On the Prowl: Swimming under the Sturgeon Moon

This month we are prowling under the Sturgeon Moon. The moon will rise on Sunday, August 2nd and crest at noon on Monday the 3rd. Looking to the Farmer’s Almanac, the name refers to the time of year when the fish were easy to catch in the Great Lakes and Lake Champlain.

Now, my knowledge of fish is limited to the few I am willing to eat: walleye, cod, red snapper, tilapia, tuna. My first thought seeing the image of the sturgeon was…what an ugly fish.

I wouldn’t eat it.

Of course, if it was served fileted, I wouldn’t know it was ugly.   

So, what is so interesting about the sturgeon that a moon is named after it? Let’s look at what National Geographic says. The fish is old. It first appeared in fossil records over 200 million years ago. The fish is big. It can be up to 9 feet long and up to 275 pounds. The fish is long lived. The females at least. Males can live to 55 years while females can reach more than 150 years old. The females mature at 15 to 25 years and then spawn about every four years.

Sturgeon are famous for their eggs, which are better known as caviar (not eating that either). Intense fishing has lead to a dramatic decline in the species that once accounted for the majority of fish in the great lakes. Regulations on fishing have given the fish a break and they are trending in a positive direction.

For a different take on conservation, check out these NYT and CNN article where scientists working to preserve the species inadvertently created a hybrid fish. These fish won’t live in the wild…said the the mad scientist in every monster movie ever.

Old magnifying glass on old handwriting

Dateline June 2020. Message Written in Cryptic Language Confounds Teen.

A thoughtful gift turns into an adventure as a newspaper article is accompanied by a beautiful but baffling message. True story. The thoughtful gift was from Aunt Barb, the baffling message was that menagerie of curls and swirls known as cursive. “It might as well have been written in Greek,” his mother (spoiler: me) said.

Maybe I’m exaggerating a bit.

Still, the laugh at my son’s expense got me thinking about cursive writing and its current state. If you thought cursive writing was archaic, you were right. Written script started to be used for business and correspondence by the Romans. The Roman Empire was expansive, spreading the writing across the territory. From that start, writing evolved in style and form right up to modern time. I like this summary of the history on history.com. Like all of you, I learned one way to write in cursive. It turns out, there are many different styles all with names. Draw Your World shows several examples of handwriting including the one that looks most familiar to me, Modern Cursive. I never could make the capital letters D, F, G, Q, S, or T. Sad but true, I am not talented that way and 23% of the letters escaped me including the ones in my name!

Ongoing is the debate of whether cursive should be taught in schools. For my kids, cursive has made only a brief appearance in their elementary curriculum. This blog post on Thinkfun gives some pros and cons. On the “pro” side is the development of fine motor skills, hand-eye coordination and cognitive skills. The info graphic created on the “pro” side triggered the engineer in me. “Fifty percent of students write faster and more neatly in cursive than print”…which means fifty percent write slower and more messily in cursive. Not a compelling argument. “There is a correlation between better handwriting and increased academic performance across all subjects.” Explain doctors. “Cursive is included in dyslexia therapy because its fluidity and baseline decodes and reduces the swapping of letters.” Totally buy it…but you can still make tails backwards. At least, I can.

On the “con” side of teaching cursive in schools is the argument that cursive was created as a communication. It was cutting edge in its day. Communication today needs to keep up with the speed of life. Life has shifted to a digital font and so our communication style needs to similarly shift. Competing and succeeding as an adult today is better served by developing a proficiency with a keyboard and competency with software.

Where do you fall?

Here’s where I land. Aside from a sweet note from your Aunt, there isn’t anything to read in cursive. Print is everywhere. Signs. Hard copy and e-books. Social media. Texting. There is no argument to be made that reading and writing cursive is necessary to functioning in our modern world. The argument, then, is for advantages to fine motor skills and cognitive development. To my mind, if it is included, it should be treated as a development tool. No poor marks for bad handwriting. Wide latitude to adapt, adopt, and create your own style as is completely normal.


