Serendipity
26 January, 2011

Yesterday, my dog got very, very sick. So sick, in fact, that I decided to call the veterinary delivery service instead of waiting until my boyfriend got home to drive him to the clinic.

By the time he arrived with his gigantic backpack filled with all kinds of medicine magic, Dog was shaking and crying and I was ready to pay anything to make him feel better. Vet probably noticed that I was in a Very Bad Vibes mood and tried, while he run all kinds of invasive tests on Dog. So he told me that he was from Alsace (and that he approved of the European Union because it had put an end to all the local malaises regarding nationalism), that he had known my usual vet since they were tadpoles and that his wife was a translator.

“That is very cool,” I said while he introduced a thin plastic tube in Dog’s unmentionables, and most disturbing of all, Dog didn’t even whimper. “What does she translate?”

“Oh, you know, thrillers… (although he used the word “polars“)

“Which kind?” I was expecting Darkly Dreaming Dexter, by Jeff Lindsay, a series about an ethical serial killer with gory non-descriptions, maybe because it fitted Dog’s horrid state, but he surprised me.

“Do you know McCall Smith?”

“Yes! She translates him?”

“She is his French official translator,”

“That is so cool!”

I have only started to read the second series of McCall Smith’s murder mysteries. The first novel is titled The Sunday Philosophy Club, and it follows the Murder She Wrote structure almost to a T (well-off spinster thatĀ  a man flying headfirst to his death at the end of a concert and decides to find out what happened to him)… only he introduces a lot of self-reflection on the morality of getting involved in other’s affairs, and it is tinted with a blue-grey melancholic hue that suits the setting of the novel in Edinburgh. Not a thriller, by any means, and it is closer to Miss Smila’s Feeling for Snow than to Dexterworld.

He smiled and patted Dog on the back, and a while later left, leaving us with lots of pills and syrups and needle-free syringes to force-water feed him, and the advice to drive Dog to the clinic that same afternoon if his condition did not improve.

His condition did not improve. And I had to leave him at the clinic for the night.

It is the first time that I have been separated from him in five years. I was (still am) worried sick. BF put his arm around me, kissed me on the front and led me to the car as I imagined the cries of Dog all alone in the vet’s waiting room.Then my cellphone rang.

“Hello, I am Alsatian Vet. I saw Yaco this morning. I was just wondering how he was,”

“He is… he had to get hospitalized. For the night. We are leaving the clinic now. They will know more tomorrow afternoon,” I couldn’t control my sky-high voice pitch. It was embarrassing. I wanted to hang up. “Thank you very much for your help this morning…”

“That was no problem at all. Thank you for the sandwich,” I had made him a hot-omelette sandwich for the way, because it was lunchtime and he was off to heal another animal and he wouldn’t have the time to eat, but most of all because I needed something to do with my hands while he treated Dog. “It was delicious. Tell you what, I will send you one of the books my wife translated,”

He was still trying to cheer me up. I sniffed. “That is very kind of you… But I read them in English,”

“Yes, but that way you will be able to see the differences, it might be fun,”

“Yes…”

“Take care, little one,”

And he hung up.

I don’t know what the moral of this story is. What I know, however, is that I will always associate McCall Smith with Dog’s sad brown eyes as I left him there. And maybe, fingers crossed, with his recovery.

I am crossing my fingers so hard they are becoming hooks.

Cozy in Polarland
25 December, 2010

I blame this obsession on her

I love detective novels. Specially the ones where the detective is either an old lady that can discover who murdered the postman AND prepare an awesome clam chowder for her nieces and nephews in time. Or a small-town librarian from the South of the United States (the Aurora Teagarden Mystery series by Charlaine Harris). Or a sarcastic outsider in a really cold country that makes witty observations and dresses impecably. These women, which more often than not are middle-to-late aged, are the reason why since I was little I wanted to be a grandmother. They seemed to lead such interesting lives and always have delicious food in the table and roast beef in the oven!

These novels are perfect to curl up with a cup of tea (or chocolate, or bovril, or grog) and your favorite tartan comforter during the cold winter months. In France detective novels and thrillers are called “Polars” (from the word “policier”, Police Novels) and in the outskirt of Paris’ town where I live they even have an annual festival dedicated to them. Too bad they only feature French translations.

Anyway, my latest discovery is the Crochet Mystery series by Betty Hechtman, which I haven’t actually read yet but I am dying to find. The books showcase proud cozy titles like Dead Men Don’t Crochet, By Hook or by Crook and You Better Knot Die. The protagonist’s name, Molly Pink, has the perfect ring to immediately picture weekend cupcake bake sales and quirky side characters. Her crochet group is called the Tarzana Hookers. I hope somebody gets strangled with a yarn of wool or stabbed with a knitting needle.

Most of all, I hope I can find it in the Used – Occasion section of Shakespeare & Company, because I can’t order them online as the postman, after ten months of living here, still seems unable to find my address.

I should start sharpening my knitting needles.

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