Archive for March, 2021

Ruffles and all

Gloria, 1972. Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division

It’s still women’s history month (don’t frown, men, you have 11 months to yourselves), so I thought I’d talk about fashion.

Not kidding.

My most recent pet peeve is the latest in news-anchor fashion. For women, that is. It hasn’t changed much for men. It’s your basic suit and tie, sometimes with a little fake hankie in the pocket. I’ve yet to see Jake Tapper in a muscle shirt, or Chuck Todd with a colorful polo.

OK, Anderson Cooper is all over tv with his new baby and sweats, but not when he’s delivering the news.

Female anchors, on the other hand, come cute. Three or four days out of five, they show cleavage. Some day I’m going to see if there’s a pattern. Lots of flesh showing on Mondays to wake people from a weekend hangover; something pretty and pink in the middle of the week;and a drape with a couple of gold chains on Friday.

The worst tops in my mind are the ones with puffy sleeves, the kind that would be on my little sister’s school dresses when she was seven or eight a few decades ago. I remember ironing the dresses—I’d stick my hand in the short sleeve to spread it out and then press in a circular crease so that the sleeve would stick up.

So cute! But not for a grown-up newsperson asking us to trust her and pay attention to information on the pandemic or the Iran nuclear deal or a mass shooting. Or even the weather.

I’ll end this little rant with a Happy Birthday to Gloria Steinem (born March 25, 1934), never caught with puffy sleeves as far as I remember.

Should women be allowed to wear whatever they pleased and not be criticized? Absolutely. Should they be aware of how their image contributes to the message and that when they dress for the beach or a sexy pop article, that’s how many will view her.

Which is not to say, for example, that Gloria Steinem was humorless. Here’s a quote that’s attributed to her:

            A woman without a man is like a fish without a bicycle

T-shirt-worthy, don’t you think?

Amateurs all!

It’s safe to say I know many amateur sleuths, a gazillion by actual count. Every day, on bookshelves everywhere, crimes are solved by florists, cooks, beauticians, baristas, quilters, nurses, tour guides, ghosts, and wedding planners. Murderers are caught and arrested on cruise ships, in cafes, at concerts, in churches, in haunted and unhaunted houses, and in locker rooms.

Did I mention that amateur sleuths also include retired physicists, miniaturists, college math professors, a postmistress, and lately, a diner owner in Alaska?

I feel I know them all well, inside and out. They’re smart, brave, righteous, and persistent, usually women, but sometimes too stupid to live (TSTL).

I’m constantly defending them:

• Of course, she has the motivation to investigate a murder, even though her day job involves running a community garden and she has no training in criminology—after all, the victim was a bridesmaid at her roommate’s cousin’s best friend’s second wedding. How can she just sit back and not help the police/troopers/sheriff/PIs?

• She’s curious, so Yes! she will drive out to the cemetery in the middle of the night to meet someone who says he has an important clue to the killer’s identity.

• So what if she withholds information from the real police? She has a good reason to—she wants to look into the situation on her own. She is, after all, an independent thinker/investigator.

• Definitely, in case you’re wondering: It is possible that the knitter sleuth found the clue that experienced homicide detectives and a crew of trained CSI techs missed.

Members of my critique groups who do not write amateur sleuths are the biggest skeptics. Who’s going to believe blah blah blah? they ask me all the time.

“It’s a trope,” I answer, because it’s too complicated to explain reasonable suspension of disbelief. As long as the writer doesn’t cheat, i.e., go off on incredible tangents, readers will enjoy the story.

There’s a reason there are so many cozies and a reason they are very popular. We enjoy reading about normal people like ourselves—crafters, grandmothers, administrators, journalists, innkeepers, beekeepers. We like to think anyone can be smart enough to follow a few clues, put the puzzle together and make the world safe again.

How hard can it be?

(Kidding. I’m forever grateful to PDs and all first responders especially in these challenging times.)

Note to readers: Last week this blog was hacked, resulting in hundreds of spam comments in a 2-day period. The only way I could get rid of them was to close comments. I’ll wait a week and then open again. I guess some people don’t have enough to do. I wish I could export a few projects to them!

Miniature Mysteries Re-released

In case you missed them the first time, the first five Miniature Mysteries, which I wrote as “Margaret Grace,” are being re-released. Don’t worry, I have documentation that the rights to the texts have reverted to me!

Crossroad Press is doing me the honor of getting them out with new covers. Here are the first two.

More to come!

Watch for “Malice in Miniature,” “Mourning in Miniature,” and “Monster in Miniature.”

Inauguration Day

No, I’m not late for this year’s event. I’m celebrating the original schedule.

Until the ratification of the Twentieth Amendment in 1933, the official day for presidential inaugurations was March 4 . When the fourth fell on a Sunday, as it did in 1821, 1849, 1877, and 1917, the ceremonies were held on March 5.

There had already been a glitch, however: The first president of the United States, George Washington, was not inaugurated until April 30. Although Congress scheduled the first inauguration for March 4, 1789, they were unable to count the electoral ballots as early as anticipated. Consequently, the first inauguration was postponed to allow the president-elect time to make the long tip from his home in Virginia to the nation’s capital in New York City.

Crowd in front of White House during Andrew Jackson’s first inaugural reception in 1829. Cruikshank, Robert, 1789-1856, artist. Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C. 20540 USA

Check out THIS site for more on early presidential inaugurations.