Bonnie turned 8 this past Halloween. She joined our household when she was a mere 9 weeks old, rather younger than I will usually take a puppy. She was a rescue and her temporary home had too many other puppies … so she joined us as a baby Scottish Terrier.


Is there anything cuter than a baby Scottie?


I don’t think so. From her first day, she was absolutely adorable, funny, playful. Charming in the extreme. We were still mourning the passing of Divot, our Norwich Terrier, but somehow, Bonnie broke through the grief and gamboled into our hearts.


Since day one, she has been a uniquely smart and funny little dog. Also, by a big margin, the most uncooperative photo subject. Ever. Anywhere.

She sees cameras as The Enemy. She will run far and fast … or crowd the lens so you can’t focus. Barring the first two options, she will hide in shadow so her dark fur and eyes meld into an indistinguishable lump of fuzz.

My most successful picture of Bonnie in which she has eyes!

My most successful picture of Bonnie in which she has eyes!

I took more pictures of her today. She sat there. She waited for me to focus and shoot. I’m sure she was laughing at me because she knows I will never get a good picture of her in natural light.

She’s a black dog with black eyes. Bushy eyebrows. All light comes from the window behind her. Backlighting makes a difficult photographic situation impossible.


Next time, I need to use a faster lens because in all of these pictures, she has no eyes. At least she has a pink tongue. That’s something.

I’m not ready to give up. Someday I will get her in good light, groomed, eyes open. Sparkling white smile. She’s slowing down, so any day now.

dogs on stairs

Should you decide to accept this challenge, you can use a picture from this or any post of mine  — or any other picture you like. Write something about the picture or make something up, using a photograph — any photo — as a jumping off point.


In my late twenties, we had friends in their 50s. One day I asked Betty at what point she had felt “grown up.” By then, I was thirty-ish, working full-time, raising a son, taking care of a home and married for ten years. I figured I ought to feel grown up.


Betty looked at me and said “I’ll let you know when it happens.”

When I was a kid, I remember wondering when I’d feel grown up. What the “magic moment” would be. Through my working years, I never fully stopped feeling I was pretending to be an adult. I did adult things, had adult responsibilities. I was a mother, a boss, a career person. In charge of forming my son into a responsible citizen … but I felt like a child myself.

Having a child made me responsible, but not mature. 

Now, I’m a senior citizen. I’m grown up. I don’t know when it happened or why. I never noticed the transition, but  I’m not pretending anything. I’m just me, whatever that means.

It didn’t change anything. Funny how things work out.


It’s Garry’s fault. He asked me a simple, reasonable, yes or no question.

“Do you have anything to wear to the wedding?”


Of course I have something to wear … don’t I? The next morning, I went through my closet. I couldn’t find anything to wear to a wedding. It seems everything I own is casual except stuff that’s old and dated. I’m not even sure it fits.

Garry HOF on stage

Surely there was something. Nope. I looked at the calendar again and realized there were only a few days to order a dress and have it delivered — even with super fast delivery. If we had some place local I could buy a “nice” dress, I’d go, but all we have is Kohl’s. They don’t have dresses because apparently, no one around here wears them, or they shop at Walmart.

Marilyn with shawl

Except for a couple of weeks before prom week, no store anywhere in the Valley stocks anything dressier than business casual. It’s a fact. You can buy jeans and tee-shirts. Cold weather gear. Even boots. But dressy? Uh uh.

So, off I surfed to Land’s End and bought  a dress. I hope it fits. Unwillingly, I coughed up the extra bucks for speedy shipping. Found another nice dress at J.Jill. Didn’t pay for speedy shipping. Presumably, at least one dress will arrive in time. If not, I’ll improvise.


It is entirely Garry’s fault. If he hadn’t asked, I wouldn’t have thought about it. I would have assumed that there was something in the closet … and I’d have to improvise … which is still plan B.

Oh piffle. I suppose I have to think about shoes too …


Davis Way Caper #1 – Double Whammy 

Davis Way used to be a cop in Pine Apple, Alabama. Her name sounds like a road and the name of the town looks misspelled, but really, that’s her name and Pine Apple is indeed the town from which she hails. She used to be married. To Eddie. Twice. It didn’t work out the first time and it’s hard to figure why she married him a second time.


