Canada’s Last Executions: Arthur Lucas & Ronald Turpin

As a Canadian, I’ve grown up in a culture that – for the most part – condemns capital punishment.  So it came as a surprise to me to discover that the last person – actually, the last two people – were executed in Canada at 12:02 a.m. on December 11, 1962. Within my lifetime.  Barely. But still.

Ronald Turpin and Arthur Lucas didn’t have much in common, and their respective murder convictions were unrelated. At the Don Jail in Toronto at 12:02 a.m. on December 11, 1962 the men shared what would likely be the most intimate moment of anyone’s life. Death at the hands of a federally appointed hangman.

Arthur Lucas

Arthur Lucas

Lucas, a fifty-something black American from Georgia, had a reputation as a pimp who beat the prostitutes who worked for him. With an IQ of 63, this career criminal was deemed by the U.S. Bureau of Prisons to be  “unsalvageable”.

Ronald Turpin

Ronald Turpin

Turpin was a young, white man abandoned as a child by his abusive mother. He spent much of his young life in the Guelph reformatory for juveniles, before spiralling into an adult life of alcoholism and petty theft. On February 12, 1962 young Ronald Turpin killed police officer Frederick Nash, who pulled over Turpin’s truck on a routine traffic stop. Turpin, who had just stolen $631 of stuff from the nearby Red Rooster Inn, had an outstanding arrest warrant and panicked, pumping a single shot into the 31 year-old officer’s abdomen. Nash died at the scene, leaving behind a wife and four daughters.

Lucas, convicted of the double murder of police informant Therland Crater and his girlfriend Carolyn Ann Newman, maintained his innocence to the end, but conceded that his misspent life of crime was likely to have ended badly anyway. He is reported to have said to prison chaplain Cyrill Everitt,  “I’m telling you I didn’t do it, but I’m ready to go – I did some other things in my life”. Prison chaplain Cyril Everitt would later say that a miscalculation on the Lucas’s weight resulted in the near-decapitation of the convict.

Both men died with the knowledge that they would likely be the last prisoners to be executed in Canada. “Some consolation,” Lucas said in reference to word of this dubious historical achievement.

Capital punishment was removed from Canada’s criminal code in 1976.

You can read more about Lucas and Turpin in Robert J. Hoshowsky’s book, The Last to Die: Ronald Turpin, Arthur Lucas, and the End of Capital Punishment in Canada.



Death Row Dining/An East London Dining Event


No actual inmates were used in the shooting of this image.

Last week an East London restaurant with a novel concept in dining, was guillotined by social media. The event? Death Row Meals.

Diners – or inmates, as they were referred to for the purposes of this experience – were charged, sentenced, and frisked before being seated to a five-course death row feast modelled around the actual final requests of death row prisoners.

Accused on Twitter of “tasteless profiteering” and “being disgusting” the pop-up restaurant soon cancelled their Death Row Dinners, but not without issuing a statement that said, in part:

“On the back of the extreme reaction that has garnered the attention of media outlets around the world, after careful reflection we have decided to go ahead with Death Row Dinners.
The severity of the reaction is not at all surprising in the current world of instant outrage but cancelling the event only supports this short-termism currently infecting the population …

… All over the world there are attractions that have the potential to offend.

Some people go for a walk in the park, others go on a Jack The Ripper walk of London.
Some people go on a tour of the White House, others go to Jefferson state penitentiary for tours of the chamber where executions take place.
Some people stay in the Hilton while others stay in Karosta prison hotel, for that “authentic” prison feel.”

 What do you think? Too far?

Death Row Meals: San Quentin

Prison Food

Confession: Research is my favorite thing about writing. Why? Because I get sidetracked.

Today’s shiny bauble is San Quentin, or more specifically San Quentin reviews. With Tripadvisor-like lingo, Yelp reviewers (both prisoners and visitors) give bouquets and brickbats (mostly brickbats) to their prison surroundings. My favorite quote below:


Dylan D gives San Quentin 3 stars, justifying his average rating with these comments:

I really wanted to love this place.


