The new anthology of short stories by members of Malice in Memphis, our mystery writers’ group, made it to the publisher on January 31st, the deadline we were given. Boy, does that feel good. Our president, Kristi Bradley, did yeoman service in collecting and organizing. All I did was edit the stories. This collection is tangentially about the hoopla surrounding Memphis in May, the month long festival including among other things, the Beale Street Music Fest and the Barbecue cookoff. I have no idea what this one will be called, so I can’t beg, plead, or threaten to get you to buy it when it comes out. We will be available on Amazon again, so keep us in mind.
The worst thing about getting everything together and the final edits completed is that I came down with my annual January cold just when I was finishing up. Nobody wants to do anything productive with a fever, all-over aches, and the nasty stuff that comes with a cold. Some things have to be done sick or well, however. Feeding the horses every morning comes at the top of my list, followed by feeding the cats and usually feeding me. Horses have an incredible inner sense of time. I feed at eight in the morning. If I am fifteen minutes late, they whiffle at me and stamp their hooves. Or, if the weather is nice, they hang over the fence like vultures. The cats are easier going, but I suspect that’s because they always have a supply of dry kibble available. The horses have big bales of hay in the pasture, so they won’t starve either, but they still guilt me whenever possible.
My hay man showed up last Monday to bring me two round bales of hay. I had not called him, but he drives by my house every morning on his way to tend his cows and always checks the level of my hay. He is a really good guy. As a matter of fact, I have a cadre of really good guys who keep an eye on me. I have a farrier who calls me when it is time to trim the horses. I have someone who cuts my grass and looks after the plants that I would probably kill otherwise. I have someone who mows my pastures when he thinks they need it, and a handyman who lives across the street and checks on me regularly. Kind people, all of them. And then there’s my son-in-law, but he goes above and beyond. He is not generally handy, but last week he installed two new fluorescent light fixtures—one in my feed room, one in my kitchen. I can actually see to cook, and with luck I can avoid any snakes that might set up housekeeping in my feed room where they can feast on mice. I still need a new door on my feed room, but he and I decided that was a job well above either of our pay grades.
Some of my friends resent talking to their children every day. They ought to be grateful. Mine call every day to make sure I’m still in one piece. It’s simple good manners to avoid giving your kin agita. I’m grateful they give a darn.