I gather from assorted newscasts that lots of people have lots of time on their hands as they shelter in place. So they’re bored and they take to drink or binge watch The Good Place on Netflix or obsessively play Sudoku and Solitaire on their smart phones. Well, personally, we don’t have all that much spare time at our house.
Take online grocery shopping, for instance. Our service proudly keeps a tab on how many hours our shoppers have saved us, according to them. These savings average about an hour per shopper per trip. But the time-saving bit is pretty much a crock. Here’s why I say that.
Now, I’m systematic about grocery shopping and always make a list on a notepad I keep in the kitchen. I’ll add a dozen eggs after my daughter has made an omelet for breakfast for dinner and a bunch of bananas when I’m down to one. And just before I head off to the store, something I haven’t done myself in more than a month, I quickly check the vegetable, fruit, and cheese drawers in the fridge to see what I’m short on, ditto the pantry and freezer. I confer with my daughter about anything she might need. So overall, I hardly notice the time it takes to create a grocery list.
But the thing about online shopping is that you have to transfer your list to the shopping app and that takes time because you have to say what replacements you’ll accept for an item they don’t have or if they should skip it altogether something like a specific brand of Neufchatel cheese for which you will accept no substitute because you’ve tried them and they’re just a little slimy. Yucko on the toast. And thanks so much, but nonfat cheese is even slimier. Double yucko on the toast. (If you’ve read any of my previous pieces on shopping, you know how picky I get when I shop.) My daughter usually handles putting the groceries on the app and texting back and forth with our shopper in the store, but I stay close by so she can ask me about the Neufchatel or whatever.
And another thing about time and online shopping . . . When your shopper is actually in the store and shopping, you have to go through the list again, explaining by text why you won’t accept a substitute for the hand soap you use because you have sensitive skin. (FYI: All those 20-second hand washes, even with my preferred soap, have wrinkled the backs of my hands and made them shiny too, so my skin looks like some kind of weird baklava.)
Also, I know the stores we order from better than most of the shoppers, so they get lost sometimes and need to text for directions for items like tortillas that I would go right to if I were shopping in person. So overall we spend as much time online at the store, or maybe more as we would if we were actually in the store and shopping. Plus, I miss the retail therapy and the pleasure of smelling the peaches to see if they’re really ripe.
And once the shoppers deliver my stuff, I have to process the perishables by spraying the packages of frozen foods with disinfectant, for instance, before I hustle them into the house and into the freezer or in the case of produce like apples and clementines giving them a bath in soapy water. This takes time, too.
But really the time required is beside the point and neither the shoppers’ fault nor the service’s either. It’s the pandemic and that insidious virus. And thanks to those shoppers going out into danger in my stead, I feel fairly safe from it. And I am better off than if I were out shopping on my own. So again, thanks is due to those who help me.
And now, if you’ll excuse me, I want to go play Solitaire Go on my iPhone for thirty, forty minutes, maybe an hour . . .
As their wedding day fast approaches, Minty Wilcox has some questions about her fiancé Daniel Price. Did he really kill someone? Why has he never told her he’s rich? And for goodness’ sake, where will they go on their honeymoon?
From Minty’s journal . . .
But back to my story of naming the Irish setter puppy that Papa has given us as a wedding present . . . My fiancé, the outrageous Daniel Price, the man that I am to marry in less than a week, told me in no uncertain terms that the dog must be named Butch! I suppose he was just teasing, but still . . . Butch?
Even Papa said, “Why, Daniel, giving this sweet girl pup a thug’s name doesn’t bode well for when you two start giving Laura and me grandchildren.”
(That reminded me of possibly being called “Mrs. Elmer Horace Frankenfurter-Engishdeiler” that at one point Daniel said was his real name, so I giggled a bit over it.)
After Papa said that, Daniel backed down and said, “Well, let me think about it then.”
He does seem to like the pup very much. After he half scared the poor little thing to death with his clown’s wig and white face, he took off the wig, went upstairs to the bathroom and washed up. When he came down again, he looked fairly normal except for the bruise around his left eye.
Speaking of that, my brother Kit said, “Will you have a black eye for your wedding day?”
“I might,” Daniel said . . .
Mischief in March is Book 3 of the Calendar Mystery series that tells the story of Minty Wilcox and Daniel Price from newly met to newly wed and beyond a hundred years or so ago, when life in Kansas City could get downright deadly.
“Stop! Thief!” a woman screamed. Across the lobby, outside the New England National Bank stood a stooped woman in black and a raggedy little boy. The woman pointed to a fellow running up the stairs and shouted, “Come back here with my purse.” Then, seeming to notice Minty and Daniel for the first time, she said, “That man took my purse!”
“Hold this, darling girl,” Daniel said.
Minty took the shopping bag fragrant with the lunch they’d just purchased from the deli down the street and clutched it to her chest as Daniel sprinted off past the elevators.
After that, in quick succession, the boy who’d opened the doors for them whistled sharply and shouted, “Let’s get out of here, Mick!”
The little kid turned away from the screaming old lady and limped up to Minty. “Please, ma’am, could you spare a nickel?” he said. “I ain’t eat nothing yet today.” He gazed up at Minty with heart-breaking blue eyes.
“No time for that now, Mick,” said the boy who’d held the door for Minty and Daniel. He snatched the shopping bag out of Minty’s hand and pushed past her to the door.
“Hey!” Minty said. “Give that—“
In their first case together as a detective couple, newly engaged Minty Wilcox and Daniel Price pursue a gang of thieves plaguing Kansas City in February 1900. Distractions include the objections of their boss to any show at all of their affection for each other inside the office and out and Minty’s wayward thoughts about the secret married couples keep to themselves. Join the fun, mystery and romance of this Calendar Mystery short story that takes place between the events of Fatal February and Mischief in March. And along the way meet the son of a famous outlaw.