GROW YOUR BRAIN NAINRB ROUY WORG

Seriously, this isn’t just a game, you’re challenging your brain to think differently. It’s simple, all you have to do is write backwards. Before you roll your eyes, this is the way Leonardo DaVinci wrote.

EASY. Print mirrored all in capital letters: She’s not dead.
(Opening line to Driving Reign)

MEDIUM. Print mirrored with a mix of capital and lower case: They buried me today and I had the balls to show up.
(Opening line to Widow’s Run)

HARD. Mirrored cursive – You can do it: Today was a good day to die.
(Opening line to Suicide Squeeze, coming February 2021)

Here’s mine…alright my cursive needs a little work to reach DaVinci’s level.


Welcome to Mysteries To Die For
This is a podcast where my piano player/ producer/ son Jack and I combine storytelling with original music to put you at the heart of mystery, murder, and mayhem. Episode art is by Shannon. You can find Mysteries to Die For on Spotify, Apple Podcast, Google Podcast, and Stitcher.

Episode 11 is now live. Diamond travels to Oklahoma to put the screws to her #1 suspect. At least, that’s her plan.

August is the ramp up to the end of our story. August 14 is the drop date for Episode 12 That’s SWAT I Call Awesome. Diamond discovers there’s a bounty on her head, the kind of money people would kill for. This one has a hitch, she has to be recovered alive. And, please, who has time for that. Episode 13 Bad Cop, Badder Cop goes live on August 28. In this 2nd to last episode, the house of cards start tumbling down. 
 

If you are new to the podcast, start with Episode 1: What a Lovely Corpse You Have. Catch up to us from there. We’ll be waiting for you.

WOLF CALLS

HOWL AT THE MOON to all of you for doing your part to keep your friends and neighbors healthy. Yes, masks suck, but COVID sucks more. In a few years, we’ll look back at just how crazy life is right now and we’ll laugh and laugh and laugh.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY to my son and podcast co-host and producer Jack and to my podcast cover artist Shannon. It is so much fun working with two such creative people. May every year be blazing with color and worth the treble. (Did you see what I did there? treble? trouble?)

BUCKING CRAZY but fun. Here’s my answers to last month’s game. Thanks to those who shared their answers. Yes, there was more then one way to skin that buck.
DEER – DEAR – DEAD – READ – ROAD
BUCK – DUCK – DUNK – DUNG – DING – RING
DOE – FOE – FOG – FIG – BIG – BAG

MY DOWN DOG THANKS to everyone supporting the release of my 3rd mystery as TG WOLFF. Driving Reign is out on the street, exactly where Cruz likes to be, especially when his mother is looking for him. Help me grow. Request my books in your library. Recommend me to a friend. Write a Review. Here is what people are saying…

“It grabbed my attention from the start and I couldn’t put the book down! “
“Captivating from cover to cover”
“I’m only disappointed in one thing…I want more! I don’t think she writes fast enough for me!”

If you have something to announce, cheer about, or celebrate, email me at tina at tgwolff dot com My rules: 1) Keep it positive 2) Keep it clean 3) Keep it real. Of course, I reserve the right to pick and choose what to include. It’s my right as the leader of the pack.

Look out for the Next Edition of
On the Prowl
September 2, 2020
Where we’ll munching under the Corn Moon

On the Prowl: Under July’s Buck Moon

Welcome to the Buck Moon edition of On the Prowl.
This month we’ll explore how the July full moon was named, belly laugh to some of the best worst buck jokes, and have fun with words. We’ll explore an Italian town with an knife obsession and step back to consider a more serious topic.


July 5, 2020 is the Buck Moon

This month, the moon will rise on July 4, peaking in the early hours of July 5. According to The Farmer’s Almanac (almanac.com), July’s full moon was called the Buck Moon because the antlers on a buck are in full growth mode. To celebrate, I searched for the best and the worst jokes the internet has to offer. WideOpenSpaces.com had the best collection. The short ones are sprinkled throughout. Enjoy.


