Murdo Girl…Fit for a queen

My plans for today are fit for a Queen. We’re having a party like you’ve never seen.

We’re RVing in Galveston with friends Molly and Cary. A feeling of excitement is alive in the airy.

Kip, Molly, and Cary

Though no one has yet to confirmed my suspicion, I’m sure the whole park must be on a mission.

Today is my birthday and you know what that means. A surprise is awaiting the queen of all queens.

A potluck is planned and there will be games, too. When I arrive there will be a big hullabaloo.

All those who are able will rise to their feet. They will bow as I slowly take my throne seat.

There is just one thing that is bringing me down. I’ve searched this whole camper and can’t find my crown.

Sometimes even a Queen has to downsize. I’ll buy a kid’s crown and tinfoil to improvise.

Happy Birthday to me, your Queen oh so fair, and Happy New Year to all of my commoners out there!

The year 2020 is now in our sight (get it? 2020). May your vision (get it? Vision), for next year be all clear and bright.

My beach crown…

Murdo Girl…Grandma Mary’s homemade cinnamon things

So far, our time in Galveston has been the best. A really fun couple from Lafayette, Indiana, who went to the University of Wyoming with Kip, met us here.

That’s another great thing about RVing. We’ve spent time with family and friends that we haven’t seen in years, and there is just something about being able to take your own living space with you that makes it more fun and relaxing. Plus you can take your pets with you.

Molly and Cary Cline are a real hoot. It’s been fun for me to listen to the two of them and Kip tell the “do you remember” stories. Between the three of them, they eventually get the story told. (Although the details seem a little contrived to me, it’s usually a pretty good story.) I have no worries that we’ll run out of things to talk about. We have a lot of years to catch up on.

So far, we have eaten at two of our favorite restaurants. On previous trips to Galveston, our friends, Ron and Barbara, introduced us to The Spot, and the Sunflower Cafe. They are both wonderful. The Sunflower rates right up there as far as the great connoisseur of bakery fare is concerned. Kip loves to stand in front of the display case and be amazed at the choices he has.

Kip and Cary at the Sunflower Cafe.

We also saw the Bishop’s Palace and shopped along the Strand.

While we were reminiscing and looking at all of the delicious baked goods, I decided I was going to treat everyone to Kip’s Grandma McNinch’s homemade cinnamon rolls. Breakfast at my house in the morning! I had brought all of the ingredients for the rolls with me, so we stopped at the store and bought some bacon and eggs to complete the menu. It would be fun to relax with our coffee and enjoy the sunshine we’re supposed to have.

I started to make the rolls and I realized I hadn’t brought any milk…no problem, I borrowed some from Molly. Then, I couldn’t find the yeast, or the special ingredient for the topping, and I have no idea where I put the brown sugar I was sure I had brought from home. When I looked in my spice drawer for the cinnamon, I couldn’t believe I didn’t have any.

Even if she did happen to have it, I didn’t want to borrow all of that from Molly, so I got Kip to take me as far as the Dollar General Store where I found everything but the yeast. I bought self rising flour, which made sense to me. I googled it on the way back to the park and found out you can’t substitute self rising flour for flour and yeast. Self rising flour is made with baking soda. I decided to ignore that little bit of information.

Grandma McNinch’s homemade cinnamon rolls have turned into Grandma MG’s homemade biscuits. Kip, Molly, and Cary might not like them, but in my world you must be flexible.

Either way, the sun is supposed to shine and it’s going to be another day in paradise.

Murdo Girl…No more “uh oh’s”

It’s been thirteen months and finally, we dusted off the old RV, hooked up the jeep and loaded up, caught the cat, each grabbed a pup.

We found our list and checked it twice. I told Kip to check his thrice. Galveston’s our destination. I can’t believe we’re on vacation. With 210 miles to go, I heard Kip say the first “Uh Oh.”

We turned around to go back home. It seems no matter where we roam; no matter how we look about, we forget what we can’t live without.

We tried to get an early start. It took us longer to depart. Turning around’s no easy chore. It took us thirty minutes more.

The next “Uh Oh” did no harm for it was just a false alarm. If true it would have been rotten. Kip thought his phone he had forgotten.

He said, “Uh Oh,” the RV slowed. The ducks were trying to cross the road.

I’ve yet to say my first “Uh Oh,” but we have lots of miles to go.

