Tag Archives: California

BYOB forces crime fiction rewrites

BYOB, a term that once meant “Bring your own bottle,” your choice of favorite drink, to a house party has taken on a new definition in Alameda County, California. Effective May 1, 2017, the plastic bag ban for grocers and retail establishments that sell milk and bread has been expanded to include ALL (or as old timers in my young years used to say capital A double L) retailers that sell perishable or nonperishable goods including clothing, food, and personal items (retrieved from http://www.reusablebagsac.org/). Now BYOB means bring—or buy—your own bag.

For several years, shoppers have kept a stash of cloth or heavy-duty plastic bags in their automobiles or a silky-feel-good fold-able bag in pockets or purses for stores that sell perishable goods. A full month after this new BYOB became effective, shoppers still look perplexed at checkout when a hardware or department store employee says “Do you want to buy a bag?”

This new law is causing havoc for fiction writers with works in progress. Crime fiction will never be the same. Where the bad guy once snatched recent purchases, brands visible through thin plastic bags, now the writer has to tell what’s in the bag in a previous scene to make it worth stealing.

What about descriptions? In the original manuscript, the witness says, “He demanded the woman’s purse and jewelry and dropped them into a white plastic bag with the orange Home Depot label.” The investigator makes a note to look at security film from the nearest HD and sees the robber on film. The clerk knows the guy, a local. Arrest made.

In the revision, the witness says, “He stuffed the woman’s purse into a brown paper bag—you know, Officer—the generic kind you have to buy for a dime at checkout.” The investigator will be forced to pursue other questions like “Can you describe the suspect? What was he wearing? Which way did he go?”

Revisions to my manuscript will have to wait. I’m off to do a little shopping, cloth bags in hand, to save my dimes for publishing my first crime fiction novel.

 

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Spirit of Christmas

scrooge-1My father could have been a double for Scrooge’s in A Christmas Carol—minus the greed. Both scoffed at the hectic holiday hubbub that floated like fresh snow. Real snow never fell in Chowchilla, our small San Joaquin Valley town, but it glistened on Sierra mountain tops looking north from Robertson Boulevard. Downtown merchants became amateur artists and created snowmen from spray cans on front display windows. They painted a tophat, a plaid neck scarf, and brown twig arms. They daubed eyes and a row of coal black buttons on the white globes.  Merry Christmas in glistening red foil stretched above the winter scenes.

A few local Scrooges dampened the community Christmas Spirit, my father vying for the top position. His Bah, Humbug! list of no’s at Christmas was longer than Scrooge’s. No Christmas tree. No Santa. No gifts. Mama agreed to skip the decorations, but she silently put gifts on layaway each spring to be opened before our family meal at noon.

One December Saturday, Papa agreed to go with us to the lighting of the community Christmas tree. Anticipation built as darkness approached. The walk downtown was an easy ten blocks in the warm summer, twice as long in the winter chill. Papa bent into the fierce wind and pulled the brim of his black felt hat down over his forehead. Mama tugged the ties of her headscarf tighter and turned up her thin coat collar against the cold. My twin and I skipped along the sidewalk too excited to feel the cold.

Christmas TreeAt the City Hall, we sipped hot cocoa from paper cups while we waited. The mayor activated the lights. Colors glowed from the lowest branch to the star on top of the live tree that reached upward toward the roof of the one-story building. A siren sounded and Santa arrived, sitting high on a blazing red fire truck. Papa stiffened and cast his eyes downward, away from the smiling red-suited man waving at us. We each received a brown paper lunch-size bag filled with an orange, an apple, a handful of unshelled nuts, and two or three pieces of hard candy.

Back home, Papa sent my twin and me to bed without a word about the magical evening. I had pleasant dreams that night because he had abandoned his Bah, Humbug attitude and celebrated the spirit of Christmas.

Merry Chistmas Vintage

 

Ebenezer Scrooge, Bah Humbug, Chowchilla, California, San Joaquin Valley, Christmas, Violet Carr Moore

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California Rain Event

Raining cats and dogsRain Event: The correct terminology used to report an intrusion of excess water falling from the skies which could compromise a specific underground water quality test underway when I worked for an environmental engineering firm in Louisiana.

