December 20, 2019

2019 Annual Letter

Hello to all our fine and semi-fine friends out there,

     Yes, it’s time for our annual Gracious Jane Marie newsletter, where we dispense the always elegant and dignified events of our past year. We thought we might highlight some random conversations for you. Let us begin. 

Daughter to Mother first thing Thanksgiving morning as they prepared what was a delightfully delicious meal:  Where is that 2-cup glass measuring cup of yours?
Mother to Daughter:  Found it.  Your father’s teeth are floating in it.

Mother-in-Law to Son-in-Law:  Did you sleep well?
Son-in-Law to Mother-in-Law:  Yes, ma’am, except for the cat viciously guarding the front bathroom in the middle of the night, making me have to pee outside, all was well. But our visit here isn’t over yet.

Uncle Tree Bark:  Nothing better than an outdoor wee.  It’s good for the soul.

Uncle Crumb:  Keep them bulletins coming

Granddaughter:  Ooh!  What is that noise?
Grandmother:  That’s the sound of the cat vomiting.  Remember House Rule #27 which clearly states the following:  He who hears it, finds it or steps in it, must clean it up. 

Mother to Father:  Did you eat the last of the Cool Whip?  I was saving that.
Father: For what?  There was only enough to cover a gnat’s kneecap. Besides, the dog needed a new water bowl because he chewed that hold in the old one. So, there you go.  Thank you very much.

Brother at breakfast:  Where’s the toaster?
Sister:   We’ll be serving pop tarts from the floor.  If you’d ever lift a finger to help in the kitchen, you’d know we ran out of counter space.
Brother: Hey, I took the trash out last Christmas, so I don’t wanna hear it.

Grandmother:  Well, when I was in first grade, the little boy next door used to eat worms.  I thought that was a bit strange back then.
Granddaughter to Grandmother:  That’s still strange, Gramma.  
Mother: Aunt Flags used to eat dog biscuits, but only when they were buy one, get one free.  She didn’t want to deprive her animals, so she had her own box.
Aunt Flags: Yes, my preference was the Milkbone brand.
Son: Sister’s boyfriend in third grade licked rocks.  I saw him.
Father: That was then. Your sister broke up with him. I pride myself on the good  sense my children inherited from me.  Now, please pass the horseradish and Tabasco.  Badly burning my tongue and sinuses is all part of my newly devised diet plan.

Mother to Daughter: Please help hold the dog while I clean his fur. I don't know what he ate, but it upset his tum-tum and he has some stinky on him.
Daughter to Mother: No way!  I don't want to get that nasty stuff on my shirt. 
Mother to Daughter: Well then, would you at least take your freshly washed white comforter we got you, you spoiled small child, and put it in the dryer?
Daughter to Mother: Oh, alright. MOM!!!! My comforter is ruined. It's pink!  And there's Brother's red sweatshirt in the bottom of the washer!  He did that on purpose.
Mother to Daughter:  I don't know that he's bright enough to realize the red shirt would bleed.  He just wanted to wash his new shirt, same as you did your new comforter. You know that thing about what goes around, ...? Enjoy your new pink comforter.  Love you, honey.

And that's just a small sample of what went on at our house this past year.

Discovered the morning after our family reunion
We hope your year was as exhilarating as ours!

Much love and caring from Gracious Jane Marie and her Characters and Critters on Amelia Island, Florida (then, now and the time to come)

December 17, 2019

Gingersnaps Like Mom and Miss Ella Used to Make

Each year, Kathy Frazier, my friend and contributing baker to our blog, makes  these classically perfect
Gingersnap Cookies.  They have been in her family for years.  Thank you, Kathy, for sharing with us all! - JMM

You'll need:

1 1/2 cups Crisco
2 cups sugar
2 eggs
1/2 cup unsulphured molasses

Sift together:

4 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons cinnamon
2 teaspoons cloves
2 teaspoons ginger

     Cream shortening and sugar. Beat in eggs. Add molasses and dry ingredients. Use teaspoon, take up enough to make 1 inch balls. Roll lightly between hands, roll in sugar. Place on cookie sheet. Bake 15 to 18 minutes at 350 degrees. Cool on rack. Makes 7 - 8 dozen.