When I arrived there was a HUGE line for food, so my hopes got pretty high right off the bat.  Everyone seemed really excited for the food so I assumed I was in for a real treat.


It was pretty busy, but I was able to find a table.  Again, I understand this is buffet style, but when I asked the gentleman by the front door near where I was sitting if I could sit further from the door he was SUPER RUDE about it.  He just motioned for me to sit back down, but at least the front door led to a hallway and not the outside, so although it was raining, I figured I’d be fine.


With the reputation of this place, I thought I would be blown away, but honestly I found most of it to be really underwhelming.


The beans were my favorite part.  They had a subtle smoky flavor and the texture was just right.  However, I did not like the viscosity of the broth they were in.  It was so runny it contaminated my other sides and then I wasn’t even sure what I was eating.  But when I focused on the beans I must admit, I did enjoy them.

There is no way that the brisket was grass fed, It was too stringy and when I asked the server what farm the meat was from, he just stared at me like I was crazy.  Way to train your staff, San Quentin.

I also had a side of carrots and peas.  I don’t really like carrots and peas but the colors were so vibrant I accepted when the server gestured with the ladle.  On the plate it looked like a wonderful heirloom salad bringing a nice aesthetic quality to the display.  I must say, again, I was underwhelmed.  The carrots were mushy and the peas were either not very ripe or undercooked, but they almost had a crunch to them.  What are these PEA NUTS?!  I did, however enjoy the cut of the carrot, the ends were rounded so it’s not too awkward of a mouthful.  But really, the peas and carrots’ best contribution was visual, and that is not making the cut.

It seems public tours of San Quentin have been discontinued, but this YouTube video gives you a peek into a cellmate’s lodgings:

Dinner & a Good Book: A Woman of Honour by Marlow Kelly

I regularly post a recommendation read for the weekend and this weekend I’m so pleased to be introducing Marlow Kelly’s A Woman of Honour. Kelly’s writing superpower is the ability to put her reader in the time and place her story is set. She writes strong female characters who challenge their male counterparts.

Below, please find a little taste of both Kelly’s book and Scotland. In the author’s own words:

Dee, thank you for inviting me to Dinner and Good Book. I had a hard time picking just one or two recipes for this post. My novella – A Woman of Honour – is set in Scotland and although Scotland isn’t known for its cuisine the Scottish diet is famous for its whole and hardy foods. Stews, fish, and baked dishes made of oats are satisfying and tasty, and the perfect food on a cold winter’s night. Oh, and we mustn’t forget that it’s the Scots that perfected the recipe for whiskey.

My first dish Baked Salmon with Tarragon is the perfect dish for a warm fall evening. It can be cooked in the oven or on the BBQ.

If its cold out and you want something that’ll warm you all the way down to your toes then I recommend Beef in Claret. It’s a stew that can be cooked ahead of time and frozen in portions. Then you can just pop it in the microwave after a hard day’s work.

And let’s not forget dessert. One of my family’s favorites is Flapjacks. In North America flapjacks are pancakes, but in Scotland they are a delicious, sweet oat square, my mouth waters just thinking about them. My family prefers them with melted semisweet chocolate on top, but traditionally they are served plain.

I’ve saved the best for last, The Whisky Toddy. This is a warm comforting drink for a cold winter’s night, but I use a little less whiskey than the recipe requires. This drink was used as a cure for colds. It calls for a wine glass of whiskey. J If I drank a wine glass of whiskey I’d forget I ever had a cold, but I’m sure I’m remember the resulting hangover.