The result: Water quality retest required.

Rain Dance: A ritual to welcome a rain event suggested by Catherine Coulter in her April newsletterand repeated in Violet’s Vibes April 17, 2015 blog post from the San Fancisco  East Bay Tri-Valley.

“I would appreciate it, as would 40 million other people in my state, if you would go outside,  doesn’t have to be a full moon, dance in a circle and chant to the rain gods to soak up the sun and squeeze out all excess liquid, from the shores to the mountains in California. We’re talking serious drought here, folks, so please save us from our two-minute showers.”

Jumping ropeThis afternoon, May 14, 2015, commercial vendors tromped about the roof of my apartment complex, cleaning the rain gutters. Shortly after they cleared the mounds of debris, thunder rolled. A downpour soaked the thirsty lawns and washed the sidewalks and parking lots. Rainwater flowed from the roof into the clean gutters, exited the downspouts at ground level, and saturated the thirsty rose beds.

The result: Happy dances.  Clown

Rain advice to Catherine Coulter fans in California : If dance chants haven’t been effective in your drought-stricken area, call a gutter cleaning service.

 

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Wanted Dead or Alive: Stephen’s Elementary Students Identified

Sherlock Holmes Pipe and Hat

Sherlock Holmes Pipe and Hat (Courtesy Wikipedia)

My mystery bones associate “Identified” with the John and Jane Does in handout or online flyers, or the homicide victim in Next of Kin, my crime fiction novel in progress. A real-life mystery is solved with the IDs of first grade students in Mrs. Mabel Buffington’s 1945-1946 class at Stephen’s Elementary School in Chowchilla, California. Everyone is accounted for because Keith’s Hollister’s mother had the foresight to write each child’s name by rows on the back of his class picture seventy years ago. (Can you believe we’ve kept these photos that long?)  My thanks to Keith and his wife Doris who shared this complete list.

 

 

 

First Grade Mrs. Buffington

 

FRONT ROW: Seated left to right: Betty Lee Green, Viola Carr (my twin), Judy Green, Jean Younglund, Esther Lee White, Norma Eaton, Violet Carr (Me), Mary Wood, Pearl Sheaon (Shahan), Eva Cherry, Margaret Ann McGowan, Donald Roy Robinson, Lawrence Ashcraft.

SECOND ROW (L-R): Carlin Gene Lawrence, Kenneth McPherson, Keith Hollister, Ralph Shelton, Danny Shepherd, Mack Wade, Eva Bailey, Loretta Jay, Lauralee (Laurali) Pittz, Joe Lester Nix, Joe Lataski, Eugene Bryant, Charles Bollinger, George Brewer.

THIRD ROW (L-R): Mrs. Mabel Buffington, Donald McPherson, Jackie Pittz, Vern Pickrell, James Eaton, Donald Fountain, Harold Stinson, James Odell young, Delbert Carson, Gene Hillhouse, James Allen, Jerry Kirsey, Leonard Smith.

Now, 70 years later, these students are wanted―dead or alive. If you see yourself, a family member, a friend, a neighbor, anybody you know, please email current information to info@carrtwins.com.

Questions for all Violet’s Vibes blog followers:

  1. Do you still have your first grade class picture?
  2. Are the names on the back?
  3. Do you have contact with at least one classmate in that photo?

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Christmas Candy

Shopping CartAt Red’s Market, Papa selects a few groceries, writes each item in a pocket size notebook, and places the food into the shopping cart. A silent moment, as if thinking, follows after he totals the amount. He dips a metal scoop into an open bin of a new crop of walnuts. He carefully inspects each nut and discards those with damaged shells. He weighs the remaining walnuts and pours them from the metal bin on the hanging scale into a small brown paper bag. He calculates the weight, multiplies it by the price per pound, and writes the total in his notebook.Lard can

After each of the infrequent grocery trips, the food is put away in the kitchen, then Papa goes into the cellar. From the dining room, I hear the scrape as he drags out the metal can and a distinct pop when he opens the lid. Then the familiar sounds of the lid snapping back in place and noises of pushing the heavy can back under the steps.

