Another sneak peek of art detail from new cover of my next novel:
Sneak peek of art detail from new cover of my next novel:
This time of year seems ripe for a cozy mystery, at least for me. I first discovered Agatha Christie in the fall, when I was rooming with a friend. She had a bookshelf full of Christie novels and short story collections, and being from England, was very proud of her acclaimed country-woman.
After she told me to freely help myself to her obsession, I spent most every leisure moment reading those books, going through the entire bookshelf collection in about a month. Every Poirot, every Marple, everything. Yes, there were some late nights, when I read into the night. What avid reader doesn’t? You want to get to ‘the end’ and more especially ‘the reveal’.
Not quite twenty then, I soon dove into a crazy-busy life, and generally forgot about those books; but then rediscovered Agatha Christie several decades later, when my youngest daughter’s interest began to sway that cozy mystery way. It seems to me it was in the fall, again; and thereafter, numerous Christie paperbacks found their way into stockings and gifts for Christmas.
Now, every autumn, I instinctively get out the Agatha Christie movies and series adaptations at night to enjoy with hot cocoa and scones, biscuits, cookies or English muffins. It warms me up as the weather cools. Our new thing in recent years, are the audio-books read by David Suchet, Joan Hickson and other such stars in the cozy mystery world. Hands-free Christie pleasures whilst resting, doing chores or exercising, is one of the simple things to look forward to in life. It’s funny how murder can seem so charming. But no, it’s Christie’s characters that I thoroughly enjoy.
Jane Austen told me about Michaelmas. The British Isles holiday is peppered in her written works. Well, maybe not exactly peppered, but the Michaelmas parties do make their occasional appearances, and every time I saw anything of it, I wanted to know what in Heaven it was. Once I got Michaelmasly educated, I wanted to take part in the holiday. Every year. September 29th.
Michaelmas is an Olde English Holiday stemming from an older Scottish Holiday with blackberries as a key ingredient in the celebratory mix. Blackberries?! Ooh, I LOVE blackberries. An excuse to enjoy blackberries?! Sign me up! We can even almost call it Blackberry Day, just for fun! Do the research right now, if you like, and find out WHY blackberries are the thing at Michaelmas!
I don’t’ know about other Janeites and Austenophiles, but it seemed to me that Christmas Holiday season almost began at Michaelmas, in Jane’s novels. A chance and excuse for me to begin Christmas feasts and festivities three months earlier?! Before Thanksgiving?! Even before Halloween?! What’s not to love?! Put Michaelmas on my calendar of events! I’ve GOT to do this! Michaelmas could kick off my Christmas season henceforth!
For years I talked and planned of celebrating Michaelmas. I read up on it. I wanted to do it right. I looked at attendant traditional recipes. It was a goose-style feast with all the trimmings. Soon I wondered how traditional, modern, classical or neo-gothic I should do the holiday for my loved-ones.
In the end, I decided we could do it fancier like Downton Abbey or just wing-it like a Highland Fling picnic in the British countryside. Our first forays into Michaelmas territory have been with Scottish Scones and Blackberry desserts in an English Tea Party style. With pretty teacups, saucers and all, it doesn’t take much to put all our favorite dainties together for a delicious celebration. With my family bringing their best or funniest British accents to the table, it makes the event all the jollier. It’s an annual hit I highly recommend to any UK descendant, or Anglophile.
When our grandsons come for their summer vacation visit, it seems that most all my prior plans to do ‘ALL the fun things’ go out the window shortly after the tweenagers’ arrival.
In no time at all I’m already exhausted and sleep-deprived, and realizing that I’m not as energetically young and capable as I was when I was raising my own young sons. The missed sleep also hinders my brain’s abilities as well. I become an old bimbo, and a bit of cranky old lady hovers on the edges.
This time around, my early agreeing to let them stay up all night (meaning me too), a few nights running, when their grandpa was out of town and state on business, seemed to set a precedent and pattern for weeks to come, and became a hard habit to break.
‘What were you thinking?!’ my husband later asked.
‘I was just trying to be nice.’ I fully explained.
Egad, was I tired!
With a huge backyard pool plan falling through, among others (for various reasons), there was little left for me to do but to cook favorites, bake treats and scoop out scads of ice-cream drizzled with oodles of chocolate crackle shell, to make up for all I couldn’t accomplish.
For every week the boys stay here, I understand they generally gain a number (tons?) of pounds. Well, one’s back at his football and the other is distance running again, so, it will all even out. They needed to stock up on all those calories, right?
The moral of this story might be, not unlike the ‘good cop, bad cop’ method, I prefer to be good gran(ma) and leave the bad gran(pa) including laying-down of the laws, to the main man of this house. I just wanna have fun, and be nice.
Anybody who’s had more than one baby, whether one or a few years apart, will relate to this. When my toddler granddaughter was first pictured next to her new baby sister in recent weeks, some of us were a bit surprised to realize how big that little girl had suddenly got.
We were reminded that there’s quite a difference in size between a toddler and a newborn. It’s a little stunning to suddenly see the big contrast. My toddler granddaughter went from seeming teensy, to huge, in one day.
This took me back to each time I brought a new baby into this world. Our former littlest, suddenly appeared much older than our previous perception.
And with that realization, expectations suddenly rose for he or she who was no longer the baby of our family. Time to grow up some, little one!
The younger they are, the more the adjustment can be for the usurped baby, but they’ll soon get used to their new position in the household. Our older granddaughter seems to be doing wonderfully: more happy to have a little sister, than sad to share her mommy and daddy with the new baby.
From where I sit, it’s a thoroughly lovely thing to welcome another little member to our larger family. It’s a true reminder of the most beautiful things in life. Loved ones, are the best life offers. And the littler they are, the more they seem like angels sent down to us straight from Heaven above.
What’s cuter than seeing your granddaughter happily holding a new dolly you gave her? What’s sweeter than seeing her cuddle a soft toy you picked out for her? And to see that she bypassed the sweets for the cute cuddlies? Not to say that she didn’t dig into those chocolate sweets later, but, you know, treats only last so long, and cuddle toys persist with love and fun far longer. And dolls, well, I’m a bit of a doll person, so I can’t resist regularly introducing my granddaughter to dolls of all my favorite kinds.
And what do treats and toys really have to do with the Easter Holy days? Well, to me, it’s the love. The sharing, the giving, the loving we bestow on the little ones particularly. And to those tiny tots: treats and toys do communicate love.
Of course, I don’t mind enjoying a little chocolate myself, and wearing more pastels during the Easter spring season. But hunting down eggs, chocolates, bunnies and other delights for the younger ones in our family, is the Easter finest for me.