Mother, A Portrait


I couldn’t have expressed this homage to my mother and to all the mothers out there better.

Mother. A word so easily taken for granted because mothers are always there to support, comfort and encourage. In a mother’s eyes, nothing is insurmountable. I now brush what I’ve seen, felt and experienced, framing it in love, compassion and faith, while others will fill their own with other shades and hues.

I step back from the canvas for perspective and close my eyes and my skin feels a warm caress of a priceless treasure. She has scooped me up and sat me next to her on the stool in front of the piano, my legs dangling, not quite able to touch the floor. She starts to play and we sing an oldie: “Daddy’s Little Girl” then she turns to me and smiles and starts to play and sing, “Peg Of My Heart.”

I now take a deep breath and swallow the lump in my throat and continue the strokes of my portrait of recollections. I am running in from school, breathless and excited. Wonderful aromas envelope me in a blanket of security and contentment, as I grab for the cookies hot from the oven. She hugs me and asks, “And how was your day.” It made me feel so important.

Her patience, I tested more than once, always tugging for her attention. “Mom guess what?” She had a way of doing ten things at once and carrying on simultaneous conversations with two individuals. I know, I’ve done it myself. I had a great teacher.

My canvas takes shape now and feels fluid as I continue to paint. I am newly married and my parents are visiting us. My husband and I have an argument and I am very upset and walk out. He comes and gets me and brings me back. My mother, who never interfered in our marriage, spoke up and defended my husband. Shocked, I said, “How can you take his side? I am your daughter!” She gave me a level gaze and said, “I know, but he is right. Now, kiss and make up.” I remember bursting out laughing. “I think you love him more than you love me!”

I lovingly fill in, for this portrait is important to me. I must get it just right. My first-born son arrives and my mother flies in, taking over the house like it was her own. My husband ate like a king. He came up to me one day and said, “What a woman! She never stops to rest! She is now up in the attic cleaning that out too!” One evening, my father calls up from their home far away, sheepishly asking her, “Honey, I have run out of your dinners in the freezer. When are you coming home?” Then he finally admits, he really called because he just plain missed her and she was on the next plane home in a heartbeat. She was always there for my other two sons too, demonstrating patience, tolerance and armfuls of love and kisses with lessons in compassion for others.

Her advice, sound and sought after, was given willingly and lovingly. Growing up, our house was always full of aunts, uncles, cousins and friends. My mother always had room at the table for one more. She reacted positively, always looking beyond a person’s imperfections and flaws, seeing only the goodness in them. She was unselfish and loving to a fault.

Well, I am finally finished. A tear slips and dampens my canvas and I still see…

            Her wiping of noses and rubbing of toeses

            Her kissing scraped knees and her violets and roses

            Her laughing and crying at jokes and sorrows

            Her hugging and talking of yesterdays and tomorrows

            I am trying to attain her strength and grace

            And aim to reach it at length, but must face

            The fact that sadly occurs to me each day

            I can’t. (She’s no longer here)

            “Hi Mom. It’s me. I just called to say……”

Peggy/Mother first & foremost, then Mystery Author Extraordanaire…chuckle.

Chase your dreams, everyday is a blessing.

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A Peek at Too Close For Comfort

Chapter 1

Too Close For Comfort

Volume 9: Coming Soon

Too Close For Comfort“Ouch!” he protested, flinching in discomfort.

“That was a warning,” I said. “Touch me again and…”

“It’s this cold cement floor we’re sitting on,” he griped.

I was furious. My red silk dress was probably ruined.

“Man up,” I said. “Have you heard me complaining?”

“Being such a hot broad, how would you understand?”

“Keep your compliments and hands to yourself,” I said.

He sighed. “I was just trying to shift my position.”

“Uh, huh. Right. Like I really believe that.”

“Can’t blame me for trying to keep my hands warm.”

“They were traveling where they shouldn’t. Watch it.”

“Now is not the time for you to be so touchy,” he said.

“Or you, feely,” I countered, losing my patience.

“Any guess on the time?” he asked. “Feels like hours.”

“With it being pitch black here and no windows? No!”

“My throat is getting scratchy too,” he grumbled.

“After all your hollering and yelling, I’m not surprised.”

He exhaled loudly. “I need a good stiff drink.”

“You aren’t going to start that again, are you?”

“Hey, you did your fair share of hollering too.”

