Thursday, October 31, 2019

What I’ve Been Reading by E. B. Davis

At a crossroads between a cringe-worthy past (Todd the Toad) and an uncertain future (she's not exactly homeless, but it's close), Lucy Swift travels to Oxford to visit her grandmother. With Gran's undying love to count on and Cardinal Woolsey's, Gran's knitting shop, to keep her busy, Lucy can catch her breath and figure out what she's going to do.

Except it turns out that Gran is the undying. Or at least, the undead. But there's a death certificate. And a will, leaving the knitting shop to Lucy. And a lot of people going in and out who never use the door—including Gran, who is just as loving as ever, and prone to knitting sweaters at warp speed, late at night. What exactly is going on?

When Lucy discovers that Gran did not die peacefully in her sleep, but was murdered, she has to bring the killer to justice without tipping off the law that there's no body in the grave. Between a hot 600-year-old vampire and a dishy detective inspector, both of whom always seem to be there for her, Lucy finds her life getting more complicated than a triple cable cardigan.
The only one who seems to know what's going on is her cat ... or is it ... her familiar?

What is more fitting for Halloween than vampires? This series is a fun read! And just so you know, you can gorge read all nine books in the series if you have Kindle Unlimited because they are all free. I admit, I’m feeling rather stuffed, but the fact is, if the tenth book were available, I’d wolf it down, too.

Lucy doesn’t know of her heritage—she’s a witch. Brought up in Boston and around the world by her archeologist parents, Lucy has been raised on science, not witchcraft, an art her mother eschewed. Young Lucy was dropped off to her English grandmother during summers. Grandma supplied a loving home and must have respected her daughter’s wishes because Lucy’s witchcraft roots were never revealed. She’s a powerful witch, but as a newbie her spells go awry. She also can’t knit well, a fact she must keep secret from her knitting shop clientele. In the first book, Grandma has been murdered, but, in the midst of dying, a vampire friend saves her life by turning Grandma. What no one knows is that a vampire colony lives underground beneath the knitting shop—until Grandma shows up undead and her murder must be solved!

Nancy Warren also has a Christmas short featuring Lucy in a newly released anthology Six Merry Little Murders also on Kindle Unlimited.

 Out of work and down on her luck, Lucie Rizzo is forced to do the one thing she’s long avoided—come home to her nutty, mob-infested family. A move that brings her back into the tempting arms of Frankie Falcone, the smoldering Italian ex who’s no stranger to living with the mob. 

When Lucie parlays her temporary dog-walking gig into a legit career, Frankie becomes her number one supporter. Suddenly, shaking her mob princess reputation doesn’t seem so crazy…until three of her clients are dogjacked. 

Despite help from the on-again, off-again Mr. Fix-It in her life, Lucie is thrown into a criminal conspiracy straight out of a gangster movie. One that, if she’s not careful, could leave her sleeping with the fishes.

One has to feel sorry for Lucie Rizzo. She’s a law-abiding accountant in a mob family. I downloaded this book because it was the first in the series and free on Kindle Unlimited, but it proved itself worthy. Dog Collar Crime is quick-paced and the characters—both two-footed and four-pawed—are memorable. The plot is complicated enough that I didn’t anticipate the plot twists and the ending left enough tension and family complications to hit the download button for the next book. So far, the series has seven books, which on Kindle range from 99 cents to $2.99, a reasonable price if considering snarfing the entire series on a snow-bound weekend.
For hyper-particular publishing heir Jonathan Grief, the day starts like any other—with a strict morning fitness regimen that’ll keep his divorced, easily irritated, cynical, forty-two-year-old self in absolutely flawless physical condition. But all it takes to put a crimp in his routine is one small annoyance. Someone has left a leather-bound day planner with the handwritten title Your Perfect Year in his spot on his mountain bike at his fitness course!

Determined to discover its owner, Jonathan opens the calendar to find that someone known only as “H.” has filled it in with suggestions, tasks, and affirmative actions for each day. The more he devotes himself to locating the elusive H., the deeper Jonathan is drawn into someone else’s rich and generous narrative—and into an attitude adjustment he desperately needs.
He may have ended up with a perfect year by accident, but it seems fate has set Jonathan on a path toward healing, feeling, and maybe even loving again…if only he can meet the stranger who’s changing his life one day at a time.

