Wednesday, June 19, 2019

So You Must Know the Ewings?

All Marigold could say was, "That does sound like quite the gourmet meal." She went on to ask Bobbie Mae whether she needed her credit card to reserve the rooms.

"No, mam. You sound quite nice on the phone, we can trust you. Bring your check book when you come. I just need your name." She paused. "If I may ask, just why are you coming the Gallagher and why do you need so many rooms." 

"Our son is getting married. You may know him, Sam Peterson."

"Oh, lordy, he is one good looking man. And, we just love Della. Why we are all so excited about the wedding."

"Well, we are also. We've never been to Gallagher."

"Really? So where are you from?"

"Dallas, Texas."

Bobbie Mae was very excited, "Dallas, Texas! I bet you know the Ewings, you know that family that owns South Fork. Oh I just loved them, especially Sue Ellen. My girl friend, Dee Dee, loved Pam, but I just loved to see Sue Ellen and JR fight."

Marigold interrupted, "No, I'm afraid, we do not know the Ewings, but they are quite famous." She was quickly realizing that this town equated Dallas to the Ewings, never mind the other 7.5 million residents of the city. She thanked Bobbie Mae for her time and they rang off.

Later she called Sam. "Sweetheart, I finally got reservations for the family, but they only have 7 rooms. What am I going to do with the others coming from Texas?"

"Mama, I can handle that. Just send a list of the guests who will need accommodations. And, don't worry about that any more. What else can I help with?" 

"Well, I finally found a venue for the rehearsal dinner."

"Really? Here in Gallagher?"

"You didn't tell me there was a 'Gentleman's Club' in town? I know it won't be as big as the Dallas City Club, but it should do. Do you know who I should speak with there."

Sam took a silent breath. "Well, I don't think that will do."

"Why not? You are not giving me credit. I know Gallagher is a small town and maybe not as," she paused. "as sophisticated as Dallas. But, we an make this work."

"Mama, the Gentleman's Club, is just that - a gentleman's club. It is not a venue for anything. And, it is private."

"Well, certainly you are a member."

Sam couldn't help but laugh. "No, I'm not a member." Then he remembered, "Besides they had a fire there and I'm pretty sure it is closed for a while. And, I told you, we will take care of that. No need to worry."

Realizing there was no sense protesting, she moved on. "After speaking with a few folks there, I fear they will be disappointed when we arrive and they learn we are not in fact Ellie and Jock Ewing."

Sam laughed, "I never heard that before."

"Have you ever spoken to Bobbie Mae at the General Tyler? And, what in the heck is 'Opossum Sausage'?"

Sam laughed, "Mama, all I can is welcome to Gallagher. I love it here. It may be a bit quirky, but it is now home to me." He paused, "I promise we will take care of the rehearsal dinner. Don't you worry about that."

"Oh, I know you will. I just hate not to be doing our part."

"Well, if it makes you feel any better, I'll send you the bill. And, we'll make sure it is a gourmet meal. Heck, I bet I can find some chicken gizzards and livers for the meal."

"Sam!" Marigold protested.

"Mama, I promise, you will not be embarrassed. You're going to really like here. Now, ____, not so much, but that's her problem."

With that they rang off.

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Award Winning Reservations

Back in Texas, Marigold was trying to make room reservations in Gallagher for the wedding. No one had answered the telephone the following evening when she attempted to call the General Taylor Imperial Inn. Also, concerned about the rehearsal dinner, Marigold had been online searching for some nice restaurant or country club. She found there were few choices. Then she saw a listing for the 'Gallagher Gentleman's Club.'

'There we go,' she said to herself. 'I knew there would be some nice club there.' She wrote the number down and planned to call later to inquire about using the club as a venue for the rehearsal dinner. 

Once again she tried to call the General Taylor. She was almost surprised when someone answered the phone. "The General Taylor Imperial Motel, best place to stay in Gallagher."

Marigold introduced herself and asked about availability for rooms the week of the wedding. "And, you need how many rooms?"

"Probably 15, maybe 20."

"15 or 20?" There was silence.

"Oh dear, I feared that - you are booked up for the week. I knew I should have called earlier."

"No mam, in fact we don't have nary a room booked for that time."

"So what is the problem?"

"Well mam, we only have 7 rooms."

"7 rooms? In the entire motel?"

"Yes, mam. Oh, we may be small but we are award winning."

'OK', said Marigold to herself. 'This must be a small boutique hotel.' Although she was surprised, she was pleased. Thank God, there is some sophistication in this little town.

Bobbie Mae, at the General Taylor, continued, "Yes, mam. We won the Golden Spatula award for Bubba's pancakes."

"Is he your chef?"

"Oh, no mam, he is our handy man but he likes to experiment in the kitchen." She laughed. "His ramp pancakes with opossum sausage are known county wide."

Monday, June 17, 2019

It's the Least We Can Do

Yes, Anna Belle knew who the mystery man was. He had been in the club earlier. Standing in the crowd was Mr. Johnny Ricardo. Still staring at the man with the jet black hair, red carnation and all, she said quietly. "That is Mr. Johnny Ricardo, he says he works for The Advocate in New Orleans."

"You know him?" asked the Chief.

"Not really. He showed up at the club last night. He got obnoxious and I had to get him escorted out."

"Any idea why he was there?"

"Said he was doing some research."


Anna Belle was still focused on Mr. Ricardo when she answered, "Research on my family."

As if he had been recognized, Mr. Ricardo turned and left, walking down the sidewalk. 

Meanwhile at Ivy Lane, Bunny and Mike were discussing Sam and Della's wedding. "Why don't we host their reception here?" suggested Bunny.

"Sounds good to me, if you don't think it will stress you out."

Bunny laughed, "After Kathleen's reception I feel like an expert."

"An expert, huh?" said Mike with a smile.

"Well, I know who to call."

"Then I guess that does make you an expert. You want to call Della."

Bunny picked up her phone and smiled. "I just love making people happy."

Della was thrilled, "Are you sure Bunny? That is asking a lot."

"No it's not. Mike and I want to do something. It's the least we can do."

Della sighed, "Oh, Bunny, I was dreading having to deal with my mother. And Mike's family . . . well, I wanted something nice."