I frowned. “Yeah, and no one heard either one of us.”

“Wherever we are, it must be somewhere remote.”

“Pray tell. Why do you think that, oh wise one?”

He chuckled. “Your screams could’ve roused the dead.”

“Look who’s talking?” I shot back, elbowing him hard.

“Hey! What’s with you? That hurt!”

“Wandering hands again,” I hissed. “I warned you.”

“Are you always this moody or is it a moon phase?”

“You are so lucky my hormones aren’t in play.”

“None of this is my fault,” he stated emphatically.

Our bodies were tied back to back, ankles taped in front, wrists taped behind us, and we were anchored to the floor.

I was fuming. “I was perfectly positioned, but then you go and sneak right up behind me, yell my name, and draw attention to me. Amateurish at best. This is all your fault!”

“What about the guy behind you?” he asked. “I guess I was supposed to ignore he was about to chloroform you?”

“There was someone behind me?” I asked, surprised.

“One about to pounce, cloth in hand, I might add. What I didn’t expect was someone right behind me. That ether-like sweet odor…everything went black, then I’m here.”

“Oh,” I said, digesting this latest news. “I didn’t know.”

“Do I detect an apology somewhere in that sentence?”

I blew strands of hair off my face. “Ha! You wish.”

“There’s a lot of things a fella can wish for, such as…”

I cut Tony off. “Don’t hold your breath, buddy.”

He laughed. “That’s what I love about you, Samantha.”

“And what’s that?” I asked, expecting more acerbic wit.

“We have this love/hate thing going on between us.”

I laughed at his compliment/jab. “In your dreams.”

He laughed too. “Kind of a ‘fatal attraction’ thing.”

Thirtyish, tall, dark, handsome, and over six-foot Tony was similar to my very personal undercover PI: private investigator, Clay, but in Tony’s case, in a dangerous way. Tony was dressed ‘to the nines,’ as Martha, another of our sleuthing cohorts says, always wearing his signature, flashy Hugo Boss suits, Ferragamo shoes, and Louis Vuitton ties.

I yelled, “Hey! I swear, if you touch me again…”

He snickered. “Just checking if you’re still there.”

I lapsed into silence, thinking.

…Maybe I should just kill him off in my next book.

Then I heard loud sniffing.

What was he up to now?

“I think my cologne is wearing off,” he grumbled.

I sighed. “What is it called, ‘Eau de Drive Her Crazy’?”

He laughed again. “Admit it. It does, doesn’t it?”

I pinched him hard.

“Ouch! Not only am I cold, but I’m being abused too!”

“I warned you…”

Then he moaned loudly.

I blew out a breath. Here…we…go…again.

“Now what?” I asked, sighing once more.

“I’m getting a headache,” he complained testily.

I shut my eyes, speaking low. “If I only had a gun…”

“I need aspirin and a stiff drink to chase it down.”

My nerves were already frayed and my temper was now running short. I was about to blow big time.

“Don’t start, Tony, or I swear, I’ll…”

He cut me right off midsentence. “Man, you are wound up tighter than a…”

“Always with the last word. Be quiet!” I said testily.

…Ah, silence.

…A damn chuckle.


“I just love feisty women. Why, I remember…”

Being a connected, armed and dangerous kind of guy, putting Tony on our payroll was supposed to be a semi-trial run after he helped us out with my last mystery, The Lush Life. Now, he was proving to be quite a handful. Literally.

So I’m asking myself, what in hell was I thinking?

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The Bat

peggyThis family story took place at our house during the holidays. As usual, the whole family showed up Christmas Eve for food and fun. It was a wonderful time with pictures taken, family stories retold of family pranks from years past. And before we knew it the hour was late. Little ones needed to go to bed, older ones were exhausted, so we all decided to call it a night.

There was a constant stream of family filing out the side door with goodies and gifts to take home, as hugs and kisses were exchanged. My husband and I sighed from happiness and exhaustion as the last one filed out. We turned out the lights and made our way up the stairs to our bedroom delighted everyone had a great time.

Two days later I was walking up our stairway to our bedroom busy reading a card I received from a friend, opened our bedroom door then shut it.

I heard my husband yell from downstairs, “Holy shit! There’s a bat in the house!”

I stopped cold and peeked out, yelling, “What? …Where?”

He said, “It just flew down our bedroom stairs.”

