as long as they have Kurt Warner) and most especially the St. Louis Cardinals.

I also love to travel. I've been overseas a few times, but most of my traveling has been around the US. My favorite places to visit are Edisto Island, South Carolina and the National Parks in the western United States, especially the parks in the southwest. I think Bryce Canyon is one of the most beautiful places on earth. Our best family vacation ever was 2 weeks spent in and around Yellowstone. The best vacation that was just my husband and I was a 10 day trip to Hawaii.

My music tastes run from classic rock (more Stones than Beatles) jazz (especially the Cuban/Latin influenced) to classical to Broadway musicals.

Enough about me, on to the blog. What season do you look forward to each year?

I am a summer person. Give me 90 degrees and sunny any time. One of my goals in life is to finally live in a place where flip flops (I have several pairs) can be worn at anytime of the year. This desire for heat is in direct conflict with my half Norwegian blood, and not really in line with the German side of the family either. It is definitely NOT shared by any of my close relatives.

My strong preference for summer is also not in line with the places I have lived. I grew up in a smattering of small towns around Indiana where we did have nice hot summers for sure, and beautiful autumns with warm if not sizzling days.

But those two seasons were followed by cold, snowy winters and springs fraught with tornadoes. When I finally got my chance to break out of Indiana, where did I land? Central Ohio where the weather was just like Indiana.

A two year stint in Ohio was followed by seven years in Western Michigan where summer is that lovely season that happens, if you are lucky, between the Fourth of July and Labor Day. IF you are lucky. Two of our seven years there we wore winter coats to the fireworks. And because we lived not too far inland from Lake Michigan, we didn't really have the gorgeous clear blue skies as there was always a sort of cloudy haze from the lake. And oh my gosh, the snow! I knew I was in trouble when the city came around and put tall flags on the fire hydrants in late September. See the thing about the snow in Western Michigan is because of the lake, it also snows-like every day. The weather people call it “lake effect flurries.” Believe me it all mounts up over time. Then when they have a real snowstorm, well, I'm here to tell you we have pictures of snow along our driveway over the kids heads. Once it starts snowing, the snow is there until spring-otherwise known as June.

But to be fair, Western Michigan does have lakes. Not just the big one, Lake Michigan, but a number of smaller ones with the clearest water imaginable. And the fruit! The blueberry crop alone almost balanced out the snow-almost. Yes, in spite of the snow, we enjoyed our years in Michigan. However, when we were looking to move on, I begged my husband to move south-way, way south.

We did-all the way to St. Louis. So finally I have hot, hot summers and lovely warm autumns with the most beautiful blue skies. But there is still the winter problem. We have snow and ice-lots of ice. At least in Michigan the city even plowed our sidewalks, and driving was not a problem as the streets were quickly cleared and people knew how to drive in snow. Here? Give us 4 inches of snow and the city is paralyzed, especially if that snow has an inch or two of ice under it. And our springs? That's a mixed bag. We can have wonderfully warm weather with bright blue skies, or terrifying thunderstorms that bring down huge trees (and the power lines). We may have 80 degree days followed by a quick hitting ice storm.

But what makes late winter and early spring tolerable here? BASEBALL! Come February, no matter how frightful the weather is here, the pitchers and catchers are reporting to spring training, and I know summer is just around the corner.

Yes, St. Louis is not as warm of a climate as I'd like, but with baseball, it'll do.

How about you all? Are there any other summer folks out there? Or do you prefer the autumn leaves and crisp cool nights? I'm assuming there are a few winter sport nuts among us, or people who can't wait for the fresh start of spring?

As an incentive to hear from you all, I'm offering a few books to jump start your summer reading. These are all “read gently one time” ARCs of books that I have received from publishers to review. Leave a message telling us what your “season” is and what book (or books) you are interested in. I'll draw names on Wednesday and ask Kaye to post the winners then along with my email address so that you can send me your mailing address.

You can only win once, but your name can be in more than one pot! (US ADDRESSES ONLY PLEASE).

I have a little something for just about any reader so let me know which one(s) you'd like. I have five great reads to share.

1.Flipping Out by Marshall Karp-the crew from The Rabbit Factory returns.

2. Killer Keepsakes by Jane Cleland-the 4th Josie Prescott antique mystery.

3.. Life Sentences by Laura Lippman-a stand a lone that explores how we remember things versus what really happened. A thought provoking book.

4. The Brothers Boswell by Philip Baruth-this is an interesting historical fiction that has a bit of a mysterious twist to it. James Boswell (the biographer of Samuel Johnson) apparently had a brother John who suffered from mental problems. The book tells the story of John stalking James and Samuel through London with murder in his heart. Quite an interesting read from SOHO Press.

