Monday, December 5, 2016

Guest Blogger - Alice Duncan

Daisy’s Bag of Tricks


Writing a cozy mystery series set in the 1920s in Pasadena, California, requires a good deal of research. Since I love both research and my old home town (Pasadena, of course), I don’t find the historical research burdensome.

What I do find burdensome is Daisy’s job as a spiritualist-medium. As someone who has absolutely no talent for spiritualistic things, I need to scramble a good deal in order to figure out what the heck the lines on a palm mean or a tarot layout says. Forget the crystal ball altogether. I’m pretty good with the Ouija board because I’ve had lots of practice, thanks to my daughter, Robin, who bought an old Ouija board at a yard sale one day maybe twenty-five years ago.

When Robin brought the board to my house, she was frustrated because when she and her boyfriend had used it at her apartment, the stupid board kept spelling out MOMMOMMOMMOM and nothing else. When she and I fiddled with it, we discovered (this is a true story, even if it is rather odd) Rolly! I gave Rolly to Daisy, who seems to make much better use of him than I ever did. His background story is correct, however. According to the Ouija board that long-ago day, Rolly and I had been married in Scotland in 1055 or thereabouts and had five sons together. Sounds like heck to me, but he claimed we were soul mates and he’d followed me through all my various lives. Ooooookay. If you say so, Rolly. Anyway, about fifteen years or so ago, I had my very own “channeling board” made by a woman recommended by a writer friend of mine (Stobie Piel). I think it’s lovely. Neither Stobie nor I can remember the woman’s name, so I fear I can’t pass along the information if you’d like to have one of your own made by her. She does great work.



At any rate, the Ouija board presents no problems. The tarot and the palms, however, are a whole ’nother kettle of fish. In order to attempt to do them justice, I got myself a Rider Waite tarot deck and some reference materials: two books on the tarot and one book on palmistry. I still can’t figure out the tarot without a great deal of reading, no matter which pattern I have Daisy deal out, generally for the fictitious Mrs. Pinkerton, her best client and one of the dimmer and wealthier of Pasadena’s denizens during the period. Fortunately, I have a dear friend, Elizabeth Delisi (http://elizabethdelisi@blogspot.com ) who does read tarot cards. Mind you, Liz and I have never met in person, but she got me a job teaching for Writer’s Digest once, and she helps me understand (vaguely) tarot cards. Very useful source of information, is Liz, bless her.



As to palmistry, here’s a picture of my old, wrinkled right palm. Pay no attention to the Band-Aid on my finger. I wrap a Band-Aid around that joint every day because it’s so painfully arthritic. When I first got my palmistry book, I attempted to read my own palm. That didn’t work out too well. For some reason, my Mount of Apollo, which is supposed to be connected to a person’s artistic nature, seemed to have vanished. That came as a little bit (but not much) of a surprise to me. Mind you, I have no artistic capabilities if we’re talking about drawing, painting, sculpting or anything else along those lines, but I do like to think I have at least a little bit of a leaning toward the literary. Or, if not precisely literary, at least … well, writing. You know? Anyhow, somebody told me the various mounts tend to blend together in some folks. Whatever. I have no reason to doubt whoever it was who told me that.




The palm-reading book has come in handy a time or two, but Liz and my tarot-card books are even more helpful, even if it takes forever for me to figure out what the heck the cards mean, especially when they’re laid out in any specific pattern.
While Daisy herself has a crystal ball and actually sees unusual things in it from time to time, I don’t. So I had to find a crystal ball like that Daisy might have used on Google. Daisy doesn’t take it with her all the time, because the stupid thing’s heavy. However, Daisy is no shirker, and if someone wants a crystal-ball reading, she’ll gladly tell them anything she believes they want to hear.



As for the rest of Daisy’s tricks, Spike, her late husband’s beloved dachshund, is patterned directly after my very first dachshund, whose name was Hansel Schnitzel Fritzel von Poncho Pooh Puddle Monsieur la Puppy Stink Duncan. Really. I took him to dog-obedience school at the Pasanita Dog Obedience Club at Brookside Park in Pasadena, California, during the summer between fourth and fifth grade, worked with him every single day, and took him for walks that went on for miles and miles. What’s more, he really could add, subtract, multiply and divide, at least as well as I could (which wasn’t very). All it takes is time and patience. Mind you, I have neither any longer, but when I was a kid I had a lot of both that summer, and I spent all of each commodity on Hansel. All the dachshunds I’ve had since Hansel have trained me. Darn it.



Also, unlike Daisy, I love to cook. So Daisy’s Aunt Vi is kind of me, only she prepares much fancier meals than I ever have. I’ve never even attempted to fix beef Wellington, for instance. I have, however, prepared floating island. Both my mother and my father were excellent cooks. Good thing I don’t like to eat as much as I like to cook, or I’d weigh approximately as much as Mrs. Bissel’s house. By the way, that house used to belong to my very own aunt, Maren Fulton. Ah, life. I tell you, there’s a whole lot of me in my Daisy books!



I’ll be in touch with the winners of November’s contest. Bam-Bam will proceed to pick wieners this very evening.

If you’re interested in visiting my sort of, kind of out-of-date web site, please do so at: http://aliceduncan.net/ . And if you’d like to be Facebook friends, just go to my Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/alice.duncan.925


Thank you!

3 comments:

  1. All this is so much fun! I read cards - well used to -- haven't in ages....

    ReplyDelete
  2. Oh, really???? Cool. Maybe I'll call on you next :-)

    ReplyDelete

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