I always liked this song from The Sound of Music, probably because I like kittens and brown paper packages wrapped up in string. When Sue asked me to do a guest post, I waffled – should it be profound and full of wisdom (unlikely!), funny (like Barb Taub’s posts – nah, I can’t measure up to her humor), a travelogue (Sue’s, Jo’s, and many others are so much better) or something about writing (but I’m very far from an expert on that) – what to do? Then I heard that song and thought maybe I could reveal a few things about myself that may or may not have trickled through in my posts.
So here are a few of my favorite things, in no particular order:
We used to have five of them (Ruckus, Tarby, Lucy and Ezekial), but our feline population has dwindled to one, Elijah Moon. He has posted on my blog and he amuses me every day with his antics. He loves cuddling in bed, lies upside down to get his belly rubbed, and throws up in the car. Last week, Elijah, who loves Christmas trees, decided to take up residence in the middle of three Christmas wreaths still stacked on my deck, awaiting disposal. My husband has complained repeatedly he’s schlepped probably two tons of kitty litter during our married life, but I think there’s more litter in his future.
I could eat pizza every day! Cold pizza is a great breakfast, especially with chocolate pudding. The best pizza ever was made at Ernie’s in North Plymouth, MA. I figured I’d been a customer for a half century when it closed down recently. To make room for a pharmacy – phooey. I had a friend buy two pizzas for me and freeze them. It just won’t be the same when I go home.
The students at Mount Holyoke College knitted during their classes when I was there. I became insanely envious of their remarkable creations, so I added knitting to my curriculum. My Sociology professor made an interesting request to his class my junior year: “Please leave the room if you have to tear out any of your knitting. It’s very distressing to watch you destroy days of your work.” So occasionally, someone would leave the classroom and come back with a bundle of kinky yarn. I learned a lot that year – you become a careful listener when you’re knitting and taking notes at the same time.
Cooking is a lot of fun, sort of like a chemistry lab. I rarely follow a recipe exactly, except when I bake. Thank heavens I never improvised in a chemistry lab. I love to make different Christmas cookies each year, but my specialty is pies: caramel apple, bourbon pecan, strawberry-rhubarb, lattice top Georgia peach.
I learned to sail when I was 11 or 12, in a Class 10 (a one-two person sailboat formerly called a turnabout). My father named her the Yama, which means ‘hurry’ in Bahamian. I then crewed with my husband on a Columbia 50 when we were both in graduate school. On the Res Ipsa Loquitor (The Thing Speaks for Itself – owned by a lawyer, of course, who used the boat for trysts with his mistress) I was relegated to packing the spinnakers and throwing out any lingerie I found lying around. No women were allowed on the longer races because the cook, Frank, liked to do his work in the nude. I felt justified when the spinnakers became tangled during those races because of poor packing. When I got my first academic position in California, I passed the captain’s exam to sail a 6-meter, Shields class boat, The Dainty. My husband had also passed his exam, so we had frequent on board, vocal contretemps over who was going to be captain and who would be first mate. When we took the kids on vacation to the Galapagos, we made sure to get berths on a schooner to sail the islands, so we could lie on the deck at night and look at the Southern star.
SPORTS, ALL SORTS
I am a pig living in sports heaven. Three major universities are here, within a half-mile ride of each other, and there are teams for any sport you might like at one or the other or all three of them. My problem is I like all sports. I am a gourmand of sports. I grew up swimming, playing tennis and ice skating, and played varsity field hockey, basketball and tennis in high school. Then there was basketball and tennis in college. Since then, I’ve become a huge soccer and lacrosse fan (my son played both sports), and learned all about competitive riding (my daughter was in the hunter-jumper class), track and field (daughter again). She also followed in my footsteps and played on three state champion field hockey teams. What would I have done if my kids had wanted to be concert pianists?
So many sports to enjoy, so little time! March Madness, here I come.
Now that Hubs and I are retired, there is more time to travel. Our first trip was to Egypt and Jordan. We still have Italy, Greece, Russia, Ireland and China on our list. This year, to celebrate our 50th anniversary, we are retracing the first trip we ever took to Europe: England, the Netherlands, Germany, the Czech Republic, Austria and Switzerland. We hope to do it all in two weeks, sort of like the movie If This is Tuesday, It Must Be Belgium.
I am a water baby. Oceans, ponds, rivers, streams, and pools draw me to them like a Lorelei, but a masculine one. The first time I spent a vacation not at home in Plymouth, MA, I visited a college friend in Bethlehem, PA. Susie still reminds me of my first morning there. I got up and asked her which way was the ocean. Maybe I’m a lemming?
WRITING AND READING
Goes without saying.
To me, this list sounds rather banal. I haven’t climbed Mount Everest (but I’ve admired Denali from close up), swum the English channel, walked across the US, or born a politician (thank heavens). But there’s still time! Too late for the politician, though.
Noelle A. Granger grew up in Plymouth, Massachusetts, in a rambling, 125-year-old house with a view of the sea. Summers were spent sailing and swimming. She was also one of the first tour guides at Plimoth Plantation. Granger graduated from Mount Holyoke College with a bachelor’s degree in Zoology and from Case Western Reserve University with a Ph.D. in anatomy. Following a career of research in developmental biology and teaching human anatomy to medical students and residents, the last 28 years of which were spent at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine, she decided to try her hand at writing fiction. The Rhe Brewster Mystery Series was born.
