Sunday, December 26, 2021

Merry Christmas from Book Readers Heaven Featuring Not a Creature Was Purring by Krista Davis


Teenagers handed out candles to the people who had come to watch. Each dog and cat received a light that could be attached to a collar with a carabiner-style clip. They glowed in the shapes of stars. A bell rang once, silence fell over the crowd, and the children sang “Away in a Manger.”
And “Jingle Bells.” And even “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree.” 
Not a single person in the crowd didn’t smile as they continued their performance. At midnight, the church bells in the bell tower rang out, just like I remembered from my childhood. It was Christmas Day. The procession of candles and darting stars as people and their furry friends walked home was almost as special as the children singing.

“Ouch, ouch, ouch!” Zelda whispered. 
“I told you to wear gloves,” muttered Shelley. 
I could barely make them out on the dark porch. It was one in the morning, and Wagtail was slumbering. If it hadn’t been for the moon, I wouldn’t have been able to see them at all.
“Gloves are too cumbersome,” Zelda groused. 
“I don’t know how you can place the lights precisely with woolly fabric on your fingers.” 
I shivered as a cold wind swept through. My elf tights with one red leg and one green leg weren’t thick enough to keep out the chill. We stood on Marie Carr’s front porch, hastily wrapping colorful lights on the Christmas tree we were delivering. Shelley passed me the cord of lights. I wrapped them around my section of the tree and handed them to Zelda. “Hush, you guys,” I hissed. “Two kids live here. You’ll wake them!” 
Wagtail, a small town in the mountains of Virginia, had experienced a boom year by catering to visitors who brought their dogs and cats for a vacation where they could be part of the fun. This year, instead of exchanging gifts with our neighbors or having secret Santas, the town had decided to make the holidays merry for our less-fortunate residents. My grandmother, whom I called Oma, German for grandma, had installed a suggestion box in the lobby of the Sugar Maple Inn, which we ran together. Anyone could stop by and drop off a suggestion for a deserving neighbor or a resident in need. And then the semisecret Elf Squad was dispatched.

If I see or hear the word, cat, related to any book, I normally buy it. I'm a collector of all things cats, including some live ones... So when I saw, Not A Creature was Purring, a book in the Paws and Claws Mystery Series by Krista Davis, I immediately downloaded this Christmas special, and loved it...Now, I'm starting from the first in series, by the way, and finding that the main characters remain the same, but the story changes in each book, making it a perfect series for me to recommend as a cozy or amateur detective series, whichever you prefer. I normally continued using cozy since I find that whenever I want something I know I'll enjoy, thinking about a cup of tea to curl up with, "cozy" just seems to me to be the more appropriate name for these books.

While the kitten in the series, Twinkletoes, a calico who is known as the feline ambassador of the Inn before Holly came, she quickly accepted Holly as "hers..." You cat owners will know what I mean by that. Twinkletoes is not the main character, but I still enjoy how each writer develops a unique personality to seduce us cat lovers into buying the books. Actually, Trixie, a Jack Russell Terrier, is the main animal character... And, with her special skill, it's no wonder she's a star. You see, her smelling skills leads her to all the victims in each cozy mystery--in other words, she finds the dead body! Yikes! Not a skill that is especially endearing to Holly and we readers, but it does set up the amateur detective, Holly Miller, who is the main character.

Holly has come to visit her grandmother who runs the Sugar Maple Inn in Wagtail. I immediately wondered whether Wagtail was the town's name before...or after. You see, this little town has taken advantage of the love of cats and dogs by so many people, and have directed the entire community in garnering and hosting all those who love to take their pets with them wherever they travel. Honestly, I was immediately enchanted how every single detail has been afforded each and every animal visitor, and, of course, their loved ones... Davis is one of those authors that I commend for creating an upfront directory of both the main characters who continue from book to book, but also who will appear in each book. This has always helped me as "the plot thickens" and I want to refresh my memory of who the visiting characters are.
Trixie was picked up by Holly on her way to visit...Trixie was hitchhiking  and chose Holly to rescue her. Now, there is no way that Trixie is ever left behind when Holly is out and about. And if she does leave him behind for safety's sake, Trixie has learned the Inn's secrets from Twinkletoes, who has become a good friend and playmate, and they quickly are out and about on their own, sometimes getting in trouble!

