Melissa Fitzpatrick (aka Miss Fitz) is a blissfully married mother of four living happily ever after in a cozy-yet-bustling tourist village in picturesque Brown County, Indiana. Between juggling the needs of her family and a part-time writing gig, she soaks in quality girl time with her besties, aiding them in the running of their side-by-side popular coffee shop and handmade soap boutiques. Missy simply adores animals of all shapes and sizes, and they love her right back–from the strays she collects at her home, to the black cat in town who seems to read her thoughts.
Pleasantly plump and practically invisible in her mom attire and minivan, Miss Fitz revels in her Hallmark Channel-ready life–that is, until a tycoon of local business sends his vehicle careening through a wrought iron fence into the well-manicured flower beds of the shopping center, thrusting a group of coffee shop regulars into harm’s way. Reacting instinctively, Missy throws her large quilted handbag at the truck–only to find that sometimes a purse is more than a purse, and her two besties are into more than just tarot cards and Stevie Nicks. It’s not long before Miss Fitz finds herself in the center of a murder investigation, discovering there’s more to midlife than menopause.
Are you ready to come out of the broom closet with Miss Fitz at midlife? Who better to play detective than a well-read, wise-cracking woman finding her power in her forties?
A tale of friendship and love, MISS FITZ DISCOVERS MIDLIFE MAGIC is a cozy mystery by Red Tash that will have you laughing as you discover along with Miss Fitz and friends that midlife can be truly magical.
“Miss Fitz and friends are a kind of found family–and they know how to throw a great girl’s night out! I wish I could live in their town and have coffee with them at Bethany’s Brews.” ~Reviewer A. Channing
“These characters are like the women from Practical Magic, if they were on the Hallmark Channel–but funnier, and smarter. I wish I had Missy’s purse!” ~Reviewer S. A. James
Includes recipes, talking cats, wildflowers, and a few choice words. This is a Paranormal Women’s Fiction Cozy Mystery, where mature women not only deal with aging and chronic illness, but sometimes say naughty words and drink midnight margaritas as they sleuth their way to hidden truths. Good witching fun, with a sidecar of the supernatural.
I crack myself up while driving through road construction in this latest update-filled episode of Leslea.
Miss Fitz Discovers Midlife Magic, a Paranormal Women’s Fiction Cozy Mystery;
The Kitchen Witch’s Guide to the New Weird (and who might enjoy a book like this);
An Honest Woman audiobook narrated by Eileen Smith (and a bit of history about the Western US during the Great Depression). Westerners, Native Americans, Irish, British, and Gangster rodeo thugs! Oh, my!
It was the 70’s, I lived in the smallest of small towns back then. Even at the young age of 5 and 6 I rode my big wheel up and down our street like I owned it. I had a best friend named Shawn. Like most young kids, it didn’t take much for us to become that way. It was Kindergarten, the first time I was able to join my older brother on the bus. I was excited, Tom not so much, while I don’t remember what Tom had said but it was probably him telling me where to sit or some such older brother power play , but I do remember Shawn telling this older kid – “YOU can’t talk to him like that.” I knew I liked him right away, and sat next to him. It turned out we were in the same class. Not surprising since there was probably only one or two kindergarten classes – so the odds were in my favor. I did say this was the smallest of small towns didn’t I.
For the next four years we were pretty much inseparable, I can remember him pulling his red wagon behind him on a Saturday morning when we would watch cartoons, old Godzilla movies, and our favorite old kung-fu movies which invariably got us kicked outside as we jumped off the back of the couch attempting to perform the perfect flying kick. It was with this friendship that i got my first taste of comic books, you see that was what was in the wagon. We would thumb through the latest comic books he had gotten and talk about what we liked about each character. Those Saturday’s were good times.
So I’ve liked comics from an early age, from the time I learned to read, comics were the thing for me. I tell you this, because when I pick up a comic there is a part of me that remembers those Saturday mornings, and how the art and colors use to draw me in. We are all still kids on the insides when it comes to certain things. For me comic books is one of those things that for a moment can take me back to simpler times a more innocent time.
