…And It’s Friday!


Did I mention it was Friday?

And one more thing:  Happy Oneth of December.




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“Pharaoh Cat #1” Women’s Relaxed T-Shirt

A Simple Life

As we head into the traditional (at least around my neck of the woods) month of Winter Holiday gift-giving, I want a simple life–free to use my imagination and creativity without the hustle and bustle of early rising to write, edit, create artwork, run my online business, keep up with my blog and social media posts, and attempt to otherwise stay sane. So, my “Wishful Christmas Card to Santa” will read something like this:



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“Writing Keeps Me Sane” Mug

“Ill Wind” by Nevada Barr

Nevada Barr is best known for her mystery novels featuring the character Anna Pigeon, a National Park Service ranger. “Ill Wind” is the third book in the Anna Pigeon series.

“It is whispered that the Old Ones still haunt Mesa Verde—the restless spirits of the Anasazi, who carved their homes in the mountain’s face eight centuries ago…and then disappeared from the Earth.”

“Newly assigned national parks ranger Anna Pigeon seeks solace from her own personal demons in the ancient cave dwellings of a vanished Native American civilization. But an inexplicable illness affecting visitors to the popular Colorado landmark has dragged her from her reverie—as have two mysterious tragedies: the death of a child…and the murder of a friend. And now she must find the very human source of the evil wind that is blowing through the ruins. For it threatens more innocent lives. Mother Nature…and Anna herself.”

“Ill Wind” is set in Mesa Verde National Park in Colorado. In this novel, Anna Pigeon is on a temporary assignment as a district ranger at Mesa Verde. The story revolves around a series of mysterious deaths and accidents that occur in the park, and Anna becomes embroiled in trying to solve these crimes. As she investigates, she uncovers a complex web of secrets and danger in this remote and beautiful national park.

Nevada Barr’s novels are known for their vivid descriptions of national parks, their natural beauty, and the challenges of law enforcement and investigation within these settings. “Ill Wind” is no exception and offers readers an interesting mystery set against the backdrop of a stunning natural landscape.

This is the second book by Barr that I’ve read, the first being “Track of the Cat” and my review of that work can be found here.



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Looking for a unique, one-of-a-kind gift? Check out my Christmas mugs

“Merry Christmas” Mug with Color Inside

Thank you!

“Do The Dead Call?”

Do the dead call?

If they did, could we hear?

Would the voice be from afar?

Or would it seem quite near?

Would we listen with our minds?

Or would we run in fear?

Would we open to the chance?

Or would we jump and swoon?

Would we think it summer breeze?

Or howling at the Moon?

Do the dead call?

You tell me.

I wonder if you know.

Do they call on summer days?

Or whisper in the snow?

You tell me.

I’d really like to know.


I was honored to have this poem selected for inclusion during NPR’s National Poetry Month.

The poem opens Chapter 31 in the 5th Century Celtic novel, “Mystery Of The Death Hearth”, as the intrepid protagonist–a young Celt magistrate–must work with those whose ways are alien to his Elder Faith beliefs. Along the way, he must find an elusive young Celt girl and her missing grandfather, unravel the mystery of an Elder’s runevision, and avoid death at the hands of an assassin as he faces the greatest challenge of his life.




Please follow the link below and visit my online store for unique gifts like the “Three Skulls” mouse pad original artwork by J. R. Cotner


“Shattered Mirror” by Iris Johansen

“Shattered Mirror” is a thriller and part of the Eve Duncan series. It follows the adventures of forensic sculptor Eve Duncan who finds herself at the center of a dangerous mystery.

The story revolves around Eve’s quest to uncover the truth about her daughter, Bonnie, who was brutally murdered years ago. Despite her grief, Eve has dedicated her life to using her forensic skills to help solve cold cases and bring closure to families. However, when a man named Jim Doane comes to her claiming to have information about Bonnie’s killer, Eve is plunged into a web of deception, danger, and long-hidden secrets.

