Friday, January 31, 2020


It's snowing.

This is my favorite view from our little house.

It's the view from our bed.

It's where I like to sit and read.

And drink coffee.

And stare out this window.

And think.

I have done a lot of thinking from this particular spot over the past 24 years.

It was snowing the first night we spent here, and we've seen a lot of snow since.

Admittedly, when we were both still working, I had some choice words for snowy days when we had to get up and go out on sometimes scary roads to get to work.  Especially because our little mountain road was often missed or forgotten by the road crews who were out plowing.

These days if they miss or forget to plow our road we sometimes don't notice.

We've grown older.

We've grown wiser.

We've grown more appreciative of smaller things.

Sitting on our bed watching the snow fall as Donald lights some candles because he knows how much I enjoy them is one of those small things.

I love my life.  And I feel quite blessed.


Today I am sad.

I think of those candles as candles being lit for remembrance of losses.

In my heart I believe we have lost the country we once had.  The democracy we were once so proud of - that our forefathers fought so hard for.

I think if we, as a democratic society, fight hard enough we might get it back.  But I don't think it will be easy, and I don't think it will be quickly.

I think our own government is responsible and besides making me sad, it frightens me, and it angers me.

And I fear this could be the beginning of an era that the history books will show in a light that will not be kind - no soft candlelight for this era of an ignorant  cruel administration busy lining their own pockets with special interest money while its citizens have to work more than one job to make ends meet and pay their rent, and have to choose between food and medication because there's not enough money for both.  Who go without doctor's care because they can't afford it.  All this while thousands of migrant children are still in cages. 

So.  These are thoughts I'm having as I sit on our bed and watch the snow.

It's beautiful and it comforts me.

I pretend I'm in a snow globe.  Turn it over and the flurries fly.

Put it back on the shelf and the snow settles.

Sadly, the problems that plague me and others do not settle.

November is not that far away.  Will people vote?  Will our votes count?  

Will corrupt people be voted out of office?

Will sanity and kindness be returned?

Will I sit in this spot on Wednesday, November 4, 2020 feeling relieved about election results?

Will it be snowing?

Time will tell.

In the meantime, I will allow myself some time to grieve for what I think we've lost.  

And then I will get back up and I will continue speaking out and raising my voice and hope that others will not allow themselves to fall into the complacency that will allow the spineless group of Republicans who chose party and a tin pot wannabe dictator over country to continue.  

Vote them out.

Vote them out.

Vote them out.

Thursday, January 30, 2020

Snow Day = Art Play = A Place to Get Away From Politics (temporarily)

We woke up to a little more snow today.

And fog.

Pretty, methinks, although some will disagree.

So I wandered out to the storage building to see if Donald has made any changes since I was last out there.

No changes much to speak of.

The shelves are going to be up to me.  

What's there now is just there to be out of the way.

I have a few things in mind for the shelves, including some books, of course.  

And I'm in the process of gathering some things for a project I've been thinking on for the past several weeks.

But it's a secret for now.


I still plan on going out to find the perfect little overstuffed tufted granny chair, but in the meantime, this rocker will do in case company comes to call.  

Annabelle has a warm bed to rest in if she wants, and a favorite toy to play with.

And it's always nice to have a couple of windows to stare out of while creative thoughts dance through one's head.

Especially in a room of one's own.

Saturday, January 25, 2020

Jordan Marsh Blueberry Muffins

I am such a fan of berries - strawberries, blackberries, blueberries . . .

And this week developed a craving for a  really good blueberry muffin.

So I made some.

A long time ago, BD (before Donald) I was working at a bank in Atlanta and a girlfriend I worked with shared a recipe for her blueberry muffins.

She was from Boston and the recipe was the Jordan Marsh Department Store muffin recipe.

Skip ahead several years.

I mentioned a hankering for baking some muffins to Donald.  He mentioned the best blueberry muffins were made in Boston.

At Jordan Marsh.

His Aunt Gladys used to take him there when he was a little boy and he had never forgotten those muffins.

Small world, huh?

A good warm muffin on a drizzly nasty winter day is always a good thing.

Coupled with a sweet memory - even better.

(edited since posting earlier today!)