Over the years, I have gathered a small collection and recently I felt the urge to re-read some of my favorite’s and share what memories I have of them, and how I feel about them today.
So we are going to start with Alpha Flight vol 1. Issue 1. Aug 1983.
Created by John Bryne
Lettered by Joe Rosen
Colored by Andy Yamchus
The first issue of Alpha flight was double sized, and even that isn’t big enough for the story that is contained inside these pages. Even after all these years I’m still drawn into the story.
The first page introduces us to James Hudson, Code Named Vindicator, standing in a dismantled room, with these powerful words – “you are witnessing the death of a dream.”
We are quickly given the run down on the situation, the Government funded Department H is shutting down, and without funding Canada’s hero’s are left out in the cold. As Vindicator flies off from the now defunct Department H contemplating how he is unemployed, and only has his wife’s salary to live off.
We are taken to to a isolated area some 2000 miles from Parliament Hill where a lonely tent and small fire is burning with a thin man muttering about how he will show them they were wrong. He gets up and begins walking dragging one foot, slowly making a shape in the melting snow as he goes.
Now with the threat hinted at, we switch back to introducing the team members, first up is Dr. Michael TwoYoungmen, who is a member of Alpha Flight as Shaman.
4 pages are dedicated to introducing us to the next members of Alpha Flight, Aurua who suffers from multiple personality disorder. Her super hero persona is flirty and carefree, and her Jeannie-Marie is much more restrained, libriain / school teacher look. Her brother NorthStar is a famous and it is made plain that he has used his powers to get him there. These two are the speedsters of the group and most likely the most complicated characters of the book.
We move on to Mariane, Puck, Snowbird and Sasquatch. With the introductions complete we move into the action, as we meet Tundra, a massive mountain size evil brought to life and composed of the very earth he walks on.
Each of the team members attempts to use their skills to attach the problem, Sasquatch uses his incredible strength to rip large chunks out of the creature, Vindicator’s uses his suit to electro magnetic pulse but as Tundra screams out in pain, the ground begins to split and crack open for miles around him.
The twins begin to literally fly circles around tundra and doing so the erode Tundra’s mass, which gives Shaman an idea and he calls forth a deluge of rain. this weakens their foe, but it wasn’t enough, just then they see a water spout in the distance, it is Marina as she attempts to reach her team mates. she is controlling the spout and using it as transportation.
Vindicator flies off to retrieve her, and allowing shaman to pull the water down around tundra, eroding him with a deluge of Salt water and creating a new salt water lake in the process.
The Team is hanging out at Hudson’s house, and there is debate on what to call themselves and after some discussion it was decided that they will stick with Alpha Flight.
This first issue flows like a movie, building tension as it goes. while the threat was easily defeated, the story served it’s purpose and quickly introduced the team members and gave a good hint at the powers each of them had.
When I was younger this was a chance to get in on the ground floor, John Bryne was known to me from his other work in Marvel. After this book he quickly became one of my Top 5 favorites working at Marvel at the time. This was a brand new team, and it was exciting to hold the first issue in my hands. While the art style wasn’t attempting to break any new ground, it was good ole fashioned story telling that drew you in month after month.
This wasn’t known to me at the time, but now makes it even more remarkable. This team of super-hero’s was created as a one off. They were just a group for the X-men to fight to move the wolverine story along. John Bryne only reluctantly took the book on for reasons only those at marvel at the time may know. While he has said in interviews that working on the book was hell. It proves that he is a professional, and you couldn’t tell by his work that he hated it that much. Probably all the more maddening for him was that the fans loved his work on this book, myself included.
So, over the weekend, I realized the wrong version of My Life as a Kitchen Witch got updated on Amazon previously. I apologize! If you purchased it via Amazon Kindle, please email them for an updated version. Some typos have been corrected (oops!).
Also, the ebook has been released wide, so it’s available now on Apple iBooks, nook, Kobo, etc. It should be available at libraries soon, as well.
