Enchanted Conversation: “The Case of the Missing Kiss”

An article by Yours Truly just went up on Enchanted Conversation Magazine. Those of you who’ve been reading my ramblings for a while might recognize it: I wrote it in the course of my grad school research and posted it on Quillandqwerty; now EC has kindly republished it.

THE CASE OF THE MISSING KISS

I’ve been studying Frog Prince tales. You know the ones: princess meets frog, he does her a service, in return he asks for a kiss, she kisses him, and hey presto, he’s turned into a handsome prince. Right? Wrong. If you look at the Grimms’ version—tale #1 in the CHILDREN’S AND HOUSEHOLD TALES—you’re doing okay until you get to the kissing part. It’s not there. It quite simply doesn’t exist. The act that gets the prince unfroggified is one of gross violence: the princess chucks the frog against her bedroom wall (in the 1812 version, with a lovely onomatopoeic “Splat!”). That’s right, attempted murder. When he falls down from the wall—I’ve always had trouble visualising that bit—he’s a handsome prince with “friendly eyes,” and the princess happily goes to bed with him.

That’s fine, you say. There are other versions of that story that have the kiss in it, aren’t there? Well, not that I can find, at least in the old tales…

To continue reading, go here

Life, the Universe, and The Case of the Missing Kiss. The things you find out…

E.L.Bates: Diamonds to Dust Published

Louise’s new book is out!! Go get your copy!

StarDance Press

No time to waste on fancy intros–let’s get right to the heart of the matter.

What starts as an intriguing puzzle soon takes a more sinister turn when a dead body shows up. When all of the clues only make matters more murky, how can Pauline Gray make sense of it all? This case will take all her wits and investigative ability to solve … but the body count is growing …Horace Van Camp, of Clayton, NY, is dead, and his wealth has been divided among strangers. Arabella Warren cannot understand why she should have inherited a diamond necklace from a man she never met, and she asks Pauline Gray to look into the matter. Eager for a new challenge, Pauline takes the case. The deeper she explores, the more complicated matters become. Why was Van Camp’s great-nephew disinherited? Did the pompous lawyer have anything to do with it? How…

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So This Just Happened…

My very good friend E. L. Bates (aka Louise) advertised my books on Tumblr to someone who was looking for Domestic Fantasy (because she’s that kind of friend). And they went and bought them.

And then they MADE FAN ART ABOUT THEM.

I might have just burst into tears when I saw this… I love it so much.

So of course I had to join Tumblr in order to comment. I’m still kind of lost on that site, but I do think you can click on the image above to go straight to the artist’s page (I didn’t copy and paste, these are just the links to the Tumblr page).

Incidentally, one of the things I love about it is that they made Cat brown-skinned. I hadn’t thought of her that way, but she totally could be. In fact, I think she is.

This is a scene from the end of Cat and Mouse – if you haven’t read it, go check it out.

And here’s another one: Bibby.

Yes, indeed, isn’t Bibby adorable? And aren’t those sketches wonderful?

That’s Life, the Universe, and My Very Own Fan Art. I just can’t get over it.

Happy Bloggiversary to Us!

Ten years ago! Exactly ten years ago Steve and I put up our first blog post, here. Right after I’d taken a blogging course at the local college. The instructor said to be sure to post photos, so Steve offered to model, and, well, the rest is history.

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Historic image of Steve, Aug. 1, 2010

Hmm, looking back at that photo of him, Steve has aged a bit in the last ten years. He’s spent a fair bit of time smooshed into travel bags and riding around in the bottom of backpacks; that’s what you get for being a world-renowned cover model. His natty necktie is looking rather more crumpled these days, and his fur is a bit matted. But he’s still the feisty small bear that he’s always been.

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Steve, herbs, and the old watering can, Aug. 1, 2020

Speaking of herbs (we were speaking of them, weren’t we? Well, Steve was. The rosemary and green onions were tickling him in the nose), I actually put up two blog posts that first day ten years ago. The first one was the bloggy birth announcement. The second one was on – Surprise! – food.