½ cup butter
1 1/4 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract (mixed with milk)
½ cup milk
2  cups flour
2 tsp. Baking powder
½ tsp. Salt
2 ½ cups blueberries  (this I've changed a little.  I now use 2 cups of fresh blueberries and ONE cup of frozen - the frozen I mash up and mix into the batter.  The fresh I gently fold into the batter)

2 tsp. Sugar for topping (I've changed this too.  I just sprinkle coarse white sparkling baking sugar).

Cream butter and sugar.  Add eggs, one at a time; beating after each.  Mix until well blended.  Add flour, baking powder and salt sifted together alternately with milk & vanilla mixture.  Mash ½  1 cup frozen blueberries (see my note above) cup blueberries, stir into batter.  Fold in remaining 2 cups blueberries.  Grease muffin tins, including top of pans.  Pour mixture into cups, sprinkle with sugar.  Bake 25-30 minutes in 375 degree oven.

Bon Appétit

Thursday, January 23, 2020

I believe in raising my voice

sadly, some don't.

And they deserve what happens to this country by staying silent.


The rest of us DO NOT!

You have a voice.

And not using it is your choice, of course.

Just like cutting off your nose to spite your face.

The Republicans are very good at ignoring their constituents who disagree with them and some of you are playing their game just like they want.

Bless your heart.

I feel enormous sadness for those of you who don't believe these words from Margaret Mead. 

And you make my head hurt. 

But, you won't change my mind about how I think, or how I feel. And I won't stop fighting for those things. 

This is my country too - I'll fight for it. 

You who don't want to fight? 

You who want to spend large amounts of time and space at Facebook telling so many of us why we're wasting our time? 

Leave me alone. 





While I respect your opinions, I do not need your lectures, explanations and theories about why I, and others, are wasting our time. 

I've tried to explain before, but people only see what they want and leave the rest behind - I do not post my feelings here or at Facebook to try to change anyone's mind about things. 

I post them to let you know that MY mind will not be changed. 

Not by those of you who mean well, and not by those of you who are just mean, ignorant and full of shit. 

I have a brain. 

I have a heart. 

I'm 71 years old - I have learned how to think on my own. 

I have feelings. 

Those of you who are spending so much time, space and energy declaring that raising your voice is a waste of time?  Your words are weighty, to my mind, only because there are so many of them - not because of what they actually say.

Do you really think you're telling me something I may not be intelligent enough to know? 

Not to have thought of all on my very own? 

Spend your time and energy doing something other than arguing (even ever so gently) with me. 

Some of you forget we're on the same team.

Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Edgar Award Nominees

Mystery Writers of America announced the Nominees for the 2020 Edgar Allan Poe Awards, honoring the best in mystery fiction, non-fiction and television published or produced in 2019. The Edgar® Awards will be presented to the winners at our 74th Gala Banquet, April 30, 2020 at the Grand Hyatt Hotel, New York City.


Fake Like Me by Barbara Bourland (Hachette Book Group – Grand Central Publishing)
The Stranger Diaries by Elly Griffiths (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)
The River by Peter Heller (Penguin Random House – Alfred A. Knopf)
Smoke and Ashes by Abir Mukherjee (Pegasus Books)
Good Girl, Bad Girl by Michael Robotham (Simon & Schuster - Scribner)


My Lovely Wife by Samantha Downing (Penguin Random House - Berkley)
Miracle Creek by Angie Kim (Farrar Straus and Giroux)
The Good Detective by John McMahon (Penguin Random House – G.P. Putnam’s Sons)
The Secrets We Kept by Lara Prescott (Penguin Random House – Alfred A. Knopf)
Three-Fifths by John Vercher (Polis Books – Agora Books)
American Spy by Lauren Wilkinson (Penguin Random House – Random House)


Dread of Winter by Susan Alice Bickford (Kensington Publishing)
Freedom Road by William Lashner (Amazon Publishing – Thomas & Mercer)
Blood Relations by Jonathan Moore (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt – Mariner Books)
February’s Son by Alan Parks (Europa Editions – World Noir)
The Hotel Neversink by Adam O’Fallon Price (Tin House Books)
The Bird Boys by Lisa Sandlin (Cinco Puntos Press)