I sucked in air. I had just walked up those stairs reading a card and walked right passed it. My mind wouldn’t accept that, so I yelled back reassuringly, “It was probably a bird.”

I could deal with a bird. A bat? Uh-uh.

“I know the difference between a bat and a bird!” he countered.

Then panicky thoughts gripped me. Could it be rabid? Where in the world did it come from, one of the fireplace chimneys? No, we had screened caps on them.

I yelled to him from behind the safety of our bedroom door, “Well, where is it now?”

He called up to me, “When I approached the first step it flew passed me over my head. I don’t know where it went! I don’t see it anywhere down here.”

Well, there are only two rooms in that area, my office and his then the hallway that leads from his office out to the rest of the house. I cautiously made my way down the steps and we both searched our two offices from top to bottom. He did the heavy lifting and moving, while I gave instructions.

Isn’t that the way it’s supposed to be?

We then proceeded to check the rest of the house and were walking back to our offices when I spied the basement door standing wide open.

“Let’s go,” said my husband. “We need to check down there too.”

I stared at him like he had two heads. “What do you mean…we?”

He gave me a look. “You’re kidding, right? You write murder mysteries!”

Then I gritted my teeth and gestured, “You first, my good man. I’ve got your back.”

He shook his head and I followed closely. You guessed it. No bat. So we reluctantly made our way back up to our bedroom. I firmly shut our stairway door to our room behind us and repeated, “Are you sure it wasn’t a bird?”

All I got back was, “Remember our barn in New Hampshire?”

He was right, of course. We had a horse farm in New Hampshire a while back with a large barn, and bats were always congregating in the cupola. He could identify one.

Several days passed. Though we searched when we could, we never saw it again.

One night after bathing and watching the news on TV we were about to make our way through his office when I said, “Oh! I almost forgot. I left my laptop on. Let me go in there and shut it off.” I turned on my office lights by the stairway and guess what flew right in front of me across my office? You guessed it, that bat. I started screaming like a wild woman.

I think they heard me all the way in California.

I raced out and smacked right into my husband rushing in. “Help! Get it out! I can’t believe I have been going in and out of my office all night to check emails and that creature was in there with me. Find it and get rid of it before it disappears again!”

My husband approached my office door and walked through, while I followed peeking over his shoulder. He turned on all the overhead lights and that bat went crazy flying across my office. I screamed again and promptly slammed my office door shut leaving my husband alone in my office with me yelling, “Don’t let him escape!”

I heard all kinds of commotion then nothing. Then I heard, “I can’t find him.”

I leaned against the door dumbfounded. “…What! He’s got to be in there!”

“Well, he’s not here anywhere.”

I whipped the door open. “We can’t just leave him in here. That’s way too creepy.”

“I agree,” he said. You’ll have bat shit and urine all over here in no time.”

Then I recalled the last week. Where did he go in our house all that time? Ugh…

After a few minutes my husband said, “We might as well go up to bed. He’s not here.”

I looked back at him. “Over my dead body. You expect me to write in there?”

I couldn’t even muster up the thought of the bat relieving himself in there either.

My husband looked at me and smirked, daring me to come up with an alternative.

I marched passed him entering my office. “We are finding him together and tonight!”

My husband grabbed a flashlight and started peeking under furniture, behind my bookcase… Me? I’m a Virgo: very methodical. I started on the first thing on the perimeter of my office: blinds first, nothing. Next, my closed drapes. While keeping my body as far away as I could, I reached out and vigorously shook the heavy drapes back and forth. Out tumbled the bat rolling onto my carpet. He went airborne and so did I, right out of my office, slamming the door firmly behind me.

“Get him out! I know you can see him now!” I shouted through the closed door.

I heard more commotion and cursing from the other side.

I wasn’t sure if it was my husband or the bat.

I was so proud of my brave husband duking it out in there. Of course I was hanging onto the doorknob tightly. So even if he did try to open it he couldn’t.

He had a job to do and by golly he was going to do it that night.

“Grab a towel from my powder room in there and trap him in it,” I suggested.

I heard more commotion: one of my French doors opening and crunching footsteps outside then that door closing.

Oh, I forgot to mention it had snowed heavily, was below freezing and my husband was wearing only his pajamas and slippers.

Suddenly the door separating us was ripped from my grasp. My husband stood there grinning, his face flushed from the freezing cold and his victory. “He’s out!”

