Friday Book Whimsey: What the Dead Leave Behind

There are two era’s in which books take place that will suck me in every time, particularly if it is a murder mystery: a) I love the 1920s, just after WWI, when fun is the name of the game, and thoughts have not yet turned to the possibility of WWII; and b) the late 1800s in New York City, set among the Vanderbilts and the Roosevelts and the Astors. There is just something I find so romantic about that era, despite the fact that women were definitely considered second rate citizens.

A new series by author Rosemary Simpson features a strong-willed woman who lives in one of the famous Fifth Avenue mansions. The night of the real-life Great Blizzard of 1888, Prudence MacKenzie awaits the arrival of her fiance Charles, who must travel through the blizzard to see her. He never arrives, and is later found dead. She soon learns that though her father left her all of his money upon his recent death, the will declares that in order to receive the money, she must be married to Charles so he can manage her fortune. Otherwise, the money goes to her father’s young second wife. Prudence suspects foul play when Charles is found dead and buried under snow with an Ace of Spades in his hand.

Soon, Charles’ long-time friend Geoffrey Hunter, a former Pinkerton agent, shows up. He not only knows the meaning of the playing card, but suspects, as does Prudence, that there is something sinister about her father’s young wife and her dispicable brother.

I liked the character of Prudence, because despite living during a time when women really did have no power, she used her wits and her money to her advantage. Her evil stepmother tries to control Prudence by keeping her under the influence of laudanum, and I found that prequel to today’s drug problems interesting.

A new Prudence MacKenzie novel has just been released, and I am looking forward to reading it.

Here is a link to the book.

Thursday Thoughts

You’re Getting Old When….
The other day Bill and I did some errands outside the house. I honestly can’t remember where all we went, but I know our errands involved getting out of the car and going into a place of business. When we got home, I went immediately to my closet to take off my shoes and put on my slippers. Oops. The task went faster than I anticipated, because I looked down at my feet and noticed I had worn my slippers out as we did our errands. I’m always looking at ways to save time. Maybe no one noticed?…..

 

Up, Up, and Away
When Bill bought his first drone, I was entirely puzzled. What would be fun about flying something like that around your back yard? A couple of years later, when he bought his second, slightly larger drone, I thought, well, he must want something a little sturdier with which to play, er, practice his flying skills. But the other day, when an even larger drone showed up on our front doorstep, it took every ounce of my being to keep my mouth shut. After all, he never says a word when I come home with $100 worth of yarn or a new kitchen utensil. I’m pretty sure the next stop is a real-sized helicopter…..

Just how much fun can one man have?

Does It Hurt When I Do This?
You might remember that I have been complaining about knee pain. Actually, it is pain BEHIND my right knee. I have been dealing with it since the beginning of December. I went to my primary care doctor’s office in Denver before we headed here to AZ. The P.A. diagnosed it as a Baker’s Cyst, and told me that it would eventually go away. It didn’t. So I went to a primary care doctor here in AZ. He told me it wasn’t a Baker’s Cyst; instead, he thought it was a meniscus tear, and he sent me to get an x-ray. I later learned that an x-ray wouldn’t show a meniscus tear because it’s not bone. The x-ray came back showing, however, that I had no arthritis in my knee. Good news, but the pain didn’t go away. My knee felt a bit better, but some pain was still present. So I went to an orthopedic surgeon’s office and saw an orthopedic P.A., who took a look at the x-ray and said, “You have a great-looking knee for someone in your age group.” He really did say that, but assured me he was talking about the inside of my knee and not the outside. He told me he didn’t think it was either a Baker’s Cyst or a meniscus tear. In fact, he pretty much told me he hasn’t the slightest idea about what is causing my pain, and offered the option of getting a steroid shot, involving a really long needle. Bottom line, I have no idea what is causing my pain, but I’m hoping it just goes away. Needles are not my friends. Many, many cumulative years of education, and that’s what I end up with!

Sunrise, Sunset
We went to our niece Maggie’s house for dinner last night. They moved into their new house late last year. The house is lovely, and one of the really nice things it has going for it is a western view, all the better to enjoy really magnificent sunsets. Like this one, for instance…..

Ciao.