Once per month, Amazon Prime members may download one new book from a selection that Amazon determines. Often, I don’t bother. Many don’t appeal to me, but this book did. Like refreshing the palate with sherbet, I sandwich romance, general fiction, and chick lit between my mystery reading. Your Perfect Year is not a mystery, more romance or chick lit. The mystery for me was why I an English author set the book in Hamburg, Germany. Duh! Charlotte Lucas, of course, is a pseudonym taken from the character of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice of Wiebke Lorenz, who along with her sister also write under the name Anne Hertz. They evidently are best-selling authors on the German market, but I couldn’t find any English translations. I found no other clues within the text that the author was German. Perhaps it is unremarkable that a German woman has the mindset of any other contemporary woman of the free world. I  felt a kinship without geographic boundaries to this author.

The book is written in two POVs, Jonathan Grief and Hannah Marx, two of the most unlikely people to end up in a romance. Jonathan is a stuff shirt, old-school publisher, spoiled in a tragic way by a father who now suffers from dementia. Hannah is a free-thinking entrepreneur and innovator in childcare. Her new facility becomes instantly popular. And she’s in love with another man. Hannah transforms Jonathan without having met him, but they finally meet. No spoilers here!

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Jennifer David Hesse Interview By E. B. Davis

If two suspects each provide an alibi for the other,
shouldn’t that cancel out both alibis?
Jennifer David Hesse, Autumn Alibi, Kindle Loc. 1645

After a hectic year, Edindale, Illinois, attorney Keli Milanni is ready to welcome autumn by counting her many blessings. But a case of murder could cause her to fall behind . . .
Keli is hoping that Mabon, the Wiccan Autumn Equinox, will bring balance back into her life. But it’s death that comes calling when she’s asked to consult on an estate case. Recently passed, Elaine Turnbull left everything, including her valuable art and antiques collection, to her granddaughter, Lana. But Lana has been missing for years, ever since a tragedy tore her family apart. Also missing may be Elaine’s most recent will. Then there’s the not-so-small detail that Elaine’s death by natural causes may not have been so natural after all . . .

With the help of her boyfriend Wes, who knew Lana in high school, Keli starts digging into Elaine’s past—and her journals. Soon she discovers that everyone, from Elaine’s caretaker to her curator, had a motive for murder—along with a seemingly rock-solid alibi. Between missing people, missing documents, a string of vandalism against her friends, and the sense she’s being stalked, Keli is feeling a disturbing chill. Now not even her Wiccan protection rituals may save her from a killer with a cold heart that’s far from grateful . . .

I so wish I had found this series when it started. Autumn Alibi is the sixth in the Wiccan Wheel Mystery series written by lawyer Jennifer David Hesse. Jennifer’s main character, Keli Milanni, is a Wiccan witch and a lawyer. She’s a good person who has unconventional beliefs and sticks by them even when others scoff. 

What attracted me to this book? Keli has a reverence for nature that is appealing. Her boyfriend, Wes, is irreverent in ways other than nature, funny, and supportive of Keli. He’s a wonderful contrast to Keli, but at the same time complementary. A photo journalist, he competes to solve a part of her mystery, winning or losing household chores as prize. Her best friend, Farrah, is also a lawyer, but she doesn’t practice—she sells law practice software to firms—and is bored, making her the perfect partner in crime solving.

Please welcome Jennifer David Hesse to WWK.                                    E. B. Davis

What is a Wiccan Wheel?

​“Wiccan Wheel” refers to the Wheel of the Year. This is the yearly cycle of eight seasonal holidays observed by modern-day Pagans, Witches, and Wiccans. It consists of the two solstices and two equinoxes, as well as the “cross-quarter” fire festivals in between—including Beltane (also known as May Day) and Samhain (which is celebrated around Halloween). Honoring these holidays is a way to connect with spirit and nature, to be present, and to have fun!

Edindale, IL, is in the southern part of the state. Is it real or based on a real place?

Edindale is a fictional town, but the Shawnee National Forest (where some of the action occurs) is real. Also, since Edindale is a small college town, a county seat, and a place with abundant trees, I’ve had real towns in mind at various times, including Charleston, Urbana, and Carbondale—all in Illinois.

We know Wes is from Edindale, but where is Keli from?

Earlier books mention that Keli is from a small town in Nebraska. She came to Edindale for law school and decided to stay—partly because she felt a connection to the area. Years earlier, her aunt Josephine ran away to live on a commune in Edindale (until she disappeared under mysterious circumstances).