They discussed a few details, said they would talk more at work the following morning, and rang off.

"Well, that's done," said Bunny.

"Oh, I beg to differ - that is just the beginning." Mike laughed.

Friday, June 14, 2019

We Lost Luther

Clark could only pray that everyone was going to accept the tale they just told about Luther. One of the firemen knelt down beside the body. After checking him, he looked up, "I'm afraid he is dead." 

Wade sighed,"I was afraid of that. I was just hoping he had maybe just passed out."

"No, Mr. Sweeney is dead." 

Not surprised the fireman recognized the attorney, Clark spoke up. "Do we need to get Dr. Sadler, since he is the coroner."

The fireman stood up, put his gloves back on, preparing to go help the others, "If you could take care of that, I would appreciate it."

Wade pulled his cell phone from his pocket. "While I'm at it, I'll call Cliff to come get the body." The fireman thanked him again, turned, and went back into house.

Anna Belle walked up the stairs to the front porch. She didn't have to pretend to be alarmed to see Luther's body on the floor. But she was concerned about how this was going to play out.

Continuing the charade, Clark spoke up, "Anna Belle, I'm afraid he is dead."

She looked shocked. "Has anyone called Hollis?" She paused, then added,"And, I guess we should also call Cliff."

"Wade's handling all that now," referring to Wade standing in the yard on his cell phone. 

"What can I do?" asked Anna Belle.

"Can you get a sheet or something to cover the body? At least we can do that. No telling how long it will take them to get here."

Chief Pyre walked up, "Understand we lost Luther?"

"Yes, but we're not sure how." Wade said, then added,"Hollis is on his way.

The Chief shook his head and walked away.

It wasn't long before Hollis Sadler arrived. And only five minutes or so followed by Cliff, from Clint's Home of the Dearly Departed and Deceased.

Hollis spoke to Wade and Clark. Wade, sticking with the story, told the Doctor about Clark and he finding him on the floor in the hall upstairs.

"Was he breathing?"

"Not that I could tell but I was more concerned about getting him out of the house. It was getting very smoky up there."

Hollis looked over the body, took his temperature, and turned to Wade. "Looks like he's been dead maybe an hour or so." He looked up, "When did you find him?"

"Maybe 30 minutes or so ago."

Hollis continued looking over the body. "I don't see any evidence of trauma.  My guess is it's not smoke inhalation." He smiled, "Could have been stress. It wouldn't be the first time, someone found the Club 'stressful."

Clark and Wade just stood there. Hollis continued, "Due to the circumstances, I need to do an autopsy." He turned to Cliff, "You can take him now. I'll be down tomorrow to look at him." (Gallagher was so small that the coroner used the facilities at the funeral home when performing autopsies.)

Rascal was the last to arrive. Wade filled him on what they knew.  Rascal shook his head, "I don't recall Luther having any relatives. He never married. Nice guy but kind of an odd sort." 

"Well there must be someone we need to notify." Rascal shook his head. I'll start with the law office. They'll know." With that Rascal turned to find Chief Pyre.

Once he was out of ear shot, Wade turned to Clark, "Think we dodged a close one."

"No kidding."

Even though, there was considerable smoke and water damage to the building, overall it wasn't as bad as it appeared. It would still take some time and resources to restore everything. Once Anna Belle had an accounting of all her employees and staff, she went through the ruined kitchen with Chief Pyre. "It could have been so much worse," said Chief Pyre as he stood with Anna Belle looking at the damage.

"I assume it was grease fire?" Anna Belle asked.

"That would be my first guess. But when I spoke with Bates he said the stove was off. He had finished cooking and was cleaning up. He said he smelled smoke and turned to see the stove on fire."

He looked at Anna Belle, "But, don't worry, if it was anything else, we'll figure it out." They walked back to the front yard where Wade and Clark were still standing.

Wade asked Chief Pyre about the fire. "Not quite sure, but it looks like it started in the kitchen."

Wade said something but Chief Pyre wasn't paying attention. He was looking over Anna Belle's shoulder. He noticed a small crowd gathering across the street under the street light. No surprise there. However, there was  a face in the crowd he didn't recognize. Still looking at the crowd, he asked, "Any idea who that man is?"

Anna Belle turned and followed his gaze, "Which man?"

"The one in front. I recognize everyone else."

Thursday, June 13, 2019

For the Record, He was Out Cold

She left to find Andrew. As she did, she felt like a salmon swimming up stream against the current. Members and girls were trying to make their way down the hall and out the back door. She tried to tell them to exit out the front, but it was of no use. Anna Belle returned up stairs.

She told Clark and Wade what was going on. "And now everyone is running out the back door."

"Great how are we going to get the body down the back stairs with everyone in the hall?" asked Clark.

Wade smiled. "We're not. We're going down the main staircase. We'll take him out the front door."

Clark didn't question him, just picked up Luther Sweeney by the shoulders and followed Wade, who had the dead man by his feet. They made their way down the hall. The smoke was thick, Wade told Anna Belle to get out.

"Let me check all the rooms, then I'll get out. I'll be out back."

Wade and Clark started down the steps with Luther, just as the first firemen came through the door. The smoke was so thick he could barely make them out. Wade yelled, "The fire's in  kitchen in the back." Without a word the men pulled the heavy hose down the hall toward the kitchen. "That was close." He stopped and turned back to Clark. Wade had an idea.

"Clark for the record, we found Luther in the hall as we were checking the rooms. He was out cold." 

"Whatever you say."

The two men moved the body down the stairs. As they got him out to the front porch, there were more fireman arriving. Wade yelled, "We need help. We found this man in the hall. He's unconscious."

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

We are Going to be Family Now

"Mrs. Lee, this is Marigold Peterson, Sam's Mother," Ima jean heard when she answered the phone.

"Oh, I am so glad you called. We just love Sam. And, please it's Ima Jean, after all we are going to be family now."

"Well, we just adore Della. I'm just calling about the wedding."

"Oh, I am so excited. Della's our only daughter so I have been looking forward to this since she was born. I've already reserved the church and the church hall. They redid the hall last year. It's really nice now. The walls are a pale shade of blue. The women of the church wanted to use a wall color that would compliment any dress. That peachy cream they had just clashed with everything, especially red dresses."