Truck Stop

Every morning when I open up my Facebook app, I am greeted mostly by a variety of ads. That’s okay. I like to learn what’s out there that I will never buy. But the greeting that I most look forward to — and it’s there every morning as reliably as the mockingbirds’ song when the sun comes up — is from Amazon.

Somewhere around Christmas, Amazon decided that I like really unusual — no, actually goofy — accoutrements for my house. Of course, the fact that they suck me in each time and I click to see what it is they are trying to sell me only serves to make them continue to offer me increasingly goofy items.

I started putting the most ridiculous offerings into my cart so I can show them to Bill, and man! does Amazon love that. My favorite thus far has been the Glow Bowl Motion-Activated Toilet Nightlight, a light that fits around your toilet bowl, and lights it up (in a choice of six or seven colors, with the option to change color every four seconds), thereby allowing the toilet user to, I don’t know, not miss the toilet when sitting down? Be startled into not being able to go back to sleep? Wish your toilet bowl wasn’t neon?

I was also drawn to the pair of rechargeable automatic salt and pepper grinders which will take away that onerous task of manually grinding your peppercorns and salt crystals. And then there is the warming serrated butter knife that allows you to easily cut ice-cold butter. Since Amazon tells me it is frequently sold along with the warming ice cream scoop that I never, ever, not one time, thought made the job of scooping ice cream any easier, I am not holding my breath on the butter cutter.

I love Amazon for all the reasons that you all love Amazon. I can order (and have ordered) anything ranging from Duke’s Mayonnaise to medical gloves and there it is on my doorstep two days later. I don’t even have to walk the half a block to CVS pharmacy to buy medical gloves from a human.

I envision a big room full of really smart people somewhere in Seattle trying to come up with new and even more creative ideas to keep us robotically coming back to Amazon. And they have hit on a new bright idea.

It’s called the Treasure Truck. And I’m invited to join.

From what I can tell, in about a dozen cities around these United States, participants will receive surprise notices about things popular among Amazon users that are on sale Today Only. If you are interested, you go find the truck and purchase the item.

This is direct from their website…..

It sounds as though the truck is on the move, doesn’t it? Does this mean I have to follow the truck until it pulls over? Do I pull up next to it and make hand motions? So many questions!

But they got me, ladies and gentlemen. I have signed up for what I hope is a free program.

Stay tuned, and watch for a brightly colored truck cruising your neighborhoods. And a little yellow bug following it.

 

Pure Gold

Baby Boomers are tough old birds. We didn’t get coddled by our parents. We rode in cars with no seatbelts and the windows rolled up as our parents smoked their Marlboros. Many of us had jobs by the time we turned 13 or 14. Thanks to medical advances, we didn’t die of smallpox or polio or tuberculosis or diptheria or whooping cough. Heck, even as we age, medical advances are happening so quickly that we may live well into our 90s or beyond. God willing, causes and cures for all sorts of dementia might even allow us to know which of the young whippersnappers are our kids and grandkids, and why they’re so concerned about our wills.

In other words, quit your complaining about us because we are going to be around for a while. And with new and improved hips and knees.

When Bill and I are in AZ for the winter and spring, we are well aware of just how focused this area is on the +55 set. In east Mesa, where we reside — along with an inordinate number of retired people from Minnesota and Illinois and Nebraska and Wisconsin and Alberta, Canada — it’s about as easy to find an orthopedic surgeon as it is to find a Starbucks in Colorado. One on every corner. I should know; I went to see one yesterday because of a problem with my knee.

The other day, Bill and I were driving around doing errands, and we decided to pull our car into Discount Tires because a low tire pressure warning message had gone on a few days before.

As an aside, I love Discount Tires. I should do a commercial for Discount Tires. Maybe I and a bunch of other seniors from this area should put on colorful body suits and run around together accompanied by a cheerful tune — I suggest Go Your Own Way by Fleetwood Mac since we’re Baby Boomers — and pitch Discount Tires which will fill and repair tires at no charge. Young people and Apple shouldn’t have all the fun.

Anyway, since we were in the ‘hood and since it was nearing dinnertime and since I had nothing at home to cook, we decided it would be prudent to have dinner out someplace. And there, right next door to Discount Tires, was Golden Corral.