As a practicing Wiccan, Keli performs rituals worshiping nature in her backyard. But since Keli and Wes live in a townhouse community, she is often apprehensive of others observing her. How does Keli feel about others knowing about her beliefs?

Like a lot of real-life Wiccans, Keli is guarded when it comes to sharing her personal beliefs. There is a lot of misunderstanding about non-mainstream religions, so Keli is careful about who she tells. She doesn’t want people to fear or judge her—or think any less of her—because of her spiritual practices.

How does Wes feel about Keli being a practicing Wiccan?

Wes is cool with it. 🙂

Keli knows something in her past is coming for her. How does she know this?

Keli is observant (a useful skill for both a lawyer and a detective), and the impending danger was foreshadowed by earlier events. But she also has a keen sense of intuition. Sometimes she just has a feeling about things...

Crenshaw represents the late Elaine Turnbull, a wealthy art and theater patron. Why does he ask Keli to work for Elaine’s estate?

Crenshaw realizes he’s faced with a unique situation and could use some assistance. In fact, Crenshaw says it best himself when he tells Keli: “I was hoping you could, I don’t know, poke around a bit. Talk to people. Do whatever it is you do that results in your stumbling upon the solution to a random mystery now and then.”

Why do Keli and Crenshaw work better together now that she’s established her own practice than when they worked at the same law firm?

Now that they aren’t in the same firm, they are no longer competing for cases or partnership status. But they’ve also both grown and evolved. Keli is a little more open, and Crenshaw is a little (just a little!) less uptight.

What are the qualities in Wes that attract Keli?

In many ways, Wes is a good balance for Keli.  Where she tends to be more serious, he’s more laid back. Of course, she was first attracted to his slightly rough, “rock star” appearance. 🙂 But it was his kindness and curiosity that held her interest.

In the past, how has Keli found lost things?

As a Wiccan, Keli casts spells for many purposes. In Book 1, Midsummer Night’s Mischief, she used a finding spell to help guide her to a missing heirloom. But she also follows clues and talks to suspects, like all good amateur detectives.

Keli and Farrah drink beer. Are younger people into microbrews or is this a Midwestern attribute?

LOL. I suppose craft brews might appeal more to younger people, but Keli is not a connoisseur. She’ll drink different beverages at different times, whether it’s a glass of wine with dinner, a cold beer with friends, or a nice cup of tea with Mila.

Mila, a Wiccan High Priestess, wears a shag. Are shags coming back in style or does this style complement her Wiccan position?

The shag haircut may indeed be coming back in style, though some versions of it never really went away. As a breezy, casual look, it suits Mila’s bohemian aesthetic.

Mila suggests Keli try Astral Projection. What is this and does Keli have success?

Astral projection, or astral travel, is a type of out-of-body experience similar to lucid dreaming. Readers will have to check out the book to find out if Keli is successful or not. 🙂

Why does Farrah keep trying to guess Crenshaw’s middle name?

Farrah is a flirt by nature. And the more she’s around Crenshaw, the more intrigued by him she becomes.

Who is the Giftster? Why is Keli afraid to sleep in her own house?

​“The Giftster” is a nickname Keli gave to an anonymous trickster she first encounters in Book 5, May Day Murder. She tries to take away some of this person’s power over her by using the silly name. But the Giftster always seems to be one step ahead, which puts Keli on edge.

How is the Autumn Equinox related to balance?

Astronomically speaking, the earth experiences approximately the same amount of daylight as darkness on each equinox. (The word “equinox” is Latin for equal night.) The Autumn Equinox also marks a transition period from one season to the next. Wiccans often look to nature for spiritual lessons and guidance, so it makes sense to contemplate balance at this time of year.

In Wicca, does every season feature one of nature’s gifts to epitomize it, such as apples do for autumn?

Great question! Wiccans definitely appreciate nature’s gifts in all seasons, and there’s an abundance to choose from in each one. Some of the Wiccan Wheel Mysteries book covers feature some of these symbols, such as evergreens for Yule and flowers and butterflies for Beltane.

At first, I thought Celia might be a cool and comic character, but she turned out to be anything but. Why does Keli think she may have wanted Elaine dead?