In my previous post I discussed how we found ourselves on the wrong side of the digital divide during a pandemic, and all the unique solutions we used to survive. Now with the trees in full bloom, Amazon and eBay deliveries complete, and one last trip to the hardware store to get a few hundred feet of wire I was ready to set-up my 30 foot tower, and let the sweet sweet internet flood the house.
I picked a spot that should have been clear to the north. Only one small gotcha on my plan. The Saturday that I had planned on raising this monument to the internet gods–my helping hands had other plans, one boy was working, one boy was getting ready for prom, and my girl had a birthday party to attend. So it was a busy weekend, but that is normal around these parts. With 2hrs on my hands, what better time to start the project. I headed down to the end of the driveway and began setting up the tower.
I happily started putting all the pieces together like a kid on Christmas morning. One leg, two legs, three legs–we have a tripod I’m off to a good start. The first two 4ft sections all set with the StarLink securely sitting on top of it. All I need now is a little muscle and I should be able to get the Dish up in the air. As I pushed the center pole up, I heard a clinking sound. As I turned to look to my right, I saw one leg had lifted and separated. My tripod was quickly becoming a 12 foot blunt object. I was stuck. If I let go, the tower will fall. I can’t stand there all day because no help was coming. I rolled the dislodge leg over to me and I reached down to pick it up. It was at this moment when I realized mistakes had been made, as the tower started to tip over.
My mind flashed the label on the military bag which said two man carry, which implied it takes two to set the tower up. Now before my sarcastic side could tell me where else I zagged when I should’ve zigged, the tower was bouncing off my head on its way to slamming into my shoulder. The force of the tower plowed me to the ground in a twisted knee position.
OK, time to call the wife, I thought as my head was ringing and my eyesight was blurry.
I growled at Alexa to call the wife. Alexa politely informed me that new permissions were required to make a call. You have to be kidding me! Not to be daunted, I make an announcement which would play at the house, but everyone was getting ready for their individual events and my request was only half heard, and it lost the urgency in translation.
I got myself into this mess. I’ll have to be the one to get myself out. Seems only fair. One option I thought of was I could just drop it to the ground, but I was too stubborn. I came down here to set this up, and I’m not done until that dish is in the air. At this point, I will be happy with it being 4 feet off the ground.
I reached out and grabbed the leg that started it all. That was the simple part, since I was kneeling right next to it. I was blinking a little too rapidly for my liking but having had multiple concussions in my lifetime I knew what they felt like, and this was minor compared to those in the past. So I twisted slowly to get under the tower and started to lift.
My old back wasn’t happy with the exertion. It complied, but it complained all the way up. Standing up, I angrily slapped the leg into place. Not nearly the victory that I hoped it would be, but I’ll take it. There it stood at roughly 8 feet, a good start. I packed up and headed back to the house where I had 30 mins to get ready for the afternoon events.
The next day it was all hands on deck. We had shovels to level the ground, we had stakes, hammers and guy wires to secure the tower we were set. My loving and understanding wife Leslea wore two hats that day, as supervisor supreme. She provided engineering advice, as well as being the safety coordinator for the duration of the work. We quickly hosted the tower up to 24ft and secured it. I was proud of the teamwork and we were able to accomplish what we set out to do that day.
I got back to the house, fired up the connection and after about 20 minutes the dish started to report that obstructions were everywhere.
I felt defeated, as I was already frustrated and bored with my unintentional new hobby of calling tree removal companies, only to have them shake their head and run away screaming. These trees might be less of a challenge since they are further away from the house. That was my irrational thought as I dug up a couple of new tree services to come out and give me a quote. That was 3 weeks ago, and I’ve still not heard from any of them.
So with a heavy heart I canceled the service this past weekend, sold the tower, and boxed it all up.
The service has so much potential and for those who can get above their obstructions, or cut them down this will be a game changer. I knew our trees would be a deal breaker, what I didn’t know was the heavy investment I would have to make to remove those obstructions around our house. The cost of tree removal was just too high to make it feasible. Unfortunately, our adventure with Elon has come to an end, but perhaps yours are just beginning and if that is the case here are some simple install considerations when dealing with StarLink that I have figured out so you don’t have to.