A couple of notes:
I sometimes use half butter Crisco and half plain Crisco to total the 1 1/2 cups of Crisco - seems to add a little 'depth' to the flavor. In addition, I used to grease the cookie sheets, but have found that it is not necessary - they seem to slide off just fine when done. As far as baking times, I wait until the tops "crack" and then bake another couple of minutes - more or less. It's really just a trial and error thing and also how you prefer the cookie to be. I generally get about 110 cookies out of this one recipe.


The Goodbye Lie Diaries:

Late 1800s
Fernandina, Florida

Miss Ella writes:  That recipe of yours is so similar to my gingersnaps, I may
Ella Dunnigan*
round up the ingredients and make a batch or two tomorrow.  With my bunch, they will be gone in short order.  Good thing I have my tin shamrock-shaped cookie jar.  They can't lift the lid without it making a little ding sound.  That helps me keep track of who is consuming how many.  Thank you, Miss Kathy, for reminding me about these delights.  

*Ella Dunnigan is the matriarch of the family in the historical romance Amelia Island Goodbye Lie series. She is responsible for the care and forever feeding of not only her family in north Florida, but the passengers on the Aqua Verde Passenger Line ships featured in the novels.  Set in the late 1800s, this series will lure your spirit back to a time where love becomes legend. E-books and paperbacks available here.  

December 12, 2019

Two Ingredient Muffins

     A box of spice cake mix and a can of pure pumpkin, mixed well and baked at 350 degrees for about 15 minutes, is yummo! Who knew? I saw this two ingredient recipe posted by my friend Brenda on Facebook and, of course, had to try it.  Now I made mini-muffies, as we like to call them (baked for only 12 minutes). In about half the batter, I added a bit of well drained crushed pineapple.  They turned out fine with the added flavor and texture and I served them for breakfast, lunch and dinner dessert. The truth is that not many were left by dinner.  As I write this, I’m thinking a bit of softened cream cheese would be a great topping to go along with the spice cake.
     I haven’t tried these other combinations I found online, but they sound wonderful and so easy and quick. How about chocolate cake mix and 2 cups plain Greek yogurt, or lemon or orange cake mix and 1 ½ cup diet 7-up, or lemon or orange cake mix and one undrained 15 ounce can of Mandarin oranges, blended until semi-smooth for added texture, or angel food cake with one can of either apple, blueberry or cherry pie filling, blended till nearly smooth or yellow cake mix and 4 ripe bananas, mashed?   All the individual ingredients are good, so together, how can you go wrong?  Okay, if  you can’t stand it and want to goose up the recipe a smidge, maybe add some chocolate or butter scotch chips or crushed nuts or drained cherries sliced in half or raisins or craisins. The word or means choices! Once cool, top with Cool Whip and boom!  Store in the fridge. Fun and done! 

     P.S.  When making regular sized muffins, use muffin papers and lightly cover with non-stick spray.  If making a cake, treat the pan with non-stick spray, too, and be sure and follow the instructions on the box. Do not add any other ingredients like eggs or oil as listed on the back.  Remember, this is for Two Ingredient recipes. Heck, you might have a cake mix and pie filling in the pantry to try out for tonight! 

Happy Baking!    

November 25, 2019

A Song to Count Your Blessings

    In this special season of giving thanks for all we have, I want to share one of my favorite songs, Count Your Blessings, by Bing Crosby, from 1954's White Christmas

Happy Thanksgiving!

Don't Hate Me Because ... Plus The Goodbye Lie Diaries - Miss Ella

The time is now.
Fernandina Beach on Amelia Island, Florida

Jane Marie writes:  Through no fault of my own, the azaleas are in bloom again here in Florida.  Please don't be mad, if you are wearing a woolen parka over four layers of shirts and sweaters.  Perhaps the image of these pretty, perky azaleas will brighten your day.  Perhaps not.  (I have noticed how teasing is much more fun for the teaser.)

