Friday, September 30, 2011

My First Typewriter

"How many hours do you spend at your computer?" said my eye doctor, Dr. Richlin. When I answered a minimum of ten per day during the week and at least six at weekends," he practically fell off his chair.

I'd gone to see him concerned with this weird sensation I have in my right eye. It seems daft to say this but for those of us who have both eyes (my dad only had one) we're not usually "conscious" of our eyes sitting in our head. For the past few weeks I've been really aware of my right eye. I've also been getting horrible headaches. Turns out it is severe eye strain.

I didn't have to wear glasses until I turned 45. But as a writer, I suspect eye strain goes with the territory. I suppose I could write longhand, but I enjoy the speed of the computer; the ability to cut and paste and mess around with all different versions of the same draft. My mistakes and typos vanish with the click of the delete button.

Like many people born in the middle of the last century (gasp) I l grew up using a typewriter—or tripewriter as we liked to call it at my first reporter job at the Tiverton Gazette in Devon. My typewriter was an old 1945 Remington Deluxe. In those days articles were typed up on small rectangular pieces of paper separated by carbon paper. Four pieces of carbon paper actually so any typo was a pain to correct.

Although I enjoy the speed and efficiency of using my computer, I miss the noise of busy typewriter keys  and the satisfying ding as the carriage reaches it's end-stop only to fly back in the opposite direction for the next sentence. Most of all, I loved the feeling of satisfaction when a piece was finished and I could pull it from the roller with a flourish.


Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Tea On My Mind

I know I've blogged about "Tea" before and hopefully I will be forgiven - I am British, after all. It's part of our culture. So you can imagine my excitement when I  was invited to an "Afternoon Tea with the Ladies of Mystery" hosted by the Friends of the Lomita Library in Lomita, California.

Co-ordinated by the effervescent Evelyn Moore from Sisters in the Crime Los Angeles, I joined fellow panelists, authors Kate CarliseDorothy Howell and Laura Levine for a fabulous afternoon of delicious food and fun.

Ruth Herbert, President of Friends of the Lomita Library, confessed she spent most of her summer devouring mystery books, selecting various dishes from favorite authors for the tea. Ruth also created beautiful name cards by hand to accompany each one. The icing on the cake (no pun intended) was a fabulous glass cabinet displaying all the books she used along with bone china tea cups and teapots.

As Kate Carlisle's character Brooklyn remarked bravely in The Lies That Bind, "I straightened by shoulders and gritted by teeth.  I could do this.  I approached the buffet table..."

Here was the menu:

Scones from the Vicky Hill Mysteries by yours truly. (And very very yummy they were too!) 
Chocolate from Bleeding Hearts by Susan Wittig Albert.
Lemon tea bread from The Silver Needle Murder by Laura Childs. (My favorite).
Cecile's brownies from The Cat Who Blew The Whistle by Lillian Jackson Braun. (I ate 3).
Chocolate chip cookies from The Cat Who Dropped The Bombshell. (I ate 3 of these as well).
Sugar cookies from The Sugar Cookies Murder by Joanne Fluke.
Chicken salad from Fatally Flaky by Diane Mott Davidson
Edible fruit arrangement from Purses and Poison by Dorothy Howell.
Molasses cookies from The Darling Dahlias And The Cucumber Tree by Susan Wittig Albert.
Cucumber sandwiches from The Darling Dahlias And The Cucumber Tree.
Gingerbread cookies from The Gingerbread Cookie Murder by Laura Levine.

Lavender flowers were on the table, taken from Susan Wittig Albert's book Lavender Lies and
Constant commit tea and lemonade from Jamie Ford's book The Hotel on The Corner of Bitter And Sweet.

And the English tea was excellent!

Although I am now on a serious diet, this fabulous event is a reminder of how wonderful our libraries are and how much they need our support. Just donating a few books or becoming a "friend" really helps to keep our libraries going.