malice domestic 2017

 

 

 

Another great Malice – except for the renovations to the parking lot and hotel, Nightmare. I heard via the grapevine that next year will be in a different location. I love the area around Bethesda but the struggle to navigate the parking garage was too much.

Below is a picture of my favorite panel: Murder Most British. I was so captivated that when a friend said hello I jumped a foot. Although I don’t write mysteries with a British setting, I love to read them.

 

I also have to give a shout out to the interview with Elaine Viets and Ann Cleeves, two favorite authors. Very very funny. Best line of the weekend: the sandwich looked like an autopsy on bread.

 

Signing at the Open Door Bookstore in Schenectady

I am looking forward to the signing at the Open Door Bookstore in Schenectady this coming Sunday. Noon. With me will be Susan Sundwall, Frankie Bailey, and Carol Pouliot. We are celebrating the thirtieth anniversary of Sisters in Crime and the tenth of my chapter; the Mavens of Mayhem.

Bouchercon 47

As I have mentioned before, I love attending Bouchercon. Not just because it is fun, although it is, but because it is so inspiring. This time I was put on a panel with other authors I have read, except for the one whose book has just come out. And one of my favorites as well: Laura Joh Rowland. I attended the interview of Harlen Coben by Michael Connolly – two heavy hitters. And the panel on social media. Well, I don’t need to continue. The point is that listening to other writers talk, about problems I struggle with – and sometimes they even have solutions – reenergizes me.

And the opening ceremonies with the faux Mardi Gras parade! Words cannot express. I wish I had taken some pictures but I was so caught up in the moment I never thought of it – even for the dragon float.

Holding the conference in New Orleans was wonderful as well. The people are so friendly and the food is great. We also took a few tours. My two favorites: the Mardi Gras World and the Whitney plantation.

I saw the two pretty plantations: Oak Alley and Laura.

oak-alley

laura-plantation

The Whitney Plantation focuses on the lives of the enslaved.

antioch-baptist-church

wall-detail

This is detail from the wall listing all the enslaved at Whitney. I did not take many pictures; it was so sad and horrifying.

If you go to New Orleans try to stop by Mardi Gras World

mardi-gras-float

 

fluffy

 

 

 

Scenes from a move

I have moved many times and each one has had its share of problems. But this one was easily the most grueling of them all. Now that the end is near, I am beginning to see the funny side.

First, the whole mortgage process was awful. OK, no surprise there. But they pushed it for so long we closed on the last possible day. We would have had to start over the following week.

Then we started moving, first from the storage facility (because we staged the house). That took about ten trips in the van. Then from the house. Yes, we hired movers. They brought two trucks. When they got ready to load the second truck it wouldn’t start. Another truck had to be called in and this second crew wouldn’t take a lot of stuff – the kayaks and the canoe for example. Yes, we had to hire a truck from u-haul to load in all this stuff . When we got there to pick it up it was damaged. They had to find another truck for us. We ended driving to Peekskill.

Even after this, we had about ten more trips with the van – to move this stuff. Are we finished? No. But we just have a few things left.

Then there is the commuting, new for me after many years of living ten minutes from my job. One week after moving, the road I take was closed. Yes. And along the detour there were four different places with road repair crews and signs saying people working. (No one was working. They were all drinking coffee and standing around. But I digress.) One day after they opened the road there was a big accident on the Tappan Zee that caused massive backups everywhere. It took me two hours to get home.

And while we’re at it lets talk about the post office. I filled out a change of address form online. Two weeks later we were still not getting any mail at the new house. Why? well, the Campbell Hall Post Office told me I should have come in and spoken to them. Seriously? This is the post office open 9 to 11 in the morning and 2 – 4 in the afternoon. And what about the new mail that was addressed to the new house? I finally called the Yorktown post office The carrier was holding it. Why? I don’t know. But we have begun receiving mail.

There are a host of other issues. Even before we moved in, the kitchen sink fell out of the counter. I finally found a handyman that is scheduled for Thursday.

I am beginning to feel like the hero of an old silent movie who is challenged by one crisis after another.

I love, love, love the new house and the location (despite the commute). but I suspect I will be giving away lots more stuff. Clearly we own too much!

 

Lets talk about pencils

First of all, pencils are not lead pencils. They never have been. I can remember as a child being told not to lick the pencil because lead was poisonous. The center of the wood casing, the drawing medium, is graphite.It always has been.

When discovered, graphite was thought to be a form of lead because of its color. So the word for pencil is several languages means lead pen.

According to Wikipedia, Cumbria England is the only naturally occuring site of pure hard graphite. Until a method of reconstituting graphite powder into a solid form was discovered, England enjoyed a monopoly. Because graphite could be used for lining the molds for cannonballs, the graphite mines were flooded between mining operations, Graphite for pencils had to be smuggled out.

Because the graphite had to be encased in something to use it, sheepskin was used first. Then some time in the late 1500s an Italian couple invented a wooden holder involving a hollowed out stick of juniper wood. A later invention involved two wooden halves that were glued together after the graphite core was inserted.

Even the humble pencil has an amazing history. Who knew?