The Goodbye Lie Diaries
Circa Late 1800s
Fernandina on Amelia Island, Florida
*Miss Ella Dunnigan

Miss Ella writes:  Now really, Jane Marie.  While those photographs are lovely, you showing them to those in parts of the world which do not have such balmy weather as ours, is less than gracious.  I'm sorry to treat you as a child, but you should know better.  Always be kind - or folks might think you're related to Aunt Noreen.  You are, of course, but I see no need in advertising that fact. Do you?   

*Miss Ella Dunnigan in The Goodbye Lie historical romance series is the ever-wise matriarch of the Irish American family of four grown or soon to be grown children, two grandmothers, one kin and the other, well, she might as well be kin, the often snarling Aunt Noreen and a husband, Michael.  Family is just the beginning ...

November 12, 2019

Zentangle for All!

     I recently took a Zentangle* class at our Island Art Association Gallery located at 18 N. 2nd St, Fernandina Beach on Amelia Island, Florida. (904 261-7020)  Local artists share their talents and supplies with anyone interested in the different art forms they teach.  Since I had never heard of Zentangle, I googled it and it looked interesting.  Little did I know how simple it is to do.
     Meant to be a relaxation exercise, my decorative pumpkin is the result. I've taken pictures from different angles to show it off. :-) There are particular patterns to copy, and/or you can create your own.  A fine tipped permanent ink black Sharpie marker and, in this case, a foam pumpkin, from a craft store, with a solid plastic covering, works perfectly.  Whatever you decorate, make certain it is a nonporous surface or else the ink might bleed, causing uneven lines.  You can use a larger tipped black Sharpie to fill in any solid black areas you desire.  The thicker tip will fill in faster and you won't dull your fine point pen. 
     I asked what else can be decorated.  The instructor showed a birthday card with a Zentangle cake on the the front.  She also mentioned she had decorated the collar and cuffs of a long sleeve white blouse using a fabric pen.  I can see it now, coupled with a black sweater.  Very fetching.
     To find other objects on which to draw, I went to my kitchen cupboard and tried writing on the bottom of a coffee mug and mason jar.  Then I rubbed where I'd drawn and it didn't smear.  So I went to the dollar store, got a couple of plain white ceramic mugs, a square ceramic dinner plate and an easel to display the finished product.  Oh, and some plain white ornaments.  Who says you can't use fine point colored markers, too?  
     The next time granddaughter Ava visits, we'll be Zentangling!  She's excited to give it a try because it's perfect for all ages! In fact, it would be a fun thing to do as a family affair over the holidays.  Everybody can decorate his or her own mug!  Be sure and sign and date it, too!

*The Zentangle®Method is an easy-to-learn, relaxing and fun way to create beautiful images by drawing structured patterns.  It was created by Rick Roberts and Maria Thomas.  "Zentangle" is a registered trademark of Zentangle, Inc.  Learn more at 

November 5, 2019

Meet Bagatha

     My companion at every book signing, Bagatha is  hardworking, attractive  and always at the ready 
when I need her assistance.  Who is this creature with the most unusual name?  It is my 12 inch tall, give or take, doll who wears a white cotton cap and colorful floral patterned dress.  After a busy day, her full skirts are slender. Why? Because inside those skirts she holds our bags by which we can offer free gift wrapping to any who want to protect their Goodbye Lie series novels from the elements.  By free gift wrapping, we mean those plastic bags meant for recycling.  Try though we might to always take our own cloth totes to the stores, we still end up with the plastic bags. Folks always chuckle over this complimentary bonus.  You know me, chuckling is almost as good as guffawing.
     When trying to think of a name for the dolly, I asked my granddaughter, Ava, for her suggestions. With nary a blink, Ava replied "Bagatha." Perfect and clever!                                                                Please join us and our fictional Dunnigan family characters in Fernandina on Amelia Island, Florida in the Goodbye Lie novels, set in the late 1880s.  Let them create long lasting memories for you. They certainly have for me.                 

