Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Happy Ghoulish Hallowe'en
This post is chillingly dedicated to Dinah's friend T.M. in Toronto.

I decided to go out tonight as a salami. Hope you don't have a beef with that. I decided I needed a change from being, for example, a witch. Last Hallowe'en I went out as a witch and -- well, let's just say the evening was somewhat disastrous. You can read about it in my adventure, The Man in the Moonstone.

Anyhow, I'd had the salami-costume idea for a while, because I'm a singing salami on the radio. In commercials, I belt out tunes for Sol's Salami on W. 4th:

You'd have to be balmy
Not to love Sol's salami ...

That's the latest jingle. Sol writes 'em himself. I think he was in kind of a bad mood when he wrote that one. Oh, well. The jingle stuck in my head, so I decided a salami I would be.

It was almost the witching hour, or the trick or treating one, anyway, and I was swathed in a brown comforter with yellow scarves pinned along it. Mustard on a salami, get it? Plus, Madge had artistically twisted a brown scarf and sewed it to the top of a sunhat. When I put the hat-with-scarf on my head, it was supposed to be twisty-looking end of a salami. And she'd dangled a large price tag from the scarf. Pretty cool. And ... to make the costume even more effective, I was carrying a particularly garlicky salami in my treat bag. To give off an unforgettable aroma, if you smell what I mean.

Off I waddled on this moonless night, along with my buddies Pantelli and Talbot. Talbot started telling us the history of Hallowe'en. Talbot's into history the way I'm into -- well, the way I'm into Reese's Pieces, you might say.

"About 2,000 years ago, in Ireland, the Celts started their New Year November first," Talbot said, as we headed up the path to the Dubuques' house. "The Celts believed that on New Year's Eve, the dead came back. Sort of like a rerun. I mean, you think you've seen the last of Great-Aunt Hattie, and here she is again, though maybe without all of her flesh."

Pantelli and I laughed enjoyably at this image, though a little girl walking behind us with her dad burst into screams. I have to say this about Talbot: he really makes history come dead.

His costume was fun, too: he was the Headless Horseman from the story The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, by Washington Irving. Talbot wore an elongated collar painted a lovely rich shade of blood-red; his eyes peered out from holes in the collar.

Pantelli was, as usual, a tree. Pantelli's really into trees.

We reached the Dubuques' front door. Weird. No fake fog wisps attached to the door, no fake skeleton hanging from the outside light. Mrs. Dubuque was usually so into seasonal decorations, too.

Then Mr. Dubuque opened the door, snarled at us, and tossed a lone peanut into each of our bags. Whoa. His wife always shelled out tons of goodies. And remembered that I liked Reese's Pieces.

"Where's Mrs. D.?" I demanded. Maybe she was running a bit late this Hallowe'en.
"Gone," he barked -- and slammed the door.

Maybe it was Talbot's Headless Horseman, or the weird whooo-ing noises other kids were making on the sidewalk. But I thought of the way Mr. Dubuque had said "Gone," and of the strange digging he'd been doing lately, and --

I wondered if he meant that Mrs. Dubuque was gone ... for good.

Friday, October 20, 2006

In the Pink – Or Not

My sister Madge and I were sitting at our kitchen table, stuffing information packets for a save-the-spotted-owl rally on the weekend. Jack, who's the coordinator of the student Spotted Owl Advocacy Committee, would be the main speaker.

There are just a few spotted owls left – a lot of their habitat, old-growth forests, has been chopped down. As Jack says, why can't we think before we act? All it takes is some planning between developers and environmentalists. Like, duh, JUST TALK FIRST, okay, guys? Jack, who wants to be a history teacher one day, says history is full of disasters, all because people wouldn't talk to each other.

Myself, I love yakking. As much and as loudly as possible.

Hey! You can check out how to save Spotty yourself: visit the Western Canada Wilderness Committee. Tell 'em Dinah sent you. And remember: the more we talk about Spotty, the more people have to listen.

Anyhow, as Madge and I were sitting and stuffing, Madge raised the subject of this blog. "It's pink," she said, shuddering.

Madge has this thing about pink. She hates it. Maybe you read in The Summer of the Spotted Owl how she totally dissed this one woman's wardrobe and car because they were, yes, all pink.

"Well, poor Spotty's not in the pink," I punned sadly. "Not for the time being. But as to regular pink, Madge. Some excellent things are pink. Strawberry ice cream. Candy floss. Bubblegum pie."

"Bubblegum – ?" Madge winced. "Please, Dinah. I don't want to know."

"But I do want to know." I set down the packet I was stuffing and stared out the window, over our fence. "About Mr. Dubuque. Yesterday he dug up a whole bed of azaleas. And now there's fresh earth on the flowerbed, and tiny new flowers. He either dug something up or buried something."

My eyes widened behind my as-always crooked glasses. "Or someone."

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Cabbages and Kings

Hi. You might've read about me in Orca Books' Dinah Galloway Mystery Series. My latest case is called The Summer of the Spotted Owl. Thanks for visiting my blog! Just don't annoy me by drooling over how cute my sister's fiancĂ© Jack is. A lot of girl readers do that, and – well, try LavaLife if you're that desperate.

Anyhow, here's the latest. Mother served cabbage today. Yech! I snuck it upstairs to my room and Frisbee'd each leaf down into our neighbors the Dubuques' garden. Problem. Mr. Dubuque was digging up his azaleas at the time. Possible benefit. Briefly, Mr. Dubuque was no longer bald.

The "kings" part of this post's title? Oh, that's blatant self-promotion. Kings are on my mind because of the treasure I hunt down in my next adventure, The Shadows on the Train, out in spring 2007. Hey, check out my adventures c/o my publisher, Orca Books. Or visit my own, personal, accept-no-substitutes website.

Or ... have a banana-honey-peanut-butter sandwich. That's my fave kind of sandwich, and I intend to make one within minutes.

But back to Mr. Dubuque. Talk about mysterious! As well as angrily wrenching the cabbage leaf off his head, he threw his shovel aside and turned an unbecoming shade of mottled purple. As in, looked ultra guilty.

Why was Mr. Dubuque digging up his azaleas? Is he short on salad ingredients? Or ... is he hiding something?