Personal Notes

   It was ten years ago today that my daughter and son-in-law got me started with a new way to spend my time: this blog. I didn’t have any particular goals in mind, only to use this space to talk about things that interested me, with a particular emphasis on mystery fiction.

   And as time went on, other items of interest came along. Check out the categories in the right hand panel, and you’ll see what I mean. Nor have I been the only one to have used this space. I’ve invited a small host of others to talk about whatever has interested them as well. I’m happy to have been able to do so. I’d have run out of things to say long ago if I’d left it to be done on my own.

   This is now post number 5525, and following those posts, 29,678 comments have been left. This does not include 8,564,846 spam comments no one has ever seen. For reasons that were important at the time, I almost shut this blog down at least twice. I’m glad I didn’t. Thank you all for stopping by as often as you have.

   I have bad news. My wife Judy died this morning. She had been living for the past year and a half in Arden Courts in Farmington, the next town over, a facility designed solely for patients with memory impairment issues. She was diagnosed with dementia two years before that, and her condition, while stable for long periods of time, gradually grew worse as time went on.

   I met her in Ann Arbor when we were both grad students in mathematics at the University of Michigan. She was born and grew up in New York City, I in a small town in northern Michigan, but somehow our paths in life converged at the right place at the right time. Our desks in the teaching fellows’ office were opposite each other. How lucky was that for two people who were meant for each other?

   Our first date was 52 years ago tomorrow, and you would never guess that it was at a hockey match. Michigan was playing Michigan Tech, where I went to undergraduate school, and the final score was 5 to 5. I didn’t really remember the score. I had to look it up online. I have often wondered what she saw in me to say yes when I asked if she’d like to go. She’d never been to a hockey game before in her life. (I don’t remember for sure, but I don’t seem to recall that we ever went to another one.) She must seen something in me that I saw similarly in her. As far as I was concerned, it was love at first sight.

   If we never went to another hockey match — it was the end of the season — we did go to movies and other dates together, more and more often that summer of 1964, and as things progressed, we ended up getting married in December later that year.

   Eventually we moved to Connecticut, where I started teaching at Central Connecticut State — that was in 1969 — while she found a position the following year at the West Hartford branch of the University of Connecticut.

   Two children came along, Sarah, a research librarian who lives in Illinois, and Jonathan, who has been splitting his time as a writer between here and Los Angeles the past few years. He is here with me now.

   There is a lot more to the story, of course. Memories of our life together, 52 years’ worth, have been coming back to me all the while she has been ill. We loved each other for a long time, and I will never forget her. My life would not have been complete without her.

I’ve leaving this morning for Michigan to visit my sister and her husband in Cadillac (100 miles north of Grand Rapids, 50 miles south of Traverse City). My brother and his wife will be driving over from London, Ontario, and we’ll all spend the weekend together. I haven’t checked the forecast, but while I have my fingers crossed, I’m prepared for anything. If we have to dodge raindrops, or even snowflakes, then so be it. It won’t matter at all.

I’ve decided to take a break from blogging at the same time. Look for me in this chair in front of my computer again on Tuesday. See you then.

   I started having problems with one of my three computers on Friday, the one with my scanner and photoshop program, along with my old WordPerfect files, so while I can get along without them, it’s not so easily done. It froze up almost immediately every time I logged in. It took me into the late evening hours to get access to my files and back them up, thanks to a helping hand from my son-in-law Mark who deals with computers all day long.

   And I don’t know how or why, but as soon as I got the backing up done, the computer decided that play time was over and went back to work, and I was able to post Walker’s column about collecting pulp covers on Saturday. But nonsense like this wears me out any more. I must be getting old.

   I’m going to take a couple of days off from posting. Plenty of other things that needed to be done didn’t get done this weekend, and I was going to be busy all day tomorrow anyway.

   Speaking softly so the one upstairs doesn’t hear me, but between you and me, I hate computers.

   As regular visitors to this blog will have noticed, postings have been much sparser than usual this week. It’s been a combination of factors, including some severe weather fatigue (I’m tired of snow!) and a backed-up ice jam in the roof (no serious damage done, I hope).

   I also had a Wednesday deadline for my annual trek to see our accountant. Judy and I used to be able to do our taxes ourselves, but with pensions, Social Security only partial taxable (I think) and an investment portfolio that I understand only one line of: Market Value, it’s far too complicated for me to handle any more.

   So I’ve had to take a few days off from blogging this past week. They promise me that yesterday’s snow storm will be the last one, and I’m going to believe them. Things should be back to normal in a day or so. There’s a large backlog of reviews and other posts to get caught up on, and I’ll be working my way through it as quickly as I can, starting in the morning.

   If you’ve been following the comments over the past couple of weeks, you will have discerned that I’ve been out of town for most of that time. Having decided to take my laptop with me, I’ve been able to keep up with email, more or less, and I’ve even been able to keep on posting while I’ve been away. Some of the reviews I’d prepared in advance, others I’ve had to improvise, with fairly decent results, except for the images, which I wasn’t always able to do justice to.

   I’ve therefore spent this evening upgrading all of the recent posts, going all the way back to November 12 and Mike Nevins’ review of the first Joe Gall book. Go back and take a look, if it so suits your fancy.

   I might also point to you that the comments following David Vineyard’s review of the movie Susan Slept Here last Sunday have evolved into a two-sided conversation between David and myself about the sad state of affairs in mystery writing today, in our opinions. Go back and read it, and join in, again if it suits your fancy.

   Hopefully I’ll be able to return to a regular schedule soon, but perhaps not tomorrow as (1) a huge Nor’easter is promised, with dire amounts of snow predicted, and (2) I have two and a half plastic postal bins containing held mail to work my way through. Nasty work, but someone’s got to do it.

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