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About a month ago I made a new friend. It was an inquisitive, furry little creature that moved in with the chipmunks under my porch. After a quick internet search, I confirmed that it was a groundhog and gave him (or her) what may be the most imaginative name ever for a groundhog, Bill Murray.
Having no prior experience with groundhogs, this is complete conjecture, but I think Bill Murray may be cooler than the average groundhog. Bill thought nothing of coming up on the front stoop and looking inside the house. Or hanging out in my flowers. Or the dog pen (which wasn’t the best idea on Bill’s part).
Every day, I’d give Bill my apple core. He helped himself to lettuce and strawberries from my garden. I didn’t mind, because I’d grown way more lettuce than my husband and I could eat, and I’d rather share with Bill than risk it going to waste. And Bill left all the rest of the vegetable alone. So ours was a symbiotic friendship.
Alas, it could not last.
Because Bill started chewing on the house, eating the wood trim away to make the holes he had dug in the ground bigger. Keeping up with an old farm house is hard enough without a saboteur in my midst. So the decision was made. Bill had to go.
I bought a live trap at the local farmer’s union. Despite the betrayal, this wasn’t a Fredo from Godfather moment. I didn’t want anything bad to happen to Bill. I just didn’t want him to destroy my house.
Several days passed without Bill getting in the trap. The chipmunks ran in and grabbed the apple core out, minions bringing the loot to their bigger roommate. I had almost given up hope. I thought it would never happen. Then I took the dogs out one rainy night before bed, and I knew. It was the most inopportune time. I was tired. Cranky. I wanted to crawl in bed and get some sleep. It was wet and miserable out, not the kind of weather to leave a living creature trapped out in the elements. Sure enough, Bill was in the cage.
I loaded the trap in the back of the Jeep, my husband and I standing over the seemingly fearless creature in the cage. Bill looked at me with sadness and regret in his eyes. The house destruction was a moment of weakness, he seemed to say, it wouldn’t happen again. He put his little hand through the wires of the cage, as if he were reaching for me, his eyes never leaving mine. My heart broke. But my mind was made up.
The guys at the farmer’s union told me to make sure I took him at least 10 miles away, preferably over a body of water, to prevent his return. So my husband and I spent an hour driving him way farther than that out to his new home, the shore of a huge pond deep in the woods of moose country. If the area could support moose, (and the deer and fox we passed in droves), then surely a groundhog’s needs could be met, too.
I opened the cage along the edge of the pond. Bill stepped out, turned around, and looked at me. He seemed to be asking me not to do it. He could change, he’d be a better friend, stay out of the garden and be less destructive. I shook my head no. He slowly walked off, pausing often to look back at me, making sure I didn’t have a last minute change of mind. As much as it hurt, I stood strong.
I spent days wracked with guilt. Would Bill be alright in his new home? Would he be safe? Would he be overcome with crippling depression at the rejection, unable to get out of his groundhog bed in the morning?
A week passed. The void Bill Murray left in my life was starting to shrink. The pain was starting to fade. I walked into the kitchen, where my husband was eating lunch. He looked at me a moment, then suggested that I look outside. There, out front, was a groundhog. Apparently, I had just missed seeing the little face peer inside. The body looked a little bigger, the tail was pretty ratty.
Could it be? Had Bill Murray hiked over twenty miles to return home? All guilt I felt immediately vanished, replaced by fear. Maybe even a little anger. How would I ever manage to catch him again? What would he do in retribution? Throwing open the door, I went outside to confront my nemesis. The groundhog froze, looked at me with fear, and bolted. Never to return again.
Was it Bill Murray? I’ll never know for sure, but I’d like to think not. I’d like to think that Bill is stretched out, relaxing on a sunny pond bank, chewing on tender shoots and living the good life. I wish all the best for Bill. As long as he doesn’t come back.
This book has an intriguing plot. It is well written, kept my attention, and kept me guessing. I couldn’t put it down (as in, I considered starting an argument with my husband so I could stay up late to finish it – don’t judge). I had no idea who the culprit was until the author let me know. That rarely happens. That said, I’m not quite sure how I feel about the ending.
On the one hand, bravo. Heaberlin produced the unexpected. She took me by surprise. She made me think. On the other hand, I didn’t exactly love the ending. Part of it, in theory, was excellent. But I didn’t like who the bad guy was. It felt wrong in a way that left a funny taste in my mouth. I feel like the twist wasn’t set up enough. This could be entirely my problem. The twist of betrayal was an excellent turn of events, but again, I would have liked to have seen it set up a bit more in the preceding pages. Leave a hint, just a trace of what is to come, and still take me by surprise. Please! All in all, though, a 5 star book by an author I look forward to reading again.
I enjoyed Silent Screams, the first book in the D.I. Kim Stone series by Angela Marsons quite a bit, but not enough to make me a die hard fan waiting for the next in the series. Then, I kept seeing a book (Goodreads, WordPress, Amazon) with a plot that sounded like an awesome must read story, which just so happened to be the third in this series. I didn’t see the sense in skipping a book, and I found a copy of this one (but not the third😦 ), so I gave it a try.
Marsons is a talented author with one foot planted deep in the dark side of life. She’s not Mo Hayder dark, but she doesn’t write cozies, either. This installment of the series further develops the character of D.I. Kim Stone, making her more realistic and likable. It also delves deeper into the darkness and shadowy criminal psyche that Marsons seems to understand so well. Can’t wait to find book 3 in this that is quickly becoming addictive! 5 stars.
I don’t claim to be an engineer, an architect, or even a contractor. To be honest, I don’t entirely know what I’m doing when it comes to construction. My skills can be described as so-so at best. And my body (the saw marks on my arm, the nail blackened by a hammer blow, various cuts, scrapes and bruises from statistically unlikely mishaps, of which I am the queen) attests to this. But, what what I lack in talent I make up for with enthusiasm and ingenuity. And cheap (mostly free) materials.
The body of the bar is made of free wood pallets. The frame for the roof and the wood for the bar top came from the wood pile at the transfer station (or dump, as it’s called in the south). To spruce it up, I bought one $25 6 foot by 8 foot roll of bamboo fencing from the hardware store (FYI – it’s not quite 8 ft long). I cut it using garden clippers into two halves, one 3.5 feet, the other 2.5 feet. I wrapped the taller section around the bottom, cut the shorter section into two halves and used it for the roof, attaching with a staple gun.
I bought the cheapest laminate floor tiles (12 at 88 cents each) for the bar top. To attach the roof, I built boxes for the upright wood pieces, screwed them to the bar top, and screwed up from under the bar top into the wood rod. I cut notches into the top of the rod for the frame of the roof to fit into so that I could lift the roof off and store it when the snow comes. I spent less than $10 on new wood, buying only two 2 x 2 x 8 which I sawed in half and used at the upright rods holding the roof up, for a total investment of under $50. Which leaves money for the most important part of any tiki bar:
(FYI – these awesome plastic tiki cups came from the $ store!)
What can I say about this collection of short stories by notorious author Margaret Atwood? I have mixed feelings. The first few stories are interrelated, with characters mentioned in one story featured in the next. I love the idea. I didn’t love the stories. I’d give these a rating of 3.5 to 4.
However, the later stories in the book appealed to me more. Enough to redeem the book for me as a whole and make me glad that I read it. Enough for me to understand the longevity of Atwood’s career.
Some of the stories in this collection are more genre than literature. It is these stories that capture the reader’s attention and takes their brain by storm. I give these stories 5 stars. The book as a whole, 4.5 stars.