The Detective’s Daughter – The Importance of the Dinner Table.

On Sunday I met my mom for Mother’s Day brunch at one of my favorite coffee shops, The Filling Station. As we sat around the table chatting with my children I was reminded of all the happy dinners I had growing up. Our kitchen was always filled with people and everyone was welcome.               .FullSizeRender (1)

There is something magical about a table. You gather around to share stories and secrets and many times the meal becomes secondary to the conversation. It’s the gathering together of friends and family that remain in our memories long after the menu has been forgotten.                FullSizeRender

As we grow older and families move away or pass on, we gather with friends. My book club meets each month around one of our tables, regardless of how cozy and comfortable a living room might appear, it’s the table we gravitate to.  I look forward to the evenings I spend with friends and family, whether it is the girls I grew up with or my wickedly wonderful cozy sisters here on the blog. Though our times together are infrequent, they are meaningful and cherished by me. FullSizeRender (2)

So, dear reader, make the time to share a meal with someone you love or like or maybe even just want to know a little better. It is the community we find around the table that really nourishes us.

 

What was your most memorable dinner conversation? Who is the person, living or dead, you would want to invite to your dinner table?

 

You Can Go Home Again – Part Two

By Sherry — enjoying life in Virginia

GIVEAWAY! Julianne Holmes aka Julie Hennrikus is celebrating the release of the second book in the Clock Shop Mystery series. She’s been gathering the names of our commenters for the last several days and one lucky person will win a copy of Clock and Dagger so be sure and leave a comment!

IMG_0219 I blogged once before about my dad’s home town of Novinger, Missouri. For those of you who don’t know, my maiden name is Novinger. I spent lots of weekends and holidays on my grandparents’ farm in Novinger and was delighted to take my daughter there for the first time in mid-July.

I’m so impressed that this very small town moved the home of one of the founders of the town Issac Novinger (a great, great, great — you get the idea — grandfather). The log cabin stood on a farm near Novinger. They took it apart log by log and rebuilt it in the center of town. Then they turned it into a museum IMG_0019and give tours. We were lucky enough to take a tour.

IMG_0036Novinger was a coal mining town. My grandfather had an old coal mine on his farm. Of course we weren’t ever allowed to go into the mine and much of it looked like it had collapsed. This cart, near the Issac Novinger cabin, looks just like the one from my grandfather’s farm.

There are three things in the cabin that originally belonged to Issac Novinger.

The top left picture is a grain bin made by Issac. The tour guide had no idea I was a mystery writer and told us: If you dropped the lid of this on someone it would kill them. Of course that got my mind whirling. He also made the bench. The magazine is dated August 1911.

The house has three rooms on the lower level:

A spinning wheel sat in the corner of the bedroom.IMG_0162

Our tour guide told us it was unusual for a log cabin to have an upstairs but this cabin did.

IMG_0050After the tour of the cabin we decided to drive out to my grandparents’ farm. I hadn’t been out there in thirty years so I hoped I could still find it. On the way we stopped to see the school my Aunt Ginny taught at.

The roads out to my grandparents’ farm gets smaller and smaller and smaller. My husband wasn’t convinced I could get us there. I recognized my Aunt Alberta and Uncle Bryon’s house and my dad’s best friend Glen Dale Riley’s house.

Then just when my husband was convinced we should give up, (I think the narrow road and private property signs freaked him out) we found it! If you look in the far distance you can see a glimpse of white that was my grandparent’s home.Version 2

We spent the night in the town of Kirksville, Missouri where I attended college. On the way from Novinger to Kirksville we stopped at Thousand Hills State Park, the site of many picnics and hikes when I was little and maybe a party or two during college. IMG_0242We had time to stop by the campus of Truman State College (Northeast Missouri State University when I attended and Northeast Missouri State Teachers College when my parents went). We had a fun dinner with my college friends.

It was on to St. Louis for the last leg of our trip. We stopped in my mom’s home town of LaPlata, Missouri.IMG_0248And then we drove on to St. Louis where my friend Dianne arranged a dinner with some of our sorority sisters. It was such a lovely evening! And such a fabulous trip. IMG_0263

Readers: Do you have a favorite memory of a place from your past? Have you been back to visit that place?

Blooming Where You’re Planted

I was asked recently by a fellow blogger to participate in an opportunity from DogVacay – a photo sharing campaign about how your dog best represents your city and interests. I checked out her blog post about Milwaukee and her dog Sheba and thought it was terrific. However, my immediate response to the project was to say, “Thanks, but I’m not sure I would do it justice. You see, I don’t really embrace where I live right now, so maybe another time.”

Luckily, she persisted. “I think you can always find something you love somewhere,” she said.

