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Detectives, Clues, and Nancy Drew

March 17, 2015 3 Comments

My front yard

My front yard

I am a fan of many of the British detective shows featuring the clergy and other citizen detectives. Father Brown is lavishly produced and beautifully filmed with all the period details in tact.  I like James Bond and the other real detectives on the silver screen as well. Now that I have started to think about story writing and composition of fictional characters I think it might be fun to try my hand at some kind of mystery story, not necessarily a murder.  The spy/espionage element is always exciting, and can express certain political sentiments without stating them.  I have been turning around some ideas about the end of the Civil War and spies on both sides, perhaps some of them deserting or worse, telling secrets. It might be fun to weave true known historical facts with some fictional spies or detectives. My personal detective skills are needed now for a mundane and not very mysterious task, to catch a petty thief.

scene of the crime

scene of the crime

Here in Tucson there is a problem with random vandalism and petty theft.  My front yard is small and visible from the street.  This week one of my hummingbird feeders was stolen, leaving a shiny track of sugar water leading toward the street.  This kind of random theft happens in my yard at least once a year, and usually they haul is more valuable than a single used hummingbird feeder.  The most recent act has spurred me to order a surveillance camera to focus on my walkway to catch the next punk who does damage or steals my stuff.  Prices have come down significantly and apps support all kinds of functions for home security now. Motion activation and night vision HD capture results in high resolution video to identify culprits.  I ordered a deluxe set up from Amazon which will arrive in two days, and works on my home WiFi.  When evidence is collected it can be submitted in a report to the cops and shared with our neighbors on

I am not sure why I waited so long to install this camera. I think of myself as Detective Chief Inspector Morse in my own head, although I am much closer to Nancy Drew in reality.  I read the Nancy Drew books when I was in elementary school and can remember imitating her while playing.  We made up fantasy cases and followed clues, but now I don’t remember any of them.  We liked Nancy because she was a girl, and she always solved the case.  This was a contrast to Dick Tracy, Superman and the Lone Ranger, men with guns or superpowers, who also solved mysteries.  She has made a comeback in modern times once again on the teen detective beat.  I believe Nancy would be proud of me for installing my own remote system to watch my yard. I feel once again like my childhood idol.  I like the feeling much better than helplessly allowing random petty crime to disrupt my peace and quiet.  Do you ever think of yourself as a detective, gentle reader?  Which one is your favorite?


Masquerade and the Detective Archetype

February 17, 2015 5 Comments

What does the word masquerade mean to you? Do you have a secret identity known only to yourself?  How would you dress if you had no formal dress code to satisfy? Do you think you would make any changes to your present wardrobe?  When I was a child my mother kept a very big cardboard moving container in the basement full of her old dressy clothing.  This box was provided for dress up when I had friends over to play. We used it extensively.  I have some fuzzy memories of my friends in hats, gloves, and formal dresses.  None of my other friends had one of these, but it was not until later that I knew it had been a great idea.

I had my first job in my life as a costumer and a singer in an outdoor drama.  This show, Unto These Hills, was produced in a large amphitheater, so costumes were  very important part of telling the story.  One of my jobs was to assist in the quick changes of costumes.  I helped an eagle dancer turn into Andrew Jackson, replete with long cape, in about 2 minutes.  There were a couple of other quick changes, but that was the one that required the biggest transformation.  I was never on stage in Cherokee, but in the choir behind a curtain when we sang.  I was the youngest (17) and the lowest paid member of the staff.  I think I made about $35 a week after they paid for my room and board out of my check.  I don’t think about it very often, but last week I saw a bluegrass band from North Carolina and the memories came into my mind like a flood.  I am craving hush puppies and thinking about some of our crew that have already left this world.  I am remembering laughing so hard I thought I might die right there in the Great Smokey Mountains.