I jumped into his arms and kept kissing him, saying, “My hero has done it again.”

My husband earned the title of Batman as I kissed him again in thanks. We aired out my office for several few days regardless of the frigid weather.

The smell that was in there… We never found stains anywhere in my office only that foul odor.

I must admit that this family story rivaled many others: the Crazed Woodpecker one, the Plague of the Crickets, The Attack Of The Skunks story, My Son Riding Into The Sunset On The Back Of One Of Our Sheep, Sleeping In Our Car Under The Eiffel Tower one and The Dog Locking My Husband Out In The Pouring Rain From His F150 Truck story… Oh, and their was that time… 

And people wonder where I get ideas for my Samantha Jamison Mystery Series.

P.S. This particular story was included in my latest and 8th mystery, The Lush Life.

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An excerpt from #8, The Lush Life

The Lush Life

An excerpt from #8, The Lush Life

An interview with Samantha

Looking Back At Vol.1 The Puzzle

The Puzzle is FREE at all vendors!

The PuzzleFirst thing I noticed: my interviewer appeared nervous. Her foot was tapping a mile a minute on the floor, as she glanced down to reread from her notepad resting on her lap. Why the unease? I was the one being scrutinized here. Or did she think she was? Was she worried I was analyzing her? After several mysteries under my belt, I noticed I have that effect on people. She did admit it was her first interview with an author of my stature.

My stature? I had to laugh at that. No pretention here.  

I did just fine as an author. I had a great agent, terrific editor and a reliable publisher. I kept writing for my enjoyment and my fans. They loved my mysteries and blog/posts, leaving enthusiastic comments on my website:

With that in mind, I said, “I’m ready when you are.”

She gave me an eager smile. “Why mysteries?”

So I explained about my husband, Stephen’s suspicious death, unanswered questions, doing my own investigation, how I couldn’t move on until I knew the why of it all…

“Was there any apprehension or reluctance about taking on that task by yourself and what you might uncover?”

“At first, yes, but then the more I dug into his past, the more I learned about myself, as well and our relationship. It was a learning curve I never would have experienced if I didn’t take a leap of faith about my own ability in solving it. I always took a backseat to my husband. With him gone I had no choice. It was enlightening to say the least.”

“What did you gain and come away with from that?”

“Self-respect and self-confidence.”

“Were you ever plagued with self-doubt at any time?”

I laughed. “Just about every time I bungled an interview or blew an opportunity when it fell in my lap.”

“What did you lose from that experience?”

I smiled. “I lost my helpless attitude.”

“What did you gain from that experience?”

I didn’t hesitate. “Insane and crazy friends I cherish.”

“I noticed you sit back, listen and watch people.”

“I’m always looking for dialogue, deceit and evasion.”

“So when you’re solving a mystery, that helps?”

“Absolutely. You’d be surprised how people trip up.”

“In what way?”

“Can’t keep their lies straight, get overconfident…”

“Like you repeat in your Samantha Jamison mystery series.”

“Exactly. I’m always watching how people react.”

“To what?”

“When I push the parameters of their safety zone.”

She laughed. “And do you have one of your own?”

“I have a line in the sand that gets redrawn daily.”

“Who’s shocked most at the end? You? Your suspect?”

This time I laughed. “My readers!”

Okay, so I lied. Even I’m shocked sometimes… 



P.S. I do hope you enjoyed this excerpt from The Lush Life #8 in my Samantha Jamison Mystery Series Vols. 1-8

I also wrote my Memoir: fleeing the French Riviera fires.

Chase your dreams & remember, everyday is a blessing.

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Gaining Perspective

peggyAccording to the dictionary, perspective is the ability to perceive things in their actual comparative importance. And by looking at the past, you are thus able to gain perspective on the present. But what is the point of gaining an accurate point of view if you don’t have the ability to see it for what it is? If you get lost in the details, you then lose the sense of the larger whole. You are ignoring the obvious. You miss the key point. You have tunnel vision. Continue reading

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The Diary

peggy I remember getting my first diary. It was one with a lock and key. This was an event. But what would I write? It didn’t come with a set of instructions. There had to be some magical secret because my sister treated hers like gold. She was an older sister: older enough in years for me to be constantly in her hair. But I was desperate to start writing and had to know that secret. I had no choice but to start spying.