Like all the suspects, there’s more to Celia than meets the eye. She has a history with the Turnbull family that Keli learns over the course of the book.

Keli seems like a traditional woman. She dreams of a family of her own, a more committed relationship with Wes, but then there is the Wiccan aspect of her life that is so unconventional. Who is Keli?

In Book 1, we learn that Keli is a Gemini, the sign of the twins, signifying duality—which definitely fits her personality. But in reality, I think most humans are complex characters with many sides. Keli is a sincere, imperfect, good-hearted woman, just doing her best like the rest of us.

Why would there be an oyster shell pathway in a place so far from the ocean?
LOL. While landscaping supply companies sell oyster shells throughout the country, it can definitely get pricy. This just goes to show how wealthy the Turnbulls are.

What is a Jeep convertible? Is it just a Jeep with its roof off? On all Jeep Wranglers, the top and doors come off. But why does Farrah have them off when it’s cold?

Yep! Farrah likes to feel the wind in her hair. (But she does put the top on when it gets too cold.)

Who is Arlen Prince and what is a necromancer?

In Book 5, Arlen is a new client of Keli’s, and he crops up in her life again in Book 6. While he isn’t Wiccan, he is Pagan, practicing in a shamanistic tradition. Necromancy is the magical practice of communicating with the dead, usually to ask questions or predict the future. Arlen calls upon animal spirits for divination and spellwork.

What is a Triple Goddess and why does Keli have a tattoo of it on her wrist?

The Triple Goddess is an archetype in Wicca that honors the three aspects of the Divine Feminine: Maiden, Mother, and Crone. (Or, as some more modern practitioners interpret it: Student, Creator, and Teacher.) The symbol of the Triple Goddess (a waxing moon, full moon, and waning moon) reminds Keli of the cyclical nature of life, as well as the fact that all phases of life have worth and beauty.

What does Keli mean when she thinks, I’m never really alone?

Keli is lucky enough to have close friends and loved ones, but she’s really talking about Spirit here (aka God, Goddess, or the Universe.) As a Wiccan, she feels a close connection with Divine Mother.

What’s next for Keli?

Plenty of adventures await Keli, including celebrations of two more holidays on the wheel of the year. However, she may be taking a slight break from mystery-solving as her creator (Yours Truly) works on some other projects. Without a crystal ball, it’s hard to say what the future holds!

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Finally Fall! by Nancy Eady

          Some of you may remember last month’s blog where I discussed the insufferable heat wave we were experiencing in late September. ( The heat wave continued through the middle of this month, but it has finally broken and we have reached fall.

Oak Mountain State Park

          Fall is one of my favorite seasons in Alabama. The leaves in middle through north Alabama do change, but not at all once. In the Northeast, fall causes a brilliant explosion of color that lasts for a couple of weeks, and then is gone. Down here, the trees transition more gently, hues of green slowly transitioning to reds, oranges and yellows. The fall color lasts longer, too. We will still have patches of trees waving with color in November, and it will be December before most of the trees are bare.

Oak Mountain State Park


         This morning, another fall phenomenon appeared – morning fog. I like the mystery fog brings to the otherwise normal routine of driving to work. The mist swirls in front of my car, sometimes clearing to let me see several car lengths ahead, sometime closing in to make me feel like an explorer faring forth into an unknown void. Then, as the sun comes up, the fog slowly lifts until the way in front is clear. If I’m lucky, I’ll hit the bridge over the lake I cross every day just in time to be able to see the fog lifting off of the water, another mysterious sight.

          When my daughter was little, I would tell her a story about the fog – the fog was made of confused clouds who came to rest on the earth rather than float in the sky, and as Mr. Sun rose, he reminded the clouds where they were supposed to be. She loved that story, as well as the one about Ms. Moon coming out in the daytime to talk to Mr. Sun, whenever it was daytime but the moon could still be seen. Looking back, Mr. Sun was doing a lot of talking!

Oak Mountain State Park


     What is your favorite season?  Do you like fall?  What about fall do you like best? 

Monday, October 28, 2019

Halloween in Alabama by Nancy L. Eady

         In case you missed the store displays and television commercials, this coming Thursday is Halloween.