How do you catch a unique deer? Unique up on it! 
How do you catch a tame deer? Tame way – unique up on it!

Bucking Crazy

This is that game where you start with one word and end with another.
Rules: Change only one letter at a time. The new word has to be a real word.
Here’s an example to help FIND your way, using my name: 
Tina > Tint > Lint > Line > Fine >Find

#1 (easy) turn BUCK into RING
#2 (med) turn DEER into a place where you might hit one
#3 (hard) turn a female into something made from a pelt 

Email your answers to me at tina@tgwolff.com. We’ll share the results next month.

What’s cheaper, beer nuts or deer nuts? 
Deer nuts, because they’re under a buck!


Welcome to Mysteries to Die For

This is a podcast where my piano player/ producer/ son Jack and I combine storytelling with original music to put you at the heart of mystery, murder, and mayhem. You can find Mysteries to Die For on Spotify, Apple Podcast, Google Podcast, and Stitcher.

In Episode 9 Welcome to the Darkside, We Have Cookies, a small reference is made to the charming Italian town of Scarperia. This medieval town caught my imagination when we happened across it while exploring Tuscany. This wasn’t an elaborately planned trip, just an afternoon drive with no destination in mind. The town was charming, as most Italian towns are, but the emphasis on knives was fascinating. I had thought of knives as utilitarian until spending a Sunday in Scarperia

Scarperia, Italy

Northeast of Florence, in picturesque Tuscany, is the village of Scarperia. Founded in 1306, the Palazzo dei Vicari (Palace of the Vicar) is the iconic landmark of the town. The building stood as the home of the vicars who governed over the area, each leaving a coat of arms on the structure’s facade. Today, the palace is a museum dedicated to the art of knife making. Scarperia knives are still made today and valued for their craftsmenship.

Scarperia is a gem worth visiting in person, but since there isn’t a lot of that going on right now, live vicariously through these others.


Visit Tuscany’s page on Palazzo Dei Vicari
Pablo Bisquera’s photo slideshow (YouTube)
Lordes Flores’ Blog Post: The Beautiful Town of Scarperia
That’s Art.com’s background of Scarperia knives


Which side of a deer has the most meat?
The inside!


I Cried for a Stranger

The simple announcement said that one of our crew members had died. He was 25.
I cried.
I sent notes around to find out what happened. An accident? An illness? Violence?
It was Suicide.
I cried.
The obituary gave away little except he was loved.
I cried.
He was a stranger to me, as is his family, but they keep coming into my mind.
Even as I write this, I cry.

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255) anytime of day. Use that same number and press “1” to reach the Veterans Crisis Line.

In Widow’s Run, my hero, Diamond, is suicidal. She was depressed after her husband was killed, left an empty shell of herself. While I am her author, I did not chose to make her suicidal. I realize this may not make sense to those who don’t write, but it’s true. In fact, I work hard to keep her alive. But, this is fiction. If I fail, she doesn’t die, her story just ends.

The National Institute of Mental Health shows statistic for 2017, where suicide was the #2 cause of death in people 10-34. Yes, 10. There were twice as many suicides across the US as homicides. Suicide Awareness Voices of Education (SAVE) says depression affects 20-25% of adults and is 2x more common in women. Females suicide attempt rates are roughly 3x those of male. Suicide rates are climbing for men and women over 50.

This shit is real.
This shit can affect anyone.

Be your own hero. If you are struggling with suicidal thoughts, call the lifeline. There are solutions.
If someone says they are thinking about suicide, if they are withdrawing, exhibiting risky behaviors or these other symptoms, be their hero. Make a phone call. Get them help. Take action.


WOLF CALLS

BOWED HEADS for Christian.