Chocolate-drops

On the next shopping trip, Papa hesitates at the open bin of chocolate drops. He scoops, then pours the confections into the smallest paper bag. He weighs it, calculates the price and enters it into his notebook.

Papa’s favorites are the white centers. His second choice is pink. The pink tastes strong to me, more like soap or bubble bath than candy. The plain are good, but I like the lemon yellow or maple brown fillings.

small-brown-paper-bag

At home, Papa follows his ritual as he carries the tiny bag of chocolate drops toward the cellar door. My mouth waters. I ask for one. “No” is his stern reply. I watch him pull open the trap door and descend. I listen for the familiar metal scrape, the air pop, and the returning push that seals his answer. No chocolate today.

PieThe next day, aromas drift from the kitchen throughout our small house. Mama is cooking chicken and dressing, baking sweet potatoes and making pies. While she works, Papa disappears into the cellar numerous times, returning with treasures from the cans, then closes the trap door.

I plead for the chocolate drops. Mama intercedes, and surprisingly, Papa agrees. One chocolate drop is offered to each of us twins. The aroma of my carefully chosen nugget is stronger than pungent sage and other spicy smells from the stove. I close my eyes and bite slowly into the candy, hoping for the luscious taste of lemon or creamy maple. Ugh! The soapy taste of pink! I swallow it in disappointment.

Glass candy dish with lidPapa fills the lidded glass candy bowl with chocolate drops, off limits until Christmas. No more pink for me. Tomorrow, when no one is watching, I will prick the bottom of each chocolate drop with a toothpick searching for lemon yellow fillings.

Tomorrow is Christmas.

Merry Christmas-Snowman

 

Excerpts from “Christmas Candy” from Double Take (Released December 2014) by Vi Parsons and Violet Moore. Purchase AUTOGRAPHED books from Carr Twins & Co. website, or buy from Amazon http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0978923642 .

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Goodbye plastic 2012 and welcome reusable 2013

recycled bagOn this first day of 2013, I dismantled holiday decorations. I repacked the porcelain nativity that has graced my home for almost three decades, placing Mary, Joseph, baby Jesus in the manager, shepherd boy, and animals in their original Styrofoam container. I removed the Charles Dickens made-in-Japan Christmas caroling family and took down the enameled metal poinsettias, artificial pine branches, and polyester fur-trimmed stocking. Outside, I unwound the poly garland and removed a half dozen three-foot plastic candy canes. With all signs of synthetic Christmas holiday cheer removed, time to plunge into the New Year au naturel.

I use that term, not meaning naked or raw, but in the context of moving away from synthetics. Today is the beginning of the plastic bag ban in Alameda County, California, my domicile. BYOB (bring your own bag) is the new rule. I’ve practiced for this day, bringing recycled bags to shop at Trader Joe’s. If I’m short one bag, the clerk graciously gives me a brown paper bag for the overflow. That generosity stops today with the new mandate that T.J.’s must charge me a dime for that bag.

I won’t pay it. I keep a stash of colorful reusable bags from Grocery Outlet (brown and beige), Target (red), Sprouts and Livermore Library (green), Office Depot (fuchsia) and a cardboard box (white) in the trunk of my car. If I don’t have enough bags, I’ll ask the clerk to place the other items loose in my shopping cart. I’ll choose a bag by my color mood when I reach my vehicle.

Next step in the BYOB mandate is editing The Glass Wall, my mystery manuscript. Detective Taylor Madrid, my female protagonist from Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office (MCSO), Arizona keeps a plastic grocery bag in her Mustang convertible for accumulated trash. It wouldn’t do for her to get caught throwing it into a dumpster while chasing clues out of her jurisdiction in Alameda County. Perhaps she’ll buy a brown paper bag from Trader Joe’s.

 

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