My Middle Sister and I About to Trick-or-Treat
         In a manner that is uniquely American, we have taken a religious/pagan festival with layered meanings and turned it into a candy fest for children. I’m not complaining. Some of my favorite Halloween memories include both trick-or-treating with my sisters and taking my daughter trick-or-treating. The best part was when you got home and poured out your candy on the table to see what kind of a haul you brought in. “Regular” trick-or-treating still flourishes in Alabama where we have close-knit neighborhoods and subdivisions.

My Daughter, The Little Mermaid
          A variation which has sprung up for people in Alabama whose living places are spread out, such as in our small towns and rural areas, is “trunk-or-treating.”  With “trunk-or-treating,” a church or school or other such organization will have volunteers dress up in costumes and provide candy and other treats for kids at a festival. Since these festivals are usually held in the parking lot of the organization, the trunks of cars are used in the place of houses for the candy. Hence the name, “trunk-or-treating.”  I have taken my daughter to several of those, also, and they have been a lot of fun.

          Two interesting Alabama twists to Halloween are the temperatures and the scheduling. The temperature on Halloween can range from anywhere in the 50s to the 90s. Temperatures in the 50s are perfect Halloween weather. When the temperature reaches the 90s, our kids wear their costumes and sweat it out for candy.

          In Alabama, Halloween does not always occur on October 31. This is because of that American tradition more important down here than even a free candy smorgasbord – high school football. While you would think having Halloween on a Friday or Saturday night would be ideal (and I know it is for the teachers who have to cope with the children on sugar highs when Halloween occurs on a Monday through a Thursday), I know many small towns (and live in one) where a Friday or Saturday night Halloween is changed to the Thursday before so there won’t be a conflict between trick-or-treating and the high school football game. You must check the local paper for the official trick-or-treating hours.

          Each year, we buy candy to give out to trick-or-treaters, but each year we get fewer and fewer. Our neighborhood is small and not on the beaten path, but we are ever hopeful. Since we’ve added several homes in the last year, we’re hoping we’ll pick up a few more visitors this year. The little ones who come to the door are adorable.

My Daughter in a Costume I made, and Me
         What are your favorite Halloween memories?  Do you celebrate Halloween or have children you can go trick-or-treating with?  How many trick-or-treaters show up at your house?  Share your stories of Halloween in the comments below.

Sunday, October 27, 2019

Memories of Bouchercons Past

On Tuesday, I’ll be jetting off to Dallas, TX for Bouchercon 2019. Arguably the largest mystery/thriller fan convention in the country, for me it’s a chance to meet my readers and be a total fangirl at the same time. I wish I could go every year, but tight travel budgets get in the way. This will be my seventh Bcon.

As I make my lists and pack my suitcases, I’ve been sorting through photos from past years, remembering friends I’ve made and friends who are no longer with us.

My first Bcon was 2008 in Baltimore. I traveled and roomed with good pal Joyce Tremel. Neither of us were published yet but were somewhat “known” for our group blog Working Stiffs. Joyce and I finally met Wilfred Bereswill, one of our fellow Stiffs, face-to-face. 

Will passed away unexpectedly a few years later, which makes this memory all the more bittersweet.

I also met Hank Phillippi Ryan for the first time there, and I’m proud and honored to still count her as a good friend.

In 2012, I attended Bouchercon in Cleveland. Only two hours from home, a lot of my local Sisters in Crime made the trip from Pittsburgh. 

I never expected to fall in love with a city that’s home to some of our biggest sports rivalries, but I did.

Especially the chocolate martinis at the Chocolate Bar.

Bouchercon took me to Long Beach, CA in 2014 where I must confess, I played hooky a lot.

I mean, it was Long Beach. California. In November. Back home in Pittsburgh we had snow. 

In Long Beach, I dipped my toes in the Pacific.

Most of my memories of Raleigh, NC in 2015 never made it to film, including Martha Reed eating okra in the hotel restaurant. 

They also had chocolate martinis.

In 2016, the mystery world took over New Orleans. Again, I played a lot of hooky to see the sights. 

The food. The atmosphere. The architecture. 

But mostly, the good friends. It was amazing.

Last year, in 2018, I traveled to St. Petersburg, FL. I spent a lot more time at the convention this time, but it was in the Vinoy! Who needed to go anywhere else?

For anyone coming to Dallas, I promise to be close by…because I’ve wised up and am going a day early to sightsee before Bouchercon officially kicks off! I hope to see you there!

