Thursday, March 31, 2011

Stand Up and Be Quoted!

Calling all readers of Sleeping Dogs Lie!


As you probably know, I’m bringing out the second Willow Falls novel soon: In Dogs We Trust. (Louisa and the dogs, an island bed & breakfast inn, counterfeiting and things that go bump in the night!) I want to include a few quotes from readers on the back cover. And I might use a quote from…YOU!

You know what I’m talking about. Usually they’re from other authors, sometimes newspaper or journal reviews. I’m looking at the back cover of a Madeleine Brent book I just read (did you know that Brent was really Peter O’Donnell?) which includes these gems: “Compulsive reading: I found it hard to put down until I had finished.” – Victoria Holt (Is that a quote or a definition?). And, “A remarkable heroine, a splendidly crafted novel.” – Publishers Weekly. Or, “A thoroughly satisfying story filled with delicious surprises.” – Phyllis A. Whitney.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I’d be awfully pleased Phyllis or Victoria or PW were to send along a nice comment. Okay, Phyllis and Victoria are no longer with us, so I admit I’d be a bit spooked – but still pleased. But what I’d really like is some delicious quotes from readers like you.

Here’s all you have to do: leave a comment about Sleeping Dogs Lie at If you’re feeling kind and ambitious, you can comment at Barnes & Noble as well.You can comment at Amazon even if you didn’t buy the book there (though I believe you need an Amazon account). I’ve never commented on B&N but I figure it’s similar.

I’ll select some comments to include in the back cover copy. And of course I will be warmly appreciative for your nice words!


Monday, March 28, 2011

The Evil that Lurks on Driveways…

Got up Saturday morning and turned on my computer, and there was the little rain icon on my Google home page. Groan! I clicked on it to check the day’s weather forecast, and learned there was a 21% chance of light precipitation.

Twenty-one percent?! Not 20 or 25, but 21. My friend Diane and I made 21% jokes all morning; 21% of your yard will get wet; 21% of yard sales will be rained out. Fortunately that last one did not come true, we managed a couple of neighborhood sales plus a few strays and had lots of fun.

Except for a few moments. Like when we pulled up to a sale and were getting out of the green convertible. A young woman was crossing the street, looking back over her shoulder at the sale across the street and yelling, “Yeah, well, I can be rude too, a******e.” Yup, we thought, you sure can. We checked out the sale we were heading for, then crossed to where she had been. And by the time we left, I realized there was probably some justification for her outburst. At first I thought the guy at that sale was just a tad uncouth. Certainly their stuff was overpriced - $3 for a lantern you can buy at Ikea for $1.99 is not my idea of a good deal! Diane found a nice little storage tin marked fifty cents, and when she handed him two quarters he wanted to know what that was for. She showed him the fifty-cent price tag, and he took her money but started going on and on about how nice the tin was and he didn’t know how it got marked that low, rather like he expected her to give him some more money. As we left he started yelling at his wife to bring him something he wanted now. Now! Now! Now!

Ig. Kind of wanted to whack him over the head with Diane’s tin. (I’m not really a violent person. I just have the occasional fantasy of violence. Which admittedly I enjoy probably more than I should.)

Of course he was just obnoxious. A few minutes later we encountered True Evil.

It looked innocent enough. But play this little film, and you’ll see what I’m talking about.

Normally my innate good taste would prevent me from bringing something like this home. Trust me, it won’t be staying long! I thought of one or two people I don’t much care for that I could anonymously give this to (‘give’ in the sense of ring the doorbell and run) but now that I’ve admitted in this very public forum that it was in my possession, it would be hard to deny if I got caught. So it will be a door prize at my next children’s librarians’ meeting…if I can get anyone to take it!

It came from the sale where I picked up this nice Madeline doll (also destined for door-prizeness).


When I asked the price, the lady said a dollar…and the flower thing went with it for free. She paused, then said, “In fact I’ll pay you a dollar to take the flower thing.” By now I was seeing humorous possibilities, so I grabbed both items and handed over a dollar to one of their two little blond-haired girls. The mom looked across the driveway at the dad and called, “I got rid of that flower thing!” He looked very happy, and we chatted for a few minutes about obnoxious noisy toys. The kind I think of as the grandparent’s revenge – buy the kid this noisy toy and send them home with it. Revenge for all those times you had to listen to your adolescent whine, “Ohhh, mooooommmmmm!” as they rolled their eyes.

Mom and the two girls headed across the street to a neighbor’s sale. When we got there they were heading back home. The mom thanked me once more, and one of the little girls stopped in the middle of the street to tell me in heartfelt tones, “Thank you for taking that flower!”

As Shakespeare said, nothing in this flower’s life became it like the leaving. Or something along those lines.

The rest of the morning was peachy keen. I stocked up on a few more door prizes


and we found some flamingos for a friend.


(At least I' hope she’ll still be a friend after receiving them!)

Good day for pets, too. First there was Gracie Lou, the calmest Jack Russell I’ve ever seen.


