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text 2017-09-11 04:44
The Case of the Preacher Without a Prayer



A Professor Laura Kaylan and Detective Harry Gonzales Mystery

At first glance, Reverend Billy Roy Montgomery's parsonage office looked exactly as it did on the evangelist's Sunday evening program, Gospel Reflections: opulent furniture in mahogany and red leather, subdued lighting from a Tiffany lamp on the desk, shelves lined with leather-bound books. A second look around, however, revealed subtle and not so subtle differences between the genuine article and the studio stage set.  Here, solid oak bookcases provided the backdrop in every direction, instead of painted plywood that ended at the edge of the camera's field of vision.  The stage set never invoked the unmistakable aroma of fine leather and old wood that marked this room as the genuine article.  Like most TV studios, the Gospel Reflections mock-up smelled of hot lights, electric cables, and some technician's stale cigarette smoke and half-eaten burger.

 

But I digress, a quirk of personality I sometimes cultivate.

 

Summoned to the parsonage by a half-hysterical phone call from Reverend Billy's wife, I stopped just inside the open door to the study and marshaled the forces that would return me to some semblance of professional calm.  Reverend Billy's office did indeed look normal, except of course for the dead man sprawled face down on the carpet in front of the massive desk.  A wet red stain, too fresh even to have dried at the edges, covered the back of his once-white jacket.  The gold handle of the letter opener that had killed him gleamed in the muted light.


The tall case clock in the corner bonged discreetly three times.  I glanced at my watch; Billy's clock ran fast by about five minutes.  I glanced down at Billy; his time had run out.


The quiet sniffle from somewhere to my left dispelled a moment of contemplation.  A disembodied voice, floating on the morbid air, asked, "Can you keep everything quiet?  You know, out of the papers?"


Someone else might have laughed in reply, but few others, and certainly none of the cops who would arrive on scene within minutes, would have understood the request.

 

I turned to the huddled knot of people clustered in front of the closed door that led to the rest of the parsonage.  Pauline Bouchard Montgomery, who sometime within the past few hours had gone from being the wife of the most powerful evangelist in Phoenix to just another widow, separated herself from the group and stumbled toward me.

 

"That's why I called you first, Dr. Kaylan," she added.  "The publicity, if this should get out, would be . . . disastrous."


She tripped on the edge of the rug and only the quick action of a bathrobed elderly woman with the manner of a professional nurse kept the former Polly Bouchard from falling to the floor beside her late husband.


Polly accepted the nurse's assistance to a nearby chair, behind the desk and out of view of the body.


"I am the soul of discretion, Mrs. Montgomery, but as soon as the police get here --"

 

"No!" she shrieked, half rising from the chair until the nurse's hands on her shoulders brought her back down.  "No police.  We'll say it was an accident."

 

Her outburst, though brief, rattled me more than her earlier calm.  Her husband, a prominent personality in the religious community of a major metropolitan area, lay dead on the floor with a fancy letter opener protruding from his back, and she expected anyone to believe he died due to an accident? 

 

Yes, that's exactly what she expects, I thought. 

 

This attractive, slender woman in her early fifties came from a background that accustomed her to getting exactly what she wanted more often than not, no matter how irrational her request might seem to anyone else.

 

"I don't think you understand my position, Mrs. Montgomery," I began to explain as I walked closer to the widow and her caretaker.  Assuming a classic movie stance, I went down on one knee beside her and took her stone cold hands in mine.  "We have a duty to call the police.  Reverend Billy has been murdered, and the police have to find out who did it."

 

She gathered herself for another screamed protest; I squeezed her icy fingers tightly before continuing with only the slightest pause.  A man could not have communicated the emotional bond this way, but I knew Polly would respond to a woman's touch.

 

"I want you to tell me what happened as quickly as you can, no more than ten minutes, and then I'm going to call the police," I told her, with a quick look up toward the nurse, who nodded her understanding.  "Tell me everything, just as it happened, just as you remember it."

