And I Quote, Part 3

I know what you’re thinking. It’s been far too long since I’ve posted any quotes. Well, fear not. This is your red-letter day!

On the Dissolution of a Marriage:

Incidentally, I also recommend the film version with Meryl Streep and Jack Nicholson!

The first time I read Nora Ephron’s book, Heartburn, I cried when I came to this passage. As far as I was concerned, Nora hit the nail on the head. It was as if I had written this, not her. For, she seemed to be describing my life at the time, and those thoughts were my thoughts, too:

“I am no beauty, and I’m getting on in years, and I have just about enough money to last me sixty days, and I am terrified of being alone, and I can’t bear the idea of divorce, but I would rather die than sit here and pretend it’s okay, I would rather die than sit here figuring out how to get you to love me again, I would rather die than spend five more minutes going through your drawer and wondering where you are and anticipating the next betrayal and worrying about whether my poor, beat-up, middle-aged body with its Caesarean scars will ever turn you on again. I can’t stand feeling sorry for myself. I can’t stand feeling like a victim. I can’t stand hoping against hope. I can’t stand sitting here with all this rage turning to hurt and then to tears. I can’t stand not talking!”—Nora Ephron, Heartburn

In the Blogosphere:

Now, here’s what I love about blogging: I’ve met so many bloggers and have enjoyed perusing their posts and comments. Here are a few that I absolutely adore:

On Aging:

This blogger never ceases to crack me up. Here’s her take on getting old:

“Now I dash from one low lit area to the next to camouflage the vicious effects of age…a zoo mauling if you will. It’s as though my body got caught in a twister and hasn’t touched down.”Annie Off Leash

On Relationships:

I admire the blogger who wrote this, for her spirituality:

“People are not mean to us because they do not like us. They are mean to us because they do not like themselves.”

Jodi, Heal Now and Forever Be in Peace

This next one is from a blogger who seems to question whether she can write poetry. Well, if you ask me, poetry is her forte.

“Each memory once wrapped
delicately in layers of pink tissue paper,
then stored,
now savagely exposed,
dropped in haste
clothes strewn at our feet
our renewed passion
on the sheets
of the rented bed in
room 619.”

— From “When the Heart Decides,” a poem by Brenda Moguez, Passionate Pursuits

On Being Female:  This has to be one of my favorite comments left on a blog, ever, and it happens to be in reference to a poem written by Brenda:

“I so love visiting your site, Brenda. Whenever you write about womanhood, I hear a chiffon dress whispering, smell lipstick and strawberries, and feel like I glimpse pieces of my soul. Thank you.” – Beverly Diehl, Writing in Flow

On Writing a Group Mystery

One of my favorite lines, in the recent mystery on the high seas story that Bella and I asked for your help in writing, was from Bella, herself.  She posted this to the story on her blog, and when I read it, I couldn’t stop laughing.

“Raoul!” The deep, booming voice of Captain Alvarez Mendoza Santiago Perez sliced through the tension-filled room like a knife! “I’ve got two women engaged in a cat fight on the Lido deck, another snapping pictures and spilling her drink everywhere, Bartholomew fighting off the crowd single-handedly, and the dead woman on ice in the dining room. What the hell are you waiting for?” – Bella, One Sister’s Rant

On Crime & the Law Not Mixing:

Maggie Smith as Violet Crawley, Dowager Countess of Grantham in “Downton Abbey.”

This next one is from Weeds, a TV series centered around Nancy Botwin, a suburban single mom who sells pot for a living.

“Babe, these are cops. I’m a drug dealer, you’re a murderer. We can’t all play on the same kick ball team.” — Nancy Botwin to her young son, Shane, on why he can’t befriend a police officer

On Mothers

I chose this one because, well, dammit, it’s good. That’s all.

“I wanted you to love me—no, I wanted more than that: I wanted to be like you, just like you, wanted to wear those scarves and that scent, to hang that pendant around my neck, to put on those stockings and pearls, to dress in silk dresses the way you did, and wear your favorite shade of lipstick on my lips. You were all beauty to me, Mother. You were everything female, everything woman. I loved you so much that I wanted to grow up to be exactly like you, and the thought that I had done something bad choked me with guilt and grief.” – Mary Mackey, from I’ve Always Meant to Tell You: Letters to Our Mothers – An Anthology of Contemporary Women Writers

A Chuckle with a Dowager Countess

Earlier this year, PBS’ Masterpiece aired a new season of Downton Abbey, one of my favorite British series. Maggie Smith, as Violet, the Dowager had some delicious lines. Here’s a sampling:

 “Will someone please tell me what’s going on, or have we all stepped through the looking glass?”

“Don’t be a defeatist dear. It’s very middle class.”

“Wasn’t there a masked ball in Paris when cholera broke out? Half the guests were dead before they left the ballroom.”

