The summer months were a struggle with showers almost every day. Now that the days are cooler, the rain seems to have left us for a time, and we’re happy to have the sunshine. Beginning the first of August, the sun found us just in time for the county fair. Yes, of course, we attended the opening day to see the exhibits.
To top it off, we sat in our back yard with a few friends and watched the fireworks. We ended a sunny fair week with volunteering at the old one room school house, moved years ago to the county fair grounds for exhibition.
We planned to go to a writing conference the third week of August, but my medical issues got in the way, so we had to cancel. I was really looking forward to being on the panels to which I was assigned, but a two day drive to get there and two days back was more than my vertigo and back would tolerate. Instead we went to lunch in Cooperstown at a restaurant overlooking Glimmerglass Lake. The food was wonderful and the view up the lake was beautiful. And no rain.
I guess I’m like many writers who prefer reading a book than seeing the movie, so we don’t often go to movies. We are addicted to Netflix and have our favorite program there (usually a British mystery or a mystery or series from Netflix itself). I recently did a short quiz on line to tell me what nationality I should be. No surprise there-I’m British! We decided there was only one adult movie showing among the ten or so alternatives. It was Dunkirk. Now we both know the history of the event, so we weren’t expecting light entertainment, but after a half hour of seeing the devastation and the despair of those men on the beach, the dying, the bombing, the shooting (the sound effects unbearable), I left. My husband followed a half hour later. I’ve never walked out of a movie before, but the world seems such a confused and maddening place lately that this movie was yet another moment of darkness.
We turned our attention to a short hike the next day, nothing rigorous, just a walk around a small lake in a state park near us. It’s a little used and relatively unknown park, Oquaga Creek State Park.
When we arrived there was a ranger at the office, a snack bar employee and three life guards and four people swimming. As we left some families came in to picnic for the evening. There are numerous trails to explore and we may go back when I’m up to something more strenuous.
I have been writing all summer. I finished a short story for the Untreed Reads thanksgiving Anthology 2017: The Killer Wore Cranberry: A Fifth Course of Chaos. Those of you who love Aunt Nozzie and the Grandmothers will be thrilled to find them in the short story “A Season to Worry” and delight to some of their antics on the ski slopes.
I have devoted most of my writing this summer Book 3 of the Big Lake Murder mysteries with Emily Rhodes, retired preschool teacher turned bartender, stumbling onto another dead body. Here’s a taste of the fun:
Scream Muddy Murder: Book 3 of
The Big Lake Murder Mysteries
The rain continued to pour down on the combatants as they took up their stances on opposite sides of the field. One side stationed their men behind the palm trees and live oaks, while the fighters on the other side positioned themselves out in the open, preparing to march straight at the enemy, a foolish strategy, but insisted upon by their commander.
Emily pushed wet locks of hair off her face and prepared to advance with the first wave of troops. She held no weapon for defense; her assignment was to beat her snare drum. She grasped her drumsticks tightly for fear she’d drop one and would be unable to beat out the martial tempo she’d been assigned. Emily’s daughter, Naomi, holding the American flag, stood beside her, the two of them dressed as boys from the early nineteenth century, shirts with long, full sleeves and knee britches. Naomi had been smart to tie her blond hair back with a leather thong. Their only concession to modern dress was that each wore a pair of rubber boots; Naomi’s sported a yellow duck pattern, Emily’s plain blue.
“How did we get ourselves into this mess?” asked Emily, attempting to lift one foot out of the mud. Her boot made a sucking sound. “This is as bad as quick sand.”
“It was your idea to take part,” replied Naomi. “You said it would be fun and a service to the community.”
“It would have been fun if it hadn’t been raining for three days. It was so bad they cancelled yesterday’s performance.”
A shot rang out over the field signaling the start of the re-enactment of the Battle of Okeechobee, an event held each year at the site of the original battle fought in 1837, one in the Second Seminole War. Emily started at the sound and stumbled forward, almost falling to her knees. Naomi reached out and steadied her mother. The announcer thumped the microphone to determine if it was working. It gave forth a screech and again startled Emily, but this time she held her position. With a clearing of his throat and another squeal from the loud speaker, the announcer began his account of the military tactics used by the soldiers of the United States commanded by General Zachary Taylor and the Seminoles led by their chief, Alligator, often called Billy Bowlegs.