Saturday, October 26, 2019

Serial Sprees by Kait Carson

I recently encountered the oddest problem. I ran out of books to read on my Kindle. That might not be strange for some, but I had purchased 25 books during a multi-author promotion less than a month ago. The thought of those glorious books kept me warm while reading my way through my Kindle TBR category. So, where were they?

The book titles and covers appeared on my device when I opened the download all tab. I was able to click on each title and be comforted by the words queued and downloaded, but nothing opened. Disaster. My usual fix it, multiple clicks to convince the device I meant it, failed to satisfy. My second-best computer fix, turn Kindle off and on, also failed me. Left with no alternative, I opened my laptop and surfed to Amazon Manage My Digital Content.

Every title was there, each and every one happily set for download on my current Kindle’s predecessor. Crisis averted! Problem solved with a simple instruction to redirect the books to my latest reader. Because I’m an organized kind of person, and I like everything in the proper category, I scanned all the books marking those I had read, confirming they were on the correct bookshelf, and generally tidying my Kindle collection. An activity I highly recommend.

Things didn’t get scary until I decided to sort by date read. That’s when I learned I’m obsessive. I read in series. The proof was in the dates. Diane Vallere’s Samantha Kidd series, one through six, all in a row. Kathi Daley’s Zoe Donovan series – one followed the other like so many dominos. Annette Dashofy’s Zoe Chamber’s series, yep, all eight. Not only that, I’d purchased and read them at release, but the read dates confirmed I’d re-read them this summer, this time straight through from book 1, some in one day. There were so many more, the series cited are merely the latest evidence of my need to read in order.

I can’t hide it anymore, I have to confess, I’m a serial reader, and I binge. There, I’ve said it and I feel better.

How about you, readers and writers, do you read in a series, and do you binge?  What was your latest guilty pleasure?

Friday, October 25, 2019

Obituary by Warren Bull

Obituary by Warren Bull

Image by Mayron Oliveira on Upsplash

You don’t usually think of obituaries as humorous or well written. Well, I don’t. But there are exceptions such as the tribute Monique Heller gave to her beloved father, which is printed below.
Note: This has been posted on Facebook before. It has been described in the New York Times, Stars and Stripes and other newspapers. It is online at which includes an invitation to share this.

Hartford Courant Obituary

By Monique Heller [Daughter of Joe Heller]

Joe Heller made his last undignified and largely irreverent gesture on September 8, 2019, signing off on a life, in his words, "generally well-lived and with few regrets." When the doctors confronted his daughters with the news last week that "your father is a very sick man," in unison they replied, "you have no idea."

God thankfully broke the mold after Joe was born to the late Joseph Heller, Sr. and Ruth Marion (Clock) on January 24, 1937 in New Haven, CT. Being born during the depression shaped Joe's formative years and resulted in a lifetime of frugality, hoarding and cheap mischief, often at the expense of others. Being the eldest was a dubious task but he was up for the challenge and led and tortured his siblings through a childhood of obnoxious pranks, with his brother, Bob, generally serving as his wingman. Pat, Dick and Kathy were often on the receiving end of such lessons as "Ding Dong, Dogsh*t" and thwarting lunch thieves with laxative-laced chocolate cake and excrement meatloaf sandwiches.

His mother was not immune to his pranks as he named his first dog, "Fart," so she would have to scream his name to come home if he wandered off. Joe started his long and illustrious career as a Library Assistant at Yale Law School Library alongside his father before hatching a plan with his lifelong buddies, Ronny Kaiser and Johnny Olson, to join the Navy and see the world together. Their plot was thwarted and the three were split up when Joe pulled the "long straw" and was assigned to a coveted base in Bermuda where he joined the "Seabees," Construction Battalion, and was appointed to the position of Construction Electrician's Mate 3rd class.

His service to the country and community didn't end after his honorable discharge. Joe was a Town Constable, Volunteer Fireman and Ambulance Association member, Cross walk guard, Public Works Snow Plower and a proud member of the Antique  Veterans organization. Joe was a self-taught chemist and worked at Cheeseborough-Ponds where he developed one of their first cosmetics' lines. There he met the love of his life, Irene, who was hoodwinked into thinking he was a charming individual with decorum. Boy, was she ever wrong. Joe embarrassed her daily with his mouth and choice of clothing. To this day we do not understand how he convinced our mother, an exceedingly proper woman and a pillar in her church, to sew and create the colorful costumes and props which he used for his antics.