I had careers in both spa fitness and travel, which required me to switch costumes, sometimes quick change.  I wore bathing suits a lot of the time for teaching, and often went to the travel agency at night to print tickets and work on my clients’ trips.  They were two distinct work environments, so mixing them was a bad idea.  I had one briefcase for each job, and had to make sure I kept them separate.  This became more defined when I started to work in Mexico at Rancho la Puerta.  I was asked to do something to perk up the bingo game because guests were complaining about it. Without consciously bringing it to mind, I reinvented my cardboard dress up box from the basement of my childhood home.  We collected ridiculous Vana White style evening wear and used it for bingo.  This bingo persona got out of control.  Regularly guests would as me if I was there for the week just as bingo queen.  Either they missed my classes, or did not know I was the same person who had taught them.  This game went on for years, until the guests themselves wanted to dress up and wear wigs.  Eventually I distributed all the contents of the bingo costume box and started again.  I wore a sheet toga and flowers in my hair for bingo and said I was Spring, the season.

I recently did a big purge of my closet in order to feel focused and clear.  This has been a wonderful change, leaving me space and a better curated wardrobe than I had.  I no longer need to dress for a job, or to impress anyone.  I dress for comfort and also like to express my personal style.  My secret identity is ace detective.  I am curious to a fault, and enjoy nothing more than stealth.  I am not particularly fond of being recognized because I love to slip around in a crowd to eavesdrop.  If I could use a cloak for invisibility I certainly would.  My signature look, in my own estimation, should be one that shape shifts. I need to maintain a level of mystery.  What do you want from your costuming, gentle reader?

The Spa Spy

August 31, 2014 6 Comments

Spa Lady logo

Spa Lady logo

My business cards are running low so I have thought how I would like to edit the next batch I order.  I do love my logo that I had designed many years ago, but the way I work now and want to work in the future has changed.  I still love spas and travel, but am much more moderate about the amount of time I want to spend away from my home now.  I have not taught at a destination spa for ten years and I have no desire to resume any teaching like that.  I have been enjoying learning to blog and communicate in new ways in order to spread my talents and my message.  I still am a big believer in water immersion and bodywork as a restorative feature of holiday merriment.  I no longer have any need of classes all day and a competitive program to follow in an all-inclusive package.  I don’t need instruction to make good use of a gym, pool or a steam room. I am an expert at all of that.  I appreciate good teaching but now prefer to study in short spurts, doing workshops with teachers I truly admire over a one size fits all health curriculum.  I now like an a la carte approach to my own health.

This has made me think about my very first job in the spa industry which was not a paid position.  I was a swimming teacher and also taught aquatics and studio fitness classes at a local health club.  I was invited to Canyon Ranch in Tucson to meet one of my travel clients and deliver a ticket to her (airline tickets were on paper and very valuable, if you remember). She took me to a class in which I was invited to participate.  During the class the teacher, who was the fitness director, danced over and asked me if I wanted a job.  I said no.  After class I spoke to her and she made me an offer I did not refuse, which was to be a spy in the pool classes.  There had been complaints and she wanted to have a person take the classes and evaluate them.   This dandy offer came with no strings attached.  I went to 3 or 4 pool classes a day and wrote a short evaluation of them for the office.  If the teacher was very bad I had a talk with that instructor about improving the class, but never wrote them up to be as bad as they were.    If they did not improve, then I did make the report more negative.  The rest of my busy spa day was spent in the steam room, taking classes or getting discount body work.  I was really good at that job and added value to the operation while taking from it exactly what I desired at the time.  Later I went on the payroll, which I think was a big mistake.  I liked spying much better than working and going to meetings.

I think I have particular specialized knowledge that is useful to anyone operating a spa, and that I am going to launch a service called The Spa Spy.   I will offer to do an evaluation based on the needs of the client spa.  I can bring the spa director new perspectives, most importantly that of the customer.  Secret shoppers help retailers narrow down and eliminate problems in stores.  Since spas depend a lot on energetic and emotional elements it is even more important to find out how a customer who is not known to the staff is treated.  I can provide valuable feedback about in house rumors and attitudes…always easy to extract during a one hour service.  It is the easiest thing in the world to get the dish on how the staff feels about management during a spa treatment. My vast experience as a travel agent as well as a spa instructor makes me uniquely qualified to provide this service.  My next card will have a revision.  She will undergo a makeover..and become The Spa Spy….same classy lady, new services offered.  What do you think, Gentle Reader?  Do you own a spa and wonder what is really going on there?