October 29, 2019

Feet Loaf Anybody? Plus Peeper’s Goodbye Lie Diaries

lean beef and onions prior to baking
  Just in time for Halloween, try your hand at feet loaf!  Upon seeing these, some have responded with ewwwww!  Others have called them adorable.  While I do not understand such high praise, I willing admit I was taken by the concept when first I heard talk of this unusual entree on the radio.  Naturally, I had to google the image.  See the pictures of my efforts. 
baked feet loaf
You'll need: 
Your favorite meatloaf recipe (I used two pounds of lean ground beef shaped into two giant ugly feet.)
Sliced onions and chips for ankle bones and toe nails
Ketchup for blood around the bones.  

I baked my feet at 350 degrees for a good hour in a large 9" x 13" glass cake pan covered with foil for easy clean up.  The last ten minutes, loosely cover the feet with foil so they don't get too brown. Dribble with extra ketchup when done. 

     The most important thing is to have the camera ready to catch the shocked faces of your loved ones when you serve them these disgusting-looking feet for Halloween din-din!  Have fun! 

The Goodbye Lie Diaries
Late 1880s
Fernandina on Amelia Island, Florida

Grandmother Peeper writes:

 Dear Jane Marie,

     My, my, my!  This is something I will be  amakin' fer my kin.  The little ones will be fightin' over them toes.  Think I'll be invitin' Aunt Noreena over ta supper.  It will be hard fur me ta make my invite sound like a want her sittin' at our table, but the shock to her system will be so great, maybe she'll faint away.  That would be one Halloween worth rememberin'.  If only I kin keep from laughin' too soon in her face. 

Grandmother Peeper is a featured player in The Goodbye Lie series.  Her favorite target to tease and purposely irritate is the lady next door, Aunt Noreen. We all laugh along with Peeper.

October 15, 2019

Crustless Cheese and Beer Quiche

     I love most any version of quiche.  I'm always mixing different ingredients and, frankly, I have never had a fail.  Quiche can be rich, by nature, and calorie filled.  So, by prepping your baking pan with non-stick spray, you can omit the crust and pour the mixed ingredients directly into the dish.  Here is how I made my Cheese and Beer Quiche. Just like Miss Ella Dunnigan, the matriarch in my Goodbye Lie series, I don't always measure exactly ...

You'll need:
2  nine-inch store-bought frozen pie crusts (not deep dish), thawed - If you're going crustless, you not only save calories, but money having not to purchase the pie shells
6 eggs
1/4 cup no-fat milk
1/2 cup beer (I used non-alcoholic. Although I don't like the taste of beer to drink, I do like the beer flavor in quiche, muffies and cheese fondue.  Go figure. Next time, I will skip the milk and use only beer for the liquid.)
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder 
1 1/2 cups sharp cheddar cheese (I used 2% reduced fat.  No fat cheese doesn't melt well, but this 2% works fine.)
1/2 cup or more of Pecorino Romano, shredded (Add no salt because this wonderfully strong cheese is salty.)
8 ounce can of  mushroom stems and pieces, drained and rinsed to remove extra salt
Pepper to taste

     Poke the thawed pie crusts with a fork and bake in a 375 degree preheated oven for about 5 or 6 minutes to help crisp the crust. Let cool. (The fork holes will prevent the baked crust from puffing up. If it does puff, just press it back down.)

     Whisk the eggs by hand till mixed well.  Add the other ingredients and fill the 2 pie shells evenly. Bake about 45 minutes or until an inserted knife comes out clean and the crust is golden brown.  To prevent the crust from browning too much, loosely cover each pie with a square of foil with the center cut away.  The crust is protected, but the middle of the pie will still bake evenly.


Jane Marie  

October 4, 2019

Oh What a Pal was Mary - A 1919 Hit!

     I love YouTube!  For giggles one rainy day, I thought I would try and discover what the melodies of some of the antique sheet music we have around the house sound like.  This particular piece, Oh What a Pal was Mary, with the beautiful picture of a 1919 bride is in a green wooden frame in our front bath.  I always think romantic thoughts when I look at this Mary, a demure bride holding her flowers in front of a stained glass church window.
     Sing along with the lyrics below and take a step back into the last century. 