The Ghosts of Eden Park: The Bootleg King, the Women Who Pursued Him, and the Murder that Shocked Jazz-Age America by Karen Abbott (Penguin Random House - Crown)
The Less People Know About Us: A Mystery of Betrayal, Family Secrets, and Stolen Identity by Axton Betz-Hamilton (Hachette Book Group – Grand Central Publishing)
American Predator: The Hunt for the Most Meticulous Serial Killer of the 21st Century by Maureen Callahan (Penguin Random House - Viking)
Norco '80: The True Story of the Most Spectacular Bank Robbery in American History by Peter Houlahan (Counterpoint Press)
Indecent Advances: A Hidden History of True Crime and Prejudice Before Stonewall by James Polchin (Counterpoint Press)


Hitchcock and the Censors by John Billheimer (University Press of Kentucky)
Beyond the Thirty-Nine Steps: A Life of John Buchan by Ursula Buchan (Bloomsbury Publishing)
The Hooded Gunman: An Illustrated History of Collins Crime Club by John Curran (Collins Crime Club)
Medieval Crime Fiction: A Critical Overview by Anne McKendry (McFarland)
The Mutual Admiration Society: How Dorothy L. Sayers and her Oxford Circle 
Remade the World for Women by Mo Moulton (Hachette Book Group – Basic Books)


“Turistas," from Paque Tu Lo Sepas by Hector Acosta (Down & Out Books)
“One of These Nights," from Cutting Edge: New Stories of Mystery and Crime by Women Writers by Livia Llewellyn (Akashic Books)
“The Passenger," from Sydney Noir by Kirsten Tranter (Akashic Books)
“Home at Last," from Die Behind the Wheel: Crime Fiction Inspired by the Music of Steely Dan by Sam Wiebe (Down & Out Books)
“Brother’s Keeper," from Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine by Dave Zeltserman (Dell Magazine)


The Collected Works of Gretchen Oyster by Cary Fagan (Penguin Random House Canada – Tundra Books
Eventown by Corey Ann Haydu (HarperCollins Children’s Books – Katherine Tegen Books)
The Whispers by Greg Howard (Penguin Young Readers – G.P. Putnam’s Sons BFYR)
All the Greys on Greene Street by Laura Tucker (Penguin Young Readers – Viking BFYR)
Me and Sam-Sam Handle the Apocalypse by Susan Vaught (Simon & Schuster Children’s Books – Paula Wiseman Books)


Catfishing on CatNet by Naomi Kritzer (Tom Doherty Associates – Tor Teen)
Killing November by Adriana Mather (Random House Children’s Books – Alfred A. Knopf BFYR)
Patron Saints of Nothing by Randy Ribay (Penguin Young Readers - Kokila)
The Deceivers by Kristen Simmons (Tom Doherty Associates – Tor Teen)
Wild and Crooked by Leah Thomas (Bloomsbury Publishing)


“Season 5, Episode 3” – Line of Duty, Teleplay by Jed Mercurio (Acorn TV)
“Season 5, Episode 4” – Line of Duty, Teleplay by Jed Mercurio (Acorn TV)
“Episode 1” – Dublin Murders, Teleplay by Sarah Phelps (STARZ)
“Episode 1” – Manhunt, Teleplay by Ed Whitmore (Acorn TV)
“Episode 1” – The Wisting, Teleplay by Katherine Valen Zeiner & Trygve Allister Diesen (Sundance Now)


“There’s a Riot Goin’ On," from Milwaukee Noir by Derrick Harriell (Akashic Books)

* * * * * *


The Night Visitors by Carol Goodman (HarperCollins – William Morrow)
One Night Gone by Tara Laskowski (Harlequin – Graydon House)
Strangers at the Gate by Catriona McPherson (Minotaur Books)
Where the Missing Go by Emma Rowley (Kensington Publishing)
The Murder List by Hank Phillippi Ryan (Tom Doherty Associates – Forge Books)