We had separate rooms. She needed her privacy. After all, a little sister can be such a pest. At first I tried the glass-against-the-wall trick. I listened and listened. It was not a bright idea. I could hear her conversations with her friends, but I couldn’t hear the locking of the diary and the hiding place she placed it when she was alone.

I tried the friendly approach. Why not drop in on her and try to borrow things to catch her writing in her diary. Maybe I could accidentally read a page. No such luck. Have you every tried to borrow something from an older sibling?

“Oh, you can’t have this, it might break.”

“You’ll stain that!”

“What would you need this for? Forget it!”

Bottom line: I was not gaining entry into her domain.

She was much too clever to leave her diary around out in the open. I never got the chance to read any of her writing.  It must be top-secret what you wrote in it. Was there a special time diaries were opened? This was all new to me.

I scratched plan A and went with plan B: the surprise approach.

Unannounced I could burst into my sister’s room and surprise her. The first time I pulled that stunt I was yelled at and had the door slammed in my face with her yelling something about having her privacy invaded. The second time she did the body-block-in-the-doorway thing then yelled, “Mom! Get this pest away from my room! I have to have my privacy!”

Once again, I didn’t get the chance to visually scan her room for that mystical diary. I wondered if all this frustration on my part would stunt my growth. I gave it another try, still hopeful for a surprise approach. I’d just leap at the door, open it and fall into her room. There was just one flaw. A lock was on the door.

This caper was going to be a hard nut to crack. I could have sworn I heard snickers on the other side of the door after I hit it and fell to floor in the hall.

I had to be very cunning about this. I had no choice. I had two creative and resourceful older sisters as role models. I always watched, listened and learned.

I thus proceeded to plan C.

When my father added onto the second floor our two bedrooms, we ended up sharing one good-sized heater vent, which led to both of our rooms. It was hollow inside except for the upright vent covers that closed the openings into our rooms. With a little lever you could open or close the vent if you wanted more or less heat. Well, he, he, he, I figured how to work mine loose. It was about 12” by 8”.

I had to do this when my sister was out because I had been given strict orders from my mother not to trespass. But she never mentioned anything about not looking. I was now entering desperate territory, possessed with seeing that diary.

I had to say great things in mine. I needed examples! Besides, I might pick up some great advice. I thought this would be a snap. Was I wrong! My sister didn’t follow any kind of schedule for writing. I would make noise at my desk in my room so she would think I was doing homework or writing. I was craning my neck on the floor for days at odd hours. For a little kid, I was showing great perseverance, but so far receiving nothing but a stiff neck for it. Then finally jackpot! She was fishing for something and came up with a key. My heart raced with excitement. Then she came up with “the book”. It was her famed diary! I couldn’t believe it! Pay dirt at last!

She began writing with a fury, locked it then put it away.

So that was where she hid it….

That sister of mine was very wily indeed. Where you ask? Now I do have some family ethics. Besides, it was a great hiding spot and I might ruin it for someone else with the same idea. Now that the finding of the diary and key was finally solved, getting into her room was another matter. Remember the locked door?

Not long after the mystery was solved, I was running up the stairs after school to put my books in my room. I had to pass my sister’s door at the top of the stairs and then walk down the hall to my room. I had made a game of it. Every time I passed her door, I would jiggle it to keep her on her toes. It became a habit and, as usual, I did it again, but this time it was unlocked! Miracles do happen!

Should I, or shouldn’t I? My sister wasn’t home yet and my mother was baking…

Hmm…. My eyes glazed over with lust for that book. I rationalized: What’s a young sister for?  I had inherited the name pest anyway. I had to make it quick. But then I panicked. Should I put on gloves? Fingerprints! I didn’t trust my sister. She probably dusted her room for them everyday.

Looking back at this story now, I was probably reading way too many mysteries…

I was pressed for time and couldn’t wait any longer. I scrambled for the key, grabbed the book then put the key in, unlocked it and slowly opened it.  What a moment! Weeks of spying, plotting and planning and now the reward!

I paused, wondering if there was some kind of ritual as a sister I should be following?

I turned to the first page and there it was! I had to be quick about this and began reading, skipped some pages then read then skipped then read. The whole thing took maybe five minutes. It was mostly conversations about what she did everyday and what she’d like to do. Oh, there was some boy stuff in there, but it was mostly what she talked about that happened everyday.

…That was it?