Murdo Girl…Living the dream, 25, Confusion

When Annette’s mother got back with all the supplies, the four of them took off in Mrs. Morris’ SUV. They headed for the remote cabin her husband had built twenty years before. No one had been there in years until Annette went to check on it the week before. It needed a thorough cleaning, but it was built to last and had plenty of room for Mrs. Morris and Jack’s two daughters to live quite comfortably for as long as it would take for Annette to accomplish her goals.

“Where are you taking us?” Jack’s fourteen year old daughter, Vanessa, had a protective arm around her younger sister, Alice, who was quietly whimpering. They had looked for opportunities to get away from Annette and her mother, but so far, they had been closely guarded. Even now, they were both blindfolded.

“To a beautiful place,” Annette said. “You will love it. As soon as we get there, we’ll take the blindfolds off. I’ll be leaving you two and Mother there while I take care of some business.”

“Are you going to tell our daddy where we are?”  Alice asked.

Annette laughed. “Oh no,” she said. “Quite the contrary. Jack will be convinced I had nothing to do with your disappearance.”

“Here we are,” Mrs. Morris said. “We had better hurry and unload the car so you can get back home, Annette.”

Both girls began to whimper as Annette and her mother, Edith, led them to the cabin. “I guess we can remove their blindfolds now,” Edith said. “They have no idea where we are and no way to get in touch with anyone.”

as soon as they had unpacked all of the supplies. Mrs. Morris showed the girls to their room. “Stay here until I call you for supper,” she said. “And stop whimpering. We could be here a while, and I refuse to listen to that the whole time.

Later, when Edith Morris came to their room to tell them supper was ready, Alice pointed to a picture on the wall and said, “That picture is of Vanessa and me when we were little. Where did you get it?”

I hope you and your families had a Merry Christmas. I appologize for my last blog. A whole paragraph was left out and a couple of errors were not showing as corrected. I hope you were able to inderstand it. The blog is switching back and forth between programs and I’m not used to writing, correcting or saving, on the newer one yet. Please bear with me…thanks!

Murdo Girl…Living the dream, 24, abducted

The morning after I received the visit from the two FBI agents, I decided I needed to discuss all of this with Jack. After trying several times to reach him by phone, I finally drove to his house, hoping I could catch him in.

I was about to ring the doorbell when he pulled into the driveway. He jumped out of the car, but he was on his phone so he didn’t see me until he was almost to the door.

“I don’t know! I DON’T KNOW!” He yelled into the phone. I’ve looked everywhere and called everyone I can think of and it’s as though they’ve vanished into thin air. Yes…please send someone over. I’ll remain here. Tell them to hurry.”

“Jack…what’s wrong? What has happened?”

The girls have disappeared. I dropped them off at school yesterday morning, but they never got on the bus to come home. I’ve checked with their teachers to confirm they were in all of their classes, so something happened in the brief period of time between the end of the school day and getting on that bus. Mrs. Martin called me to tell me they didn’t come home.

“Oh Jack, what can I do?”

“Let’s go inside, Kat. The police are looking, too. They’re sending a detective over soon. You can wait with me. Where could they be, Kat? Where are my little girls?”

I had never seen Jack like this. Vanessa and Alice were is world and I could tell he felt helpless.

Soon, a car pulled into the drive and two men came to the door. “I’m so relieved they sent you two,” Jack said. “Kat, meet Blake Stedman and Tom Black. The three of us go back a long way.”

“But this can’t be,” I said. “Two FBI agents came to my house last night. They had badges and their names were Blake Stedman and Tom Black. They most definitely were not the two of you.”

“What?” Jack looked even more alarmed…and confused. “Kat, I’ve known these guys for years and why would the FBI come to see you, anyway?”

“We’ll deal with it later, Jack,” the new detective Stedman said. “What can you tell us about Vanessa and Alice’s disappearance?”

Jack relayed what he knew which was basically nothing.

“I’ve been up all night driving around looking, and making phone calls. They would never do something like this to me on a whim. Something has happened to them.”

A thought occurred to me. “Jack, when I got home, yesterday, Annette was there with a man named Carl Drake. She had a gun with her and she was acting very strangely. Those detectives told me she was no longer part of the team and Carl Drake was back in jail. Is it too far fetched to think they may have something to do with the girls’ disappearance?

Annette, Vanessa, and Alice

“I wonder how dear old dad is doing without his little darlings,” Annette said. “I’m sure he’s half crazed by now.”

“Please Miss Morris,” Vanessa begged. “Let us call our daddy.”

“NO! My mother will be here soon with some clothes and other things you’ll be needing on your trip. She’s taking you to the mountains. You’ll love the cabin. It’s beautiful.”