As Ima Jean took a breath, Marigold interjected, "Well that sounds just wonderful. I'm glad those details have been taken care of. Tooley and I are trying to get our part of the guest list finished. I must say with a large extended family, not to mention all of Tooley's business friends, it has been a chore to limit the list."

"Well, I could see if the Church of the Seven Wells and Three Stones, that's our Episcopal church here in town, is available, but I don't think so. Those Episcopalians are pretty funny about Baptists and such. And if I remember correctly, the Warren's daughter's wedding is that weekend. Personally I was surprised that Elizabeth wanted to marry that Collins boy. But, if her parents were OK with it, who am I to say."

Once again, Marigold took advantage of Ima Jean's pause, "I'm sure your church will be just wonderful. I'm pretty sure the kids are determined to have a small wedding."

"Oh, and for the reception I've been working on the menu. I thought we could have pigs in blankets, you know those little wieners wrapped in biscuit dough. And then chicken nuggets, a vegetable tray, and some sweets. Of course, there will be the wedding cake. But, we can make those decisions later."

Trying to imagine this 'gourmet' spread, all Marigold could say was, "What can we do to help?"

"Not a thing, just show up. We're so excited about meeting you."

"Speaking of that, we will need a place to stay. If I can get a list of the hotels in town, I can go ahead and make reservations. I hope we are not too late."

"Hotels? Oh my, we only have one motel, the General Taylor Imperial Motel."

"Is there someone particular we should ask for. We will need to reserve a block of rooms."

A bit confused about a 'block of rooms', Ima Jean said, "Oh, don't worry, Mary Alice will answer the phone. She is the only one there. And, speak slowly, she is hard of hearing."

"I'll keep that in mind."

They discussed some more details, said they would talk later, and rang off.

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Here We Go Again

Lying there was Luther Sweeney, local attorney, former partner of Madison Marlboro. All that aside, Anna Belle needed to get this handled. She went downstairs and found Wade. After they had walked to the back steps, and she filled him in. 

"Jesus, God, and Mary! Again?"

Anna Belle looked at him, "It's not like I'm enjoying this."

"OK, let me go get Clark and see if he can help me." He turned and went back to the game room.

Anna Belle went back upstairs to check on Allessandra. Wade returned with Clark. In his dry sense of gallows humor, Wade said,"Well Clark, here we go again." He turned to Anna Belle, "Do you know how he arrived? Did he drive? God help us if he came with a friend."

"I'm not sure, but I'll find out." Anna Belle left to find Andrew, he would know. She learned from him that Luther had arrived alone. If he drove, Andrew said he did not know what kind of car he had. 

She returned to Allessandra's room to tell Wade, "Andrew says he was alone. . . and he thinks he drove himself."

"Does he know which car?"

"No, he doesn't."

Wade turned to Clark who was looking over Luther's body to see if his death was from anything more than natural causes. "Does he have car keys on him?"

Clark checked his pockets, "No". Then he looked on the side table. "Here they are." He picked them up. " 'Fraid this is not going to be too much help."

Wade looked at the key Clark was holding - a black GMC fob. It  probably could fit any of a majority cars in town. He shook his head. "Well, that's not going to make it easy. At least with John and Madison, we were able to use their cars. Let me think."

While he was thinking, Anna Belle said, "Let me get Andrew. He can help."

"Sure you want to get someone else involved?"

"Wade I trust Andrew with my life. Besides, he already knows something is up."

As Anna Belle said that an alarm went off. "Oh, God, that's the fire alarm, I think from the kitchen." She ran downstairs to see what the situation was. Bates met her at the kitchen door, "Now, Miss Anna Belle don't you worry, I already called the fire department. They are on their way and bringing Sheriff Quitman with them."

Monday, June 10, 2019

Sara's Looking for you

After dealing with Rici Ricarda, Anna Belle smiled, shook her head, and walked back to the kitchen .'Thank God,' she thought. 'I do have a good team behind me.' She always feared that her family 'heritage' would arise from the past and haunt her. 'What would Idella do now?' 

Having no idea what Bates had planned for that evening, she wanted to check with him. After looking over the menu, she felt assured that all was well. She went to her office and gathered her things to go home. That was when Andrew found her. "Sara is looking for you, seems to a bit upset."

"Thank you Andrew, I'll find her. I'm sure it is nothing serious." Anna Belle made her way through the dining room, checking the buffet as she did, making sure it was replenished. Moving into the game room, she took in the sweet smell of cigars, the dark wood paneling, and oriental carpets. It always gave her a feeling of peace. Although, she had a feeling that 'peace' was about to be broken. 

She made her way through the game room, speaking with members on her way to the hall. This was Anna Belle's MO when moving through the house. She was very good at keeping a demeanor of calm, especially when there may be an 'issue' she needed to handle. No need to give the members any idea something was amiss. She accepted a glass of Sherry from Wilbur, an older gentleman who was no doubt sweet on her, excused herself, and quietly made her way up the back stairs. 

Sara was standing at the top of the stairs. Seeing the countenance on her face, Anna Belle knew this may be serious after all. 

"Pray tell."

But Sara shook her head. "I'm afraid we have a small issue."

"Issue? Like what kind of 'issue'?" She paused. "Sara, please don't tell me something has happened."

"I'm afraid so."

"Where? Who?"

"In Alessandra's room," Sara said as she moved down the hall, Anna Belle following a few steps behind. She opened the door. Alessandra was standing there, wearing silk a dressing gown loosely tied at the waist. 

Her face said it all. Anna Belle's eyes moved to the bed where a man was lying there - very still. Before she could say anything, Alessandra started crying. "Anna Belle, I don't know what happened. I excused myself for just a minute or 2 and returned to find him . . ." She whimpered a bit, "Like this."

Anna Belle walked over to the bed to get a closer look. The man was definitely dead, no doubt about it. She took a deep breath to calm herself, and turned to the girls. "Sara, take Alessandra to your room, get her calmed down, and dressed."

She gave Alessandra a reassuring hug, "It will be OK, I promise. Now run along."

"But what are you . . ."

Anna Belle gently smiled, "We are going to take care of it. Now don't you worry."

The  girls left the room and Anna Belle walked over to the body on the bed. 