The series features Rhe Brewster, an emergency room nurse, as the protagonist. Rhe lives in the fictional coastal town of Pequod, Maine, (similar to Plymouth) and Granger uses her knowledge of such a small town, her experiences sailing along the Maine coast, and her medical background to enrich each book in the series. In the first book, Death in a Red Canvas Chair, the discovery of a wet, decaying body of a young woman, sitting in a red canvas chair at the far end of a soccer field, leads Rhe on a trail that heads to a high-end brothel and a dodgy mortuary operation.
The second novel in the Rhe Brewster Mystery Series, Death in a Dacron Sail, was released in 2015, and finds Rhe responding to a discovery by one of the local lobstermen: a finger caught in one of his traps. The third book, Death By Pumpkin, begins with the sighting of the remains of a man’s body in a car smashed by a giant pumpkin at the Pequod Pumpkin Festival. Up next? Death in a Mud Flat.
In addition to the Rhe Brewster Mystery Series, Granger has had short stories, both fiction and non-fiction, published in Deep South Magazine, Sea Level Magazine, the Bella Online Literary Review, and Coastal Style Magazine, and has been featured in Chapel Hill Magazine, The News & Observer, The Boothbay Register, and other local press. Granger lives with her husband, a cat who blogs, and a hyperactive dog in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. She spends a portion of every summer in Maine.
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On a warm fall afternoon, the sweet odor of decay distracts Rhe Brewster from the noise and fury of her son’s soccer game. She’s a tall, attractive emergency room nurse with a type A personality, a nose for investigation and a yen for adrenalin. This time her nose leads her to the wet, decaying body of a young woman, sitting in a red canvas chair at the far end of the soccer field. Her first call is to her brother-in-law, Sam Brewster, who is Sheriff of Pequod, the coastal Maine town where she lives. Sam and Rhe’s best friend Paulette, Pequod’s answer to Betty Crocker, are her biggest sources of encouragement when Rhe decides to help the police find the killer. Her discovery that the victim is a student at the local college is initially thwarted by an old frenemy, Bitsy Wellington, the Dean of Students. Will, Rhe’s husband and a professor at the same college, resents her involvement in anything other than being a wife and mother and must be manipulated by Rhe so that she can follow her instincts. Rhe’s interviews of college students leads her to a young woman who had been recruited the previous year to be an escort on a Caribbean cruise ship, and Rhe trails her to a high class brothel at a local seaside estate. The man behind the cruise ship escort service and the brothel is the owner of a chain of mortuaries and is related to the dead student. When Rhe happens on the murder of a young hospital employee who also works for the mortuary chain, she becomes too much of a threat to the owner’s multiple enterprises. She is kidnapped by two of his thugs and is left to die in a mortuary freezer. In the freezer she finds frozen body parts, which are linked to a transplantation program at her hospital. Despite all the twists and turns in her investigation, Rhe ultimately understands why the student was killed and who did it. And she solves the riddle of why the body was placed in the red canvas chair on the soccer field.
On an icy February morning, Rhe Brewster, an emergency room nurse with a nose for investigation, is called to a dock in the harbor of the small coastal town of Pequod, Maine. A consultant to the Pequod Police Department, Rhe is responding to a discovery by one of the local lobstermen: a finger caught in one of his traps. The subsequent finding of the body of a young girl, wrapped in a sail and without a finger, sends the investigation into high gear and reveals the existence of three other missing girls, as well as a childhood friend of Rhe’s. Battered by vitriolic objections from her husband about her work, the pregnant Rhe continues her search, dealing with unexpected obstacles and ultimately facing the challenge of crossing an enormous frozen bog to save herself. Will she survive? Is the kidnapper someone she knows? In Death in a Dacron Sail, the second book in the Rhe Brewster mystery series, Rhe’s nerves and endurance are put to the test as the kidnapper’s action hits close to home.
At the annual Pumpkin Festival in the coastal town of Pequod, Maine, Rhe Brewster, an ER nurse and Police Department consultant, responds to screams at the site of the Pumpkin Drop. Racing to the scene, where a one-ton pumpkin was dropped from a crane to crush an old car, Rhe and her brother-in-law, Sam, Pequod’s Chief of Police, discover the car contains the smashed remains of a man’s body. After the police confirm the death as a homicide, Rhe embarks on a statewide search to identify the victim and find the killer. During the course of the emotional investigation, she survives an attempt on her life at 10,000 feet, endures the trauma of witnessing the murder of an old flame, and escapes an arson attack on her family’s home. There is clearly a sociopath on the loose who is gunning for Rhe and leaving bodies behind. With Sam unable to offer his usual support due to an election recall and a needy new girlfriend, Rhe realizes that the only way to stop the insanity is to risk it all and play the killer’s game.
Maine’s most tenacious sleuth is back, this time to confront a menace that threatens to destroy her life and those closest to her. The latest installment of the Rhe Brewster Mystery Series, Death by Pumpkin, is a murder mystery and thriller that tests the limits of Rhe’s strength and resolve like never before.