Ah. Golden Corral. The restaurant with everything. I mean everything. You can eat fried chicken, steaks, Italian, Mexican, seafood, comfort food, a nearly infinite number of desserts (including a chocolate fountain). For $13.99, you can choose from a buffet that would make a French person’s head explode. Nothing is exceptional, but most of it is reasonably edible. And when it’s five o’clock and there’s an all-you-can-eat restaurant, you’re going to have a lot of Baby Boomers. Including Bill and me. What the heck! It’s been years since I’ve drunk from the Golden Cup. (By the way, beverages are extra.)…..

Notice the walker. Walking aids can really slow you down in a buffet line.

The first thing I noticed as we walked in the door was that everyone — and I mean everyone — was a senior citizen. So, the second thing I noticed kind of took me by surprise. There was a sign indicating that one whole room was closed off for a private event.

Party on Fellow Old People, I thought to myself.

And then I noticed a sign indicating the nature of the private event. In particular, notice the sign in the upper left corner…..

Bill sighed, and said, “Seriously, Kris. I don’t care if they offered me a free dinner. It would be a no-go for me.”

I hope they enjoyed their barbecued ribs before they sat down to sign their soon-to-be-dead bodies over to Smart Cremation. Don’t they look sad and resigned to their fate?

It was almost enough to make me skip the chocolate fountain.

Irish Neat

In a blog post from November 2017, I announced to my wide world of readers (all 50 of you) that I was embarking on a continuing education program whereby I would train myself to like whiskey. Up to that point, I was a firm wine or gin drinker, with an occasional bloody mary or margarita thrown in for variety. I was surprised at the amount of support I got on my endeavor. I don’t know if people are just happy to see someone my age taking on new adventures, or if more people than I realize own stock in the adult beverage business.

Unexpected people started giving me bottles of their favorite whiskeys. I got an interesting whiskey called Tincup from a friend who likely doesn’t drink anything stronger than sherry. Tincup has the distinction of being made in Colorado using Rocky Mountain water. While visiting Bill and me for Thanksgiving 2017, my nephew Christopher, also mostly a nondrinker, showed up one afternoon with a bottle of Makers Mark bourbon, determined that bourbon should be my whiskey of choice. Bill’s son David gave me a bottle of fine Glenfiddich Scotch whiskey for Christmas that year, telling me the best way to drink it is with a touch of water. Pretty good recommendation from another nondrinker. My nephew Erik took me to a very cool whiskey and cigar bar and bought me a lovely rye to give a whirl.

I have tried them all and more, and have come down on the side of a favorite. More about that later.

If you will recall, my interest in whiskey can be attributed to the television program Blue Bloods, in which Police Commissioner Frank Reagan drinks a glass of whiskey on almost every program. He just looks so cool. In the most recent episode, he went into a bar and ordered a drink. Here is what he said, verbatim: I want an Irish, neat, with a glass of ice. 

I’m telling you, I’m going to do that. I’m going to go into a dark bar with leather seats where there are people sitting at the bar hunched over their drinks, and say Give me an Irish, neat, with a glass of ice. 

A few months ago, Eddie (who is Jamie’s fiance from the same television series) went into a bar and said Give me a glass of Irish whiskey with one ice cube. One ice cube. That threw me. I mentioned this to my son Court, and he explained that the ice cube she was talking about is really big, and cubes that size are good for whiskey because they melt slowly.

So I went into a bar in Fort Collins with Bill and my sister Jen, and ordered a glass of Jameson with one ice cube. The bartender poured me a glass of Jameson and gave me one teeny-tiny ice cube. I’m pretty sure he rolled his eyes when he had his back to me.

Yesterday as Bill and I were driving to Total Wine and Liquor so I could stock up on Tanqueray and the whiskey which I have declared to be my favorite (again, more about that later), I told him I wanted to go to a bar in San Tan (the upscale area where Total Wine and Liquor is located) and order an Irish, neat, with a glass of ice on the side. Bill smiled patiently and explained that I should refrain from saying “on the side” as that was redundant and sounded stupid. He didn’t say stupid.