Saturday, June 8, 2019

Well, It's a Surprise

Della and Sam were sitting at Ed's trying finish the guest list for the wedding. “Are you sure that's it?” asked Sam as he picked up another French fry from Della's plate. They had spent the better part of two evenings trying to pare the list down.

“Well, if I'm not, it doesn't matter now. We don't have any more time to mess with this.” She took another bite of her burger. Sam reached for another French fry. Della swatted his hand and smiled, “Don't eat my fries.”

“Well, you're not eating them.”

“I'm not yet. Just because I have promised myself no more fries until after the wedding, I still want to hold my options open.”

Ignoring Della and taking another fry from her plate, Sam smiled,”Well, all we need now is Mama's list.” Before Della could even say anything, Sam added, “And, yes, I'll deal with that.”

“You are such a dear. Thank you.”

They weren't the only ones working on the wedding. Della's mother was beside herself with the wedding. Her only daughter was getting married. Trying keep her mother from getting all worked up,  Della had been very vague about the details. The last thing she needed was to have to handle her mother when she was trying get everything else done.

However, knowing her daughter was occupied with the wedding plans, as well as her regular job,  Ima Jean decided it would be best not to tell Della that she was making the wedding dress. It was the least she could do.

Ima Jean laid the thin pattern pieces of the Simplicity pattern she had purchased for the wedding dress out on the table in the spare bedroom. She started trimming the pattern, being very careful not to tear the sheets. As she cut down the lines, she realized that she was in Della's old room. All of her daughter's old high school posters and pictures were still on the wall. There was a cork board where torn ticket pieces, old photos, and dried corsages were still pinned to. All this just made Ima Jean even more determined to make the best wedding dress possible.

As a young girl, Della loved lacy dresses and dotted Swiss. Her favorite colors were pink and purple. 'She is going to be thrilled with this dress', her mother thought.

She retrieved the package of eyelet from the bottom of the freezer, under her husband's bags of frozen opossum, squirrel and deer he had shot last year. She was surprised to find that each piece of the lace was still bright white and crisp, as if new.

At supper that evening, Thomas asked,"What have you been doing in Della's room?”

Ima Jean passed her husband the dish of butter beans. “Well it's a surprise.”

“For me?” he asked as he picked a hot biscuit from the basket in front of him and started buttering it. He looked up, “A surprise huh?”

“Yes, and that is all I am saying.”

“A surprise for the wedding?”

Trying to remain coy, Ima Jean got up, walked to the stove, and put some more fried chicken on the platter. “And, why would you say that?”

“Because ever since Sam and Della set their date, you have been 'giddy' as a school girl before the spring dance.”

Doing her best not to look hurt, she quickly responded, “Thomas, I am not 'giddy'. I may be excited, but not 'giddy'.”

“Could have fooled me,” he said with a wry smile, as he took another fork full of butter beans.”

“We only have one daughter and I hope this is her only wedding. Can't a mother of the bride enjoy the moment?”

“Enjoy, yes. Meddle, not so much.” He smiled. “Just remember when we got married all the fussing that went on between you and your mother. Both of you got your feelings hurt before finally coming to your senses.”

“Of course I remember. That's why I'm not going to bother her.”

Taking another piece of fried chicken, without looking up, Thomas added, “Or surprise her, right?”

“Oh Thomas, it is going to be so beautiful.”

“Oh, I'm sure our little Della will have a lovely wedding and make a beautiful bride. Why, I remember her sitting on the den floor setting up a wedding for her Barbie dolls.” He paused, “Just like it was yesterday. And now she is planning her own wedding. Where does the time go?”

Ima Jean quietly buttered a biscuit. Thomas continued, “It is the wedding you are referring to, right?”

“Well, something to do with the wedding. But I told you it's a surprise. I'm not telling anyone until I'm finished.” She looked at him and smiled, “Especially you!”

Thomas raised his hands in surrender. “Okay, okay, I won't ask about it any more.”

Hurt, Ima Jean replied, “So you really don't want to know?”

“You said it was a secret.” He wiped his lips with his napkin and placed it on the table next to his plate. “I'll be as surprised as anyone.”

Ima Jean picked up their plates and put them in the sink. “She is going to be thrilled.”

Shaking his head, Thomas answered, “No doubt she will.” He leaned back in his chair. “Have you talked with Sam's mother yet?”

“No, but I will. I'm sure she is a nice person.” Wiping her hands on her apron, she continued, "Della says they own a farm in Texas. No doubt they are good people.”

“Honey, I don't think I would call Sam's family 'Texas Farmers'. From what I understand their farm, is more of a ranch and is about the size of this county.”

“Thomas, seriously, you make it sound like they are rich or something.”

“My dear, do you remember the TV show, 'Dallas'?”

“Of course, I loved Miss Ellie.”

“Well keep that in mind when you meet Mrs. Peterson”

“You are so silly talking like that. If Sam came from such a family, why would he be an FBI agent. And, why he be living here in Gallagher?”

“I imagine because he could and he wants to.”

“Well, I'm still not telling you about my surprise.”

“I got that.”

“Not even though I'm sure you want to know.”

“Sweetheart, I don't want to hurt your feelings, but I can wait.”

“You sure?”

“You're the one who said it was a secret.”

She put her hands on her hips. “Okay, okay, if you are going to beg,” Ima Jean smiled with pride. She turned and left the room returning with, what looked like, a large bundle of white cloth.

“I thought only brides wore white. Certainly you are not going to wear a white frock to your daughter's wedding.”

“This isn't for me, this is for Della.” With that she laid the dress out on the back of a chair. “It's her wedding dress.” Ima Jean was so excited looking at the dress. She just stood there with her hands over her mouth.

A bit concerned, Thomas said,”Now, I'm just the father. And I don't know anything about dresses, but I do know enough about my own daughter to know she is going to pick out her own wedding dress.”

“You don't think that she'll like it?” she said crestfallen.

“I'm not saying that, I'm just saying that I don't want to see the 2 of you getting all fussed up before the wedding.”

Ima Jean picked up the dress and carefully folded the bottom over her arm to keep it off the floor. “Fiddle dee dee, I know my daughter.” She took the dress back to the bedroom. Thomas moved into the den to watch the evening news, shaking his head.