𝅘𝅥𝅮𝅘𝅥𝅯𝅘𝅥OH ! WHAT A PAL WAS MARY 𝅘𝅥𝅮𝅘𝅥𝅯𝅘𝅥

(Edgar Leslie, Bert Kalmar / Pete Wendling, 1919)
Mary o' mine, Mary o' mine, Grew like a rose in a bower, Bloomed for a day, Faded away, I lost a beautiful flower; Sweetheart and friend, right to the end; That's why I miss her so. Mary o' mine, Mary o' mine, My little playmate of childhood, Symbol of love, Sent from above, Staunch as an oak in the wildwood; Mem'ries of old, purer than gold; Fill me with love sublime. Oh! what a gal was Mary, Oh! what a pal was she, An angel was born on Easter morn, and God sent her down to me. Heart of my heart was Mary, Soul of my soul divine, Though she is gone, love lingers on,
For Mary, old pal of mine.

(Thank you to Lyrics Playground -

Thank you, also, to CatsPjamas1 on YouTube for the pretty audio of Oh What a Pal Was Mary.  Check out her channel for tons more music from the 1900s. 

September 27, 2019

Making Muggage

     Around our house, we often add an age to subject matter.  Example: foodage, paintage, doggage, cattage, mailage, etc.  Why? I have no answer to that.  
     Anyway, it is never too early or too late to create.  Well, at Grammy Camp, granddaughter Ava painted these two mugs for us, resulting in lovely muggage. (Note how the coffee creamer, yet to be stirred in, resembled palm fronds, similar to what she painted on the cup!)  These are easy, fun, inexpensive and make great gifts from the kids for any occasion.  Should you have to purchase small bottles of acrylic enamel paint for glass, limit your choice of colors to half a dozen or less to keep the cost down. 

You'll Need:

  • Dollar Store plain ceramic mugs
  • Enamel/Glass acrylic paint in colors of your choice from your local craft store or Walmart 
  • Rubbing Alcohol
  • Small paintbrushes
  • Oven

Wipe down the surface to be painted with the alcohol to remove any oil/grease and let it dry for a few minutes.  The paint will adhere better.  Freehand or trace your picture to be painted.  Paint away.  Once the paint dries, bake the mugs in the oven for a few minutes, according to the bottle directions.  This will secure the paint and make it dishwasher-safe.  Have fun! 

September 18, 2019

Charming Storm Drain

As I was walking back to my car after a book signing at Sea Jade's*, an old Florida souvenir shop,  extraordinaire, and home of my Goodbye Lie historical romance series, I came across this small image on the curb. I had to snap a photo of it to share with you.  Only in Fernandina Beach on Amelia Island, Florida might you spy a pink shrimp wearing a pirate hat and eye patch.  This is just one more example of the charm of our lovely Victorian island town. 

*Sea Jade is located in the middle of Amelia Island's historic district at 208 Centre Street, Fernandina Beach, FL.  904 277-2977.  They have everything you didn't realize you needed and a lovely staff to help you find it!

September 13, 2019

Grammy Camp Canvas Painting

   As part of our annual Grammy Camp, granddaughter Ava and I always draw, paint and create.  This time, per her request, we ordered canvas zippered bags online.  With permanent Sharpie markers, she fashioned these delights in which each of us can keep our drawing tools. 

After drawing the kitty, Ava covered her with glitter paint to bring her to enchanted life.  Note how one single glitter sparkle ended up smack-dab in the center of the sweet heart below.  Ava gave this canvas case to me.  Oh, she signed and dated it on the back.  I love it!  Thank you, dear girl! - Your Grammy

August 27, 2019

Grammy Camp Cake Blocks

     There are many recipes for Cake Pops out there. Granddaughter Ava and I call ours Cake Blocks because they are rectangular in shape. 
Here is our simple, estimated ingredients version.  Try not to eat too many.

