Yang and Yanger

When I was young, I thought the world would be a different place when women began to run things. Oh, my — what was I thinking?

Looking back, I suppose I was thinking that the women who would achieve leadership would bring feminine attributes to the position, a mother earth (or earth mother) who sees all, gently ushers us to peace and prosperity, shows us the way to kindness and caring, displays wisdom and understanding and especially creativity — an outflowing of life-giving forces that take us where we need to be.

Instead, what we have are a whole slew of Lucrezia Borgias and Lizzie Bordens. Women who will do anything to achieve their ends (their ends, not our ends), to do what is best for them (best for them, not best for us). Women who, it seems, will bludgeon us with their power and if that doesn’t work, they’ll bring out the axes. (I’m probably maligning Lucrezia and Lizzie for the sake of parallelism, but they were the first names that come to mind for examples of women who are seen as more vicious than men.)

I know the consensus is that women have to be more ruthless than men (unless you were a supreme court judge, then you needed to be simply ruth), stronger and more aggressive to get ahead, but if this is the case, then what do we need women in power for? We already have men playing those games. Instead of the balance of yin and yang, we now have yang and yanger. This doesn’t bode well for a well-rounded world, which, in fact, isn’t round but is an oblate spheroid or oblate ellipsoid, but you get my point.

Their point, the point of those in power, that is, has nothing to do with a well-rounded society at peace with itself and the world. It has everything to do with . . .

I had to stop here and think. What is the point of those in power? What are they trying to gain? More power for themselves, of course, as well as a ton of money, but other than that, I haven’t a clue. All I know is that both men and women are struggling for a power that doesn’t seem to have anything to do with making us or our lives better.

It’s disappointing to me (the me that was once young and idealistic) that women are settling for so little. I thought we were better than that.

Apparently not.

***

Pat Bertram is the author of Grief: The Inside Story – A Guide to Surviving the Loss of a Loved One. “Grief: The Inside Story is perfect and that is not hyperbole! It is exactly what folk who are grieving need to read.” –Leesa Healy, RN, GDAS GDAT, Emotional/Mental Health Therapist & Educator

The Death of Satire

Satire cannot live in a world that is already an exaggeration. This world is already lampooning itself by its very existence, provides a daily example of egregious stupidity and unbelievable irony.

For example, at the end of January, travel from China was restricted in an effort to help stop the spread of The Bob into the USA. Back then, this was considered to be an overreaction, and yet today, people are screaming that this administration underreacted. Huh? Can’t have it both ways. Though I could be mistaken.

Then, when the riots came, people started screaming that the president wasn’t doing anything to stop them, ignoring the fact that this is still The United STATES of America, and states have some autonomy, less than what was planned by the founders, more than what the big government folks want. As of now, unless the governors invite federal intervention (or unless a state of emergency is declared as well as a few other exceptions), a president cannot simply send troops to invade a state.

Those aren’t especially good examples. A better example was laid out in an article I read today about Minneapolis defunding their police department. Now the council members don’t understand why crime is rising and why the police aren’t doing anything. Really? What did they think was going to happen? Did they think the presence of the police caused crime and removing them would immediately remove incidences of crime? Logic 101 — lawlessness equals lawlessness.

How can you possibly lampoon any of this? You can’t. Reality has killed satire. Done for. Dead. There’s no need for satire when the whole world reads like a satiric novel.

If all the ridiculousness was of a civil or political nature, that would be one thing, but it’s not. The past couple of days, we’ve had cloudless days here in Colorado, but the skies aren’t clear. We’re gasping in the smoky west coast air. It’s not as bad here, a thousand miles away, as it is there, but it’s enough to make breathing difficult and to obscure the beautiful blue September sky.

I remember when I went to California to look after my dad, I mentioned to some people there that when I had lived on the western slope of Colorado, I could always tell when there were forest fires in California because I could smell them. People thought I was absurd, and absolutely refused to give any credence to my explanation of air currents. But here we Coloradans are, suffocating in western coast smoke.

