Hello! It’s me, Jaunty P. Quills, Porcupine Extraordinaire, to speak about my upcoming trip to Scotland, and the book I—
Jaunty: I bet you’ve never seen me in a kilt.
Margo: No. (Thank God).
Jaunty: What was that?
Margo: Nothing. I was just telling you about my Scottish historical, The Highlander’s Desire.
Jaunty: Are there kilts?
Margo: Well, back when this story takes place, they didn’t wear kilts as we know them today, but yes, my hero, Lachann MacMillan, definitely wears plaid. Extremely sexy.
Jaunty: Is it true that Scots don’t wear anything und—
Margo: I’m not going there, Jaunty. But I will tell you a little about Lachann.
Jaunty: You’re a killjoy. I always knew it when you were one of us.
Margo: Well, I do miss some of you guys.
Margo: I thought you wanted to know about my new book.
Margo: As a matter of fact, yes. The heroes of these two books are brothers, but you don’t need to read one in order to enjoy the other.
Jaunty: I think I’d like to visit Scotland. You probably have some extra room in your suitcase—
Margo: NO! I mean . . . no – I pack light.
Jaunty: Hmph. Shana told me that the inhabitants of those Scottish islands eat a diet of pine nuts and clover.
Margo: She did not.
Jaunty: Just kidding. What do the people on your island eat?
Margo: The food is irrelevant, Jaunty. The Highlander’s Desire is a Cinderella story, so it’s all about my heroine overcoming all obstacles and getting her man.
Jaunty: I love Cinderella!
Margo: What’s not to love? I’ve got Anna, a heroine who is oppressed by her step-family – a wicked step-sister and father, and a gorgeous hero who comes to her western isle to marry the stepsister.
Jaunty: Oh no. No, no, no.
Margo: That’s what I said. Absolutely not. But Lachann really needs to marry the stepsister because she’s the daughter of the laird. Their marriage will put Lachann in line to become laird after the old man in an agreement made by both clans. It will benefit everybody.
Jaunty: But not Anna.
Margo: No, because she falls in love with Lachann.
Jaunty: And what about him?
Margo: The feeling is mutual, of course. But it’s sort of an impossible situation. Lachann has to marry the stepsister, and Anna wants to get away from the island.
Jaunty: How do they work it out? Does he push the step-sister over a cliff or something?
Jaunty: Is there a glass slipper?
Margo: No. But there’s a black and white cat.
Jaunty: A cat won’t fit on her foot!
Margo: Of course not, but the cat plays a huge role in defining the heroine and villain.
Jaunty: I don’t really like cats.
Margo: I don’t think they like you, either, Jaunty.
Jaunty: So The Highlander’s Desire ends happily? With Anna taking her cat and riding off into the sunset with Lachann?
Margo: Well, sort of. Definitely a happy ending, but no riding into the sunset – it’s an island, after all. And it’s sort of a steamy ending.
Jaunty: You are making me blush.
Margo: That was my intention! Maybe you should take a break, Jaunty, while I ask my readers to try The Highlander’s Desire when it comes out next Tuesday. You can even visit my website for an excerpt.
And just for the fun of it, I want to start a discussion of favorite fairy tale heroes, heroines and villains. I’ll give away a copy of The Warrior Laird to one participant who weighs in. I’ll start . . . I love the wounded Beast in Beauty and the Beast. Now it’s your turn!
We had a long and pretty normal winter. Our winters in lower Michigan can be awfully cold (by that, I mean temperatures close to 0° F). But this past winter, I don’t think it went below the 20s more than a handful of days. We had more snow than last year – a little more than average for us, I think – but no big storms that dropped 2 feet or anything like that. We just had multiple drops of 5 or 6 inches. Very manageable. Here’s my house in the winter. Who wouldn’t want to snuggle up here in front of the fire?
So now it’s spring, and so far, it’s been enjoyable – amazing in fact, as always. Plants and trees go from invisible (or brown) and dormant to lively green shoots so quickly! The picture on the left is one of my little gardens and was taken nine days ago.