Later that night, Sam called his mother to discuss the guest list.

“I told you I would email it you.”

“I know, I wanted to tell you that I have not included any of my family on our list. If you want family there, you will need to include them on your list”

“Oh, dear. No cousins? Not even Ed or Mark or Beau.”

"No, mam, 'fraid not."

“Well then, I'll review my list. When y'all said 'small', y'all really meant small.”

“Mama, just remember this is a small town in Alabama, not Dallas, Texas.”

“Oh, I'm getting the idea.” She paused as if she were going over the list. “Honey, can you send me the Della's mother's name and her phone number. I haven't heard from her and think maybe I should reach out. You know, kind of a 'get to know you' call.”

“If you have a pen and paper I can give that to you now.”

Sam gave her the information. She thanked him and asked, “Now, about the rehearsal dinner. Where should we have it? Is there a country club, or a very nice restaurant - just someplace that would appropriate. If you could just get me some menus and maybe some websites so I can start planning that. Honestly, I have tried Googling Gallagher. I must be spelling something wrong because I cannot find any place around there that would work.”

“Mama, don't worry about that, Della and I have something in mind.”

“That's ridiculous. I'll have no such thing. Just send me some information.”

They spoke for a while then rang off. The more Sam thought about it, this wedding may not be such a good idea after all. Elopement was looking better and better. There were some worlds that did not need to meet and he feared his parents and Gallagher may be just be two of those. 'Oh boy,' Sam thought. 'Here we go'. 

Friday, June 7, 2019

OK, Where Were We?

Gentle readers, I had no idea it has been almost 10 months since we were following the tales and tribulations of life in Gallagher, Alabama. Before I resumed the story, I had to review what had happened and where we were. That said, I thought, perhaps we should recap where we are. Also, if you are confused about the characters, I have a list of the names and brief description of each. It is way too long to post, however if anyone is interested, just email me, and I will gladly send it to you. Meanwhile, here's what's going on in our little town:

Bunny Vontese is now married to Mike Pace. Unbeknownst to her and everyone else, Mike is not just a Sheriff's Deputy, but a well educated young man. Come to find out he comes from a fairly well to do family that lives not too far away. They live happily at Ivy Lane, the former home and estate of Harrison Wells.  Remember Harrison met his sudden death  during his very short engagement to Bunny. He willed Ivy Lane to Bunny, along with a sizable trust to keep it (and Bunny) in good shape.

Buck, Bunny's X, continues to show up about town, dragging a wooden cross and proselytizing.

Anna Belle is now keeping company with Walter Pace, Mike's Grandfather, whom she met at Bunny's wedding. Her business, the Gallagher Gentlemen's Club, is fairing very well, despite the mysterious death of 2 of her patrons.

The Eldrige twins are in the midst of figuring out the rituals of courting - now that Don and John have arrived. (They are a set of identical twins the Eldridges found on an online dating site for older folks.) Of course Flora and Cora got in a bit of trouble when their liquor still was discovered in their back yard while the Colonel was searching for the body of General Holden James Kirby, a long deceased officer in the Confederate army. 

The final batch of their fine moonshine has found its way into Dot's Do Drop In, where Ike (the bartender) dispenses it in small doses to any patron who knows the secret phrase.

Colonel Wadsworth continues to dress in his Confederate uniform as well as ride around town on his horse. The Museum of Confederate Uniforms, Hats, and Paraphernalia does well under the Colonel's watchful eye. 

Winifred, the Colonel's wife who once dressed in a dowdy costume of the time of our most recent unpleasantness joined the 21st century. She now is one of now one of Anna Belle's 'girls'. While at the Club, where she goes by the name 'Sara', she generally keeps company with Clark Butler (of course his wife Blanche is totally unaware of the situation as is the Colonel).

Vivian, who showed up in town with a few unruly children has settled in. The children's uncle, brother of their late father, and his wife (Harvey and Laurelie Wells) have adopted the children. All is well there.

Of course, Vivian, was the love child of Tula and William Vontese (Bunny's father). She and her mother do not fair well together. Vivian has settled into a relationship with Terse who has become a nationally recognized novelist and town celebrity.

Vivian's estranged mother, Tula, continued to wreck havoc in may people lives until she was arrested for Embezzlement, Transporting an adult against his will, and Elder Abuse. She has now found herself in prison.

Pearce has settled into his family estate, Cre Uisce Aer, that he bought and has lovingly restored. He has hired Don and John to restore one of the gardens on the property. Come to find out, they are experts in designing Japanese gardens.

Dr. Mercer Magill and Iris Barker are now an item. She went a little off the range for awhile there. After her husband met his untimely death, a young man pretending to be her husband's nephew showed up with a scheme to swindle all her money. However, he found her possessed. He was arrested. She was committed to the Midsummer Sanitarium that ended up being an undesirable place. After she was rescued, she got right in the head again, and is now seeing Mercer on a regular basis.

Reeza, the Voodoo priestess who lives deep in the Bayou, regular appears with her tarot cards. Her interpretations, as bewildering as often as they are, usually prove true.

Sheriff Quitman is keeping law and order in the county, as best he can. Mary Lou is handling both the Sheriff's Station and the Sheriff fairly well.

Speaking of the Sheriff's Station, there is a peculiar lady living in a bedroom the second story of the building. Ada Mae claims to hold the deed to the building (which was once a fine home). She lives there as if she were claiming squatters rights. Of course Ada Mae also lives in her own little world which allows her to time travel (in her mind) and always dress in the costume of the period.

The Goodness Gracious Tea Room had become quite the popular place, especially among the ladies of the town. Blanche, Caroline, and Hattie are doing very well with the business.

Barbara Birch and her producer friend, Jerry, are back in town for a visit. Her first hope was that Terse would allow her to produce a movie based on one of his books. That did not happen. Now, Barbara is very eager to show Jerry the cast of the town's eccentric citizens, in hopes he will make a film about them. Unfortunately, their presence alludes him and he is convinced Barbara has made it up. Then they learn that, much to their surprise, Terse has already signed a deal with Reese Witherspoon's production company.

Dr. Hollis Sadler is now seeing Stella Marlboro, the widow of Madison, an attorney in town. Madison was a well liked man with a predilection for the bottle. He was found one morning in his parked car in front of their home. The assumption being he died of natural causes. However, he met his untimely death at the Gentlemen's Club thanks to a woman who loathed men and a taser.