One final example of a world gone beyond satire — here it is almost winter, and my spring bulbs decided to pop up. Perhaps they thought that snowstorm we had was winter, and the warm days presage spring. Who knows. All I know is that there that jaunty bit of greenery sits.

And I know that satire has been out-satired by reality.

***

Pat Bertram is the author of Grief: The Inside Story – A Guide to Surviving the Loss of a Loved One. “Grief: The Inside Story is perfect and that is not hyperbole! It is exactly what folk who are grieving need to read.” –Leesa Healy, RN, GDAS GDAT, Emotional/Mental Health Therapist & Educator

A Relative State of Ignorance

A friend texted me yesterday after reading my blog post. She seemed to take exception to my final sentence (Besides, nothing in this new world is more redundant than an old woman, no matter how perspicacious her thoughts might be) and sent me information about Maggie Kuhn, the woman who started the Gray Panthers, as an example of how important an old woman’s ideas can be.

My response? “And yet here we are, still redundant.”

I went on to say, “Actually, I should have qualified my half-facetious closing remark to refer to what’s going on today. In a war for the hearts and minds of the young, the old don’t matter. By the time their brave new world is operational, I’ll be dead.” Though, come to think of it, with the way things are changing so rapidly, I might still be alive enough to be affected by that world. Not a pleasant thought!

I also told my friend: “I have a hard time dealing with things today that I thought were taken care of in my youth, like civil rights, women’s rights, elder rights, environmental issues, and Russian conflicts. It was really a shock after living in the cocoon of Jeff’s illness and death and my grief to come out of it into a world that seems to have regressed tremendously. Russia an enemy? Really? What happened to Glasnost? And civil rights riots? Really? I thought that things had improved, but according to some sources, it’s even worse now than in our younger days.”

She responded: “I couldn’t agree more. The cultural information is not being passed down, I have felt for some time. And each newly read or watched program feels like another piece of who I thought we were as a country and any good memories I do have are taken away. So very hard to put it into words. And never have so many marched for so long in my memory and then I realize they can — because of the pandemic they are unemployed.”

My response: “Funny. I just came to that very same realization yesterday about protests and the pandemic. It’s hard for me to try to refrain from putting a conspiratorial slant on things.”

Her brilliant comment: “Isn’t it? The only thing that saves me is the thought that if we could work together to put on a worldwide pandemic successfully, SURELY we would have made a better world.”

Me again: “What worries me is that this is exactly the world we (they) want.”

The more I think about it, the more some sort of conspiracy seems to be a real possibility, and that the riots (oh, excuse me, the “mostly peaceful protests”) were spontaneously on purpose scheduled for this very time.

Beyond that, it’s not just about the information not being handed down or being unheeded. It’s not just that we thought things were progressing on all the various “rights” fronts and so we forgot about it.

There’s something more at work, and the only thing I can think of is that social progress was not just stalled but undone. Apparently, it’s hard to keep building a power base on the backs of the oppressed if the oppressed are no longer oppressed. So the plan seems to have been to re-oppress people so they can be re-unoppressed. Hence the déjà vu times we are living in. (Déjà vu to us older folks. Something brand new and radical to younger ones.)

Whether I’m right or way, way wrong, I’m beginning to see a bigger picture, big enough maybe, that I can stop thinking about all this, put it to rest in my mind, and go back to my relative state of ignorance, which isn’t as bad as it sounds.

Benjamin Hardy PhD believes that selective ignorance is a good thing. “It’s not the avoidance of learning. It’s also not the avoidance of getting feedback. It’s simply the intelligence of knowing that with certain things and people, the juice will never be worth the squeeze. It’s knowing what to avoid.”

And to me, a lot of what is going on the world today is best avoided even in my thoughts.

I just hope I can act on this resolve for ignorance!