“Of course it would happen to a foreigner. No Englishman would ever dream of dying in someone else’s house, especially someone they didn’t even know.”


Now, it’s your turn. Any of these thoughts quotes strike a chord with you?

Do you have one of your own to share?


Ship of Fools: Our Excellent Adventure Revealed

Or, Exactly Who Did Kill Lupita Davenport?

A HUMONGOUS thank you to all of you who participated in Bella’s and my Excellent Adventure!

Here’s a sampling of mysteries set on the high seas. See below for more.

Thank you, too, to those of you who read it and kept coming back to see it develop! We loved you for hanging in there while the story unfolded before your eyes.

Most of all, thank you to my fellow blogger, my friend and partner-in-crime, Bella.  She is so amazing, and has a not-to-be-missed blog, One Sister’s Rant. Bella is witty and enormously creative, too. Undertaking this Adventure on the High Seas project was her brilliant idea. So, kudos to you, Bella!

If you ask me, Bella and I have some very imaginative readers, who conjured up a cast of characters.  A proverbial ship of fools, I’d say. In other words they were, for lack of a better expression, to die for. Story contributors (besides Bella and me), include, in order of appearance:


Jodi Aman


Karen Bidgood

Trisha Richter

Ashley Rodriguez

Clare Pister

Imelda Evans

Eloise Currie


So which of these characters killed Lupita Davenport? We know she died at the hands of one—or more?—of her conniving classmates from the Gene Kelly High School of Performing Arts. Class of 1982. But who?

And, what were all of these alumni up to for the last 20 years? Who knows? But one thing’s for sure. They all seemed to suffer from major chips on their shoulders, jealousy, hangovers, hangnails, and envy, and had their own reasons for wanting to exact revenge, to right a wrong or just plain have a go with the man (of some) of their dreams: Thurston Davenport, III. Heir to the Davenport Pickle Company, and otherwise known as the Pickle King.

Seems he was a hot commodity, with looks and wealth, and devotees, such as Sally the songstress who, prior to her transformation, had once been George, Thurston’s best friend in high school; Katrina, who was thin and gorgeous, and despised Lupita; and Denise Diamond, the aging, Glock-carrying movie star who was about to star in the role of a lifetime. As herself.

To be sure, there were some red herrings. Like Kent “the Rocket” Johnson who jostled Elphie, when they first heard the maid’s blood-curdling screams. Or Lizzy Kelcher and Ryan Holden, who were having a tryst of their own. Milady Miranda Mudgeon, who seemed to have a secret agenda that involved a certain fellow named Ashley Montague, despite being married to Cur, a man who’d been found alive and shaken, lying in a pool of pickle juice.

Jane, who was now in the witness protection program—and, why she’d risk leaving it for a high school reunion with classmates she hadn’t seen in 20 years, we’ll never know. Then there’s Snidley Crumburger, who seemed to be constantly sweating bullets, and Cliff Thompson, who seemed to be rather nosy, listening in on other’s thoughts. And a few others who I’m sure I’m leaving out from this convoluted reunion on the high seas.

Finally, there was Sister Mary, the lesbian nun in love with Lupita. We knew from the outset she couldn’t do it, though we wondered why she stole Lupita’s ring. But, it was clear she was still carrying a torch for her darling Lupita.

And, let’s not forget the weapons. A cornucopia that included a Glock, a knife, a candlestick, an umbrella and a hatpin.

But, was there enough motive? Who could have been so maniacal as to end the life of Lupita Davenport? And, does it really matter?

For the life of me, this is one I couldn’t figure out myself. So, to find the answer, I turned to my friend and colleague, Bruce. He has a background in engineering, and a methodical mind as sharp as a tack. In other words, I can’t keep up with his uncanny knowledge and way of analyzing and deciphering everything so that it makes sense. Which is why, I assumed if anyone could determine the killer of this highfalutin story, it would be him. So, I asked Bruce, as a neutral, unbiased party, to read the mystery and figure out the name of the culprit.

Upon reading it, Bruce said this story reminded him of a Federico Fellini film. For those who don’t know, Fellini is the Italian director known for his surrealism and use of hallucinatory imagery, showing people at their most bizarre. Which was all I needed to hear.

He loved it! Since Fellini is highly acclaimed for his work, I’m sure what Bruce was trying to say was that this story is truly brilliant, and should be turned into a film! Now, I’ll drink to that!

I thanked Bruce profusely for the compliment, but asked him to get on with it and tell me who murdered Lupita!  After all, inquiring minds have to know!

Exasperated, Bruce looked at me, and declared,

“Only one could have done it. The one who lost her marbles and was crazier than the whole lot of her classmates put together. Who disrobed down to her Manolos, shot bullets in the ceiling with her Glock, and pulled her hair out when she couldn’t find Thurston.”

