Thursday, December 10, 2015

What is Your Idea of a Cozy Mystery?

My new book, In the Garden with the Pruning Shears, is described as a cozy mystery. There are many blogs exploring the definition of a cozy mystery. It is a mystery sub-genre of the crime novel genre that usually does not have explicit sex or violence or strong language. That is the simple explanation. The sleuths are clever, sometimes bumbling characters, but usually likeable, and usually manage to get into some sort of trouble while bringing the murderer to justice. There can be a hint of romance, but never sex. Blood is kept to a minimum. Many times the murder took place prior to the beginning of the book, so there is not a witness to the violent act, not even the reader sees it happen.

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When I think cozy mystery I visualize curling up on a winter day in a big chair, ideally in front of a fireplace, but at least in a warm and cozy spot. Perhaps in front of a sunny window, feeling like a cat, or wrapped in a snuggly throw or quilt with a cup of hot tea nearby. All is quiet and I have time to read my book without interruption. A cozy mystery can just as well be enjoyed on a summer day, perhaps in a lawn chair in a shady spot of the yard, substituting the hot tea for a tall glass of iced tea. Another image that comes to my mind is me at the beach on the porch of a little cottage with the sound of the surf in the background, a sea breeze whispering in my ear and laughing gulls swooping down to grab morsels up out of the ocean.

That’s what I think when I think cozy mystery. What about you, what’s your favorite cozy reading environment?

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

It Could be Worse

My bathroom is under repair – so my toilet is sitting in the spare bedroom while the floor in the bathroom is being reinforced. It is an old house and I love living in it. My landlord is great about fixing things. It isn’t his fault I spent last night using a porta john set up under my carport. I decided it would be an adventure. In my younger days we did a lot of camping so it sure beat going in the woods. But, I am getting a little old for adventures of that kind. It was cold outside last night.

The whole experience reminded me of Daddy telling me the story of when he was a little boy and in winter with two feet of snow on the ground he didn’t want to go to the outhouse at night. So, he peed in an earthenware vinegar jug. He'd kept that jug, storing it on a shelf in his workshop. I told him I wanted him to leave me the jug in his will so I would have it to remember him and his story. I have the jug on a shelf in my barrister bookcase. I wrote a poem about Daddy's little vinegar jug.

Little Brown Jug
My heirloom.
Little brown jug.
Earthenware, glaze flaking,
the jug Daddy peed
in when he was a little boy.
he gave it to me
soon after he saw
Jesus in a vision.

He told me how the wind
blew snow in through the
cracks in the walls
leaving a powdery layer
on the bedcovers.
And he'd have to pee in the jug
because it was cold and dark outdoors
where the outhouse stood.

Little brown vinegar jug,
like an urn, stands protected
in my barrister bookcase.
The only grave site
I will visit.  No visions of
decaying flesh does it hold.
It conjures up memories
of stories and laughter
and guitar playing.

I feel him sitting on the edge of my bed
and between strumming songs about
lonesome cowboys and dead hobos
he'd tell the stories. . .
about the time he picked the
poison mushrooms
and the time he got his head stuck
in a hollow tree
looking for a raccoon.

And it reminds me about
love and feeling safe and
rotten apple fights                                                                  
between cousins and brothers.
It immortalizes a fatherhood and
the smell of gun oil and talking
adventures in the workshop.

I can recall him telling
me to clean up my messes
and to respect other folks property.
And to be good so I don't
get a piece of coal and
switches in my stocking
like Uncle Jerry did.

So, last night, or rather this morning at 2am, when I ventured out to the porta john I thought to myself, “It could be worse. At least I am not having to choose between hiking through snow to the outhouse and peeing in a jug.”

I have been promised my toilet will be reinstalled by tonight. Yay!