Under the heading of “Joyful Eating”, I said this:

I’m reading Julie and Julia, which is surely required reading for any new-baked hopeful blogger (book contract, here I come? Uh… never mind).

Apart from the fact that Julie Powell is a whole lot more foul-mouthed, albeit also funnier, in her writing than Amy Adams portrays her in the movie, what strikes me about the book is the sheer pleasure Julie gets from her cooking. She cooks not from a vague sense of “shoulds”, from a desire to follow the latest tenet in the religion of “thou shalt/shalt not eat this-n-that”, but because it’s sheer, unadulterated pleasure. Well, the eating is, anyway; the cooking, not always so much (the story of her first extraction of marrow from a beef bone is rather entertaining. Even if she didn’t find it so at the moment).Here, listen to this:

“Julia taught me what it takes to find your way in the world. It’s not what I thought it was. … It’s joy. […] I didn’t understand for a long time, but what attracted me to MtAoFC [Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Julia Child’s book] was the deeply buried aroma of hope and discovery of fulfillment in it. I thought I was using the book to learn to cook French food, but really I was learning to sniff out the secret doors of possibility.” (page 356 in the paperback edition).

She’s talking about a cookbook here, people.

In fact, that last quote reminds me of nothing so much as my favourite un-diet book, French Women Don’t Get Fat (Mireille Guiliano). It’s all about that: eat delicious food, in portions small enough so you can enjoy it, because it’s just so dang good. Because it’s all about life. Not about calories, not about “thou shalt”. The joy of eating, eating for joy.

Hmm. Maybe it’s time I re-read Julie’s book. Or re-watched the movie. Or both. Tap back into the joy of food, the joy of eating, the let’s-not-overeat-because-it-spoils-the-pleasure. Sometimes it good to take a trip down memory lane; you might find a few things you’d inadvertantly left behind.

Steve and I are a bit more crumpled these days, the fur a little matted, the hair going grey. We’ve accomplished some pretty big things together – university degrees, book publications, trips and events. And then there were long stretches of, more or less, curling up in corners wishing the world would go away.

But as you can see, in essentials we haven’t changed much. It’s still about “amo vitam“, “I love life”. It’s good to remind myself of it, because really, that’s never changed. Even the tag line is the same. Maybe it’s time for a new one? Naaah, let’s not fix what’s working.

So I’ll sign off with the old line from ten years ago – it’s still valid.

Life, the universe, and a grilled steak with greek salad, pita bread and hummus. Oh yeah.

 

Forgotten Gratefulness

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FORGOTTEN GRATEFULNESS

Gratefulness.
I’ve forgotten about gratefulness.
I’ve been standing in front of a full cupboard, starving.
Starving for joy,
My heart drying up into a hard, shrivelled knob,
Weakening to a limp, wilting shoot.
Gratefulness.
I’ve forgotten that joy
Is there for the taking,
That it is around me
All the time.
Gratefulness.

What shall today’s litany be?

I am grateful for, today:
I am grateful for today.
My celadon green mug.
Soft thick yarn.
The blanket.
The view (always the view).
The colour and pattern and texture of my kaftan.
A day without obligations, so I can finish my mugs.
My computer.
Books.
Movies to watch on my computer.
Good food – eggs and toast and butter and jam – to eat for breakfast.
A lovely kitchen to cook it in.
Air to draw into my lungs,
Lungs to draw air into.

And I feel my heart expand
And my head lift up,
Joy flowing back into my veins.

24.07.2020

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PS: Gratefulness.org: “A Heart with Wings”

#ThrowbackThursday: It’s a Mystery

This is a post from eight years ago, July 8, 2012, from my old blog over on Blogger. Still valid. Hmm, I think I could start rereading those M. M. Kaye mysteries again; I’ve probably forgotten whodunnit by now.

