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Sept.26, 22 Giveaways, Autumn, Learning, and Dirt!

Today I learned sticks don’t taste as good as pretzels. What did you learn?

Isn’t it funny how when you are little and everything in life is a new adventure, not all of them turn out to be good? The wise parent allows some leeway in experimentation, and when our CBW tried to chase a cat off the back step, she rolled in the dirt, righted herself, and started an explore; luckily baby sleepers are very washable. So is she. She learned, a) the ground is hard, it’s bumpy and you can get stuck rolling around and crawling b) no matter how much they buzz, cats won’t let you catch them c) if I get dirty, there is someone to give me a bath and clean me up and d) great-grandma laughs a lot at me.

Somehow, as we get older, we sort of lose that spirit of adventure. We get calcified and don’t want to learn anything new. I learned this week that the best-laid plans do not necessarily end up well. I had planned for my giveaway to start on the 18th: the program stuck. I had to contact the good folks at Kingsumo to help me get it started, but it still started later than I wanted. In spite of it, many folks are taking advantage of the chance to win books or a kindle and are signing up, which is lovely.

I just managed to figure out how to get a landing form set up on the first-page so visitors can sign up and get the newsletter each month. I had not even considered that-live and learn. I hope you learn and go to the greetings page and sign up so you don’t miss anything, humor, contests, book specials, country wisdom, and friendship.

I hope you have gone to the course menu and started reading through the lessons on writing your own book-I would love to hear from you and know someone was using the work. Anything I can do to help you become a published author, let me know.

I also wanted to catch you up on the new book to be out soon-Clem and the Burden of Leadership. I believe I’ve shared the cover: perhaps a blurb from it in other posts. Let me insert a chapter here at the end of this post. In the meantime, there will be 4 giveaways; the first is going on now-just jump over to the gifts page, go under contests and enter your email. Someone has to win the 17 prizes, why shouldn’t you be one of them? And remember, as always, if it looks like there is going to be a less than 4 to 1 prize ratio, I add more prizes so you have a better chance of winning. Right now there are 17 prizes. If I have more than 75 sign up, I’ll add more books to keep it 4 to 1. It’s getting close to that and it’s only been running a day so I may be ordering more books-or if I get Clem out in time, I may use a couple of those. You have a really good chance to win.

Chapter 2

Now here is the chapter I promised you:

Alex Taylor knocked off work at Carmichael’s paints early at his foreman’s insistence; Alex’s wife was hysterical and had called asking for him. Jimm, his boss, had not heard her so upset in years and he’d known them for years. He was really concerned. Alex dashed home to find her on the couch with several of the Fern Valley flower club members bustling around, being sympathetic. He took it all in and his confusion grew. His wife Claire was usually such a quiet little thing, loved her music, kept a good house, and volunteered at the school as a reader grandma. True, they’d buried his mother last week, and he’d expected some sadness, but what could possibly have caused all these women to invade his home, moaning, weeping, and sympathizing like a Greek chorus? The service had been fine, pastor had done a good job, they’d had a farewell family dinner at the church, he didn’t remember much of it, being uncomfortable as the relative of the deceased being sympathized with by a bunch of people he didn’t remember. Mom had died, she was 93, it was the way of things. She was his mom, not Claire’s; she’d liked her mother-in-law but why would this make her collapse like that? And scare his foreman? He began to get a little peeved about the entire thing when Maude Moore and Cynthia Drummond walked over.

“It’s a fine state of affairs when a woman can’t stay buried,” Maude exclaimed as she sipped tea.

“Excuse me?” he asked, still a little dazed.

“Your mother, those federal agents just bullying in, digging her up and hauling her off in an ambulance, coffin and all.” Another garden club member came over. He tried to remember her name, Lillian? Suzanne?

“My mother’s been exhumed?”

“You mean you didn’t know what your wife has been going through today?” demanded one. “They called her this morning and wham! In comes the machinery, the federal agents, the local sheriff, and blam! off goes your mother’s casket. They acted like it might hold gold or something. Did you bury anything important with your mom? Stocks, bonds, anything?” demanded Maude. “It’s enough to make you vote independent. Who’s protecting our rights?”

“I put her Bible next to her. It was just a Bible. It wasn’t anything anyone would find useful except maybe for reading. It had stuff in it like old pictures and pressed flowers, you know, like every other grandma’s Bible. She didn’t own anything like stocks or bonds.” His wife got up out of her chair and came towards him, a tissue in one hand, a cup of lemonade in the other, and that darn furball cat of hers slinking along beside. If she didn’t love that old feline so much, he’d arrange a new home for it. He suspected local mice had a good laugh at its expense. Then he looked at his wife’s face and realized she was scared to death.

“I didn’t want to be alone,” she whispered. “They exhumed mom this morning and I kept looking into that empty hole and the pastor thought I ought to call someone to stay with me until you came home and I called Lillian and somehow the rest all just sort of showed up and started cooking and cleaning and making lemonade. I think there’s something in the lemonade. I hope there is; I hate lemonade but this is pretty good,” she took an unladylike swig. “I couldn’t stop those federal men. They just called me and said they’d have papers for me to sign at the cemetery and they had to take your mom by court orders for an investigation. I called your work and tried to explain why I needed you and I didn’t know what to say.”