Belva, one of Harrison Wells' daughters, has divorced her husband, Culler, after she discovered he was much more partial to women's clothes than his Brooks Brothers suits. Culler became 'Colleen' and relocates in Gallagher. Haynes Duiese was smitten with Colleen from first sight. Their relationship was going very well until her inauspicious death at the Historical Society Gala at Cre Uisce Aer.

Cordelia Wells is still the matriarch of the family. Aunt Cordelia (as she is known) often can be found holding court at her table at the Tea Room during their 'Apres High Tea Time' (aka lady's happy hour.)

Quinton Gallagher Hampton IV (Wade), who owns the Q.G.Hampton Rentals and Housing Co. (where Bunny works) is doing well. He has had to occasionally offer 'aid' to Anna Belle at the Club  when the need arises. (Let's just say he has become very adept at removing the bodies of gentleman who have met their unfortunate deaths at Anna Belle's club.)

Kathleen and Jeb managed to get married despite Dixie's grand plans that they wanted nothing of. Harrell tried his best to keep Dixie in check, but even he wasn't a match for his wife's plans of a preposterous wedding cake, invitations sent in purple satin boxes, butterflies, and a haute couture wedding gown.

Della and Sam are planning their wedding. Naturally there are issues between his folks, Marigold and Tooley from Texas(as well as his sister Bryson Lee., and her parents, Ima Jean and Thomas

Meanwhile the lives of Bob and Parker, Ada, Buck Beaver, Amy, Axson McDermott, Bates, Maisy Ruth, Liza, Roy, Hattie, Charlie, Chief Pyre, Cliff, Luigi, Doyle, Imogene and Joe, Irnis, Knox and Kirby, Larry, Luther, Theo, Manfield, Marcelle, Millie, Parnell, Pearl, Rayanne and 'Miss' Ella, Ed, Walter, Frank, and Grice, go on.

And the tale continues.

Wednesday, June 5, 2019

Little notebooks

I never go anywhere without a pen and notebook. I have notebooks everywhere. My favorite ones have nice leather covers. But any bound group of clean pages will do. I am always jotting things down. Comments I over heard, random thoughts that come to my mind, obscure musings, the insane comments I over hear, what I see that is  hard to believe . . .  all those things that come and go in my life that I think, "I could never forget that". However, I learned a while back that it doesn't matter how insane, inane, humorous, absurd, or unbelievable something is in the moment, if I don't write it down at the time, I most likely will never remember it. Or worse yet, I'll remember that "something" was memorable but I'll never be able to remember the details.

When I was a little girl, I was always collecting note pads, notebooks, tablets, etc. But they were so precious, I would never write in them. In my mind I needed to keep each precious sheet of paper in them until something important came up that needed to be recorded. At some point the light bulb came on - why wait for the world to go by, anticipating something? Since that point, I am never more than a few inches away from some form of pen and paper.

So now, I note, comment, ponder, record, to my heart's content. It only takes a few seconds to jot down the comment I heard the seriously overweight customer reply to the cashier at Walmart about how healthy her metabolism was or the words I overheard exchanged between 2 little old ladies about the rear end of the young man putting their grocery bags into their car.  There is the sight of a crumbling brick wall that reminded me of my Mama's obsession with "old brick".

Oh, there are also the to-do lists, grocery lists, and reminders to call the drug store or not to forget an upcoming birthday. There are the rough diagrams scribbled down of directions to my next destination, as well as phone numbers, passwords I know I will never remember, and the name of that song I love but will do me no good unless I can recall the name. So someone picking up any one of my random notebooks will find a plethora of nonsense, totally non sequitur drawings, weird "words" made up of aimless combinations of numbers, letters, and characters, and my grocery list.

But all that aside, there is method in the madness, clarity in the chaos, memories in the minutia. I no longer fear "using up" a notebook. There are always more.

Tuesday, June 4, 2019

Searching for the Bard

Anyone who knows me well, knows I am never far from my camera. I have tried to take advantage of my free time lately by taking in as many local Virginia sites as possible. An example of this was my first visit to a Renaissance Fair, an event I knew little about.

Of course I had seen pictures of damsels in their themed gowns, knights jousting on their horses, and such. Naturally the day I picked to attend was 95 degrees. I have to admit I have a lot of admiration for folks so devoted to their hobby they are willing to wear heavy long brocade gowns, full metal armor, and heavy woolens in such heat. I was also amazed at how serious they are. The word 'Reenactor' falls short in describing this interest - these folks completely immerse themselves into this world. The event is not to be taken lightly.  

Entering their world was like truly stepping back in time - centuries in time - back to the years of 1300-1600 of the Renaissance period. Everything was in theme.  Even the food served was of the time - huge turkey legs smoked over open fires. 


There were tents (of appropriate period design) serving mead, ale, wine, and braggot. (No, I do not know exactly what 'Braggot' is.) One of the few modern distractions that pierced the period theme were the Kelly green bracelets anyone wanting to partake of adult beverages was required to wear after being ID'd when entering the realm. 

There were few people like me, not in period wear. Even the children were running about playing 'Renaissance' themed games. The first part of my visit was in an open field with no shade. The heat was almost unbearable for me even though I was dressed in shorts and a sleeveless shirt.  Walking among the jolly knights and fair maidens, I felt as if I were an interloper into a world far far away. It was truly, "Once upon a time."

Moving through the field, I worked my way to the bottom of the hill where I found, much to my delight, that the fair continued in a heavily shaded area under large oaks. That was when I seriously felt I had been transported to another world. I walked about listening to the casual talk among the people, all in heavy accented English of the time. Not that I really know what idle chat in the Renaissance times sounded like, but what I heard was what I imagined. 

There were offerings of magical crystals, goat cream, and such. Merchants bartered their wares. The stalls and tents of vendors offered such as lavender soaps and sachets, authentically appropriate styled black leather boots, Capitano hats, Squire caps, Snoods, Neck Wisks, Basquines, men's Doublets, and other accouterments and accessories of the period.

