Book Review of Kitchen Privileges – a memoir by Mary Higgins Clark

Mary Higgins Clark passed away earlier this year, but lovers of Mary Higgins Clark’s mysteries will enjoy learning about her life through this memoir, one of the first books I checked out from a local library when it partially reopened following COVID-19 shutdown. It covers the talented author’s life up until the mid-1990s.

Mary worked as a stewardess, and in the business and entertainment worlds, before becoming an author; roles that gave her the necessary experience to write stories based on, as she and other advisors often tell aspiring writers: “what you know”.

It’s a comfort to hear such an iconic author confide the uncertainties she held for years, despite her determination to succeed in the mystery-suspense genre. A woman widowed, with children, she cared for them, held a demanding job, began her fiction career by squeezing in a session of typing at the kitchen table from five a.m. to six forty-five each morning.

Her creative and ambitious management of time inspires me as I strive to complete freelance projects, and works of fiction; various writing projects at once, between the hours of my “regular job”.

Whether you’re an aspiring writer, or a consumer of Mary Higgins Clark’s mysteries, you’ll enjoy learning more about this lady, with whom I would have loved to lunch, given the chance, in New York, a city I would love to learn to navigate.

 

 

 

Parsley and Memories

My first experience with herbs was in the backyard of the farmhouse where I lived as as a young child. Parsley was the only herb my foster grandmother grew, but it made a great impression upon me.

I remember picking the pungent stems, just the way she showed me, chewing a few of the curly little leaves while I worked. The taste was pungent, savory, peppery, the flavor of spring, of tradition. My grandmother told me stories as we harvested, of life in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, when she was young.

She was nearly ninety, when I was born so the tales she told of tradition, of gardening, and just plain living, were nearly forgotten by most, even then.

Some years I’ve cultivated nearly a dozen varieties of herbal plants. This spring, I lacked time and energy for so many, but I couldn’t resist starting a couple pots of parsley, in memory of Grandma Lee.

Parsley loves cool weather. It’s sometimes healthy and full at Thanksgiving, ready for use in holiday turkey dressing. I’ve never planted it in late summer, but perhaps that’s a possibility.

Another Photo I Didn’t Share Earlier from my Springtime Adventure in a Rural Cemetery

When seated in the country cemetery I described in an April post, small strange clouds floated above, like spirits visiting from another realm.

A crazy concept you say? Perhaps, but it was just one of those moments–like people say about a hilarious experience that falls flat with only mere words to describe it – you simply “had to be there” to believe it.

Each season holds its special experiences. Spring and fall seem the most spiritual to me.

October is another month when I begin to feel a closer presence of those who have passed on. But in a positive way. Nothing to do with skeletons and scary seances. The feeling comes to me as I see trees at dusk silhouetted in the sunset, feel the heartbeat of the earth, sense the imprint of all who have walked upon it.

Queen Anne’s Lace Adorns a Ragged Grass Clump at a Wal-Mart Parking Lot

Inspiration often arrives in non-conventional ways. Stepping from my car, donning mask and gloves to shop in the new normal, I found the sight of this Queen Anne’s Lace plant oddly cheering.

It’s a survivor, amid a clump of straggly grass, its bloom one of the most perfect I’ve seen from this type of wildflower. A species I love, no matter how common.

Stopping by my Favorite Farm Stand on a Sunny Afternoon

My favorite farm stand received a remodel since last year. Metal roof and siding now protect the exterior; panels mounted on the sides shelter the selection of produce from the rays of the sun. A new sign featuring a strawberry and sunflower was mounted on the side of the building.

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The little spot is a cheerful site as I pass on my commute each morning and evening. I can’t resist stopping occasionally to purchase a crisp green pepper, bright yellow summer squash, or a few deep green zucchini, if I can find some slender young ones.

My only complaint about warm season squash is that most gardeners in this area feel bigger is better, but actually small squash, short of maturity, are so much more delicately flavored and tender.

When they become overgrown,zucchini squash are much better when grated for zucchini bread than when sliced and fried or mixed with pasta and lemon, my favorite ways to enjoy squash in the hot months. 

But whatever is on the table, stopping at this cute little farmstand is always a pleasure. The imitation vintage linens covering the display surfaces are especially delightful.

Window Shadows and Wine Bottles

I impulsively snapped this photo of a subject some would consider odd. But I loved the play of light and shadow on this window, the blue and green wine bottles on the sill, shaded by the reflections of breeze-swayed trees.

Smoke Bushes – Reflect the Softness of a Summer Afternoon

My mom spoke of a smoke bush she knew of as a child. I never saw one till I was well into adulthood. Now there are a few I look for every summer, on lawns of my home town.

I discovered a collection of them this year at a horticultural research facility. It was a lovely day and I was in need of a walk to stretch my muscles and de-stress my mind.

I was grateful for the refreshing summer breezes on the moderately hot day and the billowy blooms of these unique shrubs. The rounded pink, puffy clumps seemed appropriate to the spirit of the weather and of my mood as I strolled the paths of the well planned, nature focused gardens.

My brief scan of information about them tells me they are related to the sumacs. Now that I know, I can recognize the relationship, but I likely wouldn’t have guessed.

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Another shade of whimsical, wispy smoke bush blooms delights those who stroll the paths of a lovely, naturalized garden.