So there you have it. Some traditional Scottish dishes to flavour while you enjoy a book set in Scotland …

A Woman of Honour by Marlow Kelly

Worldwide Release Date: 27th August 2014  
 A Woman of Honour is available at
Wild Rose Press                                  

Blurb: A Woman of Honour

Marlow Kelly

Marlow Kelly

Duncan Campbell wakes to discover he is imprisoned with a woman in his enemy’s dungeon in the Highlands of Scotland. The disenchanted warrior hopes his last few moments on Earth will be spent in the arms of the sweet-voiced Isabel. If only she will cooperate.

Isabel Douglas has no intention of obliging the crude captive. The penniless noblewoman considers herself too tall and thin to be desirable. She intends to become a nun. But first, disguised as a boy, she must deliver an important letter to Scotland’s hero in hiding, King Robert the Bruce.

Together, the pair make a daring escape that plunges them into the bleak countryside in the middle of winter. In the struggle to survive, they learn the true strength of their feelings for each other. But when Duncan’s animosity towards the king becomes evident, Isabel must decide between her heart and her country.

Excerpt: A Woman of Honour

“And even though we’re going to die, you still can’t find it in your heart to forgive me?”

“Maybe if you were very nice to me and warmed me with your sweet, little body, I could see my way to absolving you.”

She gasped and he couldn’t help but smile at her outraged reaction. He had no idea why he enjoyed baiting her, but he couldn’t seem to stop.

“You’re the most sinful man I’ve ever met. I take it back. I don’t want your absolution. How can you think about your carnal needs at a time like this?” The ire in her voice made him want to continue their argument, but his headache was worsening by the minute.

Marlow Kelly Bio

After being thrown out of England for refusing to drink tea, Marlow Kelly made her way to Canada where she found love, a home and a pug named Max. She also discovered her love of storytelling. Encouraged by her husband, children and let’s not forget Max, she started putting her ideas to paper. Her need to write about strong women in crisis drives her stories and her curiosity regarding the lives and loves of historical figures are the inspiration for her characters. You can visit Marlow at, Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads and Pinterest


Dinner & a Good Book: Storms of Passion by Lori Power

Every Friday I post a reading recommendation for the weekend. This week curl up with Lori Power’s Storms of Passion.

The author, Lori Power, grew up in a small fishing town in Nova Scotia and the storm the book refers to did happen. The story’s heroine – Vivian – is based on Lori’s childhood friend. I’ve chosen two Maritime dishes to go along with this read. From Taste of Nova Scotia, here’s Drunken Nova Scotia Oysters and Rory’s Lobster & Shrimp Lasagna.

And now, on to the delicious details of this weekend’s reading offering …

Buy the book on Amazon

Purchase the book from Wildrose Publishing

Lori Power’s Blog

StormsofPassion_coverReading about romance and getting swept up in the adventure of those tales is no substitute for the real thing. On a whim, Vivian decides to do something she’s always wanted to do – learn to sail. Flying to the other side of the country, she unwittingly begins a quest to find her real self, the person she set up on a shelf long ago to gather dust.

Tucker MacLean isn’t looking for anything or anyone, any more. His one goal in life has always been to get away from the small town he grew up in and make his mark. But after a failed marriage, a failed business venture and losing everything, he has had to swallow his pride and move home to take his place in the family business where he resumes his role as a reservist rescue swimmer in the Coast Guard.

As thunder always follows the lightening strike, when Vivian and Tucker meet, their passion is an electrical storm.

EXCERPT: Storms of Passion

Someone was singing down on the beach.

He followed the sound of the female voice. The identity of the singer couldn’t be anyone he knew. Surly no one from town would perch below his parent’s house to sing pop music off key.

Curious, he strode to the end of the lawn and glanced over the edge, where grass turned to a rocky ledge leading to the beach. He did a double-take at the vision of the woman from the airport. That was her. No doubt about it. There was no mistaking that long neck and the inky black hair even more spiky than earlier today.

Lowering his glasses down his nose, Tuck watched as she stretched her legs in front of her, crossing her feet at the ankles. What lovely long legs she had. She leaned back as the sun kissed her smooth skin. His fingers ached, watching her weave her fingers through her cropped hair and rubbing the sweat soaked layers from her skin.

