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Happy New Year! 2024!

May it be no worse than 2023, which pretty much sucked.


I must say, however, that 2023 had its good moments. For one thing, my almost life-long friend, Dr. Mary Ray Cate, visited in early December. Mary Ray lives in Santa Fe, NM, and supports her artistry by being a physician. I love her artwork. She’s been making Advent Calendars for a long time and is always taking bicycle trips everywhere and walking trips everywhere else. She’s my age (actually, she’s a few months older than I) and isn’t as spry as she once was, but she still goes out and does things. As I never go anywhere or do anything, I’m impressed. It’s also a treat and an education to learn about other people’s lives. I mean, you think you know someone for what seems like forever, but unless you get together and chat for hours and hours, you never know what travails, etc., they’ve gone to in or to achieve whatever they’ve achieved by the time they hit old age. Or even adulthood. Check out her Sunlit Art site online: Home - Sunlit Art (sunlit-art.com)


Here’s a photo taken at our 60th high-school reunion in October. These are the three of us who have chosen (or been forced) to live in New Mexico. We are from left to right: Susan Yewell (Santa Fe), Mary Ray (Santa Fe), me (Roswell), and Laurie Anderson Barrow (Albuquerque): 



Not only that, but two dear friends from Albuquerque (Tabitha Hall and David Bedini) drove from Albuquerque to Roswell on Christmas Day! Tabitha took us out to lunch at Sara’s Mediterranean Café, which is my favorite restaurant in Roswell. It features Middle-Eastern cuisine, but they don’t say so in their name. I suspect that’s because they don’t want to be shot up by fanatical rednecks. Jeepers, how awful of me, huh? Oh well. Anyway, thanks to Tabitha and Dave’s efforts, three otherwise alone-on-Christmas-day people weren’t alone! After lunch, we came back to my house where Dave serenaded us. He plays guitar and harmonica, mostly the blues.


I’m so impressed by people who can play harmonica! Whenever I’ve blown into a harmonica, I get a discordant blurp. I tried to tell Dave about my admiration of his harmonica-playing, but I kept calling the instrument an accordion. Tabitha gently corrected me. I’d blame this lapse on age, but I’ve always been this way. Yet one more reason I chose to write books and didn’t go in for a career in stand-up comedy. Sigh. 


By the way, our mutual friendship evolved in an unusual fashion. A few years back, Dave wrote me a fan letter (!!) when he worked in North Carolina, and we pretty much kept up a correspondence. Maybe ten or twelve years ago, Tabitha adopted a dog I was fostering for New Mexico Dachshund Rescue. I didn’t remember the dog or Tabitha, but I had about twelve dogs at the time so perhaps that’s not surprising. About four years ago, Tabitha persuaded me to adopt a poor little dog named Bella. I won’t go into Bella’s time with me or her fate (her full name was Bella-the-Biter, which might give you a hint), but Bella and I adored each other. Then, when Dave moved to Albuquerque, he began playing gigs at places around town. One of the people he played with is a woman named Joyce Yoxall. Darned if Joyce doesn’t also belong to New Mexico Dachshund Rescue. One day when Tabitha went to a musical performance, she heard someone talking about one of the musicians. His name was David Bedini, so she went up and introduced herself. I swear, you can’t make this stuff up. Or if you do, people will tell you you’ve jumped the shark and nothing like that ever happens. Except it does and did. 


Because I neglected to take pictures this time, here’s a photo of Dave and Tabitha when they journeyed all the way to Roswell on another occasion. It looks as if Scrappy is singing with Dave.



 Speaking of Scrappy, his poor fractured metacarpal healed beautifully, and he no longer needs to keep that paw and leg splinted. However, he suffered a severe loss in December. So did my friends, Ann and Barry Lasky. Their precious dachshund, Barnabas Collins Lasky, died in his sleep early in the month. Ann would bring Barnabas over to my house every afternoon at about 4:30, and Scrappy would groom him. Scrappy would give him spiky do’s, swirly do’s, smooth do’s and combinations of all of them. Ann still comes over, but Scrappy knows there’s something missing from her lap. Wish I had a picture of Scrappy doing his magic on Barnabas, but I don’t. Here’s a photo of Barnabas when he was a youngish pup. By the time he passed, he was going on 18 years.



Come to think of it, this year is starting out much better than 2023 did. Hope it continues, although I’m not hoping too hard. But my younger grandson, Riki, will be here in Roswell this coming Saturday, January 6! I’m so excited, I could just... well, I can’t do much of anything that requires standing or walking, but I can do a chair dance! He’ll only be here overnight because his ultimate goal is Fairfax, Virginia. There he will help set up a branch office of the business for which he works. It’s a computer-tech place and, although Riki told me what his company actually does, the information slid in one ear and out the other. Not a technology pro here. But Riki is, and he’ll be in Virginia for six months or more. This will give him a chance to see everything wherever there’s no snow. If the snow melts before he has to leave again, he’ll even be able to see where my paternal family comes from and some of whom still live (Maine, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, etc.). 


In December, too, I had to write a teaser for my next Daisy book. I hadn’t a single, solitary clue what to write about, so I sent an SOS to the Daisy Daze Facebook page, pleading for ideas. Darned if the Daisy Dazers didn’t come through with perfectly fabulous ideas! Special thanks to Lyndele von Schill, Jon Ludwig, Andie Paysinger, Margaret Cronk and (bless his heart) Peter Brandvold, who gave me the elderly, cranky and crippled Lou Prophet. Lou will get a big surprise in the book. Heh heh heh. And thanks to everyone else on Daisy Daze for their input. Spirits Adopted might be the easiest book I’ve had to write in several years. This is primarily because my little gray cells more or less dried up and died in about 2012. 