* * * * * *


Shamed by Linda Castillo (Minotaur Books)
Borrowed Time by Tracy Clark ( Kensington Publishing)
The Missing Ones by Edwin Hill (Kensington Publishing)
The Satapur Moonstone by Sujata Massey (Soho Crime)
The Alchemist’s Illusion by Gigi Pandian (Midnight Ink)
Girl Gone Missing by Marcie R. Rendon (Cincos Puntos Press)

The Edgar Awards, or “Edgars,” as they are commonly known, are named after MWA’s patron saint Edgar Allan Poe and are presented to authors of distinguished work in various categories. MWA is the premier organization for mystery writers, professionals allied to the crime-writing field, aspiring crime writers, and those who are devoted to the genre. The organization encompasses some 3,000 members including authors of fiction and non-fiction books, screen and television writers, as well as publishers, editors, and literary agents.

Mystery Writers of America would like to emphasize our commitment to diversity and fairness in the judging of the Edgar Awards. Judges are selected from every region of the country, from every sub-category of our genre, and from every demographic to ensure fairness and impartiality.


The Agatha Award Nominees

Congratulations to the 2019 Agatha Award Nominees!

I love seeing so many friends on this list, and am honored to know such talented people. I've read most of the books and stories nominated this year and they are all, in my opinion, worthy of an Agatha.

Best Contemporary Novel
Fatal Cajun Festival by Ellen Byron (Crooked Lane Books)
The Long Call by Ann Cleeves (Minotaur)
Fair Game by Annette Dashofy (Henery Press)
The Missing Ones by Edwin Hill (Kensington)
A Better Man by Louise Penny (Minotaur)
The Murder List by Hank Philippi Ryan (Forge)

Best First Mystery Novel
A Dream of Death by Connie Berry (Crooked Lane Books)
One Night Gone by Tara Laskowski (Graydon House, a division of Harlequin)
Murder Once Removed by S. C. Perkins (Minotaur)
When It’s Time for Leaving by Ang Pompano (Encircle Publications)
Staging for Murder by Grace Topping (Henery Press)

Best Historical Mystery
Love and Death Among the Cheetahs by Rhys Bowen (Penquin)
Murder Knocks Twice by Susanna Calkins (Minotaur)
The Pearl Dagger by L. A. Chandlar (Kensington)
Charity’s Burden by Edith Maxwell (Midnight Ink)
The Naming Game by Gabriel Valjan (Winter Goose Publishing)

Best Nonfiction
Frederic Dannay, Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine and the Art of the Detective Short Story by Laird R. Blackwell (McFarland)
Blonde Rattlesnake: Burmah Adams, Tom White, and the 1933 Crime Spree that Terrified Los Angeles by Julia Bricklin (Lyons Press)
Furious Hours: Murder, Fraud and the Last Trial of Harper Lee by Casey Cep (Knopf)
The Mutual Admiration Society: How Dorothy L. Sayers and her Oxford Circle Remade the World for Women by Mo Moulton (Basic Books)
The Five: The Untold Lives of the Women Killed by Jack the Ripper by Hallie Rubenhold (Houghton, Mifflin, Harcourt)

Best Children/Young Adult
Kazu Jones and the Denver Dognappers by Shauna Holyoak (Disney Hyperion)
Two Can Keep a Secret by Karen MacManus (Delacorte Press)
The Last Crystal by Frances Schoonmaker (Auctus Press)
Top Marks for Murder (A Most Unladylike Mystery)
by Robin Stevens (Puffin)
Jada Sly, Artist and Spy by Sherri Winston (Little Brown Books for Young Readers)

Best Short Story
"Grist for the Mill" by Kaye George in A Murder of Crows (Darkhouse Books)
"Alex’s Choice" by Barb Goffman in Crime Travel (Wildside Press)
"The Blue Ribbon" by Cynthia Kuhn in Malice Domestic 14: Mystery Most Edible (Wildside Press)
"The Last Word" by Shawn Reilly Simmons, Malice Domestic 14: Mystery Most Edible (Wildside Press)
"Better Days" by Art Taylor in Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine

 Winners will be chosen by the attendees of Malice Domestic 32 (May 1 - 3, 2020). 

Congratulations to all!

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

A family affair

Apparently, making the bed at our house takes all three of us.