Supporting her position with one hand behind her back, she continued to lounge on the rock, as if the beach was her living room. Her head bobbed as she sang. Her feet swayed across the sand.

Tuck looked right and left.

She’s tonight’s main attraction and she doesn’t even know it.

She obviously didn’t realize how close the houses were to the beach, and that there was no such thing as privacy in a small town.

He recognized the song as she continued to sing, slightly off key, and he wondered if she’d give voice to the explicit parts of the song as well.

He smiled, nodding his head, completely amused.

There was no doubt in his mind now this had to be the elusive Vivian.

Vivacious Vivian.

The name absolutely suited her.

Author Bio

Death Row Meals: Aileen Wuornos Prisoner 150924

Last Meal: 1 cup of coffee

Death by lethal injection

Executed: October 9, 2002 at 9:47 a.m.

State: Florida

Last words: “I’d just like to say I’m sailing with the rock, and I’ll be back like Independence Day, with Jesus June 6. Like the movie, big mother ship and all, I’ll be back.”

Related Conspiracy Theory: In her last interview Wuornos stated that she was controlled by sonic pressure to make her appear insane.

150924_Florida Department of CorrectionsThe Florida Department of Corrections lists five women currently on death row, but readers will likely remember one of this state’s most prolific female serial killers: Aileen Carol Wuornos. Wuornos’s story became film fodder in the 2003 movie Monster starring Charlize Theoron.

Wuornos’s life is a litany of abuse and tough breaks, beginning before her conception. Her father was a convicted pedophile who married Diane Wuornos when she was only 14 years old. Diane divorced him nearly two years later, just a few months before the birth of Aileen Wuornos. Aileen and her older brother were adopted by their maternal grandparents after their mother deserted them.

Wuornos was trading sex for food and drugs by the age of 11, later claiming that her grandfather raped her. A sad life indeed. At 13, after being raped by a friend of her grandfather’s, she became pregnant and gave birth to child who would be placed for adoption. In the years before her eventual arrest for murder, Wuornos would often be arrested on a variety of charges: armed robbery, theft, attempting to pass forged checks, assault, resisting arrest, obstruction of justice.

On November 30, 1989, Wuornos would shoot and kill Richard Mallory, a convicted rapist, in what she claimed was an act of self-defense. Wuornos would go on to confess to six more murders.

On October 9, 2002, Aileen Carol Wuornos was put to death by lethal injection. There can be no doubt that she was the victim of a terrible life, and that she became a terrible person.

Dinner and a Good Book: In My Father’s Footsteps by Diana Cranstoun

Every Friday I post a reading recommendation for the weekend. This week curl up with Diana Cranstoun’s In My Father’s Footsteps. Have tissues at the ready. More than sixty year’s after her father’s WWII experience and decades after his death, Cranstoun retraces his steps to Dunkirk.

When I contacted the author about this post, I let her know I planned to run it on August 15, 2014. In a weird twist, this date would have been her parent’s 75th wedding anniversary. (If you read the book, you’ll note that Cranstoun is a firm believer in “signs”.)

Cranstoun also posts a blog wherein she does really cool things like spending four weeks on wartime rations. She details those posts with pics and recipes of her experience. In honor of her culinary trek through WWII, I’m going to recommend a couple of recipes from her blog: Sausage Casserole (doesn’t include an actual recipe, but a description and pic) and Bread Pudding.

And now, on to the delicious details of this weekend’s reading offering …


Buy the book on Amazon
Diana Cranstoun’s  Website
On Twitter: @dianacranstoun

EXCERPT: In My Father’s Footsteps
CoverWe’re introduced to Noel and his wife. (He was a boy of eleven when my Dad was stationed in his village.) I show him the photo of Mum and Dad. “Ahhh.” He smacks the picture in that Gallic way. “Jacques Cranstoon.”