Murdo Girl…Living the dream, 23, Trust

“Come in,” I said to the two men at the door. “You’re FBI investigators?”

“Yes, Mam,” said the man who had introduced himself as Blake Stedman. “We’ll try not to keep you long, but we’re hoping we can clarify some things for you.”

“Please sit down, gentlemen. Can I get you some coffee or tea?”

“We’re fine, thank you.” Again it was Blake Stedman who spoke. I noticed the second guy took out a notepad and pen.

“What is this about?” I couldn’t wait to hear the answer to that one. What else could go wrong, today?

“We understand you have been working with the team originally put together by your late mother, Claire Spencer. We also know you have concerns about the trustworthiness of some of your teammates.

“I would really like to know what the FBI has to do with this, but I would like to say something first. May I speak frankly?”

“Of course. We are quite aware of the Truth or Consequences project and the good work it has done in the past. We are also aware of the present discord among some of the members. We have a vested interest in the project, but we are not the directors. Ms. Spencer, we know you have been treated unfairly.”

I didn’t know where to begin, but I took a deep breath and didn’t hold back.

“I had not seen or heard from my mother since the day I graduated from college. All these years later, I get word from her that she has deeded her property, this house, to me. She asked that she and Stella remain here until after Thanksgiving. When I arrived, I found my mother was quite ill. She had planned a big Thanksgiving party and wanted me to host it. She went to her home in Seattle so ‘the team’ wouldn’t know the extent of her illness. Sometime later, she asked Jack Stein to bring me to her. She died a few days later. By that time we were in the throws of a project assignment. I believed it had a successful outcome, but right after that, I noticed there were cracks in the dam. Here are my concerns. My mother questioned where Jack’s loyalties lie. I overheard disturbing conversations concerning Jack and Annette.

Tonight, I came home to Annette with a gun, accompanied by a man who had been posing as my housekeeper’s piano teacher. Apparently he has a vendetta against the group. I told them all I want out. There is nothing any of them or the FBI can do to change my mind.”

“I understand, Ms. Spencer. I would just ask that you hear me out before you make that decision.”

“I will, but only out of curiosity,” I said.

“None of members of project T or C will ever know who makes the assignments. Although the FBI plays a roll, we know nothing about where the assignments originate. We only know the directors operate with authority. Your mother was already doing good work with a good team when the assignments began coming to her. Each case has been a humanitarian success, however it has not gone unnoticed that Annette Morris has acted inappropriately, recently. She has become somewhat of a rogue operator. She tracked down Carl Drake and asked him to persue the job of giving your Stella piano lessons. He was really here to spy on you. His other crimes are very serious, but not violent. Mr. Drake is back in jail and Annette Morris is out of the group. A decision made by those who make the assignments and have the ultimate responsibility for the team. You can be assured Ms. Morris will not fight this and her position will be filled by someone who has been properly vetted.”

The two men got up to leave.

“One other thing you should know…Mr. Stein has agreed that you be the one to be approached with the assignments. Please consider all that I have told you. We’ll be in touch tomorrow to answer any questions you might have before you make a final decision. We’ll see ouselves out. Enjoy your evening. Ms. Spencer.

I made sure Stella was okay before I went upstairs and got ready for bed. I slept rather fitfully. One minute I was actually thinking about doing what my mother had hoped I would, and the next minute I came up with a thousand reasons not to.

In the morning I called Jack. I had to know if I could really trust him.

Murdo Girl…Living the dream, 22, Who is Who?

Annette was looking at me with hatred in her eyes. She was holding a gun although at the moment, she wasn’t pointing it towards anybody. I’d had enough!

“What are you doing, Annette? Put that gun down and please…untie Stella and remove the gag. I should have realized it wasn’t you playing the piano, Stella. Beethoven, you can stop now.”

Annette didn’t move so I went to Stella and untied her. She took the gag from her mouth but wisely remained silent. Beethoven finished playing Silent Night and didn’t begin a new song.

“Carl,” Annette said. “Meet Kat. She’s the daughter of the woman partially responsible for all the charges that were brought against you.”

Carl, who must have been posing as a piano teacher, got up from the piano bench, put his hands in his pocket and walked over to stand beside Annette.

“Give me the gun, Annette,” he said, as he took one hand from his pocket and extended it so Annette could hand him the gun. “You’re far too emotional to be brandishing a weapon.”

Annette looked at me… as she handed the gun to Carl.