I had just stepped into the forest when I saw the best photo I could imagine. Naturally I was not prepared to shoot it. The site of a knight in armor coming out of a porta-john was truly surreal. I still to this day regret not getting that shot. Being a bit reticence about photographing people, it wasn't long before I realized my camera was not a concern. In a way, they were happy that their world was being photographed. Once I was photographing a jester walking through the field when he stopped, turned, and looked at me. I froze, but before I could apologize, he was jumping about smiling for the camera. Obviously, I was not an issue. 

Under a large stand of oaks, I spotted the Queen - as in Queen Elizabeth - holding court. Participants in full dress were approaching her throne, bowing and genuflecting in respect, asking for blessings, forgiveness, and any other issue for which they needed  'royal' approval. The Queen was surrounded by her 'court'. With a simple nod from her highness in their direction they would approach the throne to do her bidding. 

Not that I would recognize such Renaissance notables as Nicolaus Copernicus, Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, or Raphael,  I figured they were lurking about somewhere. After all here was the Good Queen Bess herself. Being an English major, the thought of perhaps running into the Bard of Avon made my heart flutter. 

It would not take much imagination to see part of the Fair resemble Hieronymus Bosch's 'Garden of Earthly Delights' - just without the nudes. Actually come to think of it, nudes would be more suitable for the weather. But, I digress.

Making my way past the royal court, I walked along a path where musicians lyrically playing Dulcians, Lutes, Bagpipes, and Hurdy-gurdies (I had to inquire about the later) were seated. There was an acrobat above, twirling and swirling in the air.

I left the fair enlightened. As I made my way pass the barkers selling tickets, I turned to find my car among the 100's parked in a large field. I felt as if I were time travelling. This was when the world became totally weird. There was a jagged edge between the 1500's and 2019. Among the lines of parked cars was a man in period dress carrying bagpipes walking beside a mother in a short sundress pushing a Graco stroller with 2 year old lagging behind. Two women dressed in elegant costumes were waiting for an arriving car to move past so they could make their way back in time. Boy Scouts were waving orange plastic flags directing the hoards who were pouring into fair. A young lady in goth walking beside a man in a suit of armor made their way to the entrance.

I found myself back to the future. Not that it was on my bucket list, but I can check this off. 

Monday, June 3, 2019

In a State

Back to the minor crisis at hand, I am on the floor trying to coax Ellie out from under the bed. Marshall is leaning over my head from the bed, tail wagging, as if offering moral support. I went to the other side to see if maybe that would be easier. Lying on the floor, I looked up to see Marshall once again on the bed, tail wagging as if he was getting much enjoyment from Ellie's predicament. Not needing a peanut gallery of support, I opened the bedroom door and sent him downstairs.

Trying to brainstorm this sticky (more like 'stucky') situation, I grabbed some heavy books and stacked them under the bed rail, hoping I could wedge one more onto the stack, raising the rail just a bit, maybe a 1/2 inch or so. I remembered I had a small bit of cheese (from last night's dose of Benadryl). Reaching for it, I put it down on the floor, just under the side rail.  Like some game at a carnival, Ellie's nose quickly stuck from under the bed rail as far as she could reach to the snap up the cheese. Then I moved it just out of her reach hoping food would give her the incentive she needed to free herself. But, no. Was not to be.

Starting to panic, I realized I needed a better plan. I was able to reach under the bed and remove her collars.  Then I headed down stairs to find a tool I could use to lift the bed up an inch or two. 

Back in the bedroom, I attempted, once more, to raise the side of the bed, all the time assuring Ellie it was going to be OK. But the bed rail was not cooperating. Now I was starting to stress. I leaned down to see where she was, hoping I could maybe turn her on her side and pull her out that way. There was no Ellie. I moved the few shoe boxes that I had stored under the bed, thinking she was hiding among them. But no Ellie.

"Oh, God", I thought, "where is she?" Now, one would think I would be relieved and my reaction would have been to take a deep breath.   After all she was no longer a prisoner under the bed. But, not so much. By now I had worked myself up into a frenzy, fearing something dreadful had happened to her. This was senseless. After all she was no longer under the bed. The crisis had passed. But, where was she?

I searched everywhere in the bedroom, the bath, the closet, and even in her bed, but no Ellie. There was only one obvious explanation. She must have worked herself out and was down stairs.

As I walked into the hall downstairs, Ellie poked her head around the corner. Her little tail was wagging. No worse for the wear, she was ready for breakfast. After all, the other dogs had already eaten. Ellie takes a lot of things seriously - patrolling the back yard, irritating Marshall by taking his toys, and ridding the yard of moles and voles. However, what she takes most seriously, are her meals.

My relief to see her was mixed with annoyance. Part of me was furious. But, like a child, she had no idea the emotional toll the morning had taken on me. Seeing her bright eyes and wagging tail, I knew I couldn't hold this against her. I put her collars back on. While pouring the kibbles into her red bowl, I was telling her how much she had scared me. "If you got under the bed, why couldn't you get out - when I asked?" As if she could understand me. 

Even as she chowed down on her breakfast, Ellie showed some appreciation with a quick short bark, followed by a series of "beeps'. Finally I could have a morning cup of coffee. Putting the grounds into the espresso maker, I thought, "I'm too old for this much excitement -especially early in the morning." 

Sunday, June 2, 2019

I hear you, but where are you?

Night before last we had a fairly severe thunderstorm. Ellie, the dog who will fiercely find and torment a copperhead snake without a second thought, is scared senseless of a bad storm. Knowing the forecast for the evening, I gave her a small amount of Benadryl. I have found that if she gets the medication before the storm, she is normally much more calm. 

Everyone was in bed. The lights were out and I was reading my Ipad. With the first strike of lightening and loud clap of thunder, Ellie was whining at my bedside on the floor. (Sometimes she sleeps in her bed under a table in my bedroom and sometimes she chooses to sleep on the bed.) I picked up and put her on the bed.

She immediately climbed on my pillow, above my head. I attempted to assure her the world was not ending rubbing her head with calming words. Thinking all was well, I turned on my side and went back to my reading. Ellie moved a bit. My eyes looked up to see her head next to mine, as if she was reading also. Whatever, as long as she was calm.

Over the next few hours, she was on and off the bed with each clap of any thunder. I found myself taking cat naps between the moments of Ellie's angst. Finally we all went to sleep, from sheer exhaustion, if nothing else.