Sunday, January 19, 2020

The Day I Met Don Barley Chili

(reposted from a year ago)


Because I think recipes are fun to make your own, I never follow one to a "T."

Play around, add what you want - remove what you care to.

Below the "notes" is my basic blueprint for chili.

When I was working at Georgia Tech, our office was invited by the GT Physical Plant to participate in their chili cook-off.

We won first prize.

And that was the day I met Donald Barley.

He mistakenly thought I could cook, but hung around even after finding out that my cooking skills are fairly limited.

But this chili is pretty darn good - thanks to our main chef, Georgia Tech Campus Architect, David Savini.

He'd be proud, I think, that this recipe is still around.

(Notes #1 - The original recipe had beans, but I do not like beans in my chili and neither does Donald, so you won't find them in this recipe, but feel free to add them back in.  Note #2 - This recipe can easily be halved.  Note #3 - Play with the recipe and change it around to your heart's content, I've never been one to believe a recipe needed to be carved in stone).

Bon Appétit!!!

The Day I Met Don Barley Chili


3 ½ lbs. Boneless chuck roast cut into 1/4" cubes
4 lbs. Ground chuck
3 lbs. Extra lean pork loin cut into 1/4" cubes
5 medium sized onions (chopped)
1 medium sized bell pepper (chopped)
6 cloves of garlic (minced)
1 Tbsp. Sugar
2 Tbsps. Salt
2 tsps. Ground pepper
4 dried chili peppers (chopped fine)
2 Tbsps. Cayenne
1/3 cup chili powder
2 Tbsps. Paprika
3 Tbsps. Ground cumin
2 Tbsps. Oregano
1 Tbsp. Mole paste or powder
little Worchester sauce
1 10 ½ oz. Can beef broth
1 12 oz. Can of beer
1 stick of cinnamon
Tomato sauce

SautĂ© each meat separately in a little butter flavored crisco or oil.  Throw away the liquid and store meats overnight in the refrigerator. 

Sauté onions and bell peppers in butter.

Place everything in a large pot, add tomato sauce to get your chili to the consistency you want.

Bring to a gentle boil, turn down to simmer.  Simmer for at least a couple hours before serving. (OR in your crockpot - that's what I do now).

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Today I learned a new word

The word ekphrasis, or ecphrasis, comes from the Greek for the description of a work of art produced as a rhetorical exercise, often used in the adjectival form ekphrastic. It is a vivid, often dramatic, verbal description of a visual work of art, either real or imagined.

I have been reading a lot of books recently about Paris; which has led me to read a lot of books about Paris in the past, including the period between WWI and WWII, including historical fiction and non-fiction.  Also including WWII, the occupation, and the resistance.  I've learned more from the rabbit hole research these books have sent me scampering through than I ever did in school.  

Being a lover, also, of historical fiction having to do with art it was only a matter of time before I stumbled across Susan Vreeland's work. 

"Lisette's List" tapped right into the category of "just right" as my own internal version of Goldilocks might say. 

After reading, and falling deeply in love with this book, I knew I'd be reading more of Susan Vreeland's work.

And I wanted to know more about her.

Sadly, Ms. Vreeland died in 2017, but she left a legacy of fine writing; which she referred to as ekphrasic literature in an interview she did with "Women Writers, Women['s} Books." 

I've been drawn to fiction linked to art and artists most of my life.  Sadly, it took me until today to realize much of it is written in a form which has a name. And, is a form of writing widely used in poetry possibly even more so than in prose.  Happily - I learned something new.

And I have an author's work I'm looking forward to reading and exploring as I'm now doing with "Lisette's List."  Here's a little about the book and the paintings she writes about

Happy Reading!

Monday, January 13, 2020

Left Coast Crime Nominees Announced

Left Coast Crime 2020, “Murder’s a Beach,” will be presenting four Lefty Awards at the 30th annual LCC convention.
The awards will be voted on at the convention and presented at a banquet on Saturday, March 14, at the Marriott Mission Valley in San Diego. 