“Yeah, my foreman Jimm came round and told me to knock off at noon and go home, my wife was in a state.” He whispered back, keeping an eye on the crowd as he slipped his arm around his wife’s shoulders. “He blamed it on the funeral. He said a lot of people have a delayed reaction to death. He was real nice and told me if you needed me here for another day I could stay home tomorrow.”

“I don’t know what they’re going to do next. Your mom was such a sweet old lady; they said she might have been murdered. They had to find out. It made me wish we had cremated her; then they’d go away and not bother us anymore. One of the agents said they’d come by tomorrow with what they found. He couldn’t give me a time, but he left his card. I overheard him talking to the sheriff and telling him there had been 5 homicides of old people in the last two weeks spread out in the Tritowns. It was way above average. All of them seemed to have cardiac arrests. It was too much of a coincidence, and then I couldn’t hear anymore since they walked off. I can’t help but wonder who’s killing off the old people?”

Her husband took the lemonade and sniffed it. Yeah, unless he missed his guess, vodka of some sort, or maybe moonshine. He remembered the scuttlebutt about Maude having a cousin that did shine, purely medicinal, of course, that somehow seemed to show up in the punch at wakes. They hadn’t had a wake. He sat her glass down on a side table.

“Honey, you’ve had a really hard day,” he started.

“Not as hard as mom,” she slurred, weaving a little. He pulled her close to his side. Several of the ladies had seemed to come closer as he held her. He frowned.

“Ladies, I am so glad you came to sit with the wife until I could get here. I’m here though, and while whatever it is out there in the kitchen smells wonderful, I think I can handle this for now. Claire’s had a horrible shock today, as have I, and we need to just go lie down with some aspirin and rest a bit and talk this all out. I’ll let you know if you can help us in any way. I appreciate you.” He gently herded his wife towards their bedroom, got her laid down on the bed, covered her with a furry blanket, took off her shoes, closed the window curtains, turned on her evening music. She was asleep before he left the room, closing the door quietly. He shook his head. Had to be shine. Not even vodka worked that fast. He came out of the bedroom and looked up at six pairs of feminine eyes studying him.

“Now, would one of you ladies tell me everything you know? I am simply appalled at this entire mess. And then I do need you to go so I can figure out what our next move is.”

“I think you need a lawyer to demand your mother back!” declared Maude who was a little tipsy and somewhat belligerent.

“I understand they think dear Faith was murdered,” murmured Lillian who held onto her virgin cup of peppermint tea and glared at Maude.

“The sheriff did say he would stop by on his way home, your wife told us,” added Cynthia. She held a spatula in one hand and a water bottle in the other. “He gets off at 6 so I suspect he’ll show up then. Maybe she’ll be awake by then; I wouldn’t count on it, but he might be able to give us some answers.”

“Possible,” replied Alex. “Why don’t you all go home now; just turn off the stove and I’ll let you know what’s goes on from here.”

“Ha!” declared Maude. “You’ll go tell the Snowy Owl lodge first. You are just a man, men gossip.”

“Yes, we do, Maude. Now, everyone, shoo. I want to try and get some things together before Sheriff Jamison gets here. Does this sweater belong to anyone?”

“That’s mine,” said Cynthia. “Let me just turn off the stove. What’s in the oven will wait a little while and be fine in an hour or so to eat. You’ll have a hot supper. It’s been a very trying day.”

She took off for the kitchen. Maude glared at her.

“Maude, why don’t I put the rest of the lemonade you made in a jar and you can take it home? I don’t think Claire needs any more tonight. Neither of us actually drinks alcohol.”

Under gentle duress, the rest of the ladies picked up wraps and shawls and reluctantly left.

Alex sighed. He dearly loved all the ladies in the garden club but in groups, they could get intimidating. He heard a noise and went to his bedroom where his wife was sleeping so soundly she was actually buzzing a snore. His wife never snored. They must have really pumped her full of booze to calm her down. He shook his head.

What has his mom been doing that got her killed? She baked pies. She made quilts, she bopped around visiting people on that scooter. She had a dog that was now living with his sister. He and Claire had decided to go down this weekend and clean out her house to prep for the sale and the eventual probating of her few worldly possessions. She wasn’t wealthy; he knew she’d left him the house and his sister her sewing stuff and the dog and such. They were all meeting Saturday, he, sis, and Clair, to sort it all out. Would they be allowed to do that? He sighed, went to the bathroom for some aspirin, and took Claire’s drink to the sink to dump it. He went to the kitchen for water and found a note. It was short. “Stay out of it. Not your business.” It wasn’t signed. The paper was torn from his phone pad; they had an old-fashioned landline phone. Gulping slightly, he swallowed his aspirin, got a drink by sticking his head down, and sucking water from the faucet. Alex stood up, rattled and worried, glanced at the clock, and heard the front doorbell ring.

Great-grandma just told me I have to be 18 to sign up for the giveaway. I like prizes. Could you sign up for me and that way one of us will have a present…

God bless, don’t forget to sign up on the greetings page to be on our mailing list and to sign up on the gifts page to be in the giveaway-may the best fan win!

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