After she checked out Diane’s boot,


she jumped into her owner’s lap and snuggled. I noticed this bike trailer and asked if it is Gracie’s.


It is, but she doesn’t like it at all. Just then a young woman walked up and asked if the bike trailer was for sale. “No,” said the woman holding Gracie Lou.

“Yes! Yes!” said Gracie Lou. “Cheap! Free!”

But the shopper didn’t speak dog.

This pretty Himalayan was very snuggly. I got to hold her after I took her picture and enjoy her purr.



Her name, they said, is Farrah, “But we call her Sophia.” Ummm, okay. She was a pound kitty, one of six they have rescued.

This is Apollo, who was out for a walk.


Our Edward, who is part Rottie, does that exact same pose.

Noble Dog Edward

Here are Thelma and Louise. They do not own a convertible.


Harry was another rescue.


The dad at this sale said his wife found him a couple of days before Christmas and took him to the vet to have him checked – and he was there for about three months as they worked on all the things that were wrong with him. But now he’s home and plays all day with their little girl. He’s a very high energy dog. And his full name is Dirty Harry – not for the movie, but for the book Harry the Dirty Dog. Neither the dad nor Diane were familiar with the story, so I told it to them. The little girl and I both love the part where Harry, who has gotten so dirty that his family does not recognize him, gets a bath and emerges as himself. “ ‘It’s Harry! It’s Harry! It’s Harry!’ they cried.”

Theo the Wheaten terrier was our last furry encounter of the day.


We met him just before we reached the sale where this lady was demonstrating some of the merchandise.


Not surprisingly, this is the sale where we found the flamingos.


All through the morning, the sky changed from sunny and warm to cloudy and cool, back and forth. But not a drop of rain. However, when I got up Sunday morning, I saw that my patio was wet, though it hadn’t rained enough to get wet under the table or chairs.

Google weather got the last laugh. It rained 21% of the night.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Blue Roadsters and Short-Legged Dogs

Didn’t buy




At a yard sale today.

I did, however, find Nancy Drew’s blue roadster.IMG_0212 Gorgeous, huh? Check out this grill.IMG_0215 I went online to see if I could figure out what year this beauty was made. My best clue turned out to be from the front right side of the car:IMG_0213When I Googled ‘Plymouth convertible special deluxe’ I not only found that it’s a 1949 model…I found this very car! Seems it was the subject of a detailing workshop at a local car place a few years ago. I know it’s the same one ‘cause the license plate is checks out. Small world!

If you’re too young to have read the Nancy Drew books from the early period when she drove her blue roadster and wore frocks, do find some and enjoy. You’ll see why she was such a role model for many of us.

And if it wasn’t a day for buying stuff, it was a good day for short-legged dogs. First there was James.


He’s a Basset/shepherd mix. Wish you could feel his bunny-soft fur! He’s moving to Arizona soon. Then there was Oliver.

IMG_0217 Hard to tell in this pose, but if you saw him in person you’d say yup, dachshund and Chihuahua mix. They were selling a book on how to train your dachshund. “Don’t need it anymore,” they told me. “He has us completely trained.”

I think this little guy was getting a lesson on how to text.IMG_0210 I might let a dog loose with a cell phone, but never one of my cats. Noll would be dialing for anchovy pizzas for sure. Or a truckload of catnip. This is what he looks like with just a pinch of the stuff.


A couple of my finds from last Saturday came in handy this week. That spring-green sweater set was perfect for St. Patrick’s Day. It happened to be the day I met with my children’s librarians, and it was wonderful to see how many shades of green there are!

And the little Chinese girl doll got a very good home. One of my colleagues stopped by my office with a new book I’d put on hold, and she noticed the doll. We chatted for a few minutes about how adorable she is, really wonderful hand-made details. I could see she really liked the doll, so I gave it to her. She got a little misty eyed and told me she has never, ever owned a doll. She said she’s always kind of wanted one, but after you grow up you’re embarrassed to buy one for yourself. She went off with the doll literally cradled in her arms.


Yeah, I was a little misty eyed too.


Sunday, March 13, 2011

A, Alligators All Around…

Spring. Don’t you just love Spring? As old Mrs. Cheever tells the children in Return to Gone Away by Elizabeth Enright, “Oh, I declare I can hardly wait for it myself! No matter how old a person gets, he’s never old in spring!”

Of course Spring is a relative term. Winter still grips colder climes, and my readers in Australia are heading into Fall. But here, Spring is springing, and how do I know this? Not the arrival of Daylight Savings Time, though I’m glad for that. Nope. We’re talking the arrival of neighborhood sales!

I found at least four yesterday in my usual garaging territory. It won’t be long before there are enough that I can’t get to them all in a morning. Why yes, that is one of my definitions of heaven! Doesn’t even matter that I only bought stuff at two sales (and one of those was not part of a neighborhood sales). It’s all about the treasure hunt.

Of course for me part of the treasure is getting to meet pets. This nice kitty enjoyed a good writhe on a warm spot of driveway.


