Monday, February 29, 2016

Nancy Lynn Jarvis Writes Humorous Book - Mags and the AARP Gang - With Betty White as Mags... Fun Stuff!

“Mags. What kind of name is that to be calling our girl, George? It sounds like she’s a larval stage of some unpleasant biting insect. If you must give her a pet name, what’s wrong with calling her something more conventional like Maggie or Meg?”
 “You’re looking at Mags the wrong way, Henrietta. Think of Mags as the name of a girl whose life will be full of freedom and possibilities. It would be perfectly acceptable for a girl named Mags to have skinned knees and learn to kick a ball as well as any boy does. She can become a scientist or live her life as an explorer who studies Egyptian pyramids. Why, one day Mags might go to the Valley of The Kings and discover a tomb that’s grander than King Tut’s.”
...Possibly it was having three older brothers around during my formative years that made me the way I am, still a tomboy at the age of eighty-three, but more probably it was because my second husband, Jack Benson, saw me as the Mags of my father’s imaginings. With my hand in his, and my name forever Mags Benson, I became a true adventurer and a world wanderer.

I do have female friends who count as more than mere acquaintances, but they are few in number and all are past sixty, a requirement for me to feel close to them. Women younger than that trouble me. They aren’t old enough to have been aware of what it was like just a few decades ago when women weren’t allowed to control their bodies or their purse-strings. Their lack of years isn’t their fault, but they should read some history so they understand. A quick little look at recent history and they’d never have stood for some talk-show natterer who thinks his opinion is as weighty as he is, saying stupid things about how he’d never vote for Hillary Clinton for President because he couldn’t stand to see her age in office. They’d boycott his show, and they’d be right to do it. Of course, it’s possible I prefer the company of men because they generally seem less well suited to learning patience and acceptance than women are. You don’t hear “long suffering” ascribed like a badge of honor to men like you do to women. I think that’s because men don’t bear children: they’ve never had their bodies taken over by a being growing inside them and been acculturated to think of it as a normal part of life, a blessing as it were. And since I’m what in the old days was
called barren, maybe that’s why I’ve never learned patience and acceptance, either. 
That’s probably why I’m sitting here staring at the Great Seal of the State of California displayed on the courtroom wall behind the judge’s bench, wishing the jury would come back, rather than counting my blessings that they haven’t...

Mags and the AARP Gang

By Nancy Lynn Jarvis

The knock on my door came just as I flipped a grilled cheese sandwich and it caused me to glance at the clock. 12: 05. Harvey is never late or early and he always knocks politely before calling out the same greeting as he lets himself in, “It’s me, Mags. What’s for lunch?” 
We have our rituals, Harvey and I, the same ones we’ve shared for the past six years, just shy by five weeks, the length of weeks it took us to become best friends after I married Jimmy Hooper and moved into my third husband’s coach as the caregiver he needed but couldn’t afford. Every day Harvey brings me his newspaper and I make his lunch. We share the newspaper to save money. He’s finished reading it and done the crossword puzzle in ink by noon, but he’s careful about refolding the paper so it’s neat and seems untouched. I’m not a great cook. Lunch is usually a grilled cheese or tuna sandwich, a piece of fruit, and strong coffee; but the kind of friendship we have and our lunchtime companionship makes what we’re eating unimportant. “Today you get grilled cheese and a tangerine.”
 “My favorite.”
 “Have you noticed you always say what I’ve made is your favorite?” 
“Must be your special touch,” he grinned.
 Harvey had a mischievous smile that could fill up my whole little home with sunshine and possibilities, even in dreary February, and he flashed it regularly and proudly because, as he liked to remind everyone who lived in the park, all the teeth in his smile were home grown, not store bought. “There’s another story about this place in the paper today. I’ll shut up and let you read it as soon as you hand me my sandwich. Page eight below the fold. That location means most people don’t consider what’s going on here a big deal.” 
I traded Harvey his plate for the paper and sat down opposite him. The article was short and placed in the worst spot on the page, at the bottom left, one column in, where it could be easily missed by readers who weren’t worried about losing their homes like the twenty-two of us in Dawn Redwood Mobile Home Estates were. I read quickly. The story didn’t add much to what we already knew. Foreclosure on the park looked inevitable unless the mortgage payments were brought current and interest and penalties paid — something the owner couldn’t do, now that he had been laid off for more than fifteen months — and something the residents here couldn’t do even if we all chipped in every penny we could scrape together and then some.
The story briefly touched on the fact that the park had been established in 1953 and was the last mobile home park remaining within the city limits. The report didn’t include anything about how Raymond Persh, the owner since his mother died and left Dawn Redwood Mobile Home Estates to him, promised her he wouldn’t raise the rent or sell the park until the last of the residents who were over seventy-five at the time of her death, either moved away or passed. Except for Raymond and Betty, that was all of us. The reporter must have considered that bit of information uninteresting. I would have used it, though, if I were writing the story, because it would have added a great human interest angle.