By Christmas, Trixie has already come to be known for finding the bodies in town... This time, Mr. Grinch plays a part! When a local resident puts up a giant Grinch balloon and plays loud music late at night, everybody in town is enraged and complaining. But it was Trixie, out and about, who finds the way inside of the balloon to find a dead body! Did the owner of Mr. Grinch use the balloon to rid himself of an enemy?!

One other ongoing character deserves acknowledgment at this point. Holmes Richardson, a childhood friend from Holly's early life when she came during the summers to visit and help at the family Inn. Secretly, Holly has never lost her romantic feelings for him, even though both she and Holmes are engaged to somebody else! One advantage, however, both grandmothers in the families would very much like to see Holly and Holmes together! It's a side plot that is fun to watch as all of these characters flow through each story and become enmeshed in the mysteries.

Dare you contemplate a town where all animals meet and play together, with people food on restaurant menus, made especially and safely for your pets' consumption and their dinners are served on the floor near you while you dine? Sound too good to be true? Well, probably so, since there's always murder afoot in Wagtail. But, the level of detail in creating such a town and community is one of the best creative storylines I've read and which adds so much to each book. 

I'm reading Murder Most Howl right now, which features a Murder Mystery Weekend at the Inn. The Ghost and Mrs. Mewer and Murder She Barked set a good foundation for the series while including a murder mystery for readers to try to solve. Given my reading in the series so far, I can almost guarantee that anybody who loves pet characters in murder mysteries will be thrilled with Krista's tails, oops, I mean tales, from Wagtail! Highly recommended for the characters, stories and the mysteries!


I hope you are enjoying the Christmas Season! I also hope my thoughts about Krista Davis' Paws and Claws Mystery Series will bring you joy now and as you read this and her other series...

May the new year begin with the sure knowledge that O Holy Night is the reason for the season!  Remember, Celebrate the Birth of Jesus on that Night!

Friday, August 20, 2021

It's Friday again...and I'm now in a Pensive Mood...

  • I wrote a little bit this week about the Bible story of the Talents. Do you remember what it's about?
  • I feel that God has given talents to doctors, scientists, nurses, and even President Biden and others who are daily placing themselves in danger to stop the spread of Covid...
  • And God, when prayers are sent up by those who had not taken advantage of the talents already provided to fight Covid, must wonder, "Why have you not acted to share in the wealth of the talents I've given to doctors,, to meeting your needs in this time when an enemy has sent a deadly virus... Therefore, I will take the talent I gave you and add it to those of the many who are fighting so hard to save as many lives as possible on my behalf...
  • ~~~
  • Thoughts!?

 I started to read earlier, taking a break, but the new book was about a older woman, facing her death...I was almost immediately pulled back into my own life as I see the years fly by, while, sometimes, the days seem so long...

It's quiet now. My caretaker was here to mow. He has become a friend, who also takes out my garbage as often as he is here...Now, I can feel his frustration, as he stayed away from me, explaining that his sister and other family members have contracted Covid. Thankfully, it is not the Delta strain. This is the first I've seen him in over a week, so it was good to see him even though I didn't have a friend to share a few words with...

He's also been my driver and helper with groceries. But he's had to make adjustments to his schedule to deal with his heavy lawn care jobs as well as the issues for his home and family. I knew it was coming, but have no alternatives to my own needs at this time...

Except, that, this morning, I received my second large delivery order from Walmart through their new program. I had taken the initiative to accept the test trial for it and found myself caught within the "mess" of a new system being implemented without total debugging and testing... I have to chuckle because it reminded me of the "mess" Biden is now dealing with in Afghanistan.  Sure, it, too, is a mess... After all, Trump had signed a deal with having Americans out of Afghan by May and so Biden had early announced that they would be leaving. I was happy and so were many Americans. Now I wonder what Trump and the Taliban leaders said.  I've learned that deals were being made for months... Who really knows... What we do know is that the leader of Afghanistan and its military swiftly left. Now, as iis often the case, the public immediately started to complain when the "mess" started. Yes, Biden is taking responsibility... At least this leader is accepting responsibility and working hard to deal with this along with the other major issues he inherited.