5. Probable Claws by Clea Simon-the fourth book in Simon's Theda Krakow series. While Theda tries to help her neighbor with her cat shelter, she becomes embroiled in a murder which in turn jeopardizes her job as a
freelance music critic. The book stands on it's own, so even if you've not read the previous books, if you are interested in mysteries with cats who do not talk or solve crimes, this might be the book for you.


Vicki Lane said...

Hey, Caryn! I really enjoyed learning more about you. I've always been a fan of your posts on DorothyL and it was a treat to meet you at last at Bcon last year.

But I can't agree with you about summer -- in fact, too much summer was the reason we left Florida for NC. I'd say Spring is my time -- and the NC mountains do it really, really well! As Kaye knows.

Put my name in the pot for THE BROTHERS BOSWELL -- sounds intriguing!

Kaye Wilkinson Barley - Meanderings and Muses said...

Y'all - Please do NOT miss that picture of Caryn carrying the flamingo. I LOVE that picture.

Vicki - I'm with you about being a spring person. These mountains do indeed do it well, and after the long hard winters we have here, it is glorious to feel some balmy breezes and see sparks of color bursting through the ground.

After being in these mountains where it stays fairly cool all summer, I just cannot take the summer heat and humidity. I still love being at the beach better than most anything I can think of, but want to be there in the spring or in the fall.

Lesa said...

Caryn! It's so nice to see pictures of you, after all this time. Definitely a summer person, but, unlike you, I was able to escape that midwestern weather, and move, first to Florida for 18 years, and now to Arizona, where I've been for 5 years. Love that heat.

I don't want to enter any of the contests, but I wanted to say hi, and send hugs to two of my favorite unmet friends - Caryn and Kaye.


Auntie Knickers said...

It's good that tastes differ, so that every place can have some people who love its weather. I'm happy in Maine, with a longer spring and cooler summer and beautiful autumn. Winter still lasts a little too long after Christmas for me, but as long as I can hibernate I'm happy. I'll enjoy my trip to South Carolina next week, though -- not far from Edisto, in fact. I'd love to put my name in the hat for Probable Claws.

Carol Murdock said...

Nice to meet you Caryn! How fascinating that you work with all those animals!

I love Spring but having been born on the first day of Fall...I am at my best in the Fall!

I love Tennessee Titans Football !!! I also love to watch Kurt Warner and Larry Fitzgerald on the Arizona Cardinals!

I love Kaye's blog and hope to meet her someday, perhaps you too?


Helen K said...

My favorite season is spring. It is great seeing the spring blossoms after a cold snowy winter.

All five of the book sound great so I would appreciate being entered in all 5 pots.

Helen K

caryn said...

Hi everyone!
I was so afraid no one would show up today!
So far we seem to have more Springers than any other time of year.
Kaye and Carol, you didn't ask to be put in any of the book drawings. Let me know if you change your minds.
FYI it was 90 here Friday, 88 yesterday and at least that already today so I am one happy camper!

Pat R. said...

I love spring and summer but don't like the tornado season - last night tornado sirens went off all evening.

I thought I knew you pretty well but your blog shows that there is a lot I don't know.

Sorry I will be in W. Virginia when you are in Kansas City - Gina said change your time but I doubt the St. Louis Cardinals will do that for us.

Wonderful blog - you ae doing a great job.

Carol Murdock said... put me in all five! I am a book reader and collector!


Carol M said...

Hi, Caryn!

My son was a docent at the Pittsburgh Zoo and now he is a teacher in their education department. He teaches the kids about animals and about environmental issues. We love animals and for that reason we became vegetarians a long time ago.

I'm more of a Spring and Fall person. I don't deal well with really hot or really cold weather!

Laura Lippman is one of my favorite authors. I would love to win a copy of Life Sentences!

Carol M
mittens0831 AT

Carol H. said...

Hi Caryn,

I enjoyed your posts. My favorite season is spring, as I love to see everything come alive and green again. Also, I have a spring birthday- though that isn't quite so thrilling as the numbers get bigger and bigger. :0)

Please enter me in the drawings for all the books.

Thank you!

Carol H. (what a lot of Carols!)

pennyt said...

Hi Caryn - although like you, summer is my favorite season, probably because of the longer days as much as the nicer weather, I choose to live in Eastern Oregon where we have four distinct seasons. There isn't a lot of winter here, but what we have sure makes me appreciate summer. I'd love to win an ARC of Clea Simon's new book. I raise foster kittens for the local humane society in addition to having multiple animals of my own and love animal mysteries. I enjoyed learning about your zoo volunteer activities - what fun.