You'll need:
1 box of chocolate cake mix
1 tub of chocolate frosting
large bowl for mixing
1 package of lollipop sticks
chocolate chips to melt for coating
2 ice-cube trays from the dollar store
parchment paper or cookie sheet

Bake the cake according to the package directions.  When cool, crumble it in a large bowl.  Add half the can or so of frosting into the cake and stir until it's evenly distributed. You need enough frosting to make a firmish-creamy cake texture to press into the ice cube trays. Insert a stick into each and freeze for an hour.  Melt chocolate chips in a small bowl. Dip each cake block in melted chocolate. While the chocolate coating is still melted, gently add/cover each with sprinkles.  Stand each on end on parchment paper or cookie sheet to cool.  Enjoy!  
                                            - Ava and Jane Marie 

P.S.  Not sure exactly how many Cake Blocks we made because the family was wolfing them down as fast as we sprinkled each one.  Oh, what you do with the left over frosting and chocolate chips is your business.  As you might guess, those extras did not go to waste in our house.     

August 20, 2019

Grammy Camp Mailbox with Birds

          At Grammy Camp, our motto is Why Not?  And here we have the perfect example of that sentiment.  Our multi-colored spray painted mailbox and matching flamingos squawk how Stately Martha Manor (named for Martha Bear, the spokesbear for this blog and all things Jane Marie Malcolm) is a place of laughter, looniness
Martha Bear
wearing her favorite
  Goodbye Lie
and love.  

     Here's how we mastered this project. Wrapping the white decorative metal post in newspaper and securing it with tape to keep it white, we randomly sprayed the plastic box with half-a-dozen cans of paint. And just look at the winning result!  Oh, don't forget the flag on the side.  Granddaughter Ava chose a bright and cheery yellow.   
     Our flamingos have been the watch-birds in the neighborhood for nearly two decades.  Their once pretty pink bodies fade every few years from the mean Florida sun.  So, it was time to spruce them up.  After sitting them on newspaper, we splashed them with color, too.  
     Inspired by the coordinating wreath on our front gate, this was an easy project for a talented artist like Ava and her overseeing Grammy.  Great job, Ava!  Thank you!

P.S.  Just before we began this adventure in art, our yard man texted me that one of our plastic flamingos had flown away!  We decided against replacing it because, after all, these birds are our friends.  So, if we only had one bird, that one bird only would get a new coat.  As we painted near the street, a car slowed down and a stranger said, "Hey, I saw your flamingo down the road by that big sign." We thanked him and jumped in the car to bring home the errant critter.  We looked and looked, but couldn't find her.  After several minutes, we turned the car around to head home, only to slow down as the original man who told us the bird's location, motioned toward us from his car.  "I put your little birdie back in your yard." Wow, and wow!  Who does kind things like that in this day and time? Nice neighbors, that's who!  We love Fernandina on Amelia Island, Florida, where people still care about each other.  What a fine example of goodness for my granddaughter and a reminder to me and everyone who hears or reads this simple tale.  🐦

August 13, 2019

Grammy Camp Flip-Flop Messaging

Smiley face, heart and Goodbye Lie hot glue flip-flop stamps ready to go!
     Granddaughter Ava and I completed another successful Grammy Camp this summer. As always, we had a blast!  Here is a project I found somewhere on the Internet.  It's inexpensive and easy to do. Most importantly, it's fun because you get to tramp around the beach in your flip-flops, and leave a message behind you!

You'll Need:

1 set of flip-flops from a dollar store (Larger rubber sandals will accommodate a longer image or message, but adult feet work best for those to make complete and even toe to heel impressions in the sand.  

Hot glue

Glass of water to dip your finger in case you touch the hot glue

Pen for drawing pattern

Ava's smiley face


On the bottom of each flip-flop, use a pen (shows up better than a pencil) to draw whatever pattern you want to stamp.  To spell words, you must write them upside down, NOT BACKWARDS.  (This was the hardest part. hahaha)

Cover your outline with two or three layers of hot glue.  The thinker the glue, the deeper the impression, which will make it show up better. 

Tromp about a beach and let your message to the world be seen! 