This little cutie headed right up my leg for petting.


This is Maggie, a certified therapy dog. She visits a hospital and a local school, where kids get to read to her.


While I was petting Maggie, a lady walked by with her two Golden retrievers. Didn’t get this sweetie’s name, I was too busy petting her as she leaned all her considerable weight against me.


The other retriever was Gunnar, who insists on walking himself!


Had a really good time at the first sale of the morning. My friend Linda is part of a large music group, and these ladies throw a fund-raising yard sale a couple of times a year. (It was at one of their sales that Linda and I met!) I eagerly anticipate these events because these ladies are a hoot. Oh, and also because I always find some new-to-me clothes—which they sell for fifty cents apiece. Not sure how they always come up with so much clothing to sell, but I continue to be glad that they do! Got extra lucky this time, because everything I bought fits. Came home with a cotton shirt that feels like linen


and a printed tee with ruffly edges.

IMG_0189  IMG_0192 

Two Land’s End sweater sets, in (Spring!) green


and blue.


A pair of Sigrid Olsen pants.


And two long-sleeve t-shirts for the hubs. (T-shirts are easy, long sleeved is hard to find—at least in my fifty-cent price range!)

IMG_0197 IMG_0196

This adorable handmade Chinese  character doll will go to a children’s librarian, to be part of our around-the-world summer reading program.


Linda also gave me a couple of bags of big pieces of felt for my librarians. I foresee new felt boards in several locations!

And possibly my fave item of the day…an alligator.


He’s a nutcracker. I think he has a sort of vintage midcentury vibe, though one online antique dealer had one  that they said is from the 30s, so who knows. I just like him. All the ladies of the music-group were calling him Alfred, and it turns out they have a song in their repertoire about an alligator named Alfred, which one of them sang to me. I had to return the favor with my favorite crocodile song:

“She sailed away on a happy summer day

Riding a crocodile.                          

‘You’ll see,’ said she, ‘he’s as tame as he can be.

I’ll ride him down the Nile.’

The croc winked an eye as she waved them all goodbye

Wearing a happy smile.

At the end of the ride, the lady was inside

And the smile on the crocodile!”


Sunday, March 6, 2011

Thrifting on the Run

Several months ago a friend asked if I would do a workshop on how to publish an ebook for a literacy conference she was organizing. Sure, I said. It was way in the future. I’d have plenty of time to prepare (and recall what it was I did to publish Sleeping Dogs Lie as an ebook).

I’m sure you can guess what I’ve been working on this past week!

No, I didn’t leave it till the last minute…I just wanted it to be FRESH.

Turned out to be a lot of fun, had a great group. But what I didn’t realize when I signed up was that the conference would be on a Saturday morning.

Saturday, the day sacred to the thrifting gods. And not just any Saturday; one of the four Saturdays a year that having yard sales is legal in the town I live in, when I head over to a gorgeous posh neighborhood and drool over the vintage houses as I shop on the vintage driveways.

But the Queen of Fifty Cents is not going to let a little thing like a workshop commitment get in her way. Workshop started at 9:00; needed to be there about 8:15 to set up. Garaging starts about 7:00. You do the math!

An hour of thrifting beats none at all, and I even managed to spend $15. Didn’t have time to meet lots of pets, though I did spot this handsome guy.IMG_0137 I wonder if he used to be able to squeeze through that gap when he was a baby.

The garden tour on April 30 has been much on my mind. But I found a Garden Angel IMG_0160and I’m going to try to turn over any fretting to her care. Have to admit she’s not to my husband’s taste, but I was smitten with her jewelryIMG_0146and her Minnie Mouse shoes.IMG_0157BTW, if you go to the tour website, there are now some pictures of our yard among the Saturday 1 photos. Or visit my garden’s very own website!   

At the same sale I picked up a couple of new dish towels.IMG_0140Continuing in a practical vein, I bought one of those steam cleaner thingies.IMG_0141Hmmm. Not just any steam cleaner thingie, the ULTIMATE steam cleaner thingie. Have no idea if it will be worth the five bucks I paid, but I did test it on a little bit of grout in the kitchen and the gunk melted away, so I have high hopes. It would be great if it really will clean things like my shower doors. We have very hard water here and it’s a battle not just to be clean but to LOOK clean!

I suppose this find is also practical. At least semi practical, since I’m not sure yet where it will go.

IMG_0161You can turn on just the base, or the top bulbs, or all three, and the darned thing weighs almost eight pounds. Always a consideration when the kitties go on a rampage through the house. I think what really got me was the little pointy thing on top though.IMG_0165My last buy was this little Yixing teapot. My collection grows slowly.IMG_0167 IMG_0166As I was paying for it, the woman took my money and then announced quite loudly, “Your jacket is the exact same fabric as my sofa.” Everyone in earshot whirled around to see what a well-dressed sofa would wear.

High time to retreat to my workshop. As far as I know, no one mistook me for a sofa while I was there.

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