Lately, the temperature has been hovering around 70, and we had lots of rain, which is great for me, because I love rainy days. I thrive on the cozy feeling you get when it rains steadily all day. I like it when it’s cold and snowy outside and the radiators click on in every room. I must have a major nesting instinct, because my favorite seasons are the ones when we’re snuggled into our house and having a fire in the fireplace, when the oven is on and something is roasting or baking. Chances are, one or more of my kids will stop by because they know there’ll be something good on for dinner. I like winter sports – ice hockey and skiing. I like walking the dog in the cold weather.
And I hate being hot. Summers here are sweltering – hot and humid. It used to be that we’d have only a few days of 90°F weather, but last year, we were close to 100°F for weeks at a time. Even the people who have air conditioning in their homes complained about it. Because how do you do your yard work when it’s 98°? When do you walk your dog? At dawn? When it’s only 80° with 90% humidity? I have to insert here that my house is nearly 100 years old, and it has no ductwork. We have pipes for steam heat, but in order to put in central air, it would cost about $25,000 or more. And since we never used to have so many crazy-hot days, it didn’t matter so much. Luckily, we do put in a few room air conditioners, so we can get some relief. You can see them in the picture on the left, hanging out of the upstairs bedroom windows (and there’s my poor, parched lawn, too).
But back to the season itself. Summer is when friends and family leave town, go on vacations or away to their cottages. And I miss them. My kids always seemed to be … well, somewhat out of my control during summer vacation. A way from structure. They spent their days at our community pool, they were involved in summer sports (like swimming and baseball, which are not my favorite spectator sports), skateboarding, and riding bikes; playing with their friends. Which is all good, right? They needed their unstructured, down time between school years – because, as we all know – tight schedules and responsibilities come all too soon.
But enough whining! This summer, I’ve got a couple of things to look forward to. In July, I’ll be going to Atlanta (another hot place, right?) for the RWA conference. I’m pretty excited to be able to see – in person! – my Jaunty Quill buddies! I’m also going to Scotland during the first two weeks of August. This is exciting because it’s been eight years since I was there, and now I’m writing Scottish Highlander books, so I need to do some live and in-person research. My newest book (The Highlander’s Desire) will be released just a few days before I leave. I’ll tell you more about it when we’re closer to release day. In the meantime – what are your plans for this summer? Have you made any yet?
Yesterday, a vaguely familiar neighbor lady came to my front door, asking if I knew where the Johnsons lived. Of course I know the Johnsons – their family and ours have been living within 4 or 5 houses of each other for over twenty years. “Yes,” I said, “they live in the red brick house four doors down.” I knew that this lady does a lot of walking with a friend, at at that moment, I noticed that her friend was leading an elderly gentleman into the home of my neighbor, Janet, across the street. Janet is an older widow who has also lived there for over twenty years, and I know her well. I know that she is absolutely useless in a crisis. And this little episode was turning into a crisis rather quickly
It turns out that as the two ladies were on their daily walk, they came upon this elderly gentleman who had been riding his bike, but he got cold (it was only 25 degrees here yesterday) and he was in some distress. He was on his way home and decided he needed to stop somewhere and warm up. But his friends, the Johnsons, were not home, and he’d ridden a long way from his own house – about 5 or 6 miles. The two walkers weren’t sure what to do about him, other than taking him to a house where they figured he could warm up and then… Well, they didn’t know what.
My husband came home just then, and I sent him over to Janet’s house to see if he could help. After about 15 minutes, my hubby called me and said I was needed.
When I got there, I found the man sitting in a chair, breathing heavily. And he said his chest felt tight. He also told me he was 88 years old, and rides his bike everywhere. He had been to the bank (3 miles farther up the road) and his lawyer (another 2 miles) before heading back in our direction. Now, I haven’t practiced nursing for a number of years, but nobody needed advanced medical skills to see that he was not looking good. I asked if he had any family – any relatives at all – and he said no. He didn’t want us to call 911, and was resistant to the idea of any medical intervention. He just wanted to go home. And yet, he said quite clearly, “I don’t want to die.”
He was not confused at all, and seemed completely normal, except for being overly fearful of medicine. When I asked if he had any nitroglycerine with him, he frowned and said, “Oh heavens no. I wouldn’t take anything like that…” And yet this man is very well-educated (a mechanical engineer) and well-read. He has 60 patents to his name. But he just wanted to keep us talking there in Janet’s living room, in complete denial that anything untoward could possibly be happening to him while he was well-aware that the tightness in his chest was a very bad sign.
