Actually, I have two previews....one is my collage painting that is still in progress... I have tentatively placed the pieces but have not glued the images to the canvas. The various pictures were cut from various magazines. I have decided to call it Hearts and Flowers....
Since today was spent at the dentist's office in the morning and with my hubby in the afternoon, the images were placed quickly while I was getting spaghetti sauce out of the garage fridge, for dinner... so I am still pondering their placement...
You may have noticed a new permanent photo on my blog... A dear friend took the time to do six of these, (one for each gal in our digital scrap booking group) photograph them, and email each one to us. I LOVE the ocean so her using beach stones to print my name, made it so extra special to me. Thank you Nancy, for your creative and cherished gift.
The last preview (with more to come) is the first chapter of a book my friend's husband, Paul in Missouri is writing. At first, I could not cut and paste with Internet Explorer, so I tried with Mozilla Firefox, and viola!! I told him I would preview it for him on my blog...
MURDER IN WEST CLOVER BOTTOM
My scream wakes my cat.
Maggie spits and hisses.
I’m in a cold sweat. The thought of living in a megapolis scares me to death. To
make matters worse, I’m plagued by a recurrent nightmare. This time I’m living in
Los Angeles and commuting on the 91 Freeway. If twenty lanes of traffic moving a hundred feet an
hour can be called commuting.
The other night it was Manhattan, and I was stuck on the Triborough Bridge. It twisted and
bucked as though to outdo the one in Minneapolis. Before that, Chicago when a seemingly
impossible thing happened. The Bears, Bulls, Blackhawks, White Sox, and Cubs played home
games and each one ended at the same time.
The sound of peeper frogs comes through my window and I realize I’m still in West Clover
Bottom, Minnesota. I start to relax. My favorite ear-candy, the soft susurrus of the wind through
the pine boughs helps me forget the dream.
Maggie also recovers and comforts me by licking my face, or she’s savoring some left over
tuna hot dish crumb that’s stuck in my moustache.
My name is Archie Schultz. But that’s not the name mom gave me 30 years ago. She called me
John E. Schultz. My dad, John D. Schultz, called me, ‘kid’. Don’t know if he actually knew my
name, or cared I was the fifth generation John Schultz.
Maybe he was upset having his status as the latest John usurped.
I came by the nickname, Archie, in grade school. It had nothing to do with the comic book
character. Although some people think I look like him. Pshaw, I never wore one of those stupid
looking hats. Mine were way more sophisticated.
It started in fifth grade. Our class went on a four-day road trip to St. Louis, Missouri. The Arch
fascinated me. So much I climbed into those clothes-dryer cars that took me to the top to see out of
a 6 by 12 inch window. At least it looked that size to me. Never mind it was hard to see, I made six
trips that day. The next, I snuck away from the group and managed ten.
That snippy Ruth Ann Boyer, tagged me with ‘Archie’. Would have popped her a good one,
except she would have thrown me to the ground and wailed the daylights out of me.
So, egged on byher, my fifteen class mates joined in.
Except Roy, my best friend, he tried to stick up for me and wore a black eye the
rest of the trip and well into the next week.
Strange how things work out. Ruth Ann and I picked on each other throughout
grade school and into high school. Yet, by the time we were juniors, we started
dating. Our stormy, romantic relationship continued while we attended the
University of Minnesota. That’s The U to us natives.
I got a masters in Criminal Science, and Ruth Ann majored in Journalism. Neither
of us wanted to make our way in a big city. Hell, even today, Duluth is
intimidating. I ended up as Chief of Police and Ruth Ann eventually took over the
weekly, Clover Standard, from her father.
I glance at the clock. Five. I see the night sky is attempting to retain its hold. The
eastern horizon is glowing crimson. At least I think it is because I live in the house
John A. Schultz built that’s surrounded by massive birches, pines, and maples.
I’m good at imagining things. Like Ruth Ann is coming over to make breakfast,
even through, last night, she said she never wanted to see me again. If I had a
dime every time she said that, I’d have close to twenty bucks . And that’s just for
the past three months.
I decide to fix coffee while waiting for her to show up. I have a routine. First, I
grind the beans until the powder is so fine the smallest current of air will send it
to East Clover Bottom. A good half mile away.
One day my allergies acted up and I sneezed. East Clover Bottom, we like to
shorten it to ECB, residents said they thought a dust storm enveloped their fair
I carefully transfer the nano-sized particles of caffeine to the filter, and let the
magic of my percolator happen.
