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  • Writer's picturePhyllis H. Moore

An Unspoken Wish

A couple of weeks before Christmas, family members begin asking what I wanted. I do the same thing, challenged to come up with a unique, appreciated gift. It's not easy. Money's nice, but not very personal.

Sometimes we make donations to charities we support, but it doesn't leave much under the tree. In the big scheme of things, especially this year, we really don't need anything.

My favorite daughter (my only daughter) knows me so well, and she's tenacious. She asked me several times what I wanted, and I said, "I don't know. I don't need anything." Sarah is also a good actress, because she'd already bought my Christmas present in August.

I wear scarves. Yeah, I know, like an old lady, me and Dr. Deborah Birx. If I see one with nice colors that's on sale or at World Market, I'll get it. But, decades ago, I fell in love with the designs of someone from my very small home town. The artist is Kermit Oliver, and he's the only American artist to design for Hermes. His work is included in the inaugural exhibition at the Smithsonian's National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington D.C. Kermit's story and his captivating art is fascinating. If you haven't heard of him and his wife, Katie, check out this Texas Monthly article from October, 2012.

When I write a novel, I include something obscure that I've stumbled across. I research the tradition, etc. and make it a part of a learning experience for the reader. In Blue Feather Mystery, Meg spends New Year's Eve with Petra's family and researches traditions from Mexico to share at the party. That's when I discovered las doce uvas de la suerte.

I've experienced so many coincidences around these little nuggets that I include in the books. Reviewers comment on them. In Mystery on Inheritance Ranch readers liked the history of immigration of the Irish to Texas and the workings of a modern ranch.

My work in progress includes information about the migration of monarch butterflies, and Meg will travel to South Texas to try to experience them first hand. I thought while she was there, she could visit the Refugio County Museum where an exhibit of a private collection of Kermit Oliver scarves will be on display (in my imagination) I've actually seen this collection and was grateful to do a book signing among them at the museum. Big thanks to Bart Wales.

So I've been thinking about Kermit Oliver and scarves since mid November, but I didn't say anything out loud. The scarves are expensive and difficult to get, even pre-owned. But my favorite daughter stalked Ebay until she snagged one with just the right colors and wrapped it up as the perfect Christmas gift.

I just finished The Bookwoman of Troublesome Creek. Bluet, one of the last blue-skinned people living in the hollars of Kentucky is part of the historical Pack Horse Library Project of the WPA. It's historical fiction at it's best, well researched. Written in first person in Bluet's authentic Kentucky voice, the experiences of racism, misogyny, and ostracism must have happened to many and probably still does. I highly recommend this novel by Kim Michele Richardson, an author with a story of her own.

If I have anything to do with it, Kermit's story will turn up again and again. You can Google him and look at all his designs. They're beautiful and intricate. The working title for my next book is Den of Uncles. I'm about fourteen chapters in, and I think I'll keep that title. I'm definitely keeping Kermit's scenes, whether they move the story forward or not.

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