Las Cruces

I’m going to aim to work backwards until I get to all the things from this summer. In theory anyway: we’ll see how that works out. But here are some photos from the week with my dad. Lots of pictures of his dog Maggie, no surprise. Some beautiful sunrises and sunsets. More on the ‘book.

Dundee Summer

In which I sigh because I am there no longer: yeah, mostly that crazy girl. Camera loves her.

Good-bye Vivienne

We had to say good-bye to this girl yesterday.

Mom

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Marjorie Virginia Laity, née Weber 1937-2017

Rather unexpectedly my mom died Saturday night. We’re all reeling a bit, especially my dad. She had hip surgery earlier this summer but had recovered so quickly that she was walking down the block without assistance already. In keeping with her desires there will be no funeral; if you would like to honour her memory, you can send a donation to the Friends of the Thomas Branigan Library, PO Box 213, Las Cruces, NM 88004. If you’d like to be part of a general donation we’re gathering in her name [click here for the PayPal link].

Robert wrote up a very nice obituary that will be appearing soon in The Lansing State Journal, The Johnson City Record Courier and The Las Cruces Sun-News.

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If you knew my mom, you knew how energetic she was, never still for long. In recent years she really loved feeding the roadrunners from the back yard of their home in Las Cruces. They got a new Lab puppy at Christmas and Maggie is already a robust 70 lbs.

Mom was a superb seamstress: she always said that computers were beyond her, but somehow she had no trouble programming the computer-run sewing machine that seemed to do everything but knit (it scared me!). She loved ice skating so much, even when she fell backstage at the ice show on Mother’s Day and broke her ankle in four places. Of course she had her first knee surgery after a spill hill climbing on motorcycles back when we were kids. She was mostly fearless.

Here’s something that never failed to make her laugh. It became a long-running joke on family trips along with the guy who looked at the beauties of Monument Valley and muttered, “I see no significance in that.”

In high school she started working as a telephone operator, a job she loved. She always told the story of helping the woman who wanted to talk to Elvis (she was a big fan herself) and they got as far as Colonel Tom Parker. My dad and us kids would always make her call for pizza because “You have such a nice telephone voice” (which she did). We always had music on in the house. My mom loved to dance too, especially a lively Polish polka.

Thanks for everything, mom. Feel free to share your memories.

 

Goodbye, Kipper

Kipper in Window

He is gone, he of the splay foot and the silky coat. My little buddy, my little Jean Marais beastie. He’s Connor’s cuddle buddy. He’s my alarm clock; even this morning I awoke thinking I’d heard that impatient yowl. He was always quite the talker. And always underfoot: I always feared one day I’d trip down the stairs as he wound around my feet.

Things happened pretty fast. What we thought was his teeth flaring up again turned about to be a combination of underlying problems. He went from appearing fine and healthy just a few days ago to this. The vet — who’s so very English but kind — let me be with him as he slipped away. Bertie came home at lunchtime to help me bury him. I put a veve for Erzulie on the little white cardboard coffin and we wrapped him in the Gossip Girl lap blanket (thanks, Brenda) that he loved to lie on, so he went off in style.

So now we have a pet cemetery at the house. Robert’s going to put Jordan’s ashes next to Kipper’s marble slab. It’s so strange to be without him.

White Rabbit Hops

I’ve been a bit off kilter of late, but slowly catching up with things. Here are some links to places I have been flogging my latest book with all my puny might (have to work on that upper body strength).

Guest Posts

I’m over at Richard Godwin’s for a Quick Fire at the Slaugherhouse where I talk about the genesis of White Rabbit, a bit about Extricate/Throw the Bones and the forthcoming Drag Noir collection that features Richard and a host of fine writers. Richard’s also got a really lovely remembrance of AJ Hayes over at All Due Respect.

Mollie Cox Bryan had me visit and yammer on a bit about ‘What is Noir?’

I talked about the history of Spiritualism, Fakes and Table Rapping — topics that figure in the novel — over at Charlene Raddon’s blog.

I was also in the spotlight over at Annie’s Book Stop in Worcester, where I talked about all kinds of things. Drop by and see for yourself.

 

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Reviews

Heh, and he gave me a lovely and extremely flattering review, too:

White Rabbit is a marvelous and potent cocktail of crime fiction, screwball comedy and the supernatural. A cracking yarn choc full of brilliant lines that reminds you of Wodehouse, Preston Sturges and the Coen Brothers and yet is like nothing you’ve ever read before. Fantastic stuff. More please!

Mr B is aces. And a fine one also from the QoE: “White Rabbit” is a fun, intriguing story that sucked me in, took me on a corkscrew ride and never let go until the end. A wonderful blend of magical, gritty noir fresh from K.A. Laity’s literary cauldron.

I know, you may think she’s prejudiced because she designed that superb cover, but look here at this review over at Tony’s Thoughts that recognises what a wonderful job she did:

I love this cover. It screams Art Deco like a bakelite phone (there is one mentioned in this book). Did I mention how much I love this cover? This needs to be a poster, with shell shaped up-lighters.

He also goes on to say a lot of nice things about the insides of the book, too 🙂 I’m pleased to see interest slowly building. Small publishing lives in the long tail.

Just so this isn’t all about me, here’s a picture of Charlotte bouncing on a trampoline: cute as a button, isn’t she?

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TOA/V: Photography in Dundee

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There are a couple of good photographic exhibits on right now in Dundee. At the Central Library there’s a great display of photographs of archival material from the building of the original Tay Bridge and then the terrible disaster that occured in 1879 (as immortalised by the bard McGonagall, AKA the worst poet in the world). It’s so sad to read the long lists of those lost, but there’s something especially poignant about the list of lost items retrieved on the shores.

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At the McManus Galleries they’ve got “A Silvered Light”: curated by Susan Keratcher, the photos have been selected from the Dundee City permanent collection and offer a pictorial history of the city and much more, as native photographers wandered around the world and brought back their treasures captured by the lens. The juxtaposition of time periods, styles and artists’ visions brings out unexpected vision. See the feature on Art in Scotland TV. Also worth a visit is the companion display, “Re:New” which highlights some of the treasures from the permanent collection of modern art. A few were familiar but there was a lot I’d not seen before.

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There’s always so much to see in Dundee, from the Howff to the memorials for Grissel Jaffray, the last woman executed as a witch in the town (and the subject of the very enjoyable Claire-Marie Watson novel The Curewife). I had been meaning for the longest time to snap a picture of the memorial and the mosaic that leads down the passage off the Murraygate.

PCB The Boys

Of course my favourite photographs have very little to do with art, but the subjects are always a delight even if we’re just hanging around the bus stop on the way to granddad’s on a Sunday.

See the Tuesday round up of overlooked audio and visual gems at Todd’s blog.