But I’m not totally sold. After all, I wrote Dad’s name in my letter to the mayor and perhaps Noël wants this connection to the past as much as I do.

And then he says something that sends a shiver up my spine. “Et vôtre mère, Marie.”


Nowhere – nowhere – had I written my mother’s name. This is very – very – real.

We talk, Anna interpreting as I catch only every fourth or fifth word. My dad was billeted in a house next to Noël’s family. Throughout that bitter winter, with no light or heating in their billet, Dad and another married soldier went next door to Noël’s warm house every Friday evening to write letters home to their wives.

Noël reaches into his pocket, pulls out a small, rather battered leather diary and offers it to me. “Your Dad gave it to him for Christmas 1939,” Anna translates. The hairs on my arms stand on end. It’s as though, to borrow a quote from Alan Bennett’s History Boys, a hand has reached out of the past and taken mine.

Once again, Dad’s in the room with us.

Random Facts About Diana Cranstoun
HeadshotA transplanted Scot, she’s lived more than half her life in Calgary. She had the great pleasure to meet Gregory Peck. She’s fired a machine gun – not in anger. She loves writing poems on her windows using coloured Sharpie pens. In 2009, she and a friend retraced her father’s footsteps from a village in France to the beaches of Dunkirk. 

Dinner and a Good Book: On the Way to a Wedding by Suzanne Stengl

Every week I post a reading recommendation for the weekend. This week curl up with Suzanne Stengl’s On the Way to a Wedding. I adored this book and read it in one sitting.

What would be a good food and beverage pairing for this book? Aunt Tizzy’s Brandied Peaches (scroll to the bottom of this post for the recipe) fits the bill on the both counts. Aunt Tizzy, who figures prominently in the book, is the lovable relative everyone wishes they had. The aunt who loves to spike the wedding punch and gives the bride-to-be a racy shower gift. 😉

And now, on to the delicious details of this weekend’s reading offering …

LINKS  On the Way to a Wedding

Suzanne Stengl’s  Website: 

Ryder O’Callaghan finds Toria Whitney on the side of a forest road with a totaled car, a sprained ankle, and a wedding dress. Both Ryder and Toria are scheduled to be married in three weeks—but not to each other.

Ryder’s pride has him hell bent on proving a point to his father. He’s building an estate home and marrying a sophisticated society girl.

Toria is running scared. She’s called off her wedding to the man her parents approve, and she needs time and space to discover what she really wants. The last thing she needs is the overwhelming attraction she feels for Ryder.

And Ryder, confident in his conviction that love is overrated, denies his surprising fascination for his roadside damsel in distress.

But sometimes love arrives in the most unexpected places.

A 66,000 word novel – Coming of Age, Sweet Contemporary Romance – some Adult Language – features a lovable construction worker who occasionally curses when in the grip of powerful emotions, like when he duels with the heroine or hits his thumb with a hammer.


The headlights gleamed over the wet gravel. Rain pelted the truck. And the temperature had dropped. The way his luck was going, this would turn to hail. A chunk of gravel loosened from the edge of the road and dropped into the stream of water flowing through the ditch. At least they were moving to higher ground.

The cabin was supposed to be at the end of this road. But how much farther? And why did it have to rain now? Sure, they needed rain. But why now, for Chrissake?

He gripped the steering wheel and downshifted, scanning the roadside, looking for the lane. They had to be close. Pro had told him?

Good. There it was. The headlights lit up the crooked sign, nailed to a tree. Road’s Inn, it said. This road’s end. The sign was flapping in the wind.

He drove into a short lane and reached a narrow parking area sprinkled with gravel. According to Pro, the cabin was about a hundred feet ahead at the end of a curving dirt path.

Rain hammered over the truck, like it was trying to get inside.

They could just stay put. Stay in the truck. Because if they tried to make it to the cabin, they were going to get wet. Never mind wet. They were going to get soaked.

