(Originally published in The Diamond Digest)
So here’s the thing: I’ve always been one of those home owners who name their dust bunnies rather than chase them around the house trying to kill them.
It’s not that I don’t appreciate a clean house. I admire those women and men with spotless homes that can be shown to company at the drop of the hat. I’ve just never been one of them.
Don’t get me wrong: My husband and I are meticulous about home maintenance and repairs. Dust bunnies just don’t register until they’re large enough to warrant a name. And then I get sort of attached to Clarence and Amelia and George.
I learned the “don’t sweat the small things” cleaning lesson from my mother. She learned it from . . . Well, she invented it. You see, her own mom was a stay at home mother and homemaker who prided herself on having hot meals on the table three times a day and a house so spotless that a drill sergeant would struggle to find fault.
As children are wont to do, Mom rebelled against this perfectionism by adopting a live and let live relationship with the dust bunnies. I compared the two ways of living and, being an intelligent creature, decided to follow in Mom’s footsteps, not Grandma’s.
So why am I mentioning this now? Well, it’s January and I bet many of you made New Year’s resolutions. Raise your hand if one of those was to organize or clean or perform other tasks that would make you less frantic whenever expecting visitors?
My hand is raised.
But, wait, there’s a good reason!
Fifteen years ago our house burned down. We used the insurance money to build our dream home. Jon got his Henry Higgins library. I got the gourmet kitchen (built by my husband), the living room with the soaring windows looking out into the forest and the company of bluebirds, herons and deer. We even installed ramps and specialized stairs to accommodate wheelchairs and creaky knees.
Truth is the house is much too large for a couple of writers and a standard poodle. So, with great reluctance, we’re preparing the house to sell. Once it sells, we plan to move from the Chesapeake Beach area into a smaller home in Annapolis.
What this means is that much of my waking time is now consumed with packing, sorting, divesting and, yes, cleaning.
This is one of the reasons the next Kimberley West book is taking so long to write. But I promise, there will be a new book sometime in 2019. And I can now reveal the title: The Turquoise Treasure.
Bet you didn’t see that coming, huh?
After three books that focused on what we all think of as the “big” gemstones, I decided to explore what we tend to consider a more common gem.
But there’s nothing common about turquoise.
As one of the world’s oldest gemstones, turquoise jewelry and carvings have been found in Egyptian tombs. King Tut’s burial mask included inlays of turquoise. Ancient Persians equated the stone with good fortune. Navajo warriors wore turquoise beads for protection. Apache shamans carried fetishes carved from turquoise to increase their mystical powers. The Aztecs valued turquoise more than gold.
In fact, Montezuma, faced with a choice of riches to appease Cortez and his greedy conquerors, handed over gold while keeping the turquoise for himself.
If so, consider this: Turquoise can be found only in arid areas of places like Iran, China and the American Southwest. (If, like me, you want to know why, you’ll have to wait to read about it in the book.)
Now imagine trudging through a landscape of caramel mountains and chalky taupe rock. A hot sun beats down from a clear blue sky, the only color in an unrelenting sea of beige. You spot a bit of shade at the base of a cliff and collapse into it.
As you suck the last drops of water from your canteen, you spot a flash of blue in the nearby rock.
At first, you think you’re hallucinating. Everyone knows that the only blue in this land comes from the sky.
But you can’t resist crawling closer. You reach out and touch a miracle: a stone the color of the sky, fixed in the dust.
Kimberley West, of course, understands the ancient pull of turquoise. What she doesn’t understand is why someone follows her from a turquoise dig in Arizona back to Osprey Beach. Or why one of her fellow excavators winds up dead at a hunting fun match for poodles.
But that’s all I’m going to say for now about The Turquoise Treasure. The story is still evolving, the characters moving in unexpected directions and creating problems for their so-called creator.
So this is how I plan to spend my New Year: Finish The Turquoise Treasure and prepare the house to sell in the Spring.
How about you? Do you have special plans or goals for 2019?
And do you, by chance, know anyone who’d like to buy a gorgeous, custom house on five acres within easy commute of Washington, D.C.? If so, please let me know.
Bluebirds and dust bunnies convey.
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