Why, that person is, none other than Denise Diamond!

So, there you have it. Another case closed.  Mystery solved!

Now, be sure to head over to Bella’s so you can learn the results of her version of the story!

Oh, and, if Bruce is right, and we ought to make a film out of this story, tell me, who do you think we should get to play each of the parts?

Thanks again to all who participated!  Let’s do it again soon!

One Shot, Two Stories a Success!

The One Shot, Two Stories challenge was a success! Thank you so much to all of you who came through with flying colors, and added your line to the story. We so appreciate you taking the time to put in your two cents! It sure was fun and exhilarating to read each new sentence!

When Bella and I first started planning this, we had no idea how the stories would turn out. I have to say, our contributors are very clever and creative, with all the plot twists and turns. Like being on a roller coaster ride. And, somehow both stories came together, as characters that started on Bella’s post, appeared in mine.

I hope you liked participating as much as we did, and would love to know what you thought of it all. Even those of you who didn’t take part, we’d like to get your input, too.

As I read Bella’s, I almost fell on the floor laughing.  It’s so good, I wouldn’t be surprised if a producer comes along and wants to buy the rights to make a movie. Don’t believe me? Well, you can read the entire story below. Be sure to visit Bella’s blog, One Sister’s Rant, to read the story that was concocted on my post. Enjoy!

Olivia looked at the sprawled cat on the bench; the same bench where Ethan had proposed ten years ago. She wondered what Ethan would look like today if he was still alive. His death was still a mystery no one could solve…

The horror of it all flashed into her mind and falling on her knees, she wept forlorn by all the unanswered questions. The cat raised its head and looked at her. She smiled sadly as she remembered how when she had left for her morning walk just a year ago, Ethan had been sprawled across their bed much like the cat – except Ethan was snoring.

She started to sob again as she recalled the mounting fear she felt when she approached their driveway and saw that it was filled with police cars. Immediately, she knew Lucinda had something to do with Ethan’s death.

With adrenaline as her new best friend, she quickly packed an overnight bag, climbed into her beloved Ford F150 and sped off. She had to go back one more time to where it had all started, hoping against hope that it would help shed light on what had happened. She was shaking as she drove through the Vermont countryside, the trees a green blur, miles rolling out the truck’s worn out tires.

Gradually, coming to her senses, she slowed down, realizing that none of this would bring him back, and that, now, it was up to her and the cat to carry on the chicken plucking business he’d started and that she would have to learn. But no, she’d always hated that business and knew the only reason Ethan had taken it over was because it had been his father’s last wish. Tired and resentful, he had carried on, but with one eye always looking for ‘the big break’.

She continued on her journey to Vermont, hoping Ethan’s grandmother would be at home and maybe this time, answer her questions about that night. Ethan’s grandmother, Dottie, answered her door on the second sounding of the weathered brass knocker, her stark white hair framing a care-worn face from which bright blue eyes widened with surprise.

Realizing with a sudden jerk that her thoughts had actually been hovering around the house with police cars all over the place and red tapes to seal of the scene…She mentally shook herself to remind herself of why she was here.

Dottie’s house smelled like just-baked chocolate chip cookies and she felt the tears well up in her eyes as she remembered they were Ethan’s favorite. “Well, it’s about time,” said Dottie as soon as she saw Olivia, wondering if she’d finally come to hear the truth, and whether she was ready to tell it. “I’m sorry it took me so long, Dottie,” she said brokenly, tears trickling down her cheeks. “You look so beautiful despite the dark circles around your eyes, Olivia.” said Dottie. “Have a slice of chocolate chip pie,” Dottie urged, scooping up a heaping serving of the fudge-y, chocolate goodness and topping it off with a generous dollop of homemade vanilla custard.

Olivia eyeballed her, began counting up the calories in her head and blasted Dottie with, “You jealous heifer, trying to pack pounds on me so I won’t get back in my prom dress for the class reunion coming up.” Of course, all that was in her head, and what she really said was, “No, thank you, Dot, I’ve come about Ethan, for it’s time you tell me the truth of how he found that locket.” The same locket, which Ryan had given me on my 18th birthday, and proposed his undying and true love to me. “Locket? I have no idea what you are talking about, Olivia!” said Dottie. But now that you’re here, I may as well tell you that I know you used chocolate to cover up the smell of poison you mixed in with the flour in those cookies you used to make Ethan; that you meant to poison him because you thought he was cheating on you! You must’ve snickered at your cleverness!

Tears streaming down her face, Olivia screamed at Dottie, “Even though Ryan loved me, Ethan was the one I loved and I would never have hurt him!” Dottie tired of the drama, the endless stream of tears picked up the ashtray on the table to her left thinking of chucking it at her friend, but remembered the secret.