Cat and Mouse with the TPD

January 16, 2013 2 Comments

Yesterday I received a call from a lady at the TPD who identified herself as a detective. I told her that I am Nancy Drew and she was dead silent. I asked her if she knew who Nancy is, and she replied in the affirmative. This was the first clue that I had that this lady had called to play cat and mouse, having absolutely no idea that I am a tiger.  She said she was investigating a peeping Tom incident from last year and had heard that I know a lot about  our ‘hood.  This was my second clue.

I have seen the Police Academy movies and think the whole thing looks like a lot of fun.  Something happens to them between those heady days of graduation from the academy and grinding out the day-to-day police reports that goes terribly wrong.  This detective lady called to find out if I am crazy or not.  I let her know, in no uncertain terms, that I am indeed crazy from reporting the same crimes over many years to the TPD, until I am blue in the face.  She asked about crimes in my area, I told her a few facts, and then told her what I thought about working conditions for the cops.  She had no idea how to be the mouse, so she said she was only calling about the peeping Tom last year and would not be able to investigate the other crimes we discussed.  Even Nancy Drew knows there is little point in trying to find out who was peeping last year when we have active full time, already confessed under oath, felonies going on right this minute.  I had to hang up when she asked me to call 911 if I see anything. There is such a thing as insulting the intelligence of the public. These guys should have studied Tom and Jerry back at the academy.

Pamela Morse, Private Eye

December 29, 2012 1 Comment

I got my early training from Nancy Drew in proper detective work. I read all her adventures when I was very young.  She was popular with my friends and neighbors so we used to recreate little Nancy Drew dramas for play.  I fixate on detail like Sherlock, but I like to fashion myself after Jim Morrison’s Spy. My espionage skills are good. My dog is a red bone coon hound named Artemisia. My all time favorite look forever is the performing costume of Mata Hari.  Ironically, I can find no detectives in my ancestry.  Since they were and are undercover, maybe there is no way to find them.  There were many with military careers, which should involve some kind of recon and or intelligence.  To say that I am nosey is an understatement, but I am not interested in the gossip and the trash generally accepted as truth. There is something about my nature that needs to investigate…….everything.  The detective is a dominant archetype in my personality.  I enjoy stealth more than almost anything.

I used to hang out for many months in the winter on a small island in the Berry Islands of the Bahamas called Frazier’s Hog Cay.  The practically unpopulated island had about 6 homes for foreigners to use for holidays.  It is connected by a land bridge to Chubb Cay, where a marina, yacht club, and landing strip makes it possible for life to exist on Frazier’s.  I used to go fishing with hand lines at night and hang out with  two old Bahamian ladies who were my very good friends.  We had our own detective agency to snoop on all the dope dealers.  This was inherently dangerous, but we  were drawn like moths to flame.  I was an instigator in the gang, but they lived there full-time. I only came for a while in the winter, which was height of the smuggling season as well, because of Miami Vice (the lucrative market in 1980’s).   I was contributing to the danger in their lives by organizing reconnaissance expeditions to spy on the Colombians who sailed big boats into the shallow water, unloaded onto fast cigarette boats every night and took off for Florida through the Bimini Straights.  One day on the beach we found an entire bale of Colombian pot, but it was buried deeply in the sand and had been salt-watered to death.  I walked right past it, but my Bahamian friend, who was about 75 at the time said, ” Ain’t that the grass?”   When I think of it now we are all so lucky we did not loose our lives hiding in the mangrove at night to confirm our suspicions.  We were very old ladies to be playing Nancy Drew, but we were compelled by curiosity that ignored all danger.

most excellent spy gear

most excellent spy gear

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