Saturday afternoons and evenings are usually down time for Loretta and me.
We simply don’t get out much after we’ve used up the movie gift certificates the kids gave us for Christmas. That means we mostly go to the movies to avoid guilt trips because our kids do work hard for their money.
But last Saturday, after half a dozen reminders, we decided to attend a “Valentine murder mystery” titled “Dying for Love” at the Garrard County Public Library. It turned out to be the most fun and best entertainment I’ve had since Little League baseball season ended last summer.
As most regular readers of Points East already know, I am a huge fan of libraries in general and mystery fiction in particular. This affliction began for me in fourth grade with Nancy Drew and then The Hardy Boys and evolved into Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Jane Austen, until finally I couldn’t resist anything printed in the mystery genre.
It really would require the rest of the space allotted me in this column to list the authors who have entertained me over the decades and who continue to dominate my reading habit to this day. I fit my good friend and retired librarian Linda Caldwell’s accusation of being a “mystery snob.”
While in college and later as a young adult, I used to enjoy weekend-long murder mystery-solving outings that were staged at state parks and other venues. Guests spent Friday evenings through Sunday mornings attempting to solve staged murders by figuring out whodunit. For over a decade in the late 1960s and into the late ’70s, these outings were very popular and very competitive.
Last Saturday’s program at our library was a condensed version of one of these more complicated events. But like one of them, it similarly involved the presentation of a fictional murder, complete with murder scene, corpse, weapon, several suspects and numerous clues scattered throughout the library.
We were told that a play had been scheduled for us, but had to be called off because the star of the show had been murdered and all the supporting cast and stage hands were currently in the custody of local police.
The audience was tasked with locating and deciphering the clues and ultimately determining who committed the murder.
We were supposed to form and work as investigative teams. Lo and I were team “Sherlock ain’t Home.” But we rather quickly disbanded when Loretta asked one of the librarians, “What do you do when you can’t come to agreement with the rest of your your team?”
She was told that she could go out on her own, and she promptly did just that which left yours truly working in a very familiar vacuum.
Someone asked if this was how we got along at home, and we harmonized when we both said, “Yes!” It is a system that has survived and served us pretty well for nearly 40 years.
As you might guess, all the murder suspects were avid readers and we were provided with a list of their individually-favorite books. Needless to say the titles ran us all over and into every section of the library in search of books that might contain a clue.
We also were given access to the actors’ dressing rooms where we found a variety of clues that would provide ample motive for either one of them or someone else closely associated with the play to want to kill off Austin Jane, who would have been the star of the show.
The prime suspects included the cleverly-named leading lady, Holly Wood, supporting actor Hugh Mann, director/producer Bea Goode, stage manager Justin Thyme and volunteer usher Anita Mann. As the suspects’ names implied, we participants were to have fun and not take ourselves too seriously.
As far as I’m concerned, the event succeeded in spades. I certainly know a lot more about my library now than I did last Saturday morning, and if that were possible, I probably appreciate it more. I’ve already told you that I had more fun than I might have had if I’d shelled out $100 for entertainment.
If asked what reasons I like most about living in Paint Lick, I would list among the top five, the fact that I can be in one of three wonderful public libraries in less than fifteen minutes when I find myself bored.
Fewer than 20 Garrard Countians were at last Saturday’s event, and that’s a pity because the worst Scrooge in the county would have enjoyed it.
Saturday afternoons and evenings are usually down time for Loretta and me.
Starting over at Head Start
All I ever wanted to be was a journalist. Having worked on my high school and college newspapers, I knew it was the career for me.
I love talking to people, listening to their stories, being creative every day and experiencing new things. But as you know, news happens outside the hours of 9 to 5, and my job here at the Register rarely stayed within that time frame.
They don’t make strawberries as they did back in the old days
I’m not inclined to go through my archives at the moment, but it almost feels like the column I’m about to write has almost become an annual thing over the years.
At least I know for sure that that this is not the first time that memories of picking strawberries there on Blair Branch on hot days in June has triggered this keyboard about this time of year.
I grew up on a little subsistence, hillside farm deep in the mountains of eastern Kentucky, among the coalfields near the Virginia line.
Baby boomers have let technology rob their grandchildren of the joys of youth
When I was growing up, it was not uncommon to see fathers and sons along creek banks fishing together or in the woods hunting squirrels or pitching horse shoes or even shooting marbles late in the afternoon in the cool hours before dark.
Dads were teaching kids to play the games they grew up with. Little girls, learned from mothers,how to skip rope, play with jacks or play hopscotch.
No Lincoln or Douglas in this debate
Remember the famous slap-down in the 1988 vice presidential debate when Republican Dan Quayle compared his youth and limited government experience to those of John Kennedy’s when Kennedy ran for president?
His Democratic opponent, Texas Sen. Lloyd Bentsen, acidly replied: “I knew Jack Kennedy. Jack Kennedy was a friend of mine. Senator, you’re no Jack Kennedy.”
Senate campaign already in full bloom
Any hope for a respite in the U.S. Senate campaign following Tuesday’s primary disappeared immediately.
Mitch McConnell and Alison Lundergan Grimes came out swinging in victory speeches which sounded like campaign kickoffs.
McConnell commended Matt Bevin on “a tough (primary) race” and appealed to Bevin supporters to unite behind his re-election bid. That will be hard for Bevin and those who backed him.
‘Taxpayer-eaters’ meet ‘self-serving politician-eaters’
What some candidates could gain in this year’s election – beyond just winning office – is a stark reminder of how wrong political leaders were when declaring last year they had adequately addressed Kentucky’s public-pension crisis.
Instead, legislators with serious courage deficiencies failed to agree on reforms beyond what they believe are “politically feasible.”
Step Out, Step up for Diabetes Association
Six weeks ago when I wrote here announcing the 2014 Edition of Team TKO’s American Diabetes Association, Step Out Walk Team, several dozen of you readers sent generous donations to sponsor grandson Tyler Kane Ochs (TKO) and me in the walk that takes place, rain or shine, in the mud or not, at Keeneland on the morning of May 31.
Another several dozen of you either called, emailed or dropped a card in regular mail and asked that I remind you again “after the holidays” (Easter and Mother’s Day).
Hitting the campaign trail
The most watched race in the country ? the battle for the U.S. Senate seat now held by Republican Mitch McConnell ? has so far produced a bevy of charges and not much substance.
We haven’t seen that much of McConnell or his likely Democratic opponent Alison Lundergan Grimes out on the campaign trail.
McConnell’s primary opponent Matt Bevin has been much more active and visible, but his performance hasn’t enhanced his chances.
The case of the scary black cat
If Margie didn’t believe that black cats were the harbinger of bad luck, she certainly believed it when a black cat brushed against her leg while she was leaning over a large trash can burning garbage one late afternoon.
Startled by the sudden appearance of the feline, Margie opened her mouth wide and let out a blood-curdling scream that could have awakened Count Dracula himself.
Basking in the spring sunshine
If you had asked me, as recently as two weeks ago, to make a list of things I expected to see on the first Monday in May of 2014, two of the things that I actually did see would not have been on the list, even if you’d required that it contain at least 500 items.
I’d have been a bit skeptical about Ralph’s purple asparagus and his gorgeous snowball bush, both of which came through most admirably. And I would have had my doubts about the poppies that have been in our back yard for several generations and the bearded German Iris that Jeanette Todd gave us more than two decades ago. It faithfully stuns us there at the corner of the front porch every spring, but there they were, basking in absolute glory as the sun set Monday afternoon.
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