The drainage system of my central air conditioning system needs to be flushed. Hey, this is Florida people! This is a big deal.
Today threatens to be a hot one. Hotter than Hades. So, until the a/c repair person arrives, (I don’t know if it will be a man, so I’m going gender neutral) I’m giving my a/c system a break. Water is accumulating in the metal pan beneath the system. If too much water accumulates, it will spill over and begin to create water damage in the house I rent. But before that happens, this unit has a shut off switch and will shut itself off. My fear is it will NOT turn itself back on after some water has evaporated. That would leave me with no relief at all from what threaten to be scorching temps this afternoon. So, I raised my thermostat and in effect turned the unit off to let some water evaporate. Then if the said repair person doesn’t get here today, after some water has evaporated, I can turn it back on during the hottest part of the day. Remember, this is Florida and the temps are brutal right now…and he/she probably has a long, long client call list today.
So,, here’s the glamour part…don’t want you to miss that!!! I’m sitting before my laptop in my coolest, cotton, shortie PJs with my window’s open to catch the small breeze out there, a fan is blowing on me, and I’m sweating some while typing this out. Of course you can see the glamour in that. Why, it’s akin to Hemingway’s involvement in the Spanish Civil War. No? Not quite? Not close? Well, anyway, I do need a hand-held A/C system right now.
Romans 12: 12 [NASB] ~ rejoicing in hope, persevering in tribulation, devoted to prayer,
Lighter, brighter, a dash of humor…new photos in the side-bar.
Of course I’m still blogging about murder mysteries, detective stories, romantic suspense, thrillers, cozies, and espionage stories, as well as policing, first responders, and the military. I find myself increasingly linking crime fiction and policing to the human psyche, culture, and societal institutions. I hope to offer a “merry” view of my subject matter — merry in a biblical sense. This would be not only a sense of humor, though I love a lighter touch where appropriate, but also healing and wholeness.
Since I’ve moved from the industrial northeast to Florida, I’ll be incorporating a more breezy, beachy, tropical feel.
Proverbs 7:22 [KJV] ~ A merry heart doeth good like a medicine: but a broken spirit drieth the bones.
Nancy W. came to my mind today. I knew her many years ago, when I was a single working girl living in Miami. (Trust me, a looong time ago.) She was a loyal member of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA). She’s passed now, and I suppose I could use her last name, but I won’t.
Nancy W. was a blue blood, truly. Her ancestors came over on the Mayflower. Her family is in the social register. I went to several open AA meetings (open to non-alcoholics) with Nancy. That was in the 1970s and members came to evening meetings from work dressed in polyester pantsuits, or well worn-in dungarees, depending upon the type of job. This was south Florida, so some came in shorts, some in short-shorts. Nancy wore a pleated skirt, white or pastel blouse, and pearls.
Nancy told me about the highlight of one of her trips to Manhattan (NYC). She accompanied her chic socialite friend to an AA meeting in the East Village. Both women always sat in the front row when they’d been in boarding school, and they did so at this meeting. They didn’t want to miss anything. Her friend was decked out in a fur coat (animals lovers, please don’t judge). It was a small meeting place, and the meeting had already begun when an obviously inebriated man walked, or careened in. The only seat left was in the front row, right next to the lady in the fur coat. The speaker kept on with his story about getting sober. All of a sudden the drunk threw up on the floor smack-dab front of the podium and in close proximity to Nancy and her friend. The speaker didn’t miss a beat, kept on talking. Nancy and her friend sat there unfazed while someone rushed forward with a mop. Another member guided the drunken man to the back to feed him some strong coffee. When retelling this story, Nancy remarked, “That man is a drunk, just like me.”