HOWL AT THE MOON for everything feeling their way through re-opening the world. Here is to the school superintendents, principals, and teachers working on plans to get kids back in schools safely this fall.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY to my mother, Jane. Sorry, this is probably as exciting as it gets. And I was going to take you to Europe. Ah, well, maybe next year. Happy Birthday A.J. Love you!

EYE ROLL to me. Remember the word came from last month? Strawberry Moon? Well, I lost the piece of paper were I wrote out my words. **sigh** If you gave it a try, email me your list. We can chat about it. tina@tgwolff.com.

ANNOUNCEMENTS
My next book is here! Driving Reign. Thank you, Karen, for the fabulous graphic! Help me grow. Request my books in your library. Recommend me to a friend. Write a Review.

The 17th book in the Twin Cities P.I. Mac McKenzie series drops on July 28. Pre-order From the Grave. If you love trouble, you’ll love Mac McKenzie. Don’t know how Nina doesn’t want to strangle him.

Author Mark Edward Langley releases book #2 in the Arthur Nakai Mystery series on August 4. Pre-Order Death Waits in the Dark. Drop Mark a note and tell him Tina says hello. https://markedwardlangley.com/


If you have something to announce, cheer about, or celebrate, email me at tina@tgwolff.com. My rules: 1) Keep it positive 2) Keep it clean 3) Keep it real. Of course, I reserve the right to pick and choose what to include. It’s my right as the leader of the pack.



Look out for the Next Edition of

On the Prowl

August 3rd, 2020
Where we’ll swim under the Sturgeon Moon

On the Prowl: In the Light of the Strawberry Moon

On the Prowl is my latest great idea. This isn’t a newsletter but a place to play with words, explore ideas, and absorb random facts. This is the first edition, released with June’s full moon, the Strawberry Moon. Welcome to my world.

June 5, 2020 is the Strawberry Moon

This moon can be the last of spring, as it is this year, or the first of summer. According to The Farmer’s Almanac (almanac.com), June’s full moon was called the Strawberry Moon because the Algonquin tribes used it to mark when wild strawberries were ripe for picking. Interesting. I would have thought the conversation was vice versa, something more like…

Guy #1 “Finally, the strawberries are ripe.” Guy #2 “The full moon makes it easy to see.”
Guy #1 “What number moon is it?”
Guy #2  “Who knows. Why can’t it be something simple, like the strawberry moon.”
Guy #1 “Strawberry Moon. Huh. Sounds as good as this tastes. Can you pass the whipped cream?”

https://www.almanac.com/content/full-moon-jun

Backyard Phoenix

Embers cooled to ash
Now nestles egg and feather
with a crack, new life


(Yes, my grill is now a spacious birdhouse)

Rabbit Hunting
Like anyone, I get sucked down the rabbit hole of the internet. I had written a boat race into a scene in Suicide Squeeze, the 2nd in the Diamond series (February 2021). My hero, Diamond, jumps from one boat to another to save a hostage. I asked my friend Aaron to help make the scene more real. He boats and water skis, I do not. His response sent me down the rabbit hole for a good two days…come join me.

Excerpts from an email…
When you cross a boat’s wake at speed it can really throw you.  This is a really fast boat with a bad driver, but I believe they hit another wake at an angle.  This video has been around awhile.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OBelAUSnMpQI had seen the first video, but hadn’t thought it was real. There is another version of it set to music that I thought was masterful. The music overlay, not the driving. 

This one was because the fishing boat was going way too fast and was light weight, but the wake still caused it to go airborne.  See the 1:30 mark of the video.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1UEETjztLqI   This one created so many questions, they crashed in my head like a bumper car pit. Why would someone print over “wear your life vest and kill switch” and omit “don’t drive like a dumbass?” Why was the dumbass in the water for ten minutes when there is clearly a camera guy following him?

The next issue is the side spray of the boat.  This would push the two boats apart.  You could definitely jump between boats, but it would be a pretty bumpy and wet ride. Here is a video from Fear Factor where they did this. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FNFVkBvREaA  This one was just cool and verified I will not try this at home.