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text 2017-05-02 16:26
Kaputt

Since my phone broke down last week, I thought I would give you all a short overview of some of the weirder ways to express this in German, complete with their literal translations. Just for fun, you know, since German is such a fun language. ;)

 

In German, cell phones/smartphones are called "Handy", so:

Mein Handy ist/hat... - My phone is/has..

  • kaputt - yes, that's a German word, so no translation required
  • den Geist aufgegeben - given up its spirit
  • über den Jordan gegangen - went over the (river) Jordan; also: über die Wupper gegangen, where Wupper is a river in western Germany
  • in die ewigen Jagdgründe eingegangen - gone to the happy hunting grounds
  • im Eimer - in the bucket
  • im Arsch - in the ass

 

Some of the above can also be used to express that somebody is completely exhausted.

Considering the stress of the last two and a half weeks, the fun of trying to save my data from a phone that continuously switches itself on and off every two minutes, and the fact that I managed to drop a metal bucket on my left foot yesterday and now have two blue and swollen toes, I think it is safe to say that I am completely in the ass.

No sympathy, please. I just needed to vent.

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review 2017-04-06 23:02
Don't Judge a Book by its Cover
The Little Bit Scary People by Emily Jenkins (2008-09-23) - Emily Jenkins

This book goes through the events of the protagonist finding "little bit scary people" but then stating "but I bet..." and then saying something positive about them. It teaches not to judge a book by its cover. I would honestly read this book to any grade- even high schoolers. There are so many different activities you could do with this book, most of them teaching students soft skills and manners. But I believe you can take this book to a whole other level. You can incorporate this into a science lesson by having students predict what is going to happen and then recording what actually happens. Another idea would be to read this book as an introduction to a new lesson or study in E/LA. I have seen on pinterest where teachers will wrap a book in paper so that students can't see the title. That is then the book they have to read for that particular study. It would also be a great way to split students up into book club books. Or, if you want to teach critical thinking, students can be given those mathematical optical illusions where something appears one way but is actually another. This would help segue into a geometry lesson. I would probably use this book as a fun introduction to another lesson, but you could do a writing prompt if you wanted to focus solely on this book. 

 

A.R. Reading Level: 3.8

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review 2017-04-05 21:01
Little READ This Book!
Little Red Writing - Joan Holub,Melissa Sweet

"Little Red Writing" surpassed all of my expectations. I expected it to be a simple story about little red riding hood except the girl is now a pencil. I was very wrong. This book teaches while entertaining! It goes through the writing process, details many different parts of speech, and talks about punctuation. I would use this in an upper grade classroom by reading it aloud to the class before the students have to write a story or paper. It would remind them of grammar rules and sentence structure while letting their minds think about what they want to write. Just like in the book, I would give students 15 categorized words to use in their story. After reading the book aloud to the class, I would have the students come up with a 2 page story using those 15 words. 

 

Lexile: AD 740L

Guided Reading: O

Grade Level Equivalent: 3.5

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review 2017-03-31 15:36
Despite the Title, This Book is NOT Dull!
Meet the Dullards - Sara Pennypacker,Daniel Salmieri

A humorous picture book titled "Meet the Dullards" caught my eye at the library, so of course I HAD to check it out. It was totally worth my time and is worth yours too. It tells the tale of the Dullards- a dull family that doesn't want anything even remotely "fun". The kids however, have a different attitude. It makes for a fun book that children think is funny and ridiculous. This book would be great for teaching kids soft skills and manners and that every family is different. I would use this book for a "First Week of School" activity so that I can get to know each student's family. After they do a work sheet/coloring sheet describing their families to me, I would have the students come up with a fake family that was different in some way- maybe they only eat soup or maybe they cook food in the bathroom? Then they would write about that family in a story. This activity would work on character development and story/creative writing.

 

Reading Level: 3.8

Lexile: AD 520L

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