Nancy was one to write down recipes. While watching a TV morning or afternoon show, if a celebrity demonstrated how to make something scrumptious, she would write the recipe down on the back of a stray envelope or a piece of scrap paper. One evening, Nancy attended an AA meeting where the now long-sober speaker had once done time in prison. He gave the recipe for jailhouse hooch and, naturally, Nancy grabbed a piece of paper out of her handbag and wrote it down. While joking one day, she showed the “recipe” to me and I wrote it down. Here it is…
Jail House Hooch a/k/a Pruno
1. Take one empty paint can, wash well. [Note: Nancy copied this recipe in the 1970s. I have on good authority that inmates use huge Ziploc baggies now.]
2. Combine in the can 10 peeled oranges and one 8 oz can of fruit cocktail (stockpiled from lunches or filched from the kitchen). Mash well. Add 16 oz of tap water, mix, and reseal can (or baggie). Wrap can in a towel and store in a warm place hidden from the guards. Let sit 48 hours.
3. Open the can (baggie). The mixture should have ballooned and there should be a smell of fermentation. That would be true in wineries, in this case it’s more like rotten fruit. Add 50 cubes of white sugar, 5 tsp (or 5 packets) of Heinz Ketchup, must be Heinz. Mix to stir ketchup through and to dissolve sugar. Put the cover back on the can and seal. Wrap it up in the towel again and store in a warm place (if you used a baggie, run it under hot water for 30 min.) and be sure to keep it away from the guards, but a place that is accessible so you can let gases out. Don’t want to be cleaning this stuff off the walls.
4. Twenty-four hours later, open can and let some fermentation gasses escape.
5. Twenty-four hours later, open can and let some fermentation gasses escape, place it near a heat source (oven or radiator) for half an hour (or run the baggie under hot water) to keep the fermentation going.
6. Twenty-four hours later, let gasses out, sit near a heat source (oven or radiator for half and hour), reseal, wrap in towel and put away again.
7. Twenty-four hours later, open can and let gasses out, sit near a heat source (oven or radiator for half and hour), reseal, wrap in towel and put away again.
8. The next day open the can, fish out the rotten fruit and the yukky mold. Strain the liquid carefully through a wire, mesh strainer. And it’s ready to drink.
Does it taste like Scotch, bourbon, Irish Whiskey, or brandy? In a word, NO! It tastes like a mixture of rot-gut and gasoline, and only gives a measly, minor buzz. It’s more sickening than inebriating, but it does, in fact, inebriate somewhat.
Here’s a spiritual thought. You might consider asking for Last Rites before drinking Jailhouse Hooch
My eye doctor just gave me shattering news. No, it’s not glaucoma or cataracts. I’m not going blind, heaven forbid!
Up until now, I’ve had perfect vision for driving and everyday walking around. I’ve only needed reading glasses these past few years. That has changed. I now need glasses to to see far off distances, which means I need glasses to drive.
So, what is the trendy murder mystery writer to do? “Get glasses Alice!” That’s what. I’m conjuring the 1980s TV commercial where this yuppy-type young woman kept running into things and her friends sweetly yelled at her, “Get glasses Alice!”
The thing is, I’ve become attached to my reading glasses. I’ve developed a “crime fictionista” persona with my reading glasses perched on my nose.
I’ve mugged and had lots of fun with these glasses. They’ve sorta become a part of me. But all things come to pass.
I’ve got my prescription and I’m going to have to go get the proper glasses for an older me. Hey, but I’m only 39 (and holding). ~ Ooops, my nose is growing too now. Oh, dear. Well, that’s a whole other issue. LOL
We all see the pristine, spacious offices and shiny cubicles of police detectives on television. So, I was somewhat shocked to see my where the detectives were quartered at my local police precinct.
I’m sure I must’ve taken a wrong turn somewhere.
Actually, this seems to be it.
Yes, indeed, this is it. Right up there it says, “DETECTIVES.”
Actually, I’m impressed with the way they’ve handled shabby-chic to perfection.
What impeccable interior decorating skills. I can only conclude that these aging file cabinets are here solely for their “vintage effect.”