But—he turned to look at her—she wasn’t getting any warmer. Even with the heater on full, her teeth were still chattering. If they could get to the cabin, he could build a fire. And there would be food in the cabin. He could make her something hot to drink.

“Why are we stopped?”

“We’re here.”

“Where is here?”

“There’s a cabin here.”

“There is?” She stared out the windshield, trying to see.

So they’d get wet, and cold. But they couldn’t stay in the truck all night. He turned off the ignition, darkness closed over them, and he reached under his seat.

For his flashlight.

Except it wasn’t his flashlight. One of his framers had borrowed his mag light, again, and left this piece of crap. He pulled out the small replacement light and clicked it on. A pale orange glow.


“What’s the matter?”

Everything. The rain. The road. This unexpected passenger. The wedding, his business. His life.

“Slide over here.”


He took her running shoe out of her hands and set it on the dash.

“You can’t c-carry me. Not far.”

“You can’t walk.”

She picked up her shoe. “I c-can sort of w-walk,” she said, teeth chattering. She reached in her shoe, pulled the sock out and shoved it into the pocket of his jacket. Then she started to ease the running shoe over her bandaged foot.

With eyes squeezed shut, she tugged the shoe on. Then she loosely tied the lace. Her hands were shaking and her fingers looked stiff.

“Okay, I—I’m ready.”

Stamina, if nothing else. No brains, but stamina. He felt for the key in his pocket. Pro had given him the key. This was one of Pro’s stupider ideas.

“Do you want your c-coat?”

“No. I’ll get wet anyway.”


“Come on.” He opened the door and stepped into the cold dark rain. The icy wet stung his face and neck. In a few seconds his clothes were drenched.

She slid down next to him, standing on her right foot. Her arm, tentative at first, slipped around his waist. Her hair blew over his throat and her body trembled against his.

He shoved the truck door and heard it latch. Then he put his right arm around her and aimed the dying flashlight at the cabin. He could barely see the path.

With the rain and the wind slamming into his skin, the mud sucked at his boots. She kept her arm around his waist, trying to put weight on her damaged foot.

At least she tried for about three steps. With each step, her whole body tensed. She let herself lean on him more and hopped with her good foot. The mud was slippery. She’d have fallen if he hadn’t been holding her.

They were halfway up the path, when he noticed the mud wasn’t sucking him down anymore. He pointed the flashlight onto the path where the dim light showed interlocking bricks, covered in puddles. Rain peppered the bricks and the wind blasted waves over the water.

And then the flashlight oozed out.

“This way,” she said.

They stumbled forward, in the direction of the cabin. At least he could tell he was walking on bricks. All he had to do was follow the bricks, because he couldn’t see a damn thing.

He could hear though. The wind, the trees swinging and creaking, and . . . water flowing, like they were near a stream?

The eaves troughs. He could hear them, overflowing, splashing down.

“Here,” she said, pausing.

He felt with his boot until he touched the first step of the porch directly in front of him.

He pulled her tighter against his side and lifted her up the step, and then up a second step. And then they were on the porch and out of the rain.

A loud clap of thunder boomed overhead at the same time as a wavering flash of lightning illuminated the door in front of him. Then all was dark again.

Holding the dead flashlight in his hand, he reached for the door and touched it, tapping, metal against wood. Then, still holding the useless light, he felt with the backs of his fingers for the door knob, and the key hole.

She had both her arms around him, like she was trying to press against his warmth. She was shivering, a lot, and she wasn’t letting go.

“I have to get the key,” he said.

She seemed to realize what she was doing, let go of him and moved away. He heard her, hopping toward the door.

Carefully, he took the key out of his jeans pocket and found the lock again. This key had better work.

It did. The wind swung the door open, crashing it inside. He reached out to find her, touched her shoulder, and waited for her to hop into the entrance. Then he followed her inside and closed the door, pushing against the wind. The latch snicked shut and they were out of the storm, standing in complete darkness. His clothes were soaked, and he was cold, and tired, and hungry.