As Eve delves deeper into the investigation, she realizes that not everything is as it seems, and the people she thought she could trust may have hidden agendas. With the help of her friends and allies, including her lover Joe Quinn and her adopted daughter Jane, Eve must navigate a treacherous path to uncover the truth about Bonnie’s murder and confront the dark forces that threaten her family.

I personally do not enjoy novels that are rife with running, page-heavy dialogue and the occasional indefinite pronouns that confuse and slow down my reading. Again, that’s just a personal thing. And, honestly, this book did nothing to make me want to explore other works by this author.

On the positive side, if you enjoy suspenseful mysteries with strong, determined female protagonists, and don’t mind plentiful back and forth dialogue, you may find “Shattered Mirror” an interesting, worthwhile read.



Visit my online store for some great gifts! Looking for something with a feel good Winter vibe?

“Snowy Winter Cabin” Mug with Color Inside



Veterans Day USA

World War II B-26 And Crew

B-26 and Crew 1944 England

This is my personal  salute to all my fellow veterans, including my father, uncles, and brothers who have served honorably. In the picture above, my dad is bottom row, center. He and his World War II B-26 crew are posing with their plane called “The Deefeater” named for the pilot’s wife, Dee. This crew was ten minutes ahead of the invasion forces at Normandy and can be seen in many documentary films taken at the time of the D-Day Invasion as they completed bombing runs against Nazi positions along the Normandy coast.

What is Veterans Day and why do we celebrate it?

Veterans Day is a federal holiday in the United States observed on November 11th each year dedicated to honoring and expressing gratitude to all military veterans who have served in the United States Armed Forces. It originated as Armistice Day on November 11, 1919, the first anniversary of the end of World War I. It was initially meant to commemorate the armistice (ceasefire) that ended the hostilities on the Western Front of World War I.

In 1954, after World War II and the Korean War, the holiday was renamed Veterans Day to honor all American veterans who have served honorably in any branch of the military.

The holiday is a time for Americans to pay tribute to the courage and sacrifice of veterans. Many communities hold parades, ceremonies, and other events to honor veterans. Schools often organize special programs to educate students about the importance of Veterans Day and the contributions of veterans.

The day is observed with a moment of silence at 11:00 a.m., which coincides with the signing of the armistice that ended World War I. This moment of silence is meant to reflect on the sacrifices made by veterans.

Veterans Day is an opportunity for the nation to recognize and thank veterans for their service, bravery, and dedication to defending the country and preserving its freedoms. It is a federal holiday, which means that federal government offices, banks, and many schools are closed.

Is it the same as Memorial Day? No.

Veterans Day should not be confused with Memorial Day, which is observed on the last Monday of May. Memorial Day specifically honors those who have died in military service, while Veterans Day honors all veterans, living and deceased.



Day Of The Dead Holiday

Dia de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead, is a vibrant and meaningful holiday celebrated primarily in Mexico and by people of Mexican descent around the world. It takes place on November 1st and 2nd, coinciding with the Catholic holidays of All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day.

“A blend of Mesoamerican ritual, European religion and Spanish culture, the holiday is celebrated each year from October 31-November 2. While October 31 is Halloween, November 1-2 is All Souls Day or the Day of the Dead. According to tradition, the gates of heaven are opened at midnight on October 31 and the spirits of children can rejoin their families for 24 hours. The spirits of adults can do the same on November 2.”  –History

The holiday marks a joyful and colorful tribute to honor and remember deceased loved ones. Families create ofrendas (altars) adorned with marigolds, candles, sugar skulls, and the favorite foods and possessions of the departed. These ofrendas are placed in homes and cemeteries to welcome the spirits of the deceased back to the world of the living.

During the celebration, families gather to reminisce and share stories about their loved ones, visiting gravesites to clean and decorate them. Parades, traditional music, dancing, and elaborate face-painting are common during Dia de los Muertos. The calavera (skull) makeup, often seen on celebrants, symbolizes the blend of life and death, emphasizing the idea that death is a natural part of the human experience.

