Resting and Relaxing under the Cold Moon

Welcome to On the Prowl.

This Cold Moon edition wraps up this year musing about toe nails, tobacco roots, and my non-existent baking skills. This is a mellow edition. After the roller coaster that was 2020, I’m all in for some R&R.

December’s moon is the Cold Moon. For obvious reasons. The day here started out at 18 degrees. This year’s Cold Moon is in it’s full glory on December 29th at 10:30 pm EST. The Farmer’s Almanac provided a list of other names this moon was known by. Three of the more poetic are Long Night Moon, Winter Maker Moon, and Mid-Winter Moon. Under the category of “call them like you see them” are Moon When the Deer Shed Their Antlers and Snow Moon. By far, the more interesting are:

Drift Clearing Moon. Must come with a windy night, or a snow plow driver. That’s the only what I’ve seen the moon clear a drift.

Frost Exploding Trees Moon. OMG, the visual. Just reading it I hear a musical score and…then…the …cymbals….CRASH!

Hoar Frost Moon. Hoar? Ummm Miriram-Webster, a little help here. Whew, it means gray or white as with age. Like my hair. I have partially hoary hair. Oh, dear, no.

Little Spirit Moon. Aww, cute. It sounds like a Disney moon.

Moon of the Popping Trees. Again, the visual. Sounds like something that belongs in Alice’s wonderland, maybe a weapon of the Queen of Hearts.

My Dog’s Toes

Everyone, meet Lucy. Lucy is 2 ½ years old and is a mix of Great Dane, German Shephard, Black Lab, and Bull Mastiff. The runt of her litter, our Lucy Bear has enough personality for three dogs. She plays hide-and-seek, knee hockey, and is a killer trainer for puck (ball) handling. She has figured out how to open the bedroom doors, which open in, and the basement door, which opens out. She talks, sounding a lot like Scooby Doo, another Great Dane. Lucy’s most charming feature is her ears. One up, one down. Hard to stay mad at that. But her most curious feature is her toes.

Her front paws have black nails but her back paws have a mix of white clear and solid black. A moment of research shows this is hardly unique but still totally fascinating. Imagine how odd a thing it would be on a human to have some normal semi-transparent finger nails and some totally opaque, black nails. And then, what makes one toe different from the one next to it? You would think one foot would have nails of one color. Fascinating. Wrapping this section up. Lucy wants me to stop picking at her toes and just pet her.

An Americas Original

The leading man in Episode 5B of Mysteries to Die For is a smoker. As I started to write the adaptation, I had the Oh, sh*t moment that I didn’t know what he was smoking. I assumed it was tobacco but was it a pipe, a cigar, a cigarette? I had no idea what fashionable gentlemen smoked in the mid-1800s. So I asked Wikipedia.

It turns out, tobacco is an Americas original – as in North and South America. The plants were used throughout the continent for its medicinal and entertainment qualities. Natives from on end to the other chewed or smoked the leaves in a pipe. In the 1520s and 1530s, Europeans coming over took tobacco back along with maize, potato, and tomato. Tobacco was controversial for the “drunken effect” it produced. Needless to say, use of the leaf spread like wildfire.

In the 1850s, tobacco was broadly used in the US by men, women, and children. It was smoked, chewed, and dipped. Apparently, it created quite a nasty mess with people spitting. Finer establishments provided spittoons for use, although many missed. Even churches provided the amenity. (Disgusting. I gagged a little writing the section. The curse of an overactive imagination.)

Pipes have been around for more than a thousand years and people have tried to smoke everything that will burn in hopes of finding the good stuff. With the migration of tobacco, rolling leaves into cigars and cigarettes grew in popularity. In the late 1800s, commercially produced cigarettes came to market, lowering the price and increasing the fashion ability of the cigarette.

I ended up using cigars in my story. Using cigarettes felt too modern and a pipe too cumbersome. For myself, I tried smoking once, to see what the big deal was. My tongue felt like I licked a cat and everything I ate tasted like it was seasoned with mulch. So, yeah, once was enough.

It’s the Thought that Counts

I am a rotten baker. It’s true. I’m a decent cook, but utterly horrible at baking. So what was I thinking when I decided I was going to make fruit breads to give to a few neighbors and close friends? Like Clark W. Griswold Jr., I was thinking about having a fun, old-fashioned, family Christmas. Some lemon bread (made it before). Some apple fritter bread (made it once). A few each day and I would have gifts given with thought and time and attention. That was the idea.

The reality was I made garbage. About 4 pounds of it. But did I learn?

Nope. “Let’s make donuts!” See picture right. These donuts were so bad, they wouldn’t even fry! I know what I did wrong. I tried to make donuts! Ha! But seriously, I made a tiny mistake reading the recipe and…put 2x the butter. Ah well. Live and learn. Take 2 happens on Dec 31. Wish me luck!

Mysteries to Die For. Season 2: The Originators

I am pushing back the start of Season 2 to Friday, February 5th. I need a little more of a buffer after the holidays. Production of the podcasts is coming along. Episode 5a and 5b are in the works and Episode 6 is getting started. The deeper I get into these stories, the more I’m enjoying them. I know you are going to get a kick out of the stories that created the mystery genre.

Count Down to Suicide Squeeze

February 8th, book 2 in the Diamond series hits the streets. Pre-order available soon.

Diamond. One name for a woman with one purpose. Or she was, until she finished her to-do list. Now she’s just a woman ready to be over with it all.

Hanna Lang is the kind of woman men write bad checks for. She has a problem. Her man, Dr. Damon Marten, disappeared in the middle of an ordinary day. The police aren’t concerned but Hanna knows better. A clandestine meeting leaves her with an address, a sealed envelope, and one last hope. An hour later, she rings a doorbell.

Before Diamond was a widow, she was CIA agent with skills illegal in a dozen countries. When her marker is called in, she has no choice but to listen. It’s just like fate throw her a curve ball, sending her the one problem she can’t walk away from. Hanna’s situation is virtually identical to her own with one exception: Hanna’s man might still be alive.

Diamond reluctantly takes the case. She dives into the mystery, surfacing in the middle of a scavenger hunt for a secret known as Poe’s Raven. It takes Diamond’s flair for the impossible to capture this bird, only to discover what’s in her hand has the potential to take terrorism to a chilling new level. And fate isn’t done with Diamond, forcing her to put it all on the line or risk setting the caged bird free.

Look out for the Next Edition of
On the Prowl

January’s full moon was made for me. The Wolf Moon! Meet me on January 28th for e-zine packed full of fun. (Get it? Packed / pack. :))

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