“I have no idea what you’re talking about,” I said. “And further more, I am no longer involved with the people my mother associated with prior to her death.”

“I don’t believe you,” Annette said. “I happen to know you spent Christmas with Jack. I also know you rushed to see him right after you walked out on me at the restaurant.”

“You were playing games with me, Annette. I went to Jack for help to clear up my confusion, but I realized I couldn’t trust him any more than I can trust you. I told him I was done with all of you.”

“It won’t be that easy, Kat. Are you forgetting…we get assignments and we’re expected to follow through with them.”

“Well, Mission Impossible is going to have to replace me. I don’t care to take anymore assignments. I would appreciate it if you both left, now. It’s been a long day.”

I looked over at Stella who had been unusually quiet up until now. She immediately found her voice. “Does this mean I’ll have to find a new piano teacher?”

Carl and Annette agreed to leave. Annette was apparently satisfied that I wasn’t taking sides. I did have to wonder what charges had been brought against Carl and what exactly was going on between Jack and Annette.

Stella and I had a light dinner. I was trying to concentrate on a book when the doorbell rang. I told Stella I would see who it was.

I answered the door to two men. One of them showed me his badge. “My name is Blake Stedman,” he said. I’m with the FBI. This is my associate, Tom Black. May we come in?”

Murdo Girl…The Christmas letter

I vowed to write a first at last. I’d never done this in the past.

I thought there would be nothing to it. It seemed like anyone could do it.

I brought my family all together, so we could write a Christmas letter.

I read those I’d received from others. Written with love by grandmas or mothers.

I said, “These can be a great example, but our own exciting times are ample.”

One friend’s son has lots of knowledge. He’s only ten and goes to college.

I asked. “Who has something that compares?” All I saw were empty stares.

My son read, “This mom said she lost a ton. Now she out-runs everyone.”

A daughter said, “Mom don’t be sad. look at all the fun you had, eating donuts, pies, and cake. Who needs to run for heaven’s sake.”

Ignoring her I forged ahead. “Let’s write about our trips instead.”

“Do I have a volunteer to highlight our time-off last year?”

“You said we’d soon be on vacation, and then you changed it to staycation.

Instead of seeing Disneyland and building castles in the sand…

We stayed right here in our own house and drew lots of pictures of Mickey Mouse.”

Had I been overconfident? There must be one accomplishment.

“Did anyone get to school on time, clean their room or solve a crime?”

They were reading others news and it was giving them the blues.

I said, “Let’s not continue this. We’ll send out pretty cards this Christmas.”

“We should not antagonize those with less exciting lives.”

Murdo Girl…Living the dream, part 21..Surprises

Annette had just told me that Jack was in big trouble and she was responsible. She wanted me to help clean up her mess…in other words, “fix it.” I asked her what she had done, and she sat there silently as if she was trying to determine if she was going to tell the truth or lie to me. I decided I would give her some of her own medicine. I got up, found the waiter, paid for lunch, and left.

I was only a couple of miles from home when I determined there was either a car following me or I was being paranoid? I decided to make an unexpected stop at a boutique on a crowded street and see what the car did. It continued on, which made me think I had been imagining things.

When I came out of the boutique, I saw two men standing across the street. They were both on cell phones and they were watching the area, intently. I got in my car and drove straight to Jack’s house. When I turned onto his street, the two men appeared to give up the chase.

Jack would be surprised to see me. I knew his address because I had found it in some of Mother’s paperwork. I only hoped that he was at home.

He answered the door and just as I predicted, he obviously was not expecting to see me on the other side.

“Hello, Kat…what a pleasant surprise. Please, come in.”

I walked in intending to ask him to clarify all the things that I was questioning. I was going to tell him of Mother’s doubts and about my conversation with Annette, but when I opened my mouth, that isn’t what came out.
“I won’t keep you long, Jack. I just came by to tell you I want nothing more to do with your Truth or Consequences project, or anyone that has any kind of relationship to it. I’m fifty-five years old. I worked hard for over thirty years and from now on my life is going to be all about me!”

I didn’t wait for him to respond. I opened the door to leave, but changed my mind when I saw the two guys who had been tailing me.

“Don’t be afraid, Kat. Those two aren’t the bad guys. You now have two bodyguards. At least for the time being.”

I could have cried. I was so confused and I didn’t like not knowing what was going on.

“I desperately need to know what this is all about, Jack,” I pleaded.

Before he had a chance to answer my question, the doorbell rang. It was the two men Jack had described as bodyguards. They saw me standing there and motioned to Jack to step outside. When he came back in, he was visibly upset.