It’s a Mystery

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I really like mystery novels. It’s a little odd, that, as I loathe and abhor violence, and you pretty much can’t get any more violent that murder. But for some reason, reading about cranky old rich men being offed for their money doesn’t disturb me, probably because it’s not a fate that’s likely to ever befall me – I’m not a man, will (alas) probably never be rich, and as for being cranky and old, I’m hoping to stave those off for a while yet.

Actually, there is a weird sense of safety in reading murder mysteries – the kind I like, anyway, which are the English cozies, preferably the genuine “Golden Age” article à la Agatha Christie & Co. They’re set in a proscribed circle of people, in a time and place far removed from my own reality, and the sleuth always finds out whodunnit, so justice is served and peace restored. And if the story includes a charming romance between a pretty young girl and a handsome young man (amateur detective, part of “the Force”, or simply mysterious stranger, I’m not picky on that), then my satisfaction is complete. Ah, escapism.

However, there’s one thing that strikes me as being a genuine mystery, in reading mysteries. It concerns those aforementioned charmingly beautiful young girls. In addition to being charming and beautiful, they are usually also quite intelligent – it’s part of what makes them so well suited for being a focal point of the story. They see the clues, they sense that something is wrong, they shiver in the cold draft emanating from the sinisterly-left-open window and jump when the soft-footed tabby cat silently brushes by them in the darkened room where they sit, thinking about the handsome young man who is so disturbing to their tender feelings but might still be the murderer. They even almost solve the mystery, usually. However, they seem to be afflicted by a peculiar disability.

See, it’s like this: whenever one such girl is told, usually by said handsome young man of chiselled brow and masterful demeanor, that she should not, under any circumstances, tell anyone of her suspicions (which she has just voiced to him in the darkness of the night, leaning on the balcony railing overlooking the rose garden) – or, alternatively, that she should not, whatever else she may do, leave the house without informing him of it (this is usually accompanied by a look of more than usual seriousness from the grey/brown/deep-blue eyes of said handsome gent) – somehow or other it seems to cause the girl’s brains to trickle out of her pink and shell-like ears. Or something like it.

Because as soon as a directive of this kind is issued, the girl is guaranteed to do the very thing she was told not to do. She hears the command, fully agrees to it, but somehow always figures that it must not apply to Mrs White (who is, after all, only the cook), or Colonel Mustard (who is surely too pukka sahib to have done anything so sordid as commit the murder), with the inevitable result that she spills the beans to and/or leaves the house in the company of the murderer him- or herself. Of course, as anybody could tell her, it directly leads to her undergoing several pages’ worth of hair-raising suspense, being menaced by said murderer in the kitchen/conservatory/ball room with the revolver/rope/lead pipe while he or she monologues about his or her reasons for committing the murder and gleefully prophecies that no one will ever find the girl’s body, foolish thing. All of which she could have avoided if she had only paid attention to what she was told.

So what do you think – auditory processing disorder? Something that affects only one very small part of what she’s hearing? Because it can’t be stupidity; the whole rest of the book establishes very clearly that the girl in question is not stupid.

Ah well. It doesn’t really matter all that much, because, fortunately, in the nick of time, just as the murderer is about to pull the trigger/tighten the rope/swing the lead pipe, he of the chiselled features comes bursting (or, alternatively, stealthily creeping) through the french doors, incapacitates the villain (having taken careful note of the monologued confession which clears up the remaining questions about the murderer’s guilt), then roughly pulls the girl into his arms while angrily exclaiming “Don’t ever do this again, darling!” and presses a hard kiss on her trembling lips, thereby removing the last vestiges of doubts that the girl had about her feelings for him, and/or making her realize for the first time why she always went weak at the knees whenever he glared at her (which she had previously taken for a sign of dislike). D’oh. The End.

Life, the Universe, and Mysteries. It’s a mystery, what?