Growing up in Joe's household was never dull. If the old adage of "You only pull the hair of those you love" holds true, his three daughters were well loved. Joe was a frequent customer of the girls' beauty shops, allowing them to "do" his hair and apply make-up liberally. He lovingly assembled doll furniture and built them a play kitchen and forts in the back yard. During their formative years, Joe made sure that their moral fibers were enriched by both Archie Bunker and Benny Hill. When they began dating, Joe would greet their dates by first running their license plates and checking for bald tires. If their vehicle passed inspection, they were invited into the house where shotguns, harpoons and sheep "nutters" were left clearly on display.

After retiring from running Bombaci Fuel, he was perhaps, most well-known for his role as the Essex Town "Dawg Kecher." He refused to put any of his "prisoners" down and would look for the perfect homes for them. One of them was a repeat offender who he named "A**hole" because no owner would ever keep him for very long because he was, in fact, an a**hole. My Dad would take his buddy on daily rides in his van and they'd roam around town with the breeze blowing through both of their fur. He never met a dog he didn't like, the same could not be said for the wanna-be blue bloods, snoots and summer barnacles that roamed about town. His words, not ours. Well maybe not exactly his words as those would been much more colorful.

Joe was a frequent shopper at the Essex Dump and he left his family with a house full of crap, 300 pounds of birdseed and dead houseplants that they have no idea what to do with. If there was ever a treasure that he snatched out from under you among the mounds of junk, please wait the appropriate amount of time to contact the family to claim your loot. We're available tomorrow. Joe was also a consummate napper. There wasn't a road, restaurant or friend's house in Essex that he didn't fall asleep on or in. There wasn't an occasion too formal or an event too dour that Joe didn't interrupt with his apnea and voluminous snoring. Besides his beloved wife, Irene, and brother, Bobby, Joe was pre-deceased by his pet fish, Jack, who we found in the freezer last week. Left to squabble over his vast fortune, real estate holdings and "treasures" are his three daughters Michelle Heller (Andrew Bennett) of Newton, MA, Lisette Heller (Lenny Estelle) of Ivoryton, CT and Monique Heller (John Parnoff) of Old Lyme, CT. He relished his role as Papa and Grampa Joe to Zachary, Maxwell and Emily Bennett, Megan, Mackenzie and Ryan Korcak, and Giovanna and Mattea Parnoff and hopes that he taught at least one of them to cuss properly. Left with decades of fond and colorful memories are his siblings Pat Bedard of Madison, Richard (Pat) Heller of Oxford, and Kathy Heller of Killingworth, sisters-in-law, Kathy McGowan of Niantic and Diane Breslin of Killingworth, and 14 nieces and nephews. No flowers, please.

The family is seeking donations to offset the expense of publishing an exceedingly long obituary which would have really pissed Joe off. Seriously, what would have made him the happiest is for you to go have a cup of coffee with a friend and bullsh*t about his antics or play a harmless prank on some unsuspecting sap. If we still haven't dissuaded you and you feel compelled to waste your hard-earned money to honor his memory, donations may be sent to: Seabee Memorial Scholarship Association, PO Box 667, Gulfport, MS 39502. A celebration of his life, with Joe laid out in all his glory, will be held on Thursday, September 12, at the Essex Fire Department, 11 Saybrook Road, from 4-7. A light dinner will be served as Joe felt no get-together was complete without food. None of his leftovers or kitchen concoctions will be pawned off on any unsuspecting guests.

Feel free to be as late as you'd like as Joe was never on time for anything because of the aforementioned napping habits. Joe despised formality and stuffiness and would really be ticked off if you showed up in a suit. Dress comfortably. The family encourages you to don the most inappropriate T-Shirt that you are comfortable being seen in public with as Joe often did. Everybody has a Joe story and we'd love to hear them all. Joe faced his death and his mortality, as he did with his life, face on, often telling us that when he dropped dead to dig a hole in the back yard and just roll him in. Much to his disappointment, he will be properly interred with full military honors (and maybe Jack) next to his wife on Friday, September 13, at 10:00 am in Centerbrook Cemetery. The family is forever in debt to his neighbor, Barry Peterson, for all of his help in recent years. We couldn't have done it without you. Sorry, Mom, Lisette and I did the best we could to take care of him and keep him out of your hair as long as we could. Back in your court now. 

How do you want to be remembered?