“This is very important, Kat. When you met with Annette today, what did she tell you?”

It only took me a second to decide to tell him the truth. “She said you were in a lot of trouble. She also said it was her fault and she wanted me to help straighten everything out. I didn’t wait to hear anymore, Jack. I got up and left.”

Without commenting, he walked over and sat down on the sofa near the fireplace. His phone was in his pocket and he pulled it out to look at it. “No missed calls,” he said.

I was beginning to think he had forgotten I was there, when he finally looked up at me and gave me a tired smile.

“I’m sorry, Kat,” he said. “You’re going to have to stay here until we hear from Annette… one way or the other. The two men I hired to keep and eye on you, saw her leave the restaurant with a guy we were responsible for putting in jail several months ago. He’s still facing two more charges that could put him away for years. We have to do some investigating to see if Annette is working both sides of the fence or was she about to come clean to you which could have made certain people nervous.”

“I can’t help you with that Jack. I’m going home. And please tell your buddies their job is over.”

“You can’t do that, Kat. You could be in danger.”

“Any danger I might be facing is because of my association with you, and that ends now!”

By the time I arrived at home, I had calmed down. When I walked inside, Spirit came to greet me, I could see Trixie lying on the couch and hear Stella on the piano. All was well…

I went to my room to change my shoes. I would let Stella know I was home before I took Spirit for a walk on the beach.

I walked into the little piano room off the dining room and was greeted by Annette who was holding a gun. Stella was tied up and gagged. The funny looking piano teacher was playing the piano.

“It wasn’t very smart of you to fire your bodyguards,” Annette said.

Murdo Girl…Living the dream, 20..Annette

Stella, Spirit, Trixie, and I enjoyed a peaceful and uneventful respite between Christmas and New Year’s. Even though the weather had turned colder, it was sunny and beautiful. Spirit and I went for long walks on the beach, while Trixie endured Stella’s practicing sessions on the piano. She had hired a rather strange looking teacher to come to the house two afternoons a week. She was improving, but I still occasionally caught myself wincing.

I was thinking of getting involved in some volunteer work when I was approached by one of the members of Project Truth or Consequences.

I got a call from Annette Morris. She wanted me to meet her for lunch the following day. I asked her if all of the others would be there and she said that she wanted to talk with me before she involved anyone else. I didn’t know the protocol the group followed but I agreed to meet with her. She was already seated when I got there.

“Thank you so much for agreeing to come.” Annette wasn’t smiling. “I’m famished. Let’s order lunch before we talk.”

“Of course,” I said. “You’re looking well. Annette. Did you enjoy the holidays?”

“I did. Thank you for asking. As a matter of fact, I was in a play at the Center for the Performing Arts here in Brewster. I’ve been involved in a couple of their previous productions, but this time I had a more significant part. I really enjoyed it.”

“Annette, can I ask you to tell me more about your art therapy? I’ve been wondering how you have used it in conjunction with the T or C assignments.”

“I would love to tell you more about the different ways that art can increase the ability to communicate. For instance, when we work with elderly abuse, sometimes a victim is suffering from dementia or has been so traumatized they can’t remember the details we need to help them. Music soothes and relaxes. With younger people or people not fluent in English, painting different scenes or drawing can trigger memories of what has happened. I think we all probably have the most difficulty learning who to trust. We struggle with that in our group and with our victims.”

“You sound very passionate about your work,” I said. “Annette, why did you leave so suddenly the night of my Thanksgiving party?”

“I owe you an apology,” she said. I was upset because I have had to prove myself over and over again and Jack was welcoming you without hesitation. You must have noticed how hard he was on me during the last assignment.”

“I did notice. However, I also noticed you came to some conclusions that were proven to be wrong. Marsha was innocent. She may have been foolish, but she meant no harm. I think Jack wants you to examine the situation more carefully before drawing conclusions.

Annette looked angry at first, but she knew I was right.

“Jack said you were an excellent communicator, Kat. I can see that he was right. Thank you for your honesty.”

“Of course,” I said. “Now…why did you really ask me to meet with you?”

Annette took a deep breath before she began to answer my question.

“Jack is in serious trouble. It’s all my doing and I need your help to undo the damage I’ve caused. Will you help me, Kat?”

I realized I would have to become acutely aware of what was happening around me. I recalled Mother’s concern about where Jack’s loyalties lye and the conversation between Jack and Doris that I had overheard causing me to question Jack.

“What have you done. Annette?” I asked.