My Goodbye Lie book title (shameless promotion, as always) -
Note the second O in Goodbye is a bit squished.
 I tried to space the letters evenly and ran out of room.
 All I can say is that never had one lesson thing.
                                                                   - jmm aka Grammy

Ava's heart

August 6, 2019

Amelia Island's Mark of a Man Excerpt- Pat Dunnigan

Amelia Island's Mark of a Man,
part of The Goodbye Lie Series
      Jack Patrick is a little boy in 1882 in The Goodbye Lie, the first in my trilogy set on Amelia Island, Florida.  He gives his Irish family, the Dunnigans,  headaches and worry and lumps in their throats, but his intentions lean, for the most part, to the honorable. As the years go on, he uses his charms to his advantage when he must. He has a potent sense of right versus wrong, most of the time ...
     The third novel in the series, Amelia Island's Mark of a Man, features Pat, the name he prefers to be called as an adult.  Here is an excerpt from that book, likewise set in the Victorian seaside town of Fernandina. The time is 1898.

     "Mrs. Ickles has two tummies," announced six-year-old Nugget, "but Aunt Noreen wins 'cause she's got five!" 
Pat Dunnigan
      Agreeing with his nephew, Pat  Dunnigan wore a grin until, in the shadows beneath the stairwell, he spotted Marie, fingering the lapel of the cornet player. And she was whispering in his ear! But this reality was not what Pat perceived. No, he saw a stranger bent over an innocent--his innocent--slobbering onto her neck. Then he saw red! Without a word, with no hesitation, he grabbed the man's arm, spinning him off his sister. A solid left fist followed to the violator’s mouth. He damn sure wouldn't be nuzzling necks or puffing on horns any time soon, not with both lips split. 

July 30, 2019

Lucy Lotion Plus Peeper in The Goodbye Lie Diaries

Story Central
Present Day 
Fernandina Beach on Amelia Island, Florida   
Jane Marie writes: I am always rattin' myself out by telling you about my Lucy Moments, as in I Love Lucy and her doing goofy things.  Well, here is another moment with a great ending.  
     So there I was, in need of lotion.  I like to slather it on after a shower, the beach, or when my hands feel dry, like everybody else.  I was working on a blog at Story Central and was too lazy to get up to fetch some.  Then I remembered a sample bottle, the kind you take home from hotels when you're traveling.  Yup, there it was in the nightstand beside the rocker. After a minute of application, I thought to put on my glasses to read the name and brand of the lotion because it smelled so good.  Imagine my surprise to discover it was not lotion, but shampoo/conditioner combined!  
     You see, the thing of it is that it wasn't sticky or greasy and it did have a lovely aroma. So, I put it back in the drawer, to use as lotion the next time I needed some.  I hear that's how many discoveries are made, purely by accident.  

Fernandina on Amelia Island, Florida
Circa late 1880s

Grandmother Peeper writes: By cracky, Jane Marie, I ain't quite certain what conditioner is. I'm aguessin' it a potion ta soften your hair - but if that don't beat all.  It's like me and marbles.  I like ta rub my feet on top of a box a them cool round things and I kin also shoot 'em across the room with my toes, if need be, ta scare the cat when he's sharpenin' his toenails on our best chair.  Any one thing that serves two purposes is good.  God appreciates the help, too, not that He needs any. I'm talking about the marbles helping my poor stove-up feet.  The marbles work pretty good and so it frees up His angels ta help other folks who need more aid than me. 
Peeper is everybody's favorite grandmother who knocked on the Dunnigan family's front door, walked in, and adopted the family on the spot.  The strange thing is they willingly let her! 

For info, click here →The Goodbye Lie Series 

The Goodbye Lie Series

July 23, 2019

Musical Discovery

Source: Reprinted from Words for Worship, 2018 Augsburg Fortress.

     I love old-timey hymns, as you might suspect. Along that line, we were in church one Sunday morning singing The Great Thanksgiving, as pictured above.  Mind you, I have been going to church my entire life and playing handbells forever, all the while reading the music to the best of my ability. Never did I notice this particular something until a friend, Katherine Swafford, pointed it out.  Look at the ties or curved lines connecting some of the musical notes. The way they are laid out, your can magically see two black eyes and a wide smile grinning back at you. In the three sets of notes with the ties, you can even see a little nose with the eyes. - And what a perfect place to find them, in this Great Thanksgiving! How simple, sweet and wonderful!!! Thank you, Katherine.- jmm