***

Pat Bertram is the author of Grief: The Inside Story – A Guide to Surviving the Loss of a Loved One. “Grief: The Inside Story is perfect and that is not hyperbole! It is exactly what folk who are grieving need to read.” –Leesa Healy, RN, GDAS GDAT, Emotional/Mental Health Therapist & Educator

Odds and Ends

Yesterday I got the courage to get down on the floor to do some stretching exercises. Ever since I damaged my left knee, I haven’t ventured to floor in case I couldn’t get back up. Although I am right-handed, I am left-legged, and I didn’t want to stress the knee. It was a bit iffy, but I managed to get back on my feet. Oddly, it was harder getting down than up. I’m not going to try it again for a while. I’ll continue to do other knee exercises, as well as walking. I walked a mile today — walked, not trudged! The muscles around the knee are a bit sore, but I hope that they will soon get back in shape.

Do you care? Probably not. I don’t blame you. Other people’s ills get to be a bore.

I’m sure my talk of the tarot is every bit as boring. The only interesting thing (to me, anyway) is that except for an occasional card warning me not to take things for granted, to accept what comes, to live each day to the fullest, and to make good choices when it comes to opportunity, most of the cards speak of harmony, of peace, of good fortune, of being in the right place. It’s possible I’d read these things into any card because that’s my current situation. Also, if I don’t like the first interpretation I find, I search around for another interpretation. (For example, the ten of swords is a card of death and misfortune, but since I refused to accept such a meaning, I delved deeper and found that the card could also mean a renewal or even simply accepting your present circumstances.)

I mentioned yesterday I’ve been reading a series of spy/adventure novels. I remember back in the days of Glasnost thinking that a whole genre of cold war spy novels, Russia vs the USA, had suddenly become defunct, and that sure seemed to be true. In the following years, spy novels centered more on the Mideast, which killed any interest I had in the genre. But now, all these years later, those old Russia vs. USA novels are current again. And the mention in one of these book about the Chinese and their bioweapons program sure struck a chord.

Come to think of it, at the beginning of The Bob, people talked about the Chinese being held accountable, and then suddenly, that whole topic of news disappeared. I wonder what that’s about? I could create all sorts of scenarios based on these old spy books, but to be honest, it doesn’t really matter where it came from. It’s here, it’s killing people as well as destroying a way of life and the world economy, and no reparations can ever make up for all the problems it caused. (Hmm. I didn’t realize I’d adopted such a laissez faire attitude. Maybe it’s because I’m abstaining from the nastiness of Facebook.)

For some reason, the sun yesterday was exceptionally hot. It seared my skin and desiccated the plants that had been watered the day before. All summer, watering every other day was fine, and yesterday? Not the hottest day of the year, but it sure seemed like it!

Today is supposed to be a bit cooler, though I’m glad I got my walking in early. And my blogging. Now I can sit back and read for the rest of the day.

***

Pat Bertram is the author of Grief: The Inside Story – A Guide to Surviving the Loss of a Loved One. “Grief: The Inside Story is perfect and that is not hyperbole! It is exactly what folk who are grieving need to read.” –Leesa Healy, RN, GDAS GDAT, Emotional/Mental Health Therapist & Educator

Feeling Incredibly Old

I haven’t admitted to being old, only to growing older. The way I figure, the “elderly” moniker comes next birthday when I reach that age when I can no longer fudge the demographics to convince myself I’m not old, that I’m just in late, late, late middle age.

But now I’m feeling incredibly old. And disheartened. And vulnerable. Admittedly, the vulnerability comes from a slowly-heeling bum knee that has nothing to do with anything that is going on in the world, but all the rhetoric about protecting the elderly (of whom, apparently, I am one, at least according to The Bob statistics) has put me firmly in the old age category, and not being able to easily get around offers additional proof.

Even worse than all that is the truth — I’ve lived through pandemics, large outbreaks of terrifying and highly infectious diseases, horrendous flu seasons, wide-scale disseminations of dubious vaccinations that came close to being mandated. Comparatively speaking, The Bob is just another over-exploited, would-be end of the world scenario that was conveniently forgotten when a more immediate (and more obvious) threat came into being.