Lefty for Best Humorous Mystery Novel
The nominees are:
Ellen Byron, Fatal Cajun Festival (Crooked Lane Books)
Leslie Karst, Murder from Scratch (Crooked Lane Books)
Cynthia Kuhn, The Subject of Malice (Henery Press)
Catriona McPherson, Scot & Soda (Midnight Ink)
Wendall Thomas, Drowned Under (Poisoned Pen Press)

Lefty for Best Historical Mystery Novel for books set before 1970. 
The nominees are:
Susanna Calkins, Murder Knocks Twice (Minotaur Books)
L.A. Chandlar, The Pearl Dagger (Kensington Books)
Dianne Freeman, A Lady’s Guide to Gossip and Murder (Kensington Books)
Jennifer Kincheloe, The Body in Griffith Park (Seventh Street Books)
Sujata Massey, The Satapur Moonstone (Soho Crime)

Lefty for Best Debut Mystery Novel
The nominees are:
Tori Eldridge, The Ninja Daughter (Agora Books)
Angie Kim, Miracle Creek (Sarah Crichton Books)
Tara Laskowski, One Night Gone (Graydon House)
John Vercher, Three-Fifths (Agora Books)
Carl Vonderau, Murderabilia (Midnight Ink)

Lefty for Best Mystery Novel (not in other categories). 
The nominees are:
Steph Cha, Your House Will Pay (Ecco)
Tracy Clark, Borrowed Time (Kensington Books)
Matt Coyle, Lost Tomorrows (Oceanview Publishing)
Rachel Howzell Hall, They All Fall Down (Forge Books)
Attica Locke, Heaven, My Home (Mulholland Books)

This year’s Guests of Honor are authors Rachel Howzell Hall and T. Jefferson Parker. 
Mysterious Galaxy Bookstore is the Fan Guest of Honor, and author Matt Coyle will serve as Toastmaster.
For more information on Left Coast Crime 2020, please visit

Saturday, January 4, 2020

Earl Staggs. Rest in peace, my friend

Last night I read some news on Facebook that rocked me.  

My friend Earl Staggs was gone.

My last note from Earl was reminding me to send him an autographed copy of the book he recently edited for me.  And the note was signed, as was every note he ever sent me, with "Heapsa Hugs."

Earl spent two years on an almost daily basis helping me write "Whimsey."  He was the best writing class anyone could ever hope to take.

He edited every short story, every essay I ever submitted and was constantly telling me I should do more.  

As many of you may have figured out by now, I do dearly love Mr. Staggs.

I met Earl several years ago at DorothyL and we became fast friends. We both grew up in Maryland - Earl in Baltimore, and me in a small town on the Eastern Shore of Maryland named Cambridge, which is the home of my heart. 

While Earl and I were getting to know one another, sharing Maryland stories we discovered a mutual love of Ocean City.

Ocean City, MD is where Marylanders go, and have gone for years and years. It's  still, in some ways, an old fashioned beach town, old boardwalk included, with all the requisite boardwalk type shops, and carnival type games and rides. And while we talked about the things no longer there, we were also both pretty happy with the fact that there's a lot about that boardwalk that is exactly the same now as it was when I was a little girl. There are also beautiful white sandy beaches, and great restaurants. I love Ocean City.

Years back, Donald and I borrowed a girl friend's condominium in Ocean City.  This little condo of hers was perfectly situated just at the very end of the boardwalk, and a block back from the ocean with nothing but sand between it and us. We could sit on our balcony and watch the dolphins play. We could watch the surfers. And we could witness gorgeous sunsets.  

This condo is also in the exact same spot that Earl Staggs' protagonist, Adam Kingston, lives in his MEMORY OF A MURDER, a book I love.

Earl can also take credit for being one of the people most accountable for me being here at Meanderings and Muses, blogging away about anything and everything. He and I taking those walks down Maryland Memory Lane nudged something in me. The love I have for Cambridge and the memories I have of growing up there just started bubbling up; begging to be remembered. And shared.

I will miss Earl Staggs and those conversations.

I will miss his wisdom, and his wit.

I will miss sending him the occasional box of peanut butter fudge from Dolle's on The Boardwalk.   

Earl graciously participated in my Meanderings and Muses author spotlights from 2009 through 2014.  He was always the first to respond when I sent out the annual invitation.  

You can read his pieces here -