Taking a closer look, I see this is the door through which detectives go for “roll call.” Oh, my, this doesn’t look anything like the duty rooms I’ve seen on television. Clearly the interior decorator who designed this precinct was going for another look. That’s got to be it.
I hear author Gina Conroy has been keeping a diary since second grade. I think a lot of writers start out writing in some manner at a very early age. I love to chat with writers who have been in love with the written word for years and I’ve been looking forward to this interview simply because the subject interests me a great deal: humor in murder mystery writing.
Nike: So, I’ll just get on with it and get to the questions. It’s great to have you here on the hot seat.
Gina: Um, hot seat? Thanks, I think…
Nike: Your heroine, archaeology professor Mari Duggins, has an awful lot going on in her life. It seems she’s in a whirlwind. Did you find that frantic pace lent itself to utilizing humor in the story?
Gina: Honestly, when writing the story I didn’t consider the frantic pace would lend to humor. In fact, I think the subject matter and hectic life Mari leads is anything but funny. Instead, it’s weighty, but it’s the characters and their personalities that make the story humorous. It’s their unique perspective and dialogue and reactions to their world around them and how they cope with that world that brings out the humor. I believe it’s human nature to find the funny in a life that can be burdensome, especially in this story. So I guess the answer to your question is yes, the frantic pace did lend itself to humor in the story.
Nike: The cover is wonderful and intriguing. Makes me think this is going to be a fun murder mystery. Is that what you had intended?
Gina: I did not envision a cartoonish cover, but I love it! When the designer asked for ideas I sent pictures of real life models in stylish dresses in grave yards or holding shovels. That was my idea, but I think the cover captures the humorous side of DIGGING UP DEATH.
Nike: How did you come up with your main character Mari Duggins? Does she resemble anyone in your real life?
Gina: Mari is a compilation of every working mom with a dream, including myself. Though most of her circumstances are different from my own, I was able to pull her emotions from my life and from others. Though I don’t work outside the home, I am a mom of four trying to build a writing career and I often feel pulled in many different directions. Many times mom guilt rises when I focus on my writing, and when I’m focusing on family, I sometimes feel I’m not working my writing career hard enough. So she’s not crafted after anyone specific, but you can say she represents all moms struggling to find balance in their lives.
Nike: What inspired you to write this story? And what would you like readers to get out of it?
Gina: At the time I was homeschooling my children and we started on an ancient Egypt unit, we stumbled upon the fascinating Pharaoh Hatshepsut who though a woman crowned herself pharaoh. Her history and the fact her name was etched out on most of her cartouche’s in an effort to erase her from history and her mummy was missing told me there had to be something more to her story. So we dug into her history and about that time Egyptologists thought they found her missing mummy. It was the perfect backdrop to a modern mystery. Then Mari Duggins showed up with all her baggage with Fletcher and Jack, her ex husband, an idea was born.
After reading DIGGING UP DEATH, I hope readers will take away with them that while life is hard and crazy, we don’t have to do it alone. We have friends, family, and a God who loves and forgives us even if we can’t forgive ourselves. We don’t have to hide behind masks because we’re afraid to show people who we really are. We just need to know who we can trust and who brings out the best in us. And though our lives may not go according to our plans, they are our lives, and we can find the good in it amidst the chaos and ugly.
Tell us about your novel, DIGGING UP DEATH.
DIGGING UP DEATHis about a single mom struggling from the emotional turmoil of a divorce she didn’t see coming as she tries to balance a career and raise her three children. It’s about a woman who wears masks to hide her pain and who she really is from the world and from God. On her journey to self discovery, forgiveness, and healing she stubbles upon a murder, a stolen Egyptian artifact and must wrestle with the pull of an old lover and an ex-husband who’s wanted by the FBI. Mari Duggins seldom makes the right choices, but comes to learn she can’t keep fighting on her own and must surrender to God to find her self worth I know the subject matter seems heavy, but I hope it’s infused with enough humor, faith, mystery and quirky characters to balance that out.