So, finally I am going to tell you what I have decided is my favorite whiskey. The winner is: Crown Royal, with Jameson coming in at second place. The Jack Daniels is for Bill….

I announced my decision to Bill, adding that I was somewhat embarrassed that Jameson didn’t come in at first place. He told me not to be embarrassed; instead, be a proud drinker of Canadian whiskeys. After all, Canadians are really nice.

I just wish the makers of Crown Royal didn’t use so much packaging for their product. Seriously, I want to figure out how to recycle the Crown Royal bags, maybe into newborn baby caps.

By the way, we did go to a bar in San Tan, but I drank a Diet Coke.

Cheers.

Saturday Smile: Lookin’ Good

I know practically nothing about about football, except that I like to watch it. I never see holding. I can never remember the difference between offsides and encroachment. I just look at which side is cheering. I say this so that you understand that representatives of the ownerships of the Denver Broncos and the Arizona Cardinals did not call and consult me on matters of whether or not to fire their head coaches, and subsequently, provide suggestions on replacements.

Despite my coaching inexperience, I believed it was time for recently-fired Denver Head Coach Vance Johnson to go, and also couldn’t argue with the decision of ownership of the Arizona Cardinals to fire their coach considering they ended up last in the NFL.

Having said that, I will also relay to you my surprise that the Cardinals chose someone with the decidedly millennial name (and spelling) of Kliff Kingsbury to be their head coach. He has a full zero years of NFL experience, and recently was fired for coaching the losing Texas Tech football team. Not a stellar resume, I would say. He looks like he could be on The Bachelor.

We learned yesterday that the Cardinals eagerly selected Broncos cast-off Coach VJ to be their defensive coach. I don’t know. Maybe they know something we football plebes don’t know.

When I heard the news about the hiring of Vance Johnson, I couldn’t help but text my brother — a loyal, if disheartened, Cards fan: Vance Johnson: Tag, you’re it!

His response?: Gee, thanks.

Being his older sister, I added: If there is a beauty contest, you guys got it nailed!

He quickly came back with Our new slogan instead of “Rise up Red Sea” is “We look good losing.”…..

New Cardinals Defensive Coach Vance Joseph and New Cardinals Head Coach Kliff Kingsbury.

That made me laugh for awhile. Good thing it’s only football.

Have a great weekend.

Friday Book Whimsy: The President is Missing

Call me crabby, but I stopped reading James Patterson a long time ago. Oh, I made an exception sometime in the recent past to read I, Alex Cross, one of the series of over 25 books about fictional detective Alex Cross. I read that particular book because the series was selected in the PBS-sponsored Favorite Book Ever Read as one of the 100 chosen by readers. Upon reading the book, I remembered why I’d stopped. I found that book, like others in that series, to be predictable, and more graphically violent than I’d remembered. I’m getting old.

Having said that, I was intrigued last year to learn that Patterson had teamed up with President Bill Clinton to write a mystery/thriller involving the president of the United States. I don’t know how much involvement Clinton had in the writing The President is Missing, but I’m sure he contributed to the details involving the presidency.

Enjoying this novel (which I did) requires an incredible amount of suspension of disbelief. Most significantly, a reader would have to believe that a president could hide from everyone — even his own Secret Service. But I think many novels require a suspension of disbelief.

President Duncan faces a threat more serious than any threat faced by a past president. The bad guys (who are unbelievably smart and computer knowledgeable ) have created a computer virus that will shut down every segment of the United States, from security to finance to airports and highways. Through this virus, life as we know it will come to an end.

To prevent this from happening, Duncan (who happens to have been a special forces agent in his past) goes rogue. He hides where no one can find him and works with other really smart computer guys to stop the virus using intelligence rather than brawn. During this period of three or four days, the world faces disaster, but is ultimately saved. I don’t think that’s a spoiler.

The novel is long, and I approached it with some trepidation. To my surprise, I found the writing to be rather driving, and the story — though unrealistic — to be interesting. The villain behind the virus caught me by surprise.

The President is Missing ends with a speech by President Duncan to Congress that I found to be a bit political for my taste. However, I recommend the book with no hesitation.

Here is a link to the book.