“Maybe all this water will short circuit the loudspeaker, and they’ll call off the event. We could get electrocuted, you know,” Emily said, but began marching, careful to avoid yet another hole in the soggy ground. She took up a steady drum beat. The two women staggered forward, the thick mud making their advancement slow and difficult.
“Having trouble keeping up?” asked the tall man in front of Emily, slowing his pace and turning back to address her. How he managed to look dry and comfortable in all this rain was beyond Emily, but she always found Detective Stanton Lewis the other side of comprehensible in her mind. He was a member of the local police department and the man who had arrested Emily for murder on one occasion, and on another, kissed her with passion.
“If I’d have known he’d be volunteering for this event, I would have stayed home,” Emily said.
“I heard that,” replied Lewis, “and I know you don’t mean it.”
Maybe she did and maybe she didn’t. Emily could never tell how she felt about Stanton Lewis. It seemed that whenever they got together two things happened: first there was the verbal battling, and then there was that rush of warmth she felt somewhere south of her waist. He was about the handsomest man she’d ever met, and the most annoying. It seemed he knew the affect he had on her, and he loved to aggravate her by standing too close or smiling that annoying smile with his full, very kissable, lips.
“I thought you and Detective Lewis had worked everything out between you,” said Naomi. “I kind of like him, and he certainly likes you.”
“For your information our “date” didn’t turn out so well. He fell asleep before anything interesting happened.”
“I heard that, too. I was recovering from a gunshot wound and the combination of painkillers and wine knocked me for a loop,” Lewis said.
“Well, why didn’t you say so at the time?” said Emily. “I thought you weren’t interested in, uh, anything.”
“I’m always interested when it comes to you, Emily.”
“You never said that.”
“I was passed out on the couch.”
“See? That’s what I mean.” Emily missed a beat on the drum, caught herself and took up the rhythm again. Lewis turned and smiled, as if he surmised that loss of cadence was because of him. As he turned back forward, he missed a step on the uneven and mucky ground. Emily, seeing he was about to fall, reached out and grabbed his arm. His momentum took both of them down face first into a large puddle of standing water in front of them.
Lewis sprawled on the ground, his nose at mud level, Emily lying on his back. He lay still for a moment, then twisted his head around to eye Emily. “What are you doing back there?”
“I was trying to prevent you from falling, but your big old feet took both of us down.”
“You wouldn’t be down here with me if you watched where you were stepping. You ran into me,” Lewis said.
That’s what she got for trying to help him out, the ungrateful….
Emily decided she wouldn’t be baited this time by him. “I can’t see much because of the rain and my hair is in my eyes. Obviously, you have the same problem.”
“You didn’t think of wearing a hat?” asked Lewis.
“Let’s not quibble about how I’m dressed. I think you’re sinking deeper into the mud and taking me with you.”
“Maybe if you got off my back, I could….”
Yeah, that was always the way, thought Emily. He thinks I’m on his back one way or the other.
“I can’t. The strap to my drum is caught under you. You move.”
Lewis lifted his body to one side off the strap, dumping Emily from the mud-free position on his back and sloshing her into the puddle next to him.
“Just stay put. Don’t move from there,” he said.
“I’m up to my ears in mud,” Emily said.
“Yeah, but if you move you’ll be up to your ears in dead body.”
The book should appear sometime late this year or early 2018.
But back to outdoor activities. Fall seems to be the time of year for painting, roofing and siding. I am painting the trim on the front of the house and on the back entry porch. Hubby had started on the house shingles, removing the old shingles, ripping off the boards, inserting insulation, replacing the boards and then shingling with new cedar. It’s a lot of work, and he’s not getting younger with the activity. Despite the strain on his back, I know he likes working outside, and so do I. I’m aiming for that perfect balance between writing and physical activity outside. Fall seems to be the right time to achieve it.
What did you do this summer? Do you also welcome the cooler days that come with autumn? What projects are you engaged in?