Each morning the pups start getting restless around 5:30. Usually I can negotiate 30 minutes or so more of sleep. If Ellie is on the bed, she is leading the charge. If she didn't bless us with her presence on the bed the following night, she will come to my side of the bed and very quietly whine. It is as if she is trying to be polite, but making her presence known none the less.  

Yesterday morning was no different. Marshall had climbed on top of me, tail wagging being much more cheerful than anyone should be at that time of the morning. I informed him it was not time to get up and tried to go back to sleep. I could hear Ellie's quiet whine. "Great", I thought. "Now ALL the natives were restless."

I reached down to get her but there was no Ellie. I looked to see if she was standing at the door ready to go downstairs. But she was not there. I turned over and tried to go back to sleep. But she continued whining. Finally I got off the bed, went over to her bed - no Ellie. It was at this time I realized she was under the bed. I could just see her little black nose peeking out. Getting down on my hands and knees, I reached to get her. She quickly scooted back further under the bed. 

After some coaxing, she came back over to the edge. It was then that I realized this was "Houston, we have a problem" moment. She was stuck under the bed and could not get herself under the wooden side rail. The bed was much too heavy for me to lift. 

For a little dog who could dig a good hole anywhere in the yard, certainly she could "dig" herself out of this situation.

Saturday, June 1, 2019

The Gentle Shock

If anyone has ever had a terrier (of any kind) you know they are loyal, curious, sweet, and independent. And, you also know they love to dig (a lot) and are fairly vocal. Well my 2 little ones (Marshall and Ellie) are all of the above, especially the later. After attempting to control this obnoxious habit - to no avail, I resorted to bark collars.

I was assured by the local Petsmart 'Expert' (the 18 year old lanky young man with a bad hair cut and some illegible tattoo on his arm, who would not look me in the eyes) that the collar he suggested was safe and would not 'harm' the pups. So I purchased one.

Reading the description of the device in the store, I was particularly drawn to the phrases - "will administer a light shock to your pet every time he/she barks, training him/her quickly." Also, the part that said the strength of the 'light shock' could easily be adjusted sounded good to me.

Since Ellie was the main culprit, I decided to try it on her first. If all went well, then I would get another one for Marshall. I read the instructions carefully, paying close attention to the part about adjusting the strength of the 'light shock'. When I was convinced it was adjusted to the correct size for her neck and the 'light shock' had been calibrated to the lowest settings, I was ready.

Ellie is so friendly that putting the collar on her was not difficult. We were sitting on the deck at the time. As soon as I had it on her neck, I heard the FedEx truck arrive. Ellie quickly jumped off my lap and scurried down the stairs. Then she barked. The collar obviously went off because (and I am not making this up) she came off the ground about 2 feet and did a back flip. When she landed, she stood perfectly still as if she feared any movement would bring about another 'attack' from the 'thing' around her neck. 

Feeling totally guilty, I ran to her, removed the collar, and assured her I still loved her (and that I felt incredibly guilty). Checking the collar, I saw that it was indeed on the lowest frequency. The collar was returned the next day.

This time the Petsmart 'Expert' was a spunky young lady who listened to my tale, looked me in the eyes when I was talking, and said, "I have just thing. Follow me." 

She handed me a box containing another bark collar. "I'm so sorry that one did not work out. But, I know this one will and it does not shock the dog." She smiled,"My Border Collie has one and barking is no longer an issue. It's amazing."

As I turned the box over to read the back, she continued,"When the dog barks, the collar shoots out a very, very small amount of citronella that goes into his nose and/or mouth." 

"Huh," I said remembering the pleasant smell of the citronella candles we always had on the back patio when I was growing up to kill the pesky mosquitoes. Never thought about it being effective with a barking dog.

She continued, "I'm not sure how this works. You know, whether the dog doesn't like the scent or what."

I thanked her for her help, exchanged the 'old' collar for the 'new' one, and headed home, convinced my problem was going to be solved in a gentle humane manner. The collar was easy to fill with the oil and even easier to adjust for Ellie's neck. So in a matter of minutes Ellie was sporting a new collar. She immediately ran out of the dog door.

I held my breath. It wasn't a minute or so before she barked. But she quickly stopped. "Hallelujah," I thought. "Done!" But not so fast. Soon she was barking with her normal gusto. I walked outside and picked her up. She had the wonderful scent of citronella - a lot of  citronella. Inspecting the collar I saw that the reservoir of oil was almost empty. (The box had said to expect to refill the collar maybe once a week.) I also realized that the fur on her neck was soaked - with citronella oil. Funny, the box never said anything about not working on a furry neck.

Back to the drawing board, or Amazon in my case, I continued my search for a humane, effective bark collar. After 10 minutes or so, reading through the descriptions and reviews of various collars, I found one I was willing to try. This one would 'beep' for one second upon the first bark, if needed, the next bark would elicit a two second 'beep'. In the event that the dog was persistent, with the next bark the collar would emit a shock that the manufacturer assured was a light static electrical charge - similar to what one received when walking across a rug in socks. 

So the collars came. I read the directions, put in the battery, and adjusted it to a medium charge.  Testing it in my hand I found it was exactly what the box said - light static. I put one on each dog. Immediately Ellie barked. And there were audible 'beeps' for just a second. Ellie was silent. Throughout the afternoon I could hear the series of 'beeps' following her bark. In time she still barked, but only once instead of the continual barrage of barking she was known for. 

It worked, it actually worked. Over the next few days I noticed that she learned how to, on occasion, grumble loudly, just low enough to avoid setting the collar off.  In Ellie's mind, I could see her thinking, "OK, maybe I shouldn't bark, but dammit, I can still vocalize - in some way."

It was later that I remembered in my research reading that Cairn Terriers (as was Ellie) were not candidates for invisible fences. They are so stubborn, that they would simply run through the electrical field and keep going. Perhaps the fence companies should consider 'beeps'.  True they are 'barkers' and they are determined little things, but they are also wicked smart. It didn't take Ellie long to realize every time she barked, there were obnoxious 'beeps'. And, if she continued there was a 'light charge' to gently remind her she was doing something she shouldn't be doing.

Now, about the digging . . .