I had to take a hiatus from writing Celluloid Angels because of the teaser problem and because Library Spirits needed a re-read and an edit. Unfortunately, I can’t edit my own work. I see what’s supposed to be there instead of what actually is there. Will get back to Celluloid Angels as soon as I post this newsletter.


If you’d like to pre-order a copy of Celluloid Angels, feel free to do so. Here’s the Kindle link:




 Library Spirits, Daisy’s next romp will be published in February of 2024. Here’s a Kindle link if you’d like to pre-order it:

 




 

Please remember to leave a review if you like a book. You can just give it a number score if you don’t want to write anything. It would be extremely kind of you to leave a review (or even a number) on Amazon, GoodReads, Barnes & Noble or wherever else books can be reviewed. I’d appreciate it. Thank you.


If you’re on Facebook, join Daisy Daze! As you can see from above, we help each other and have a good time doing it. We share fashions from the 1920s, gossip from the 1920s, movie stars from the 1920s, menus from the 1920s and all sorts of other stuff. For instance, both Daisy and Mercy have dined at Mijares, a 103-year-old Mexican restaurant in Pasadena. Mijares is still there, it’s still good, and that’s where my 60th high school reunion was held! Musso and Franks Grill also appears in the Mercy books, and it’s still around too. So are the Pantry and Philippe’s. They’re in Los Angeles, so Mercy and Ernie will go to those places occasionally.


Can you tell I love food? I swear, I remember every meal I’ve ever eaten. I even recall getting fried clams in Maine. I spent my first almost four years in Maine, and I’ve never forgotten how delicious fried clams were. I vaguely recall my mom buying them at roadside stands, and they’d come in brown paper cones with some kind of sauce to dip them in. I might well be making up that entire scenario, but that’s what I think I remember. 


My dad was still in the U.S. Navy when my parents decided to sell the family farm, which sat near a forest across from the Ossippi River between the towns of Kezar Falls and Cornish, Maine. Mom drove my sister and me and all of our earthly possessions from Maine to California in a 1940 Ford. I don’t remember a whole lot about the trip, but my mother claims I asked her if an Amish man was Sana Claus. She also claims I began asking, “Are we there yet?” about five minutes after we hit the road. 


I do recall being told specifically that it never snowed in Altadena, where we were headed. Well! In January of 1949, shortly after we arrived at my aunt’s house to live (I gave her house to Mrs. Bissel in the Daisy books) it snowed! As I was outdoors at the time, I raced into the house to tell everyone. They were quite surprised. Maybe it was this incident that cultivated my growing cynicism. Well, that and the Tournament of Roses Parade. 


You see, the first couple of times we went as a family to see the Rose Parade, I was young. I mean really young. It rained on us both times, so I figured it always rained on January 1 in Pasadena and Altadena. Turns out it’s only rained on the Rose Parade ten times in its 136-year history. I just happened to be there on two of those occasions. Why am I reminded of the six blind men and the elephant now? If you don’t know what the heck I’m talking (so to speak) about, here’s a rendition of the Indian fable. I stole it directly from Wikipedia: 


A group of blind men heard that a strange animal, called an elephant, had been brought to the town, but none of them were aware of its shape and form. Out of curiosity, they said: "We must inspect and know it by touch, of which we are capable". So, they sought it out, and when they found it they groped about it. The first person, whose hand landed on the trunk, said, "This being is like a thick snake". For another one whose hand reached its ear, it seemed like a kind of fan. As for another person, whose hand was upon its leg, said, the elephant is a pillar like a tree-trunk. The blind man who placed his hand upon its side said the elephant, "is a wall". Another who felt its tail, described it as a rope. The last felt its tusk, stating the elephant is that which is hard, smooth and like a spear.

And here’s another story for you: I haven’t been to any of those back-east places since my mother, my younger daughter and I drove across country and back again in… 1990? I think it was 1990. We stayed with my father’s cousin Miland Kann and his wife Dot in Auburn, Massachusetts. When I moved to Roswell in 1996, I met a couple named Al and Lucy Wilbur who were from Auburn and actually knew Dot and Miland. It’s another one of those “you can’t make this up” things, I reckon. 


And what the heck, here’s a photograph of Pasadena’s gorgeous city hall during the snowfall of 1949:



At any rate, the Daisy Daze Facebook page was founded by Iris Evans and Leon Fundenberger, both of whom like Daisy and Mercy. Daisy Daze is a great place for Daisy Gumm Majesty (now Daisy Gumm Majesty Rotondo) and Mercy Allcutt fans to hang out, as well as anyone who is interested in the “Roaring Twenties.” We concentrate pretty closely on the Pasadena and Los Angeles areas, because the books are set there. Daisy Daze is fun, it’s educational and if you’d like to be a member, check it out here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/905100189878318/


If you’d like to visit my web page, here’s the link (thanks to Lyndele von Schill): Home | Alice Duncan . If you’d like to be Facebook friends, please go here: (20+) Alice Duncan | Facebook .


 Here’s a link to my author page at ePublishingWorks: Alice Duncan Author Page (ebookdiscovery.com)


 Thank you!

 

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