Friday, August 16, 2019

A kind reader wrote to thank me for the short story Smashed.  I replied by giving the reader the true source of the story. So here it is.


"Thanks so much! The story happened to my sister. She went to her car in the grocery lot and the steering wheel was bent down and the seat cushion twisted. She never could figure out how it happened so I made up an explanation. She had to get a repairman out and he repaired but like her, he couldn’t guess the cause."

I must admit that most of my story ideas grow out of things that happen to me and to my relatives and friends. Yes, I add a lot of fiction.

Friday, June 14, 2019

Little Egypt Bean Salad 15

Looking for a salad to make ahead for the Fourth of July? This one tastes better if made the day before.

The name comes from Cairo, Illinois (pronounced Kay - roe), in an area known as Little Egypt, near the junction of the Wabash and Mississippi rivers. My first introduction to the salad was at a picnic near the docks where catfish were sold from the boats and cooked in a park with picnic tables.

If the name Cairo sounds familiar, you must be a Huckleberry Finn fan. Huck and his friend Jim were trying to raft across the Mississippi River from Missouri, a slave state, to Illinois, a free state. Cairo was the closest destination.

LITTLE EGYPT BEAN SALAD
Determine amounts by the number of people and your personal taste preferences. I was told, find a potato salad recipe and replace the potatoes with kidney beans. Or try my favorite variation --

Mix:
canned kidney beans
chopped onion, yellow or sweet
sweet pickle relish
chopped celery
favorite creamy salad dressing

MIX and put in a Tupperwear type container, and store in the refrigerator overnight.

Optional ingredients include chopped hard boiled eggs and parsley.

Saturday, March 16, 2019

bluejays




How much do you know about bluejays? I am learning more about them then I wanted to know. Well, learning is fun but sweeping up the soil scattered all over the patio gets kinda boring. The deal is this. A tenant in a nearby apartment building puts peanuts on her outside window ledge and apparently bluejays love peanuts because they remove them daily. Up to now I understand what is going on, and there is nothing wrong with birds accepting treats put out for them. However, there seems to be a trace of squirrel in bluejay genetics that I have never seen a scientist explain or even mention.

A male jay, being pushy macho, cuts in front of a female jay, grabs a peanut, and then flies across the street to my friend’s deck to dig holes in the soil of her pots of geraniums and other perennials.  He digs with his feet, of course, knocking the soil all over the patio, and he drops the peanut from his beak into the hole and scrapes the surrounding dirt over it. All very neat if peanut trees could actually be planted and grow in Seattle. Doesn’t matter. Not gonna happen.

Next step, my friend sweeps her patio. Doesn’t matter. Not gonna stay swept. After the male flies away, a couple of females show up and dig up the peanuts, again scattering soil all over the patio. And they fly away. What I don’t know is if they eat them or take them elsewhere to replant them.

Phoebe

PS: Got a note from a reader informing me that peanuts grow underground like potatoes and the growth above them is a bush, not a tree. I appreciate the info. Always love to hear from all of you.

Monday, December 31, 2018

Kittycat is a character in the Mudflat Magic series and belongs to Claire, the protagonist. A reader recently asked me Kittycat's gender. Here's the true story:


Kittycat is based on a cat I inherited with the first house I bought. The owner was moving across town and was worried, saying, "Kitty will keep coming back here if I take it with me." So I kept Kitty and added a cat door to the kitchen. Kitty was a longhair white old male and went roaming, was sometimes gone for days, then would wander in with a torn ear from its latest cat fight and demand food. Very funny critter, very independent, didn't even like its ears scratched.

You can imagine the fun I had the day Kitty wandered out into the adjacent orchard where a worker was spraying the trees with an insecticide. Kitty ran home dripping wet and started to lick himself clean. I had the choice of dead cat or bloody me. Yeah, of course, I grabbed Kitty and held him down in the laundry sink and scrubbed him clean and got thoroughly scratched for my effort. 

We had a one way love affair that matches Kittycat's relationship with Claire. 

As to gender, Kitty was male, but Kittycat is fiction and so can be whatever the reader prefers.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

A Small House on Pilings.

Once upon a time I shared an apartment with two other working women. One of them had, in her recent past, woken up to her wedding day and handled it as described in the story A Small House on Pilings. And then she changed her name and moved to California where we shared an apartment with a third friend, and explained to us why she had changed her name. It was an unforgettable tale and although I have changed names and locations and a few details, most of what happened was exactly as she described it. I am sure you can figure out the reason for her name change. Yeah. He was not amused, and yeah, he had a shotgun.

This story is included with another short story in a booklet titled Tales of Lovers and Liars.

Maybe I should mention here that the other story is Scent of Nicotiana. It, too, is based on an experience of a friend of mine who worked as an emergency room nurse.

Thursday, February 2, 2017


My short story Valentine Vampire is a romantic version of the Chicago Valentine’s Day Massacre, result of a rivalry between the gangs of Al Capone and Bugs Moran.

My connection to the historical event is this. My grandmother lived in a house about a block and a half from the building where this occurred. She was on the second floor near a window when the guns went off in what was usually a quiet, peaceful neighborhood. But it was Chicago. And even back then, no one ran out in the street at the sound of gunshots.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Dog in highrise

A friend lives in one of those lovely high rise apartments in Seattle, views out every window that she loves, gas fireplace in the living room that her little dog loves, heavenly set up except when her small and aging pet barks and wakes her in the middle of the night to demand a walk outside. Well, she’s had the doggie forever, worries about its creaky joints constantly, and does whatever she can to keep it comfortable.

So last week it woke her at 2 in the morning, woke her from a deep sleep. She stumbled around, managed to pull on her raincoat over her pajamas and stuff her feet into rain boots. Through half closed eyes she did find the leash, clicked it onto the dog’s collar, remembered to grab her keys, and then got them both onto the elevator. And then she leaned back against the elevator wall and got as near to sleep as one can while remaining standing.

And a friendly voice from overhead (God? mugger?) said, “Oh, is the little dog sick tonight?” She kept her eyes closed while she thought. She knew there was no one else on the elevator. It might be easier to pretend to herself she was still in bed asleep and having a bad dream.  And the voice said, “I hope everything is all right.”

At that point she realized the voice was the building’s security man who could see her on the safety monitors. And when the elevator reached the main floor, there he was at the front desk, watching for her and so concerned about her dog she couldn’t tell him that she had spent a couple minutes wondering if he was God or a mugger.

Have you ever had anything like that happen? Sometimes people tell me real events that I am not sure anyone would accept if I put them in a novel.