Cat’s Cradle
Make as many words as you can from the letters in

STRAWBERRY MOON
Email your list to me. We’ll share the results next month.
Here’s what I came up with:
9 2-letter words, 34 3-letter words, 44 4-letter words, 32 5-letter words, and 5 6-letter words


This is a podcast where my piano player/ producer/ son Jack and I combine storytelling with original music to put you at the heart of mystery, murder, and mayhem. These are arrangements, which means instead of word-for-word readings, you get a performance meant to be heard. Jack and I perform these live, front to back, no breaks, no fakes, no retakes (unless it’s really bad, then he makes me start all over again.)
This season, Jack and I are bringing you my book Widow’s Run, one chapter at a time. It’s free from your favorite podcast sources including Apple Podcast, Google Play, Spotify, and Stitcher.
Look for Episode 1: What a Lovely Corpse You Have.

WOLF CALLS

HOWL AT THE MOON for 2020 graduates. Congratulations and best wishes as you embark upon your next great adventures!

HAPPY BIRTHDAY to Frankie and Kristen. No blowing out candles this year, just cake eating.

WELCOME TO THE PACK May babies Clara and Amelia. Congratulations to both sets of parents.

BOWED HEADS for Terese, Rose, Earl and Paul. Parting is such sweet sorrow. Condolences to those who loved these dearhearts.

RAISE A PAW in support of everyone struggling with the consequences of COVID. No one has been sparred from the mental and physical health effects, but some have carried a greater burden. Reach out, you are not alone.

ANNOUNCEMENTS
* Robert Goldsborough has a new Nero Wolfe book available. Archie Goes Home. This is on my want to read list.
* My next book released Monday, July 6. Check it out below. Love the cover. Thank you JT Lindroos.

If you have something to announce, cheer about, or celebrate, email me. My rules: 1) Keep it positive 2) Keep it clean 3) Keep it real. Of course, I reserve the right to pick and choose what to include. It’s my right as the leader of the pack.


DRIVING REIGN

Releasing July 6, Available for Pre-Order
#2 in the De La Cruz Case Files

The woman in the stingy hospital bed wasn’t dead. The question for Detective Jesus De La Cruz: did the comatose patient narrowly survive suicide or murder?
 
Faithful friends paint a picture of a guileless young woman, a victim of both crime and society. Others describe a cold woman with a proclivity for icing interested men with a single look.
 
Beneath the rhetoric, Cruz unearths a twisted knot of reality and perception. A sex scandal, a jilted lover, a callous director, a rainmaker, and a quid pro quo have Cruz questioning if there is such a thing as an innocent man. Truth is a strong rope, tied in a noose. As he closes in, the knot tightens, but who will pay the price? A killer or a member of Cruz’s own family?


Look out for the Next Edition of On the Prowl
July 5th, 2020
Where we’ll howl under the Buck Moon

Now Available: De La Cruz Case File #2 – Driving Reign

The woman in the stingy hospital bed wasn’t dead. The question for Detective Jesus De La Cruz: did the comatose patient narrowly survive suicide or murder?

Faithful friends paint a picture of a guileless young woman, a victim of both crime and society. Others describe a cold woman with a proclivity for icing interested men with a single look.

Beneath the rhetoric, Cruz unearths a twisted knot of reality and perception. A sex scandal, a jilted lover, a callous director, a rainmaker, and a quid pro quo have Cruz questioning if there is such a thing as an innocent man. Truth is a strong rope, tied in a noose. As he closes in, the knot tightens, but who will pay the price? A killer or a member of Cruz’s own family?

Available upon request from your local book seller and from these on-line retailers:

Down & Out | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | IndieBound | iTunes | Kobo | Google Play

Podcast: Mysteries to Die For

Mysteries to Die For is my podcast that combines storytelling with original music to put you at the heart of mystery, murder, and mayhem. Some will be my own, others will be classics that helped shape the mystery genre we know today. 

For a full listing of episodes, click HERE.