Have you ever wondered how many women crime writers does it take to break into a house?
Last weekend, I found out the answer: six.
More on that in a bit.
We arrived in Confluence last Friday afternoon. I’d pretty much given up on any idea of outdoor activities, since the morning had dawned gloomy, dreary, and rainy. But by the time I pulled up in front of the rental house, blue skies were winning the battle against the clouds.
Two minutes after I arrived, Colette Garmer and fellow Working Stiff Martha Reed pulled in behind me. We lugged our gear inside, and I gave them the tour of That Dam Yough House. Bedrooms were divvied up. And Colette settled in while Martha and I headed out for a bike ride. The mountain air was brisk and clear. The breeze made any thoughts of maintaining a decent hairstyle a waste of time and effort. There’s a sense of freedom in giving up the battle to look good.
Once we returned from our ride, we made a grocery list, called and ordered a couple of pizzas, and then Martha and I jumped in my car to do some food shopping. By the time we made it back, the others had arrived. The kitchen counter was laden with goodies. The refrigerator stuffed.
We gathered around the table to share our first meal of the weekend. We also shared a “conference call” with our absentee president Tamara Girardi, who was home with her newborn son. Ah, speaker phones. Technology does come in handy sometimes.
Friday evening, we gathered in the living room for a group critique session. No tears were shed. In fact, I find it amazing how much talent we had in that house.
Somewhere in the course of the evening, I broke out the chocolate wine. Yes, you read that right. Chocolate wine. Think Yoo-hoo on steroids.
At one point I had an idea that was nothing short of genius, if I do say so myself. Chocolate wine in coffee. Don’t laugh. If you haven’t tried it, you really must. It’s like mocha with a kick.
Saturday morning was the start of the workshops. As the presenter, you’d think I didn’t learn anything. But the fact is going over the material in preparation to share it reminded me of some key points I’d forgotten.
And it was extremely gratifying to see my “sisters’” eyes light up when they had an a-ha moment.
We didn’t just “work,” although there was plenty of that. We took walks. I took everyone on a pair of driving tours to the dam and around the town I consider my second home.
Last year, when we were there during the flood, it was hard to show off the place. This year, the weather was perfect and, with the autumn colors in full bloom, Confluence had on her best party dress.
Saturday evening, we walked the short distance to the River’s Edge Café for dinner. Everyone had mellowed nicely by then. Discussion varied from a report on this summer’s manuscript boot camp to “what made you become a writer?” On the walk home, the stars sparkled overhead. Good thing I know my way around, because Confluence doesn’t have street lights. Thankfully, they don’t have much in the way of traffic either.
But when we returned to the house, we made a startling discovery. The keys we had didn’t include one for the front door. Nor did they include one for the deadbolt on the back door, which someone who shall remain nameless (Colette) had latched. No one answered at the phone numbers we had. And Mary Sutton needed to use the facilities.
Which brings me back to the question about how many women crime writers does it take to break into a house?
Mary and her urgent needs motivated us to take action rather than simply wait for the landlords to pick up their phone messages. One plan involved hoisting petite Jennifer Little-Fleck up to the second floor where Martha had left her bedroom window open. Meanwhile, Colette searched the perimeter and found a first-floor window that hadn’t been locked. However, the screen on the outside of it presented something of an obstacle. Martha managed to pry it loose, but couldn’t quite get it all the way out. I jumped in and figured out how to release it from its bindings. Then Martha gave Jennifer a leg up while someone (Colette, I think) held the wooden blind out of the way. Jennifer slid right in and opened the door for us. Lee Ann Dawson was involved in the break-in, too. So that makes six.
And since the weather wasn’t providing any challenges, we now had our annual story to tell to the folks back home.
Sunday morning’s workshop on Social Networking turned into a group discussion with those in the know helping those who wanted to know. We sat down to lunch before saying our good-byes. I think I can truthfully say a good time was had by all. If there were any complaints, I didn’t hear them.