Food plays a central role in the festivities, with offerings of pan de muerto (bread of the dead) and favorite dishes of the deceased placed on the ofrendas. Families also enjoy feasting on these foods themselves.

Contrary to what many wrongly believe, Dia de los Muertos is not a morbid or somber occasion but a beautiful celebration of life and death, illustrating the Mexican belief that death is not the end but a continuation of the journey. It serves as a reminder to cherish and remember loved ones who have passed away, celebrating their legacy with love, joy, and respect.


Visit my online store for some great seasonal gifts. And if you are interested in Dia De Los Muertos or Day of the Dead holidays motifs, the store has some unique gifts such as my original, intricate design of “Three Skulls” on selected, high-quality clothing and mugs for men and women.


The Halloween Tree by Ray Bradbury

As Paula Cappa reminded me last week (thank you, Paula), another favorite of Ray Bradbury’s work especially for this time of year, is The Halloween Tree. A quick, fun read.

“A fast-moving, eerie tale set on Halloween night…

Eight costumed boys running to meet their friend Pipkin at the haunted house outside town encounter instead the huge and cadaverous Mr. Moundshroud. As Pipkin scrambles to join them, he is swept away by a dark Something, and Moundshroud leads the boys on the tail of a kite through time and space to search the past for their friend and the meaning of Halloween.” –Goodreads

Happy reading and Happy Halloween!



Enjoying the Halloween Season? Me, too. Visit my online store for some great Halloween gifts. And you if you are preparing for the upcoming Dia De Los Muertos or Day of the Dead holidays, the store has some unique gifts such as my  original, intricate design of “Three Skulls” on selected, high quality clothing and mugs for men and women.

Candy Corn Candy

Did you know that the Halloween favorite called Candy Corn was originally called “Chicken Feed”? I didn’t. The tricolored treat annually tops the list of beloved Halloween candies and is an unyielding symbol of Halloween.

Where Was Candy Corn Invented?

According to oral tradition, George Renninger, a candymaker at the Wunderlee Candy Company in Philadelphia, invented the revolutionary tricolor candy in the 1880s. The Goelitz Confectionery Company brought candy corn to the masses at the turn of the 20th century. Reference:  “The History Of Halloween Candy” 

It was originally referred too as “Chicken Feed” to appeal to the largely rural folks of the time.

Trick Or Treat!




Enjoying the Halloween Season? Me, too. Visit my online store for some great Halloween gifts. And you if you are preparing for the upcoming Dia De Los Muertos or Day of the Dead holidays, the store has some unique gifts such as my  original design of “Three Skulls” on selected clothing and mugs for men and women.

“Dia de los Muertos” Men’s Classic Tee


A Modern Reader’s Lament

Japanese Choka Poetry Room

A Modern Reader’s Lament

In tales of old, we find a timeless theme,

Of stories bogged down in backstory’s stream,

The pandemic’s weight, a heavy narrative load,

Drowning the plot where the mysteries flowed.


In pages filled with words, the past unveiled,

Characters’ histories, endlessly detailed,

But where’s the heart of the story’s core?

Lost in the depths of exposition galore.


Oh, for the days of MacDonald and Hammett’s pen,

When plots were crisp, and prose was lean,

Elmore and Chandler, masters of their craft,

Knew when to let character depth take a backdraft.


Hillerman’s landscapes painted vivid and grand,

Yet never did he lose the reader’s hand,

Parker’s Spenser, sharp as a knife’s keen blade,

Intrigue and action, the focus never swayed.


So let us return to the art of the tale,

Where words and plots set our hearts to sail,

For character development, a spice, not the stew,

During a pandemic, the story must break through.


No more septic tank woes and rose gardens fair,

Let the plot’s heartbeat lead us from despair,

In the realm of storytelling, let’s find our way,

And leave the irrelevant backstory’s dismay.


In the echoes of these literary greats, we’ll thrive,

With stories that captivate, and narrative alive,

No more drowning in a sea of character past,

In the heart of the plot, our adventure will last.





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