Sunny Frazier said...

Nobody where I live would agree with me, but I love summer in the San Joaquin Valley of CA. Triple digit days, non-stop blistering heat is nobody's cup of tea, but I thrive. I won't even go swimming until the temperature gets in the 100's. Please enter me in the contest for Laura Lippman. I need some summer reading!

Nance said...

Hiya Caryn! I do envy all your contact with animals on a weekly basis. I'm also a zoo lover but don't get to visit enough. When we moved to So. California from the New York area it was a move I truly anticipated. Through our travels I had discovered I thrived in a Mediterranean climate so here we are 35 years later still thriving! Just love it. So glad I "remembered" to stop in. Put me in the pot for Jane Cleland.

caryn said...

Hi everyone and thanks for stopping by. There are a lot of spring/summer folks amongst us. Where do you suppose all those snow bunnies are hiding?

Sunny, you like it in the 100s? Wow, I'm thinking you've got me beat on the heat loving thing-although if it's a dry heat...

Lesa I think I'd like Arizona too.

Nance, did you move to LA for a job? I don't think I've heard the story.

Vicki, Kaye and Carol, we travel to the Carolinas in April often, with stops in Tennessee, so I can see how you all would love spring. It's gorgeous in the mountains in April.

Pat, you and I have the same wather and the same issues.

Auntie Knickers, you have to be made of really strong stuff to survive Maine in the winter I think!
Carol M the Pittsburgh zoo is hosting a docent conference in August which we may attend. If not we may just go to Pittsburgh earlier in the month for baseball-and the zoo of coarse.

Penny,Oregon is one of just 3 states I've not visited (along with Alaska and Washington. Is the climate different in the Eastern part of the state than the coast? Less rain?
Helen, I like seeing the first splashes of ciolor in the spring too-until the rabbits mow them down! I have all sorts of crocuses planted around the house and they will be blooming one day and the next day just stems. Grrrr.

Anonymous said...

Hi Caryn!
I can't agree with you about summer - hate it when it gets over 80! I'm one of those strange winter people - and as for Big 10 - Go BADGERS!

Please toss my name in the pot for Killer Keepsakes. She's a favorite author of mine and my mother's.

Carol N. (another Carol!)

Carol M said...

Hi Caryn,

One of the things my son does at the Pittsburgh Zoo is to take groups on tours. He and his wife are on vacation right now. When they get back I'll ask him if he will be doing it for the docents in August. Be sure to visit the polar bear exhibit when you visit. It's really set up nice.
Carol M
mittens0831 AT

Kaye Wilkinson Barley - Meanderings and Muses said...

Oh! I forgot to put my name in a hat!

Marshall Karp's "Flipping Out" please.

Aubrey Hamilton said...

I also grew up in a small town in southern Indiana, and I know exactly what you're talking about. St. Louis would not be an improvement over the summer humidity along the Ohio River.

I am a spring or fall person, although I love the long days of summer. Spring because I am always tired of winter well before it leaves and I look for the tiniest buds to assure myself that the winter will in fact end. And the colors of autumn are exquisite.

I have a houseful of rescue cats, so I share your enthusiasm for animals. I am interested in the Clea Simon book as well as the Jane Cleland. Many thanks for the generous offer!

Aubrey Hamilton

Patricia said...

Caryn what a lovely post and I think we might twin sisters as my favourite saying is "You can't run in flipflops". I don't get to use mine as much as I would like to and take an chance I get to escape the snow and cold here in Toronto! Kaye you always have the loevelist guests here and I enjoy reading them and feel I know both of you a bit better....I would put dibs on Marshall or Laura's ARC but don't fit the criteria being north of the 49th but I just had to let you both know that I enjoyed the post

caryn said...

Okay folks, the winner is Spring!
No seriously, the book winners are:

Brothers Boswell-Vicki Lane
Probable Claws-Auntie Knickers
Life Sentences-Carol H
Killer Keepsakes-Writer's Porch Carol
Flipping Out-Helen


Carol M said...

Congrats everyone!

Carol M

Vicki Lane said...

Thanks, Caryn! Sending you my address now!

Clea Simon said...

Thanks for including Probable Claws among the goodies! I'd love to hear what other readers think - and if anyone would like to read an excerpt, I have a chapter up at my website at

All best!

Clea Simon said...

Wow! Love that photo of you with the raptor (hawk? eagle?) Incredibly cool!!

And thank you for your review of "Probable Claws," which I have finally seen (I've been traveling) on another site!