The two walking ladies and Janet pulled him into diversionary conversations about where he lived, and why he didn’t want medicines, and whether or not Medicare would pay, and blah blah blah, while I had visions of an impending cardiac arrest on Janet’s living room floor. I pulled a nurse trick and cut to the chase. “Bill,” I said, “do you want to be taken to Hospital X or Hospital Z. He replied “Oh, Hospital Z, of course!” And I said, “Great. Mike” (my hubby) “will take you. Let’s go.” With that, I took him by the arm and led him out to Mike’s car. I knew he would be in good hands.
While I put Bill’s bike in our garage, Mike took him to Hospital Z and stayed with him all through the Emergency Room process – the EKG and bloodwork and IV insertion. Mike gave his phone number to the nurse to be called if Bill needed a ride home, and told him he would be back to check on him later.
My husband is not a religious man. But he is kind and considerate in a way that most people are not – and it’s not based on any belief system other than the idea that people ought to take care of each other. He returned to visit Bill last night, and went back again at lunchtime today to take him some of his scientific journals. He talked with Bill about the stent procedure the cardiologist wants to perform, and the Wholistic Medical Clinic the hospital referred him to. When he left, he told Bill he would be back later – he’ll go after dinner, I guess.
What would you have done? Would you have taken an old guy in a filthy jacket to the hospital, or called the local cops or 911 to handle it?
Bill is a rational 88 year old man. If he wants to go home and take his chances, who am I to say he shouldn’t do that? On the other hand, maybe he just doesn’t understand the gravity of his situation, and the medical options available to him. #2 was the rationale for my actions. I figure he can sign out of Hospital Z if he doesn’t like their plans for him.
Hey Marcy Shuler – You won my drawing!
Thanks to everyone who weighed in on their favorite TV shows yesterday. I’ve got a few new ones to put on my DVR…
Congrats, Marcy! (email me with your snail mail address here: email@example.com)
I am not much of a TV watcher, but I do have streaming video on my iPad, which is great when I’m riding my stationary bike every morning. I’ve caught up on a couple of movies I wanted to see but never got around to seeing, and now I’m watching some television programs I might never have noticed before.
One is Ripper Street. The series is set in London in the late 1880s and filmed in a way that’s reminiscent of the recent Sherlock Holmes movies with Jude Law and Robert Downey, Jr. The stories are brutal, just as you’d expect life in the east end of London, so the series is dark. But it stars Matthew MacFadyen, and who can resist his voice, his diction? And the episodes – even though they are seriously gritty, are compelling. It’s on BBC America, if you can get that channel.
Of course I’ve been watching Downton Abbey. But I had no idea what the finale was going to bring. I didn’t even notice the foreshadowing that everyone mentioned afterwards. I was disappointed that it ended the way it did, but I’m sure I’ll take my place in front of the TV when Season 4 begins next year.
I am a sucker for post-apocalyptic themes, and I have to admit I watch The Walking Dead. I almost quit after Season 2, because it seemed like nothing was happening, and I got a bit tired of the two lead men posturing with each other so much (who is tougher? who is manlier? who is in charge?) I wanted everybody to just grow up and be an adult. But Season 3 changed all that, much to my satisfaction. I’d like it if they did some “bigger” things – I’d like to know how the whole world is faring during this Zombie apocalypse.
I watched Once Upon a Time for a season or two, but then it started to bore me. Once the spell was broken and everyone knew who was who… well, I just lost interest. And that Mr. Gold character started to grate on my nerves, so I quit watching entirely, and deleted it from my DVR files.
Another really good one is Copper – the story of an Irish immigrant who is a policeman in 1860s New York City – the roughest part of town, of course. And, like Ripper Street, the episodes aren’t easy. The crimes – the victims and perpetrators – are all too real. You can easily imagine how it was back in those days, when law and order meant the law of the streets.
Last, but not least is Grimm. This one grew on me slowly. I thought the first season was a little bit lame, but as they develop the overall story arc, it gets better and better. I’m antsy for the next season to begin.
What shows are on your list of things to watch? I’m going to pick one commenter and send her a copy of my most recent book, The Warrior Laird.