This was no big deal and no mystery after all. You merely talked to the diary: like it was a friend. Even I could do that. And what was so great about that was your diary never got tired of listening.

And that’s how I hope my readers feel about my Samantha Jamison Mystery Series. I hope they never get tired of looking over my shoulder and listening like a friend to how I unravel those mysteries with my guaranteed surprise endings.

Chase your dreams, everyday is a blessing!

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Father, A Portrait

peggyFather. A word so easily said and yet, “Can one really fathom the meaning of such a powerful word?” To each one there is a different meaning, I guess. To me? It’s something that goes very deep, embedded in the depth’s of my heart, and the very root of my being.

When he died, I lost a father, mentor, best friend and confidant that was irreplacable.

I shall only try to paint you a part of this canvas, for that’s all I can do. It’s the part that belongs to me, the part that is still with me everyday. I don’t claim to know the whole person, for that’s impossible, but only my corner. I step back from my canvas and see more and more, for as I grow older, its meaning and depth increases in value. Worthless to many, I guess, priceless to me as one of his children.

His wisdom and gentle ways spread their seeds and were sown. I was so young to see him almost leave, (he had a heart attack when I was 5, but he made it through). So, to this day, I am still understanding the depths of that moment, like it was yesterday. Everyday since then was a gift that held meaning that I’ll never forget and paid close attention to. His understanding patience was constantly tested by my siblings and me. Yet he always seemed to have the time to answer any question no matter how unimportant, to him perhaps, but very important to the one asking. I guess it was his being there that counted so much to us. How many times I knocked those papers from his hands, breathless with something more important, or so he made me feel at the time.

What a test of patience I was, but never managed to ruffle those feathers of his. They were kept in control. He had such a strength and feeling for nature, a love of poetry, deep sense of awareness for people. He was a quiet man, deep in thought and was there for me when I needed him.

He calmed stormy waters with his presence and gentle reserve. What memories I have and cherish in my mind and retrieve from time to time: one of the many moments that each stroke of this brush represents. He was always looking off to the distance, thinking, and asking so little of life, but I feel he received so much in return: love, admiration and respect. He left an indelable mark on me that was so complex.

I’m still unwinding the many lines of which I seem to understand more and more as I grow as a person. Like a tangled fishing line, it must be done with steady, patient hands. Every time one is set free, there is a new understanding and meaning that I’ve never seen before. LIfe was precious to this man, not to be dealt with lightly, but gingerly, not to be lost through open hands, but strained finely for close inspection for each minute grain. Each more valuable than the next. He treasured every moment of his life: good or bad with lessons to be learned from them, passing them on to his children.

He also passed this on to his grandchildren and I saw me all over again in their eager eyes. Grandpa knew. Still, he patiently answered, understood, listened and advised. Like a sponge, they absorbed him through their every pore: them wanting, him giving freely.

I remember him nurturing and tending his irises, grapevines, and fruit trees when he wasn’t working. My father always had a book in his hand, whether it was historical, biographical, or a scientific journal while I sat in his lap pretending I was reading it too. He would often read three books, alternating from one to the other. Love for the written word was passed from father, to daughter, to my three children.

Such a quiet man. Ah, but underneath was an earthshattering greatness. I know. I’ve felt the vibrations. I am one of the lucky few…

Chase your dreams, and remember everyday is a blessing!

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Heartless And Heartfelt

peggyWhen those two words come into play in the same story, and they have countless times over and over, as an author, I am intrigued by the individuals, whether real or imagined, who get caught up in it. I also know that it is simply a matter of degree, how far or how little they play out. In my mysteries, The Puzzle, Without Any Warning, 86 Avenue du Goulet, A Lethal Time, Mouth Of The Rat, Death Knell In The Alps, No Hope In New Hope, and The Lush Life, human interaction is a constant. And so this timeless subject brings to mind a true story I’d like to share with you about how someone felt after a heartless and heartfelt scene played out in the Frankfurt train station of all places.


What was her story?  Who was she waiting for? Why was she anxious?

As he approached the busy platform, but too far away to do anything, he watched helplessly as a young woman stood amid an enormous amount of luggage, eyes darting about, turning every few seconds, and then checking her watch nervously. That was when he saw another scene playing out to his shock that involved her. Some delinquents were slowly encompassing this young, unsuspecting woman in an arc and closing in on her very slowly, while they looked around to see if anyone was watching them and what they were about to do. The man held his breath as he picked up his pace. He had to do something before it was too late. He started calling and waving to her while he made sure his children were still safely by his side.