I’ve lived through violent times, too. Protests, both political and racial; civil unrest; fathers fighting sons; riots; burning; looting; terrorist tactics perpetrated by US citizens on US citizens. I’ve also seen men with criminal records upheld as heroes because of cop brutality, as if being beaten up or killed suddenly erases their unsavory past. (Oddly, both men at the heart of two of the worst race riots were substance abusers who perpetrated crimes on women — one was a wife beater and abuser, the other a man who once held a knife to a pregnant woman’s belly while his friends ransacked and looted her house.)

Too much, too much, too much.

It’s hard to remember that for many people, all of this — The Bob and the riots (and yes, a riot by any other name is still a riot) — is new.

A young man waited on me the other day when I went to the store, a new employee, who I hadn’t yet met. I didn’t know the etiquette of the situation —I wasn’t sure if I should reach out because of what was going on or simply ignore our skin color differences and pretend all was well in the world — so I did what I always do: err on the side of connection.

I asked if he was okay, and made a gesture indicating the world at large. He gave me a closed-off look and turned away from me. Then, apparently deciding to answer in kind, he looked at me and smiled and said, “Thank you for asking. I’m okay here in this bubble.” (And it does seem as if this area is a protective bubble.) Then, with tears in his eyes, he admitted that he was worried because even though he was safe, he had family in big cities. I offered words of sympathy, and he responded, “But everything will be better after this.”

That’s when I realized I really am old, not just in years, but in experience. Things might be better after this — I suppose it’s possible. But I’ve seen too much, been around too long, been pulled this way and that by too many power struggles of all kinds (including those in the volatile interracial neighborhood I grew up in) — to believe in easy answers and simple words.

One good thing about being old — I don’t have to pretend to have any answers. I can leave the world to the young, and maybe that’s as it should be.

***

Pat Bertram is the author of Grief: The Inside Story – A Guide to Surviving the Loss of a Loved One. “Grief: The Inside Story is perfect and that is not hyperbole! It is exactly what folk who are grieving need to read.” –Leesa Healy, RN, GDAS GDAT, Emotional/Mental Health Therapist & Educator.

Unspeakable Truths

I don’t know the truth of what’s going on. No one knows, though most of us read a few articles, see a few videos, watch the news, talk to friends, and so we think we do. Not even the people the “conspiracy theorists” think are behind the current situation know the truth. There are folks so deeply entrenched into the power structure of the world economy and have been for so many years, that we see only their minions.

Although I don’t consider myself a conspiracy theorist, I have spent most of my life researching conspiracies, trying to find the truth. (Keep in mind that researching back then wasn’t a matter of googling a few sites and watching a couple of videos. It meant books, and books, and more books. It meant studying research papers and tracking information through various sources.)

That’s all I’ve ever been interested in — the truth. Whether it’s the truth of religion, politics, history, science, life, death, it’s all fair game to me. Truth has been a lifelong pursuit. In fact, when I was in eighth grade, we were assigned to create the front page of a newspaper, including headlines, articles, etc. My newspaper was all about the meaning of nursery rhymes, and back then it took some digging to find out some of those meanings. For example, “Ring-around the rosy” originated as a rhyming song about the black death —“We all fall down.” Mary, Mary, quite contrary supposedly tells a grim tale about Mary Tudor.

One thing I did learn during a lifetime of research (two lifetimes if you include Jeff’s historical research in addition to mine) is that often a so-called conspiracy is merely a plan someone or a group of someones makes and doesn’t tell anyone.

Is what’s going on today fulfilling some people’s agendas? Probably. However it started, however anything starts — whether by accident or design — there is always someone who is ready to make a profit from it, either in money or power. There will also always be people who believe there is an agenda even if they can’t agree on what that agenda might be, and there will always be those who don’t. It doesn’t make a difference, really. We still have to deal with each day as it comes and to protect ourselves however we can.