As she picked it up she realized that It wasn’t just the secret that triggered her memory, but also the folded sticky note attached to the bottom of the ashtray. Dottie quickly tried to change the subject and Olivia’s mood in a clever way …

A long silence stretched taught between them, as Olivia was overcome with the onslaught of bittersweet memories; Ryan’s loping walk, his windswept hair, shy, and oh so sweet, dimpled smiles and loving eyes. Eyes filled with a secret love…all for her.

Memories of Ethan also invaded her mind–his strong chin, the way he tucked her hair behind her ear, his crooked grin–but these were interrupted as the post it dropped to the floor. Olivia snatched up the post-it note and read it quickly before Dottie’s bony fingers grasped her arm tightly, forcing the note to flutter to the floor…she didn’t notice it float it’s way under the table.

One person did and had already started scheming how to gain from it all “ONE PERSON’S PAIN, ANOTHER ONE’S…”.

As she entered the room Sylvia quipped happily, “Hi dearie”. She had to get that note…Olivia stared at Dottie in complete and utter shock, not understanding how she could have missed all the signs. “Where did SHE come from??” Olivia exclaimed. “She was here all along waiting for you” – Dottie said with the hiss in her voice.

Olivia looked at Lucinda, or Sylvia, as she insisted she be called now, and knew her suspicions where next to confirmed–Lucinda had to be involved in Ethan’s murder and Ryan’s disappearance! She had come a long way to worry about the numerous name changes – Sly, Sylvia, Lucinda; she was still her number one suspect no matter what name she used. “You know Ethan gave you the moniker Sly for a reason, right?” she said without giving it a thought.

Of course it was Sly. And then she wondered how she could have possibly suspected Dottie and her chocolate. Dottie was Ethan’s grandmother, after all. Or was she?

“I’ll take that pie, after all, Dot.”

But she couldn’t eat .. she was here for a reason and she was determined to find out even if it meant dealing with the woman she now despised even more .

She got up , took a step towards Lucinda and ..…vowed to get revenge for her one true love, even if it meant both their deaths. But just as Olivia was going to grab Lucinda by the hair, Lucinda pulled a gun from her pocket and said, “Take one more step and I shoot Dottie.”“

As long as I can keep eating this cake,” Olivia said, grabbing another piece. “This is delicious, Dot.” “And besides, would you really shoot your own mother, Lucinda?” Olivia asked calmly, seeing if her nemesis would take the bait.

Dottie nodded, then said, “Olivia, if you still love Ryan, you should know that he’s here, in the other room and he remembers everything. In fact, he’s been asking for you.”

“Not if I can help it!” Lucinda screamed but just then, Ryan stormed into the room, grabbed Lucinda and yelled, “Grandma, call the police!”

As Olivia looked into Ryan’s eyes, she knew she had loved him all along and that Ethan had been an infatuation. Lucinda, forever envious, had killed him in a fit of jealous rage.

Except that Lucinda had been in Hawaii at the time of Ethan’s disappearance. Olivia took a step back from Lucinda and Ryan, feigning happiness as she fingered her phone in her pocket.

“Cut! Cut!” Quentin Tarantino yells on the set.

“People, I know we’re improvising here, but enough twists and turns! Dottie, take the gun and shoot everyone and let’s call it a day!”

One Shot, Two Stories

Just in time for Valentine’s Day, Monica’s Tangled Web and One Sister’s Rant are joining together to tell two stories, using one photograph.

We’re each posting the same snapshot (courtesy of Keoni Cabral, my friend and photographer extraordinaire) and we’re each writing a different first line. And here’s where you come in.

Readers, we want you to continue the story. Add one sentence to further the plot along and, before you know it, we’ll have one photograph with, what should prove to be, two very distinctive stories.

At the end of the week—or maybe next—we’ll post both stories in their entirety. I’ll post One Sister’s Rant story and you’ll need to head over to Bella’s blog to check out Monica’s Tangled Web story. Won’t that be cool??

This fun exercise is the brainchild of  Cathy Kozak, from While the Dervish Dances. Here are her instructions:

  1. Visit the comment section.
  2. Check your place in the story by reading others’ comments first, each of which will contain a sentence.
  3. Be sure to number your comment and add a sentence of your own that propels the story forward. Make sure you read the comments/sentences others have left before yours, to ensure a logical link.

We encourage you to contribute to the story here and to the story on One Sister’s Rant. Contribute as often as you like!

Tell your friends to contribute, too! Tweet, Facebook or post to whatever social media tool you have. We want this to be as long and involved and as fun as possible–and we can’t do it without you, so spread the news!

Bella and I can’t wait to see what, collectively, we all come up with. Without further ado, on your mark, get set—GO!

The First Sentence:

1. On a misty February morning, barely a week before Valentine’s Day, Charlie opened the back door to let the cat out, then boarded his jeep and drove away.

Your turn!