She whipped around at her name, and an enormous smile appeared on her face as her husband and three young boys came running up to her. The little boys wrapped their arms around their mother’s legs as their father hugged his wife and whispered something into her ear. She immediately glanced around them nervously. He had relayed what was about to happen. He squeezed her hand, reassuring her they were safe and together. He kept hugging her, and then reluctantly let her go. Smiling so as not to alarm their children at the near catastrophe, they grabbed their luggage as their train gave the signal for departure and hustled onto the train.

The young men were nowhere to be seen, having quickly dispersed and melted into the crowd. It was obvious that this was a loving family by the way they interacted with each other with truly heartfelt emotions. On the other hand, the young male youths were about to commit a heartless act. Were they going to accost her physically, or were they more interested in her luggage and what it might contain?

Heartfelt and heartless are two different words yet they coalesced perfectly into this simple, but true story. To this very day, I always look around me acutely aware of the potential for falling victim to that same situation as I remember that story. It also prompts a smile to recall the love and relief in my husband’s concerned eyes at how close we came to the unknown and the love of our boys for their mother as they clung to my legs at having been separated from me for a mere several minutes on that Frankfurt train platform. I am truly blessed.

Chase your dreams and remember, everyday is a blessing.

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Ah, Paris… We’re sleeping where?

peggyAt first, I was leery, but traveling through Europe by car had been fun.

My husband said, “We don’t need hotel reservations. We’ll be just fine.”

So far, it had worked, just fine. We had been traveling (in a small rental car) from Luxembourg, Belgium, making pit stops (we had 3 small children with us) so you get the picture. Trust me, we were all tired and slightly claustrophobic after three weeks, but were happy. We arrived in Paris (our last major stop) at noon that day to find a hotel quickly so we could sightsee the rest of the day. Easier said than done.

We went from hotel to hotel: no rooms. We started at the lower priced. Slowly, it went higher and higher. By 6PM, my husband would’ve settled for anything with a bed. No go. By 11PM, we were all dizzy, tired and getting slightly grouchy and about to give up when my husband came running back to our car saying he found a room. Cheering with what little energy we had left, we all dragged our luggage into the four-story quaint hotel. Since it was the rule of the hotel, my husband had to pay in advance. And since it was located in the center of Paris and located in a nice area, it was perfect. It was their last room available. Just one snag: the elevator was broken.

So my three sons and I carried up the lighter luggage. My husband would bring up the heaviest after he paid for our room. The stairs were narrow and winding. We were on the fourth floor. I think this was when I started to have some reservations of my own about this hotel, but I was exhausted and so were the kids. Out of breath, the four of us finally dropped our luggage just inside the door to our room.

As we ventured further in, my son said, “Mom, what are those things on the walls?”

I walked closer. Creatures, bugs …whatever! Ugh!

“Don’t move!” I ordered, as I walked over and peeked into the bathroom. There were bugs crawling all over the place: walls, tub, etc. I whipped around in time to catch my other son about to throw himself onto the bed. I yelled, “No!” He stepped back as I gingerly pulled the sheets back. …Bed bugs! “Out! Out!” I ordered, as I ushered the boys out of the room with their bags. “Now!”

Halfway down the stairs, we met my husband, (sweating profusely) lugging those heavier pieces up. I gave him the death glare. “Don’t even bother! We are not staying here. We are leaving. Now!”

His head whipped around, as I kept moving downward. “But I already paid….”

“Then get a refund! The room is infested with bugs crawling everywhere!”

“Are you sure?” he asked, glancing back hopefully toward what (was) our room.

I gave him the death glare again.

“How am I going to explain this to the manager? He doesn’t speak any English.”

My husband followed us, marching down to speak with the manager. What transpired was a lot of screaming in rapid English then French, while my husband shook his head no. (I must explain we didn’t know French back then. We hadn’t purchased our home in the south of France for several years yet.) But we were extremely fluent in English. So everything was lost in translation and the shaking of heads, as my husband went through the motions of moving his fingers like legs walking all over, trying to explain the bugs on the walls, tub, beds, etc. I stood there with our three sons while  my husband imitated his best French, saying, “infeeestaaasseeoon!”