Although I have been trying to find out how some influential people are using this situation to promote themselves and their businesses (destroying small businesses in the process), I don’t know if I care what the truth is. Whether this is the simple pandemic we’re told it is or whether there is some nefarious purpose behind it, knowing won’t change anything. Besides, the truth doesn’t always set us free. Sometimes it only serves to make us sad and weary and so very, very discouraged.

When I was writing A Spark of Heavenly Fire, my novel about biological warfare that mirrors this situation in sometimes eerie ways, I needed a substory and, as often happens, I found a clue in the very next book I read, and the pursuit of that clue led me to a place called Pingfan and added a depth to my novel I could never have imagined.

By that time, I thought my knowledge of man’s and woman’s inhumanity to their own kind made me shockproof, but even I was appalled to learn about Pingfan. For those who have read A Spark of Heavenly Fire — no, I did not create Pingfan. I don’t have that sort of inhumane brain. General Ishii created the place.

General Ishii was the leader of the Japanese germ warfare program. It’s ironic, but the Japanese had no interest in biological warfare until the Geneva Protocol’s 1932 ban on biological weapons. Ishii concluded the ban meant they were an effective means of fighting a war, so he persuaded the imperial army to let him establish a biological warfare installation. The army granted permission in 1937.

They built the installation in Manchuria near a village called Pingfan, forty miles outside of Harbin, and it was huge—a town in itself, actually, and self-supporting. In addition to living quarters and the research facilities, which included a separate compound for plague research, there was a school, a railroad siding, an administration building, a crematorium, a powerhouse, a hospital, an airbase, and farms for raising food and livestock. A high wall topped with barbed wire hid the facility from view. A moat lay beyond the wall to trap any intruders, and an electrified fence surrounded the inner perimeter to prevent escapes.

Three thousand doctors, scientists, technicians, and soldiers worked there. The output was staggering. They grew and experimented with all kinds of diseases and bio-weapons. And they had the capacity for producing twenty million doses of vaccine annually. Radiating out from Pingfan were eighteen other biological warfare stations, each staffed with three hundred people. Many of those stations were on mainland China. The whole program was administered by an organization with the innocuous name of Boeki Kyusuibu, which means Anti-Epidemic Water Supply Unit.

The Japanese conducted their experiments on Chinese villagers and POWs—mostly Chinese, but also American, British and Australian prisoners. (Many of the soldiers from the Bataan death march ended up there.)

Hundreds of American POWs died torturous deaths, and if by chance any of them survived one experiment, they were immediately put to use in another. Thousands upon thousands of Chinese were also killed—at least a hundred thousand, perhaps as many as a million—but the Japanese admitted to only a thousand. (And now the Chinese have their own bio-labs.)

The Japanese conducted all sorts of experiments.

Using planes, they scattered rice and wheat mixed with plague.

They dropped anthrax bombs designed to shatter into a thousand pieces of shrapnel. A single scratch from one of those fragments caused death in ninety percent of its victims.

They injected their victims with diseases, fed them cultures of diseases, exposed them to clouds of diseases in gas chambers, then killed them at various stages of the diseases, and performed autopsies on them. They performed some autopsies while the victim still lived.

They poisoned thousands of wells in Manchuria with cholera, typhoid, and dysentery. Interestingly, a regiment of Japanese soldiers unknowingly drank from one of those wells. Thousands died.

They also infected fleas with botulism, put them in balloons, and let them go, hoping they’d reach the United States. Many of the balloons did reach the western coast, but luckily the fleas had all died.

In addition to bacteriological experiments, the doctors had conducted experiments on frostbite. Victims were taken outside in the coldest months of the year and forced to immerse their hands and feet in barrels of cold water. They were kept outside until their extremities froze, then were taken back inside so the doctors could investigate means of treating frostbite.

The doctors had also done blood work experiments. In an effort to discover if blood other than human could be used to treat wounded soldiers, prisoners had been drained of their own blood and infused with horse’s blood. All died.