July 16, 2019

Doggie Deterrent

     In an effort to keep our spokesdog Chihuahua named Abby off the couch, I refer you to the photograph on the right of this post.  Note the colorful flowers I have ingeniously scattered, dare I say strewn, upon the flowerdy sofa cushions. The effect is lovely, thinketh I ... and so does Abby, for she maneuvers her little self among and between the petals.  I shall continue to try and outsmart her.  My odds are slim, I fear.  -jmm  

July 9, 2019

Save Our Doggies!

pretty pink puppy paw
      Let's cut to the chase, as they say.  It's just miserably hot outside.  I am often downtown at book signings and far, far too often see owners walking their dogs on the sidewalk which is hot enough to blister their animal's feet. Please everyone, I know you want to show off your dog because you love him or her, as much as I love my Abby, but if you can't stand barefooted on that same sidewalk for 60 seconds or more and not have to put on your shoes, don't take your dog out for a walk.  Test the sidewalk every time in this weather.  Also, how much fun is a walk for your dog if they are fighting thirst, as well? 
     Remember, too, don't take your dog for a run while you're on a bike! Our babies want to please us so much, but they can't tell us when they're in trouble.  Common sense, everybody. Use common sense.

July 1, 2019

Backdoor Plant with Goodbye Lie Excerpt

      I can't remember where I first heard the hydrangea referred to as the backdoor plant.  No matter, I have always thought that was a charming name. It is especially true in days gone by because, in my research, I found people often planted them near the back door since they were and are showy. Either huge pink or blue flower heads can be your choice, depending upon the acidity of the soil. Want pink flowers?  Add lime.  Want blue? Add coffee grounds!
 Hydrangea cutting from neighbor Peggy 
 For details, google the planting instructions for hydrangeas, but they are 
easy to grow. Put them in well-drained soil in full to partial sun.  Someone told me they like lots of water, hence the name which has hydrate in it or close to it.
     Cut the blooms when they are at their best and let them air dry in a vase to make lovely bouquets. 
     I mentioned this plant in The Goodbye Lie.  Here is an excerpt featuring young Jack Patrick Dunnigan set in Fernandina on Amelia Island, Florida in 1882.  He grows up to be featured player in Amelia Island's Mark of a Man set in 1898.

The Goodbye Lie, An Excerpt     
     "Look there, Mama," he said pointing to her bruised extremity. "Bree looks like Peeper, the way she carries on about her feet always being swole up."
     "Jack Patrick! All I can tell you, my boy, is it's a very good thing Peeper didn't hear you make such a disrespectful remark or she'd clobber you like a long-tailed rat!"
     "I didn't mean no disrespect, Mama."
     "Any disrespect is correct, son."
  "Yes, ma'am. Any disrespect. But Peeper is always saying her feet hurt her, isn't she?"
    "You're running out of wiggle-room, young man. Now carry your sister's bag to the buggy."  
     "Yes, ma'am." Jack Patrick was forever getting a scolding and could never quite figure why. What he'd said about Peep was the truth. Once he'd transported the valise to the carriage as his mother requested, his thoughts strayed to spending the night at Warren Lowell's house. It would be fun, provided they kept clear of Aunt Noreen. He'd need permission, of course, so decided to ask his father, since so far today, the two of them hadn't had a fuss. But it was still early and there was plenty of time for him to get into trouble. Caution was Jack Patrick's watchword. After his sister and her husband had driven out of sight, he dashed around back of the house to chase the chickens. Then he spied Clover. "Hey, ole pard. What cha doin'?"
    "Just dumpin' a little salt and vinegar on the weeds along your ma's walkway."
     "Seen any slugs around?"
     "Matter of fact, Pat, I did see one crawl under Grammy's backdoor hydrangea bush there. Now that was 'bout five minutes ago, so you might have ta go lookin'."
     Jack Patrick knew he could count on Clover to use his new nickname, at least when his mother wasn't around. "Got any extra salt?"
     "All ya need."
    "Thanks!" On his belly in the sand, Jack Patrick determined that a slug melting from salt was a thing of mystery. Besides, he was safe with Clover. He rarely caught any grief when they were together. As he searched for the slimy creature, he called out, "It was sure good to have Bree home for a spell, wasn't it, Clove?"

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