Once every last molecule of caffeine has been extracted, the grounds turn into
something resembling concrete. You see, these grounds don’t act like Portland
cement and become a rock, no, they are actually the precursors to hydraulic
cement. That is, they swell in size and can not be removed from the basket. You
have to be quick, or the entire pot has to be discarded.
Ruth Ann didn’t understand the intricacies of making my style of coffee. I must
say, she hardly broke a sweat tossing the pot. She handled her coffee making
shortcomings extremely well. Made me love her even more.
I rolled my eyes and sighed, very audibly.
In her contrite manner she said, “You can go straight to hell. I never, ever, want to
see you again.”
Ka-ching. My first dime.
The brew is midway through its chemical change when the phone rings. It’s
critical that I be ready the moment it stops perking, before the grounds start their
transformation. Besides, caller ID tells me it’s Ruth Ann. Obviously to apologize
and to inform me she’s about to leave and hopes I haven’t made some revolting
breakfast like toast and cereal.
Quite a woman, that one.
I ignore the call.
My ambrosia is done, the grounds are still malleable, and I drop them into the
garbage. The thunck says they nearly make their way through the floor, into the
A carefully measured teaspoon of raw, brown sugar followed by the one hundred
and ninety-seven degree, black semi-solid liquid, and my morning is off to a great
Two sips and five minutes later, the pain in my mouth begins to subside. I’m
heading to the shower when the phone rings. I ignore it again.
No doubt this time she’s near tears, aching to apologize.
Hah! Let her stew. After all, a man can only take so many, ‘I never, ever want to see
you again’s’. Right?
By the time my toilette is complete, the coffee had dropped twenty degrees and
barely raises blisters on the roof of my mouth.
Dressed, I slowly, and elegantly, descend down the grand staircase to where the
former servants of John A. Schultz once held sway.
Nowadays we refer to it as, The Kitchen.
As if one cue, there’s a pounding on the front door. My butler is temporarily away
from the country, so I answer it myself.
Gad. How the mighty have fallen.
I’m not terribly surprised to see the woman of my affections, standing there.
She’s wearing her typical look of humbleness.
Her eyebrows look like furrows in Farmer Jones’ field. Straight and dark.
Her mouth looks pretty much the same. Her right foot is slightly forward and she’s
tapping her toe.
What a look of apology.
“And just why didn’t you answer the phone?”
I assume my look of superiority. My shoulders drop, my eyes look like a lost puppy
dogs, and I respond somewhat less than forcibly. “Busy?”
Obviously satisfied with my answer, she rushes into my arms to beg forgiveness,
misses by at least six feet, and continues to the kitchen.
“Where the hell are your cups today?"
I marvel how she overcomes her faux pas.
She recovers. “Sometimes, Archie, I can not fathom how you do your job.”
Her love and kindness are almost more than I can bear this early in the morning.
My razor sharp reply leaves her open mouthed.
She finds her cup, fills it, and makes a face.
“Yuck” Then Ruth Ann adds cream. Lots and lots and lots of cream. Good thing I
wasn’t planning on making a strawberry/whipped cream dessert tonight.
“I’ll lay it out for you. Mayor Jackman was found this morning.”
“I wasn’t aware he was lost. He told me himself, he and Helen were taking a week’s
vacation to get some sun in Florida. Did he take a wrong turn and head for
“No he didn’t do anything of the sort. Let me take that back. He must have. He was
found floating in Clover Bottom Lake. A rather large hole between his eyes.”
It takes me a minute to decide how this particular event is apparently my fault
and why it means I’m not doing my job. Like I mentioned earlier, I am WCB’s Chief
of Police and have held that exalted position for the past four years.
Add, highly paid to exalted.
Now, it appears I no longer have a boss.
“Why do you know this bit of information and I don’t?” I ask from my six foot two
height and lord it over my five foot-four adversary.
“My Uncle George, you know, our fair town’s resort owner? Found him, rather, his
body, banging up against the dock. Since he trusts the competence of his
intelligent newspaper-editor-and-crack-reporter-niece over, say an incompetent
law enforcement officer, it was only natural he called me first.”
I immediately think of my favorite writer, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.
A dastardly turn of events that more than likely means this lovely lady is not
going to be making my breakfast.
I apologize to Paul... I have edited his chapter several times. it looks right when I edit it, but after it posts, the spacing is all screwed up. Clearly, I am doing something wrong, only I can't figure out what!