After the war, Ishii ended up in the custody of the United States. He told them about his germ warfare program in exchange for immunity. The U.S. concluded that the potential benefits of the research outweighed the demands of justice. No war crimes were ever brought against Ishii, and the whole thing was covered up. Ishii retired to a village named Wakamatsu-cho, where he lived on a pension provided by the U.S. government until his death in 1959.

None of the other doctors involved ever charged with war crimes, either.

The pathology squad leader who had conducted live autopsies became a professor at Kyoto University. He later became a professor emeritus of the university and a medical director of the Kinki University at Osaka.

The doctor who had fed typhoid germs in milk to prisoners, and who had been responsible for certain types of germ bombs, became a professor of bacteriology at Kyoto University.

The frostbite expert joined the faculty of Kyoto Prefectural Medical College and later became its president.

The premier germ bomb expert joined the Japanese National Institute of Health, where he continued his bacteriological research.

The hematologist opened a blood bank that eventually became one of the most successful multi-national medical supply and pharmaceutical companies in the world.

The only reason any of this became public knowledge is that many years later, when some of the American victims applied for help through the VA, they were told their records were sealed, and that what they had experienced had never happened. They fought for their truth, and won.

Was that the end? Of course not. There’s always someone trying to make a bad thing worse. For example, the Russians built an underground facility capable of growing eighty to one hundred tons—tons!—of the smallpox virus every year. Even worse, they modified it genetically, combining the smallpox with Ebola and Venezuelan Equine Encephalitis, a brain virus. Worst of all, the collapse of the Soviet Union left hundreds of biological research scientists unemployed. Many of them took the smallpox with them when they went to work for other countries like Libya, Iran, Iraq, North Korea, India, and maybe even Israel and Pakistan. And of course, the United States.

So, do I think some powerful people are using this current situation for their own ends? You bet. Do I know that those ends are? I can guess, but even that would fall short of the truth, because some truths are so horrific and unspeakable that only masterful psychopaths can imagine them. I no longer even have the heart to write about such crimes, which is why only my first four books are based on various conspiracies.

If you’re interested in reading A Spark of Heavenly Fire, it’s still available as a free download from Smashwords. Click here to get your free ebook: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/1842. Be sure to use the coupon code WN85X when purchasing.

***

Pat Bertram is the author of Grief: The Inside Story – A Guide to Surviving the Loss of a Loved One. “Grief: The Inside Story is perfect and that is not hyperbole! It is exactly what folk who are grieving need to read.” –Leesa Healy, RN, GDAS GDAT, Emotional/Mental Health Therapist & Educator.

Adventure!

A friend is here visiting, taking time from a disappointing road trip from California. Their trip was planned months ago, and they had no idea there would be any but the usual problems of long-distance travel. But we are in the time when things are shutting down to keep people from congregating, so many of the places they’d planned to see were closed. Now, they face additional closures, and are unsure of how and when they will be able to return home.

But in the middle of all that turmoil came their visit here, to southeastern Colorado. Considering the problems they’d encountered elsewhere, their visit here might stand as one of the highlights of their trip.

We didn’t do much, just spent time together and went exploring. One of the places we visited was Fort Lyon — an army fort turned into a naval tuberculosis sanitarium turned into a VA neuropsychiatry hospital turned into a Colorado prison turned into the Fort Lyon Coalition for the homeless. Whew! A lot of history!

One interesting little building on the grounds is the Kit Carson Chapel. Carson didn’t really have anything to do with the chapel, other than his dying in Surgeon General Tilton’s quarters on May 23, 1868. When that particular building started falling apart, the VA made a new building out of the rocks. Originally, the building was a museum, then eventually was designated the Kit Carson Chapel.

When Colorado took over the facility, one of the agreements was that they would move the chapel to a more accessible location by the entrance. The building is available for weddings and funerals. Although it sits in solitary splendor, when one drives from Fort Lyon National Cemetery through a tree-lined road one sees the chapel in an entirely different aspect.