In the course of the second divorce from her first-and-second husband — she refers to him as her ex-ex — Davis and Eddie behaved badly. Badly enough to get her fired from the force by her father and for restraining orders to get slapped on Davis and her ex-ex. The juicy details of what happened are never given. I rather hope future books will flush out that piece of history.

After a very long search for some kind of job, she is hired by a Biloxi casino, purportedly to discover how someone(s) is beating the machines to collect the jackpot on their Double Whammy Poker slot machines. The terms of her employment are murky. From the get-go, Davis is sure that there’s something seriously awry with the entire setup but she needs the job. She needs the paycheck.

It’s hard to do your job when you aren’t sure what your job is. Harder still when nobody is who or what they appear, including Davis herself. Davis gets in deeper and deeper until she is about to be swallowed by the crime she is investigating. Eventually, with help from unexpected parties, she extracts herself from the quagmire that threatens to keep her in prison for a very long time. And she finds love. Her own double whammy.

Davis comes from a small town, but she’s no hick. She has degrees in Computer Science and Criminology. There’s not a dumb bone in her body. She has the makings of a strong female character and that’s rare enough in the world of mystery writing. I like Davis Way. She’s bright, observant, creative, dedicated and brave. She has a lot of heart. The book is a bit uneven but Gretchen Archer has a fresh voice and I hope to hear it many more times.

Double Whammy is ambitious and well-realized. Ms. Archer has created a strong character with a great back story. Plenty of action, too. A complex plot, lots of characters, a love story and more. The author keeps track and ties up the ends with a bow, an amazing accomplishment for a new author. Fast-paced, lively and charming,Double Whammy leaves you wanting more — much more!


Something is rotten at the Bellissimo casino where Davis Way works high level security. Employees are double dipping all over the place, including at the slot machines. It’s slot tournament season. How better to catch a cheater at slots that be part of the action? Davis Way’s has never seen, much less played in a slot-tournament, but duty calls … this time as a competitor in the tournament. Good news? She gets to wear really great clothing and stay in the finest accommodations Bellissimo has to offer.

Bad news? She working day and night until further notice. Her personal life is going down the tubes. Even on the job, she’s in the deep end of the pool … and swimming isn’t her best sport.

Of course nothing is what it appears to be. Nothing is simple or straightforward. Work is driving her crazy. Her personal life is running off the rails and working all the time is not helping.

The boss’s wife’s personal assistant is missing after bullets are fired. A mousey elderly church lady appears to be the key to a suspicious series of slot machine wins. Meanwhile, after Davis faints dead away in the arms of Bellissimo’s hugely popular emcee, he seems to be gaga over her — not exactly what Davis needs while trying to track down where that slot-playing church lady came from — and what her real motives are.  And what does the So Help Me God Pentecostal Church have to do with all of this? Everything is linked to everything else and it’s going to take all Davis’s sleuthing skills to untangle this Gordian knot.

dbl dip cover

Where’s Bradley Cole during all of this? Working late with Mary Ha-Ha, that’s where. The class action suit on which Bradley is working is as suspicious as the So Help Me God Pentecostal Church … and maybe connected. What’s worse? Davis is pretty sure her persistent upset stomach is not the flu. If only their respective jobs left them some time to talk. If only her sleaze-bag ex-ex Eddie Crawford, would stop showing up where he is so unwanted!


Complicated? It is indeed. Yet the author carries it off with aplomb, style and humor.

Plots within plots, entwined with subplots and back stories. Ms. Archer juggles all the complexities while keeping track of at least a dozen characters, then ties all those dangling threads into a beautiful bow. Nothing is left hanging by accident. At the end of the book, all that remains are tidbits designed to lure you into the next adventure.

All my favorite books make me laugh. There’s nothing I value more in an author than a good sense of humor and a sharp wit. Gretchen Archer has these in abundance. I admit I got more involved in this book than usual and had a small part in an early edit of the text … which changed enormously afterwards. I’m delighted to have taken part in the project and grateful to Gretchen for giving me more credit than I deserve.


It took me almost a week to read Double Strike. I could easily have read it in one marathon night, but I was enjoying it so much, I intentionally slowed down to make it last longer. I didn’t want to eat it in one bite, as it were.

double strike gretchen archer

I didn’t think it was possible, but Gretchen Archer and her cast of characters have gotten even better — and they were already wonderful. Ms. Archer’s writing is crisp, sure-footed, smart. You can clearly hear the author’s voice, something that was a bit muffled in earlier books.

