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Mystery, Murder and Mayhem on the Columbia

We’d barely finished our appetizers when Jimmy “the Gyp” got bashed in the back of the head. I clutched my champagne glass as Crusher, the Don’s bodyguard, rushed past our table.

Turns out that was just the first fatality of many aboard ship.

“I told you business trips are more exciting when you bring me,” I said to my husband.

He tipped his fedora.

“Everything is more exciting when you’re along,” Derek replied.

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Last month he mentioned he had to go to Yakima and Tri-Cities to see some customers, and was considering spending a day in Walla Walla if I would join him.

What I heard was, “Want to go on an epic adventure with me? I’ll be traveling to the Palm Springs of Washington and then to the site of a decommissioned nuclear production facility. We could add an overnight in wine country, if you want.”

So, of course, I agreed.

Thanks to WiFi I can work from anywhere, and if anywhere includes a chaise lounge beside a pool, so much the better.

Our overnight in Yakima was quick, but we knew we’d be spending a couple days in the Tri-Cities. That’s when I remembered some friends had texted us about the fun they had aboard a murder mystery cruise on the Columbia River.

We found the Water2Wine website and booked a pair of tickets. Our purchase included a 2 1/2-hour cruise on the Columbia, complimentary glasses of champagne, a four-course dinner, and a murder mystery presented by the Desert Dahlias theater group.

On a sparkling summer evening, we boarded the 96-foot Chrysalis luxury yacht. Programs listing the cast of characters for “Mafia Murders” waited at our table. We were instructed to interact with the cast, ask questions and perhaps even solve the mystery. Many of the guests wore vintage 1920s-style clothing, which added to the fun.

As plots go, this one was as thin as the paper the program was printed on. A “Babyface” Don, a jealous older brother, a hijacked liquor shipment, a moll, a troubled sister, a violent bodyguard, a mafia accountant and his twin brother, and a long-suffering Italian auntie.

Oh yeah, and lots of murder and mayhem.

Deft servers delivered food and drink while the melodrama evolved around us. The mighty Columbia provided a beautiful backdrop.

Between courses, we spent some time on deck, enjoying the warm evening on the water.

A commotion broke out behind us as we returned to our table. Crusher, the bodyguard, collapsed, his throat slit.

Surprisingly, nothing whets the appetite like a dead body on the floor behind you. However, as Derek sliced into his perfectly prepared steak, the Sneak approached him.

“You there. Youse look like a big guy. We need a bodyguard, see. Crusher, he got whacked, and we can’t leave the Don unprotected.”

Derek, obliging, flexed his biceps.

“Yeah, not bad. Stand up. What would you do if I had a gun in this hand, here?”

My husband’s 24-year military career did include some hand-to-hand combat instruction, so he rather expertly “disarmed” the Sneak, all the while grinning at me.

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While he could strip an imaginary gun from the hand of an assailant, he couldn’t prevent what happened next.

As dessert was served, Babyface drank a poisoned cocktail and collapsed at our feet. Before Derek could be berated, or beheaded for his lapse in duty, shots were fired and the Sneak fell in a crumpled heap.

“No offense, honey, but I think it’s best if you stay in the industrial tooling business,” I said, patting Derek’s arm.

He grinned and dug into his strawberry-topped cake.

As to whodunit? I’m not one to spoil a mystery. You’ll have to book your own cruise to find the answer.

The sun set as the Chrysalis sailed toward the dock.

“I think I should take you on all my business trips,” Derek said, putting his arm around me.

And who am I to argue with a former mafia bodyguard?

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War Bonds

Sharing Hearts– and War Bonds!

War Bonds Sharing HeartsI had a wonderful time in Davenport, Washington, where I was the guest speaker for The Lincoln Hospital Foundation’s annual Sharing Hearts Luncheon.

The organizer had adorned the stage with  her father-in-law’s WWll uniform and her mother’s wedding dress.

War Bonds Sharing Hearts Book Table

They had this beautiful book table set up for me and I ended up selling every copy of War Bonds: Love Stories From the Greatest Genereration, I had!

War Bonds Sharing Hearts 2

The people of Lincoln County are gracious and generous. It was a delight to be a part of their yearly fundraising campaign.

War Bonds

Rep. Kevin Parker to honor WWll Vets

IMG_4633[1]Rep. Kevin Parker will attend the Book Launch for War Bonds: Love Stories From the Greatest Generation at Auntie’s Bookstore in Spokane on February 22.

Parker will say a few words of thanks to the World War ll veterans featured in War Bonds.

“This is a real honor,” said Parker.

War Bonds

Eight Couples from the Greatest Generation to Attend Book Launch

Out of 36 couples featured in “War Bonds Love Stories From the Greatest Generation,” 12 couples are still living and loving.  Of those 12 couples, eight have confirmed that they will attend the Book Launch on February 22 at Auntie’s Bookstore with another two, possibly attending.
How exciting is that ?
These folks have been married from 68 – 72 years.
If you’ve ever wanted to thank a WWll veteran for his service, or meet people who’ve been married longer than many of us have been alive, now is your chance!

Hope you will join me in honoring these amazing people.

War Bonds

Pearl Harbor memories burn brightly for this couple

Warren and Betty, low res, 1941

Warren and Betty Schott pictured here in Honolulu, in 1941, had an apartment just up from Battleship Row. Here’s an excerpt from Chapter 11 of War Bonds, describing their eyewitness account of that terrible morning:
The couple was used to noise, but the sounds that woke them on Dec. 7, 1941, were unlike anything they’d heard before. Betty pulled on her robe and looked out the bathroom window.
“Warren!” she called, “there’s smoke and fire at the end of the runway.”
At first he didn’t believe her. But at his wife’s insistence, he went to another window and spotted a plane flying low overhead. “I saw the red balls on the wings of the plane,” he said. “I watched that plane torpedo the USS Utah. I said, ‘Betty, we’re at war!’”
They hustled out of their quarters and stopped to pick up a young mother and her two kids who lived downstairs. “It was total chaos,” said Warren of the surprise attack. “We didn’t know what to do.” The horrific noise of bombs, planes and machine gun fire added to the overwhelming terror.
Warren gathered everyone in the neighbor’s car and took off for the administration building. “Barbara and I were in our nightgowns and robes, and shrapnel was falling from the sky,” Betty said.
“The road was shredded by machine-gun fire,” Warren said, as he recalled their frightening journey. Steering the vehicle away from the strafing fire of a Japanese warplane, he found shelter in a supply building. There Betty, her friend and the children, waited out the first wave of the attack. “They put us to work immediately, Betty said. “We unloaded guns and filled fire extinguishers.”
20141207_140304-1Today, Betty dropped a lei at the new Pearl Harbor Survivors Memorial in Spokane, Washington. Warren passed away in March. They’d been married 76 years when he died.