This past week, I also had been active... It was to my benefit to have Walmart succeed--otherwise, I didn't know how I would get my food and other supplies. So, like Biden, I recognized the mess after trying to place my first order... It went fairly well, even though the frozen dinners were soggy... So, I've been spending a lot of time on studying the Walmart system, working with it, and submitting suggestions or problems I've found. You see, after I placed my first order, I placed another one...and it disappeared, along with an e-mail order that had been sent as part of their new pickup-delivery... So during that period, I lost hours of food selection as I had also lost a complete order. Yeah, like me and others, including Biden, I was frustrated...and, in my opinion, Biden is dealing with it well, given all the crap that is happening these days...

So, after several days, I notified a contact at Walmart and shared that the improvements to the computer system was 100%... I offered a few more suggestions about procedure...then I felt like I was part of the process when I received my full order this morning and filled my freezer and refrigerator...dinners, yogurt, cereal...all simple easy-to-fix things that I eat as a single person, now somewhat disabled...

Unfortunately, federal laws prevents delivery of my I have not been able to pick up what is waiting after my last doctor visit... I did check with Walmart about delivery by mail, but the rep was honest and pointed out the potential problems of using that method... In the meantime, I'm grateful that the meds were not those that were necessary to maintain, for instance, my blood pressure, etc.

What has happened is that I find I have had to become more self-dependent than I have ever been before...

Right now, I'm not able to drive and it seems everything I need to do requires visits to this place or that... I got new glasses, but am still not totally satisfactory, even though I had gone in to have them checked twice...more frustration, of course. I cancelled the two other tests they wanted me to have... Also had to tell my primary physician that I couldn't come back to talk more because I didn't have a driver...

Even now as I write, I am beginning to have pain as I am sitting. For those who haven't heard, I learned that my left hip is deteriorating. My new primary doctor mentioned it on my first visit when I talked about the auto accident I had in March last year. When she indicated what my hip looked like, I was shocked...I had never been told before--yes, you guessed it, I had become frustrated with my last doctor's office and had moved because I knew I needed a good doctor's support and wasn't getting it.

Fortunately, I had an excellent doctor for my surgery to remove a brain tumor. At that time, he also order physical therapy to ensure I could regain balance and walking skills. If I had only that issue--brain surgery--I probably would have been fine. But learning about my hip deterioration set off an entirely new issue, in most ways, more difficult to deal with than surgery of the brain.

Right now, I am unable to walk without a walker...Imagine not being able to even go to the bathroom without a walker to ensure that your ankle, your knee, your lower leg, or your hip will not give out as you take a step and cause a fall. I am fine otherwise, but right now and for the last few months, I have been trying to get approval for somebody to help me with driving, and other daily activities. Bureaucracy is alive and well...

And I have encountered many people who do not do the job to meet the needs of me, the customer... Contrary to how I was able to work with Walmart to get my needs attended to, I find I keep being referred from one place or another, or actually firing individuals who were doing more harm to me (mentally and emotionally) than helping...

You know, God gave me over 70 years of relatively good health and I am so grateful. I wonder, sometimes, if he placed me in these situations to reveal and, perhaps, commiserate with others who are struggling to survive within the world we live in today if only by reading about another's experiences...

My doctor asked me recently when I confessed being depressed, whether or not I had considered suicide... My resounding "No" was surely spoken through me from the Holy Spirit that dwells within me... Am I as strong as Job in facing all these issues? Afraid Not! But I don't need to be... God loves me as I am and cares for me, even if my day is so bad that I don't even say good morning to Him... He realizes my pain... And, if I should feel better...but can only get out a few words, it is normally these:

You know, I don't profess to understand what is happening in today's world, but I know He doesn't mind my seeking and asking questions... Sometimes His word comes into my mind to, maybe, even share with others. Sometimes He just makes me wait...and wonder...

But I know He Loves Me. And, even if I no longer sing in public as this elderly lady and her family does...I'll still be singing in my mind:

And if you are feeling old or alone...or like Mary Eddy, when I used to sing this song as a duet when we sang on a local radio station, with Rev. Joe Jordan, in Morgantown, W.V., when her son had died, we knew that, somewhere, somebody was listening who the song had been sent to, especially in response to their pain or fears... So, if the pain and suffering...and the shock of death has toughed you because of one issue or another...just say the words..."Lord, help me today, show me the day at a time!"

God Bless