I have it on good authority the editors — this time — let her “have at it.” There are sections in Double Strike, descriptive, opinionated, and hilarious. So good I stopped and read them aloud to my husband. I don’t usually do that, but I was having a “wow” reading moment and had to share.

Davis Way and her associates are becoming more 3-dimensional. No more cartoons. Everyone is a person with motivation, a back story, and a unique personality. Even the “bad guys” are complicated. The interpersonal relationships are also filling out and filling up. Bradley Cole works with Davis, at the same casino. Ms. Archer could easily create an entire other series — the same events from Bradley’s point of view.

I loved the book. The complexity and depth of old and new characters. The intricacies of a plot which the author handles perfectly, never dropping a stitch. I have read a lot of mysteries over the years. Thousands of mysteries — and I have never seen a plot of this complexity handled better or more elegantly.  Gretchen Archer is a champ and a pro. Each book is better than the last.

Bradley’s growth as a character is particularly satisfying. He always had potential, but he was never around enough to become real. Now he’s in the middle of the action. All of the “regulars” get flushed out in this third book. Fantasy, No-Hair … even Bianca Sanders are growing new layers, developing depth.

Ms. Archer’s descriptions of southern culture are mind-blowing. I doubt they will make her popular in Alabama, but it’s some of the best, snarky, sharp, intelligent descriptive writing of a place and its culture I’ve ever read. Astute, witty. Highly quotable.

Double Strike Gretchen Archer

I am so impressed with Double Strike.  I hate to gush, but it was a privilege and a pleasure to read this, especially because I’ve been a fan of Gretchen Archer since Double Whammy. And I was sure  — knew for sure — that this author has “it,” the special something which separates an author from the herd, makes her unique, memorable. And I’m betting “best seller.”

I didn’t want Double Strike to end, but when I got to the final few chapters, I knew I could not put it down until I finished it. It was 2:30 in the morning when I finished the book … and I read the last chapter three times, just to make sure I hadn’t missed anything. A fantastic, climactic finish to this story! Our intrepid Davis Way has plenty of bread crumbs to follow into her next adventure. A satisfying conclusion for readers with enough dangly bits to make us come back and read the next installment.

Author, author!!


I have loved everything Gretchen Archer has written, from her first book “Double Whammy,” to this latest, greatest entry into the Davis Way caper novels.

Double mint gretchen archer

Davis is growing into herself. Still madcap, but madcap in a Sherlock Holmesian way. She knows what she’s doing. She knows why she’s doing it. She sees connections between seemingly random events. How they form a pattern. The problem is getting anyone else to see.

She and Bradley make a great team. They have that “thing” which makes husband-wife detective couples so much fun — the ability to communicate so cryptically no one else understands. But they “get” each other … and it may save a life or two.

It serves them well as the complex plot unrolls. Finding themselves living in the Bellissimo Casino itself (it’s temporary, isn’t it?), in the most hideous apartment imaginable. There’s a conference of bankers going on and Davis can’t get in. Not even for a quick security scan.

Why not? What’s really going on?

Bankers who have their own security people? Who look and act like thugs?  What’s going on with that super-secure vault? What does the apartment’s previous occupant and (shudder) designer, have to do with it? Has Fantasy gone nuts? Where is No Hair when you need him?

Mysteries within mysteries call for Davis’s clever mind and remarkable ability to see what no one else can see. Will anyone else believe her? Will they “get it” before it’s too late?

Welcome to another taut mystery and hilarious romp through the world of casino gambling, mysterious bankers, and sealed vaults. Not to mention gigantic heaps of money. Or something like it.


Talk about your lucky day! You can get all four Davis Way capers — Double Whammy, Double Dip, Double Strike, and Double Mint — on Kindle at one special price! In case you have a mystery-loving friend, it won’t get better than this.

Also available in hardcover and paperback. I can’t say enough good things about this series!


Garry Armstrong, reporting

We tuned in the Pats-Giants game with 1:47 left and the Brady Bunch facing a sixth straight loss to New York’s Big Blue. It didn’t look good. The Giants appeared to have the Patriots’ number. Again. Ready to end another New England run at a perfect season.