I loved this book. You could think it was because of my age, and maybe that is true. As Mags says, most people aren't old enough to remember the time when women weren't "allowed to control their bodies or their purse-strings..." For me, I'm constantly amazed that what was accomplished in the last century seems to have been totally put aside and women are once again beginning to fight for basic rights...Oh, you may not realize it if you didn't know our least that's how Mags feels and I certainly agree.

Mags doesn't have too many female friends but I think we would get along very well...I was never the type that was sugar and spice and everything nice. Mags, too, with her father's help, early in her life became independent and adventurous. When she met the perfect man, they began those adventures together! But now he was gone, though her heart was still with him. 

Mags was 83 and fortunate to live in a small group of mobile homes where all the residents were elderly. She had become good friends with a few of the residents. One was her neighbor who brought over his paper to save her money while she fixed him lunch every day. And that day, the newspaper confirmed that they might be losing their homes!

Dawn Redwood Estates was in financial trouble! What could be done?!!!

The owner of the Estates had guaranteed that their costs for living there would be kept as low as possible and his son had agreed... So had the previous mayor who turned his head away on any problems that may have arisen.

But a new mayor saw the potential of the site and immediately started an investigation to enumerate safety violations and other issues that needed to be fixed. Raymond had to take out a loan to do everything, because none of the residents could afford to pay for their share and, besides, his father had promised...
“I’ve got a plan, all right. 
We’re going to rob a bank.”
 “Sure we are,” disappointment 
clung to my words. 
“I hoped you’d have a plan by
 now — a serious plan — 
and not be joking around.”
 “I’m not joking.” Dirty Harry
 disappeared and ordinary
 Harvey with his disarming
 grin reappeared. 
“Robbing a bank is my plan;
 I am serious about it.” 


That day Raymond had called a meeting of the residents. 

“I’ve got a bad feeling about this meeting,” I said, frowning as I sat back down across from Harvey. “You jump to bad conclusions easily.”
 “But the newspaper story … suppose what Raymond wants to tell us is bad news?”
 “It probably is,” Harvey shrugged. “And if it is, we’re just going to have to work his news around until we can make it come out to our liking.”

Raymond brought them up to date. They were going to be given more time--so they could find other places to live! Their worst fears were right...They would all 
lose their homes!

We ordinary people who played by the rules got crushed by those who didn’t play fair. Now it seems like the same thing is happening right here at home. I’m not going to watch again and feel angry and old because I couldn’t stop them; I’m sick of watching. This time I am going to do something about it. Putting the kibosh on the Mayor’s plans may get me in trouble, but it’s going to make me feel better. “I’m going to rob the bank — by myself if I have to — but I could sure use the help of my best friend. Are you with me?”

Everybody was depressed as they worried how they were going to find some place to move, at the cost they were now paying... Until Harvey had an idea. And after he had thought about the details, he talked to Mags...

He wanted to rob the town's bank! So after convincing Mags, they proceeded... But the stress must have become too much for him and Harvey had died...

But before he'd died, he'd made one major mistake....He'd ask a woman who was already in the stages of Alzheimer to drive the get-away car...

Mags was not only upset by losing one of her best friends, she knew she'd never have the money to find some place else to live. She decided to go ahead with the robbery, with her leading the plan. Besides if she got caught, she would do what Harvey had said he would...Give himself up to the law. Mags figured she'd at least have the jail to live in...
Sooooo, get ready to see what happens when a small group of octogenarians plan and executive the AARP Gang Heist! Think something like the Keystone Kops scenes....slowed down due to the gang's ages...  Right?

Actually, there turns out to be much more drama in getting the money needed to save their homes! A few twists and turns and you have everybody moving faster than they knew they could. And the final ending was ingenious, due to Mags, of course. While I'm not sharing much about the other gang members, let me just say that their relationship was based upon love, friendship and loyalty and makes the ending all the more sweeter! Mags deserves a series! You just got to check this one out! 

The author has done a fantastic job in creating the variety of elderly characters within a small community. The Gang members were was the setting... The appointed lawyer was also a special character who I would be happy to have as my own! Kudos to Nancy Jarvis! All in all a wonderfully delightful read!


Nancy Lynn Jarvis was a Santa Cruz, California, Realtor for twenty-five years but was having so much fun writing that she let her license lapse in May of 2013.
After earning a BA in behavioral science from San Jose State University, she worked in the advertising department of the San Jose Mercury News. A move to Santa Cruz meant a new job as a librarian and later a stint as the business manager of Shakespeare/Santa Cruz. Nancy's work history reflects her philosophy: people should try something radically different every few years. Writing is her newest adventure. 
She put Regan, Tom , and Dave from the Regan McHenry Real Estate Mysteries Series on hiatus to write Mags and the AARP Gang, a comedy/adventure about a group of octogenarian would-be bank robbers, but she missed her characters, so they're back to solve another murder in recently released "The Murder House."
Nancy squeezed in editing "Cozy Food," a compilation cookbook in which 128 cozy mystery writers contributed recipes from their books and their lives. What she will work on next is unclear. She has ideas for a sixth Regan McHenry Real Estate Mysteries book, a complete departure book of historical fiction, and an idea for a new cozy series called Geezers With Tools about two old guys who encounter murder while working as handymen and pursuing widows.

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