Although the return trip for my friends seems fraught with uncertainly, one thing is certain — we had a good day.

***

Pat Bertram is the author of Grief: The Inside Story – A Guide to Surviving the Loss of a Loved One. “Grief: The Inside Story is perfect and that is not hyperbole! It is exactly what folk who are grieving need to read.” –Leesa Healy, RN, GDAS GDAT, Emotional/Mental Health Therapist & Educator.

More Murder Mystery in the Museum

Thanks to everyone who has contributed ideas to the murder mystery game we have planned for the local museum. Although I was able to use only one or two of your ideas for the game, I will keep the rest to help me with the book. (I’m thinking that my next book should be based on this museum experience, though instead of a fake body, we find a real body.) The book will be in the present, so I should be able to make use your ideas such as time zone variances and medical conditions; unknown twins, seamen, and parrots.

Meantime, I’ve been researching Clay Allison, and I found suspects in the history of the times. (After all, it is an historical museum event.) I’ve figured out how to present the clues for everyone except Colonel Mustard and Mrs. Peacock, but if I don’t, I don’t suppose it matters. In the end, it could come down to a guessing game. This, then, is what I have written so far:


Spur of the Moment Murder Mystery

It is Monday, March 5, 1877. Rutherford B. Hayes has just been publicly inaugurated as the nineteenth president of the United States. Hayes lost the popular vote but won the most electoral college votes after a ferociously disputed ruling by a Congressional committee. Citizens of the town are out late, some celebrating the victory, some drowning their sorrows at having a Republican in office.

Revelers discovered the body of Clay Allison outside the jewelry store at 9:00pm. There is no lack of people who want Clay Allison dead.

Mrs. Peacock, born in 1842, is the married sister of Deputy Charles Faber. Clay had gunned down the deputy after the deputy had demanded Clay and his brother relinquish their guns. Mrs. Peacock is not only grieving the loss of her brother, but is fuming that Allison went free after the judge ruled Clay Allison’s actions self-defense. She claims to have been home alone with her husband.

Colonel Mustard, the blacksmith, born in 1832, was at the garrison at Gainesville Alabama when Clay and the others in his Confederate unit surrendered at the end of the Civil War. Clay claimed he’d been pardoned, though Colonel Mustard maintains that Clay had escaped the night before he was to go before a firing squad. Twice Clay had escaped justice, and that does not sit right with the Colonel.

Mrs. White, schoolteacher, born in 1824, was overheard telling a friend that Clay Allison deserves to be shot for mangling the English language. Clay had bragged that he was a shootist. “Shootist?” said Mrs. White. “He just made up that word.” Mrs. White claims to have been at a suffragette meeting that evening at the schoolhouse. The suffrage referendum had just been defeated in Colorado, and she and other women in town knew they’d have to form a political coalition to work on getting suffrage for women in Colorado.

Professor Plum, a professor at Colorado College in Colorado Springs, born in 1878, is writing a book about Clay Allison. He came to town to talk to Clay, though Clay seemed disinclined to tell him the truth of his life, which enraged the Professor. Professor Plum was seen in the vicinity of the jewelry store around the time of the murder, though this seems to have been a nebulous sighting at best.

Miss Scarlet, dance hall girl, born in 1860, hated Clay Allison for promising her marriage and a life of respectability and then reneging on the deal. She claims to have been with Mr. Green when the incident occurred.

Mr. Green, bank teller, born in 1847, says he was not with Miss Scarlett, had never even met her. He claims to be an upstanding citizen with pretentions to being bank president one day, though he does admit that Clay Allison tended to play fast as loose with the ladies in town, and should be shot on general principles.

Rules:

Look for clues in the above history, in the various exhibits, by talking to the characters. Check off the characters as you learn they didn’t do the dirty deed. Whoever is left, then, must be the killer.

o Mrs. Peacock.
o Colonel Mustard
o Mrs. White
o Professor Plum
o Miss Scarlett
o Mr. Green

So who killed Clay Allison? How was he killed? Why was he killed?