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - NOVEMBER 15: Tom Brady #12 of the New England Patriots celebrates a first down against the New York Giants during the first quarterat MetLife Stadium on November 15, 2015 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ – NOVEMBER 15: Tom Brady celebrates a first down against the New York Giants during first quarter on November 15, 2015. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

Tom Brady was firing bullets under pressure but the clock was ticking down. What magic could the Pats use? 4th down and 6 seconds left. The Pats would try a 57 yard field goal while a stiff wind played havoc.

It was over … unless the New England evil empire had something up its slippery sleeve.

A deflated football? Secret microphones to pick up the Giants’ audio? Nude cheerleaders confusing the Giant coaches? Spies on the Giants bench? Valium in the Giants water?

The crowd roared as Stephen Gostkowski tried what would surely be a failed field goal. The kick was steady. The ball sailed high in the crisp November night.

Photo: Boston Globe

Photo: Boston Globe

It slanted left … narrowly making it through the uprights. The announcers weren’t sure whether or not it was a score … even when replays confirmed the kick was good.

What happened?

drone spy

In a blur, I learned the truth. Invisible Drones using penetrating laser beams had directed the football’s arc. The Pats have pulled off another one.

Stay tuned for more details on “Drone Gate.”


Week 45! There are only 52 weeks in a year, so it is just 7 short weeks until year’s end. Practically tomorrow. My head is still stuck in early autumn. This is more a little bit unreal.


What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you hear the word “fun”?

Laughter. If I’m not laughing, it’s probably not all that much fun. Laughter forms the bubbles in the champagne of life. Laughter makes pain hurt less, fear less frightening.

72-Me- Painting - Floral Background_05

No one is lonely when they are laughing. Even terrible things can sometimes make us laugh. Sometimes, laughter is the only way to deal with things too terrible to contemplate.

Nan laughs

My mother laughed when she told me she was dying. I had said I didn’t want to be without her.

Kaitlin 15th birthday

Then she laughed and said she didn’t want to be without her either.


It wasn’t funny, but it moved us both back from that terrible edge of despair.

What is your favorite time of day?

Dawn and twilight.


The lovely golden hours when light is pink and gold and the sky is alight and glowing.

Given the choice of anyone in the world, with whom would you choose to spend an evening?

One person only? Because I would choose my friends.


These days, that’s just a handful of people, but they and my husband are the people I’d want to share my evening with.

Complete this sentence: Something that anyone can do that will guarantee my smile is… 

Play any movie by Mel Brooks. Any book by Douglas Adams. A good joke, told well.

Bonus question:  What are you grateful for from last week, and what are you looking forward to in the week coming up?

Grateful Ben was able to fit in a couple of days visit. It’s so great to be with someone who remembers me when I was a girl. Before my hair was gray.


Not really looking forward to anything coming up. It’s all doctor’s appointments and other obligations. Nothing fun for a while yet. And then, there’s the house which always needs cleaning. Oh well. The holidays are racing our way. Then we’re off to the deserts and mountains of Arizona. Big skies await us!



Parties are where they invite you to take pictures but don’t make it easy. Cluttered locations, poor light, too many folks in tight spaces. I hate battling crowds under any circumstances, but especially when I’m shooting.

So, there I am. At a party. I know one or two people (maybe), and I have to take some pictures. Who are these people? Unless it’s my party … and we don’t give parties anymore … I hope someone will come by to tell me who should be in the pictures.


Looking around. People are talking in groups. Eating. A few laughing. Some loners. People talking in pairs, in groups.

M's 60th-058

72-Garry and Charlie

Mostly of the other cameras are big ones, Canon and Nikon. I’ve got the funny little camera, my Pentax Q S1 with its lenses, plus extra batteries and accessories. It weighs less than a standard point-and-shoot. They sneer, but I don’t care.

Kaitlin 15th birthday


Parties are stressful. Garry can’t hear in crowds and I can’t remember names. You can tell me your name and within a breath, I’ll say, “I’m sorry, what’s your name again?” If it happens more than twice, I’m too embarrassed to ask again. I shoot and hope Garry can identify the people in the shot. Later.

72-Garry and Jorge_02

There’s always a picture somewhere. Somehow. You have to look for it, sometimes very hard, but it’s there. And it’s better than sitting in a corner demolishing the brownies.