Praise for “The 9th Street Gang”
If you wish for something pleasant to get your mind off the lately awful news, delve yourself into the story of three little hoodlums that steal this story from the endearing main characters and enjoy the tidbits of Kansas City history. Amazon Reviewer
Get “The 9th Street Gang” for free at http://www.amazon.com/dp/B079YYVTTX
A Progress Report
Since my cataract surgery, I’ve been saying “But Wait” to myself a lot.
“But wait! Don’t you have to put your glasses on before you can see to walk around the house?”
“But wait! Don’t you have to take your contact lenses out before you put those eye drops in?”
“But wait! You mean to tell me those green socks you wore to match your green jammies have been light blue all the time?” (And what other surprises lurk in my sock drawer?)
Apparently, I’ve been walking around in a soft, sepia fog for many years. (This isn’t a particularly bad thing for a writer of historical fiction, though.)
On the other hand, I used to say, “But wait! Wasn’t that your turn?” as I whizzed past the place where I was supposed to turn. But now I can read those street signs from half a block away.
So after my cataract surgeries, I’ve had to make small, odd mental adjustments to the changes in my vision. But I also have to admit that I’ve probably never seen as well as I do now.
A Live and Learn Blog
This coming week, I’m scheduled to have cataract surgery on my right eye and the left eye the week after that. Now this is a rather alarming prospect in itself. How come? Well, it’s like this. As a fiction writer used to creating all sorts of nightmare scenarios, I can think of an abundance of things that can wrong. The information sheets the eye clinic sent me home with don’t help since they include complications like losing an eye. I’m not sure an eye patch is really the fashion look I’m after though maybe a black satin patch with sequins . . . ?
The info sheets also list major risks that include a droopy eyelid. Oh great! My eyelids are already so droopy that when I went for my eye exam last October, the technician at my regular optometrist’s office took at least two-dozen pictures of my eyeballs in one test before she thought she got a good one. For another test, she called in another technician who grabbed hold of the back of my neck and tried to pry my eye wide open with her other hand, thus blocking the camera.
These exams turned to be such an ordeal that when I finally saw my doctor, I said, “Oh gosh, I think I flunked my eye test.”
Nice guy that he is, the doctor merely smiled and said, “You’re fine.”
Nervous about the surgery, I put out a call to my Facebook friends and they were quite reassuring as in “easy peasy.” So I’m feeling a little more relaxed about it. Still I have a problem. In the build up to the surgery, I have to put eye drops in my eyes. This wasn’t immediately easy since I had to take a pair of manicure scissors to the plastic on one of the tiny bottles of eye drops just to get it open. (What is it with these companies that make the containers they put eye drops, food like mini quiches, juice, and other things in that it’s such a struggle to open them?)
But here again my droopy eyelids were problematic. There I stood in front of the mirror in my bathroom trying to drop the once-a-day stuff in my right eye. And it’s cloudy and it gushes out and I feel it on my cheek. Plus extra comes out of the vial that I have to wipe off. This stuff isn’t cheap. Those three tiny bottles shown above altogether cost $75. So I worry about wasting the eye drops, having to buy more, and also being scolded by the eye surgeon for not properly preparing for the surgery.
The first two applications of the other pre-surgery eye drops ended up on my cheek as well, or mostly anyway. Thank goodness for my daughter. She suffers from chronic dry eye and so she’s developed a method for dropping liquids in her eyes. She gave me an eye drop tutorial. She tilts her head left when she wants to put eye drops in her right eye, puts the tip of the bottle close to the corner of the right eye but not against it, and squeezes the vial. I tried her technique and sure enough, most of the drop went in my right eye instead of rolling down my cheek.
So this whole saga goes to show you that old dogs can learn new tricks. Plus it’s really great to have a kid and friends that care. Thanks, everybody!
P. S. January Jinx, Book 1 of my cozy historical mystery series, is only #99cents athttp://www.amazon.com/dp/B00HSSSBE4 and a penny less than a pound at http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B00HSSSBE4 today through Tuesday January 7, 2020.
Just then a hullabaloo erupted outside. Men shouted. Horses neighed. A dog barked.
In the kitchen, Gerta shouted, “Frau Vilcox, Herr . . .“ But a cat squalling, a dog baying, and a man swearing drowned out the rest of what she said.
As Mama smoothed her hair and smiled, Minty sprang up from her chair. “What’s going on, Mama?” Minty asked just before Sergeant the cat sprinted into the dining room and sailed onto the table. As he sprang for the plate rail, over went the bottle of rosewater. There was no help for the scent streaming across the oilcloth, but Minty caught an oyster plate the cat dislodged. Minty set the plate on the table as a beagle pranced and howled by her feet.
“For goodness’ sake, King, sit!” Mama commanded and the dog promptly did. Mama righted the perfume bottle and dropped a handful of cotton fluff in the puddle of scent.
“Good god, Laura.” A man of medium height with broad shoulders under a black leather coat appeared in the door. He had blazing blue eyes and a wind-burned face below a battered brown sombrero. You’ve got this place smelling like a French whorehouse.”
“Back in town so soon, Thomas?” Mama asked coolly.
“Papa!” Minty hurled herself out of her chair and at her father who hugged her and then pulled her around to his side.
For lots more fun, mystery, and romance in Old Kansas City with a bright business girl and a dashing detective, you still have a few more hours to get the BIG boxed set of my calendar mystery series for the low, low price of $2.99 at http://www.amazon.com/dp/B07QDKF413 or £2.99 at http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B07QDKF413