Obstructions are a common issue so make good use of the “check for obstruction” tool in the phone application and see if there is anything blocking the sky. Even power lines will have an impact. The dish will need 100 degrees of clear sky to track the satellites. This may shrink as they bring more satellites online but I wouldn’t expect it to shrink by much.
With that in mind here are some guidelines for distance from obstructions when placing your Dish.
Obstructions to the North need to be at least 2.5x further away than they are taller than the dish. So, if a tree to the North of your install location extends 20ft above your dish, then it needs to be at least 50ft away from your dish.
Obstructions to the East and West need to be at least 1.5x further away than they are taller than the dish. So, if a tree to the East or West of your install location extends 20ft above your dish, then it needs to be at least 30ft away from your dish.
Obstructions to the South need to be at least 0.5x further away than they are taller than the dish. So, if a tree to the South of your install location extends 20ft above your dish, then it needs to be at least 10ft away from your dish.
Once you have the dish set up for 12 hours or more, you can go to the phone application : Support : Advanced : Debug
From there you can select the Copy the data option.
Paste the data, and it will graph out your obstructions to help you find where the obstructions are coming from as far as direction. Priority should be to the north, then east / west, and finally south.
So now can visually see where your obstructions are.
Armed with that knowledge, you have a couple of options.
2)Raise the Dish Higher.
If you want to go higher, several people have had success with something like this tower found on eBay
3) Cut Trees down that are causing the Obstruction.
4) Deal with it, and hope that it gets better over time as they bring more Satellites into service, reducing the obstruction window.
I was going to send my first edition of the new, improved reader newsletter today, but promotions, publisher stuff, etc., forced me to schedule it for June 14. However, it’s all set up and ready to go, and this month’s maiden voyage will be touting new release info about my Smart Girls Gone Country series, the Montana Brides #1 & 2. Spoiler alert: there will be freebies and things on sale. There’s a link at the top of this website to sign up for the newsletter if you don’t want to miss out, so if you know someone who enjoys sweet, clean romance, and adventure romance set in the barely-tamed Rockies, then you’ve got time to send them a head’s up.
What else is new…? Well, here at Planet Tash it has been a crazy few weeks. Seamus had prom. I’ve been working on three books at once, which is downright luxurious after juggling four. Tim enjoyed a lot of antics messing with his Elon Musk Tower of Babel project, but hopefully he will fill you in on that soon.
Seamus’ graduation came and went, and I got some photos of him in his cap and gown. He decided not to walk with this class due to anxiety, and as a student who only learned his had Autism Spectrum Disorder three years ago, I have to say, it shows a lot of growth and maturity to handle it the way he did. No shame in this game! He has a few credits to finish up online before he can pick up his diploma, and he is already knocking out so much work! We’re super thrilled for him and I am so thankful for the support and cooperation we received from Floyd Central High School.
The other kiddos have been working on enjoying their summer vacation. I can hear our daughter practicing the harp as I type this (SO much better than any other student instrument!). It won’t be long before summer camps start up for the two youngest. They didn’t get to go last year due to the pandemic, so I’m sure this summer is going to be extra special! Our youngest son is spending time with his father right now and we sure miss him.
The oldest boy has moved into our basement, trading rooms with one of his brothers, and making him the third and likely final “basement dweller” in the family. Tim and I are scoping out real estate in Brown County, Indiana, and pondering a move to Nashville, which means we are also making a to do list for this house about a mile long. It will be some time before we list it officially for sale.
We have trips planned for Nashville and Bloomington coming up soon. Miss those parts. Looking forward to moving back “home” in the next few years. Funny how your heart knows when it is time. Who knows, maybe I’ll even finish up the sequel to This Brilliant Darkness when I’m back in the area.
My current work in progress is set in Brown County, so…why not? I have a feeling inspiration will abound, and soon. Just waiting on cover art, then I can set a release date for book one in my Miss Fitz series (a paranormal women’s fiction mystery series).