And there you have it (as of right now anyway), my murder in the museum scenario. It’s subject to change of course, if I come up with more history or better ideas.

***

Pat Bertram is the author of Grief: The Inside Story – A Guide to Surviving the Loss of a Loved One. “Grief: The Inside Story is perfect and that is not hyperbole! It is exactly what folk who are grieving need to read.” –Leesa Healy, RN, GDAS GDAT, Emotional/Mental Health Therapist & Educator.

 

Murder at the Museum

The local historical museum is hosting an open house at the end of the month, and they want it to be more than simply a viewing event, so they’ve decided to use a murder theme. And I’ve been coopted to help figure out how to do create the mystery.

This is not a murder dinner (that will come in February instead of a Valentine’s celebration), nor is a skit. It will basically be just people visiting the museum and . . .

The “and” is where I come in.

My idea was to give people photos of certain exhibits as they were pre-murder. Then people need to find those exhibits, discover what is different, and so learn what the murder weapon was, or the time, or anything else I can figure out.

We will have a body. (In fact, the very first time I roamed the museum, I turned a corner and for just a second thought I saw a dead body.)

People will easily be able to figure out the weapon and time of death because of the photo evidence. But I can’t figure out how they can guess whodunnit. There will be people in costumes of the period, and one of those folks will be the perpetrator. I could leave a clue somewhere, I suppose, that would indicate one of the people. I could give them alibis, I suppose, and have visitors decide which one is lying. I could give a handout, I suppose, with all the motives.

As you can see, I am doing a lot of “supposing.”

I could set up the game where motive isn’t necessary to figure out who did it. I don’t remember, was motive a part of Clue, or was it more, “Colonel Plum in the library with a candlestick”?

If motive isn’t necessary, we could give a small prize to anyone who figures out how the mannequin was killed and who did it (that way it’s not a race, and the museum won’t be destroyed in the process), and then give a main prize to the person who comes up with the most intriguing motive.

If you have any suggestions how I can go about putting together this murder at the museum, please feel free to leave a comment. As you can see, I need all the help I can get.

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Pat Bertram is the author of Grief: The Inside Story – A Guide to Surviving the Loss of a Loved One. “Grief: The Inside Story is perfect and that is not hyperbole! It is exactly what folk who are grieving need to read.” –Leesa Healy, RN, GDAS GDAT, Emotional/Mental Health Therapist & Educator.

The End of the Creeping Darkness!

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At 8:28 this morning, Pacific time, winter came. Twice. The calendar winter, of course, but also the weather winter. Soooo cold! 8:28 am PT also marked this year’s winter solstice, ending the creeping darkness. “Solstice” comes from two Latin words, sol meaning “sun” and sistere meaning “stationary” because on this day, in the northern hemisphere, the sun seems to stand still, as if garnering it’s strength to fight back the darkness.

Technically, the winter solstice marks the moment when there is a 23.5-degree tilt in Earth’s axis and the North Pole is at its furthest point from the sun — from here on, the days will get longer, gaining us an additional 6 and 1/2 hours of sunlight per day by June 21st when the days begin to get shorter again. (This is reversed in the southern hemisphere, so today those down under will be celebrating their summer solstice.)

Though neo-pagans have claimed the solstice for their own, this is one of those natural holidays (holy days) that we all should be celebrating. The triumph of light over darkness. A day of stillness, of hope, of giving thanks for the promise that even in our darkest hour, light will return.

My celebration was simple. I lit a vase of lights and went outside and toasted the pale winter sun with champagne. Well, it was really sparking apple/peach cider, but the sun didn’t seem to care. It slid beneath the desert knolls without even a wink or a nod to acknowledge my obeisance. But it will return with greater strength tomorrow. And so will I.

Wishing you a bright and hopeful end of the creeping darkness.

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Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels Light BringerMore Deaths Than OneA Spark of Heavenly Fireand Daughter Am IBertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.” Connect with Pat on Google+. Like Pat on Facebook.