Finally, the shocked manager got the message then began swearing passionately, like my husband had just insulted his mother. I covered my smallest’s ears as I marched them back outside to our parked car. After several minutes ticked by, my husband joined us, slamming the door closed. He then turned to me with a smile, holding up his refund.

I frowned after checking my watch. “Now, where? It’s after midnight.”

Exhausted, we circled Paris again, my husband stopped again, we waited again.

“That’s the last straw,” said my husband getting back into the car at the last stop.

“So, where to now?” I asked.

“I’m pulling into the first open parking space I can find, that’s what,” he announced.

And he did: directly under the Eiffel Tower. (This was pre 9/11) Then he turned the car lights off, saying, “Everyone get comfortable and get some sleep.”

I turned to him. “We’re sleeping in this economy car …here with three children?”

“How was I supposed to know there are three major conventions going on in Paris?”

After some moaning and groaning, everyone settled in. I was almost asleep when a small voice said from the backseat, “I have to go…real bad.”

My husband eyed me then we both looked over to that tower and back to each other.

“There are more shadows over there. Besides, he’s only 3 ½ yrs. old…”

Afterward, we settled down once again and covered ourselves with our jackets. We did see the gendarme go by a few times, but they never stopped, just smiled at us and kept going. I guess we weren’t the only one’s without a hotel room because no one bothered us all night.

Lesson learned: we never traveled again without reservations well in advance.

Now during the holidays when the whole family gathers around the table and old family stories are retold, the boys always ask, “Did you make hotel reservations, Dad?”

Now, he laughs, “Very funny…”

Did I ever tell you about the time I had to use a hotel toothbrush for the bottom of my children’s sneakers one trip? You see, they had this petting zoo… 

…And people ask where I get my inspiration and imagination from for my mysteries.


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I Remember

peggy I remember when I was a little girl sitting on the piano bench next to my mother, my legs swinging freely because they were too short to reach the floor, enthralled, watching her hands float over the ivory keys, hearing her soprano voice singing along, and being transported to another place by the sheer pleasure of it.

I remember my father nurturing and tending his irises, grapevines, and fruit trees when he wasn’t working. I always preferred playing hide and seek with my friends in my yard because I would always sneak behind the grape trellis and pluck away at the grapes as fast as I could, hoping no one would find me. Afterward, I would sit in the crook of a fruit tree, my legs dangling, biting into a pear or peach, and then wipe my sticky hands on the grass and running to my next adventure.

I remember my mother cutting a small bouquet from her numerous rose bushes still wet from the morning dew and wrapping them with wax paper for me to take to my teacher.

I remember in the summer sitting on the back porch step with a freshly-plucked ripe tomato from my father’s garden, sprinkling salt on top, and taking that first bite as the juices squirted all over me and giggling from the wonderful taste.

I remember my mother never wrote down recipes, not even her favorites. So when I was older, I had her sit down and list the ingredients and instructions, which I promptly filed away, only to laugh years later when I was newly married and finally read them. It was trial and error on my husband’s palate, experimenting with her ‘touch of this and handful of that, with a pinch on top’ until I got it just right.

I remember reclining on the grass under the massive oak trees in our backyard daydreaming and reading my favorite book of the moment, being carried to another world, totally captivated, and thankful the library kept me well supplied.

I remember my father always had a book in his hand, too, whether it was historical, biographical, or a scientific journal while I sat in his lap pretending I was reading it, too. He would often read three books, alternating from one to the other. Love for the written word was passed from father, to daughter, to my three children.

I remember racing my bicycle down the hill of our street throwing my hands up in the air and feeling the wind rake it’s fingers through my hair, tossing it in all different directions. It was exciting to feel free and race against the wind. To this day, the small scars on my knees are a constant reminder of those thrill-seeking rides that occasionally ended with me spread-eagled on a neighbor’s lawn, laughing.

I remember the joy, the heartache, the laughter, the pain, and the numerous celebrations of the births and deaths of the lives of those I’ve loved and lost.

I remember the birth of my three sons like it was yesterday.

I remember reaching the goals I set for myself, and those I never met.

I try to remember to stay humble and gracious to those who believe in me.

It is important for me to remember, to look back, to remind myself never to forget what molded me into exactly who I am today so I will always try to keep my adventurous spirit, my fearlessness, and my love of life.

And most of all, I try to remember what is important and what is not.

Chase your dreams and remember everyday is a blessing.

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