And you know what? She’s right. I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about leaving Connecticut, how fast I can make that happen, how desperate I am to be near our precious Boston again. What I haven’t been doing is appreciating what I have and where I am, or accepting the lessons I am here to learn. About seven years ago, at a going-away party before I came here, a friend said to me, “Bloom where you are planted.” I didn’t think too much about her words then. I’d never really thought much about where I lived – I just lived there and accepted it for what it was. Once I got here, it was different. I did begin to understand what I wanted out of a location – and as much as I love cows, that location did not involve the smell of cow manure in the morning, or tractors driving down the road while I was trying to get to work. But it was too bad, because I was already here. And the lessons were knocking at my door.

We live in South Windham, right on the border of Lebanon. It’s quiet on this side of town, save for one rowdy neighbor, and the proximity to Lebanon is lovely. Lebanon has a beautiful town green where we go to walk, and though it’s a small town, it’s become special to us. It was even the catalyst for my Pawsitively Organic books – it was the perfect setting.

But it took one of the smartest members of the household to point that out. When Shaggy, my beloved schnoodle, came to live here, she immediately embraced where we live. Her favorite thing to do as a puppy was walk our street and go visit the neighborhood rescue cow. She loved the cow so much, she even dressed like her one Halloween. Shaggy Cow

When it became too dangerous to walk there, we moved to the green – and she loves it. It’s her absolute favorite place. Lots to sniff, people and dogs to meet, rocks to climb on and she even gets to run with me sometimes. As soon as we turn onto the street, her ears perk up and she whines in anticipation – she can’t wait to get out of the car and hit the trail. And Finny is just happy about everything. Here they are ready to go walking.

Shaggy and Finny

Their attitudes are contagious. I look forward to the green, too. Lately, I’ve even found myself admiring different things about where I live as I’m driving to work, or running errands. It’s beautiful this time of year. Seven years later, I’m finally noticing. So thanks, Shaggy and Finn.

If you live around here and need a dog sitter, or are looking for doggie resources, check out the DogVacay page here. Enjoy.

And always remember to bloom where you are planted. There’s good in everything.

Homesick

I’ve had Boston on the brain lately. More so than usual, even. That won’t surprise many of you who know me, least of all my Connecticut friends who have to listen to me lament on a daily basis about missing the city I’ve loved since I was a child. It’s true – I’ve missed my proximity to Boston since moving to Connecticut seven (long) years ago. Prior to that, the furthest I lived was an hour away, but it was always an easy drive.  Boston_free

But then I needed a change. A big one, I felt. And I was adamant about that change being in a completely different state, while still acknowledging my loyalty to New England. Besides, I reasoned, I was barely two hours from Boston. How different could it be?

Lesson learned. While the draw of Connecticut could arguably be its proximity to both New York and Boston, the atmosphere couldn’t be any more different than what I was used to. Bostonians are gritty, quirky, confident, bold, fearless, creative, strong. Fierce. They live life out loud and they don’t apologize for it. They are loyal. And, contrary to what some believe, they are welcoming, generous, helpful.

Me_BostonI didn’t find much of that in my new community, to my dismay. There are exceptions, as there are always. I’ve met some wonderful people here that made my journey worth every minute. But overall, I don’t fit in here. It’s not my community. I’ve missed Boston’s artsy, creative atmosphere, my writer friends. I miss the city. The subway. Mike’s Pastry. Walking everywhere.

Since the Boston Marathon bombings and subsequent events, the longing to be back has been stronger and more urgent. Beginning with that first, horrible news alert I couldn’t shake the feeling of having to be there, just to feel the city under my feet, tell the trees and buildings and people everything would be okay, but most of all to reassure myself that I was returning. That I understood where I belonged.

Those events woke something in my soul. They say tragedies happen so people can figure out what really matters in life. I won’t say I was coasting along on autopilot, but I did find that my modus operandi for the past few years was to make empty promises about coming back, and when. Not for lack of wanting, but I just wasn’t putting the right things in motion. I would complain to my Sisters in Crime New England friends every year at Crime Bake about not having moved yet. When they asked when I was returning, I would say, “Oh, in a year or so,” and explain why my job/finances/insert-excuse-here was preventing it.

No more. It’s time. I used to think where you lived was just a detail. An address, or a zip code. I understood that where you came from said something about who you were, but I didn’t fully grasp how much a part of you a place can be. I heard one of my favorite authors, Dennis Lehane (Boston to the core), talk recently. He mentioned trying to explain to his wife why he loved it so much, and not finding the words to do it justice. I think it’s because it can’t really BE explained. It has to be in you. Part of your DNA. A soul connection.

I believe things happen for a reason, and that wherever you are at a given moment is where you’re supposed to be. This journey of mine has been necessary, but now it has run its course. It’s time to go home. And this time, I have a deadline. A SMART goal, if you will. 

Who else out there feels this way about a place? Tell us about it.

Liz Mugavero is the author of the Pawsitively Organic Mysteries, the first of which, Kneading to Die, is now available from Kensington Books. In case you hadn’t guessed, she’s got strong ties to the Boston area.