He could hear her, close by, her teeth chattering. Outside, the wind howled and the trees shrieked, but in here, the cabin was quiet and still. Except for the sound of her teeth chattering, and his heart pounding in his ears.

He leaned his forehead against the door, took a deep breath and slowly let it out.

She must have found a chair near the door. He could hear it scraping over the floor as she moved it.

“Is there a table beside you?” Maybe she could feel it. She couldn’t see any better than he could.

She didn’t say anything. Then he heard the rasp of a match and saw the sudden flare of its light. She’d found the matches that Pro had said would be on the table by the door. There was a lantern too. But her hand was shaking so badly the match flickered out.

Maybe he should have left her in the truck until he’d got the fire started.

“I’ll do it,” he said. He felt her ice cold hand take his as she pressed the match box into his palm.

“This way,” she said, setting the box so it was right side up. He felt for a match, lit it, and saw her taking the globe off the lantern. She slid the lantern toward him, he lit the wick, and then took the globe out of her hands and replaced it.

Soft light filled the cold room. Outside, the storm raged, emphasizing the quiet of the cabin. But the lantern’s light made it seem—somehow—warmer.

And maybe if he’d left her in the truck, she wouldn’t have stayed.

She was sitting on the chair beside the table. Her hair was dripping and the jacket she was wearing, his jacket, was plastered to her shivering body. She bent down, and with fumbling fingers she started untying her running shoe. The one on her injured foot. She carefully pulled off the muddy shoe and dropped it on the floor. Then she started plucking at the laces on her other shoe.

Good idea. He got out of his own boots. They were covered in mud but his feet were dry—the only part of him that was dry.

He picked up the matches from the table and walked across the room to the stove, a pot-bellied black stove with a glass door. Next to it, a brass bin held wood and kindling and old, yellowed newspapers. Kneeling in front of the stove, he clinked the door open and—thank you Pro—wood and kindling were laid inside. He lit a match, held it to the kindling, and watched as the fire caught and leapt and spread over the logs. Then he creaked the stove door shut, stood up, and turned around.

She was still sitting on the chair by the door. Her teeth were still chattering and her hair was still dripping.

“Take off your clothes.”


“When I was a child, I shared a bedroom with three of my younger sisters. I used to tell them stories to help them fall asleep. Sometimes, they fell asleep before the stories ended and, unaware, I would keep telling the story, until my mother called up the stairs. “Sue? They’ve gone to sleep.” And then I would quietly finish the story in my head.

I didn’t start writing down my stories until much later. In my last year of university, I collected all the reports from my Marketing Group and wrote up our study like a novel. My classmates liked it, and so did the prof.

Eventually, I found a little two-line invitation to a romance writers organization in the back of the Writers Guild magazine, and I showed up. I had found my people.”

Suzanne Stengl writes Sweet Contemporary Romance. Her other title include, ANGEL WINGS and GHOSTLY TREASURE.

Aunt Tizzy’s Brandied Peaches


4 pounds ripe peaches

4 pounds white sugar

3 cups water

1 pint brandy or more, your favourite flavour.

Have about 4 pint jars, lids, rings ready – clean and sterilized. You might need more depending on the size of your peaches.

Blanch your peaches.

Fill a large pot with water and bring it to a boil.

Score each peach with a little “x” and carefully add it to the boiling water.

Leave it there for about a minute or until the skin splits.

Remove the peach and drop it in a bowl of cold water and ice cubes.

When the peaches are cool enough to handle, peel, pit and quarter them.

Meanwhile, in another large pot, combine the water and sugar. Bring to a boil. Add the peaches. Simmer until soft, about 5 minutes.

Carefully layer peaches into each jar. Use a knife to release any air bubbles.

Boil the remaining syrup until it slightly thickens, then add the brandy. Remove from heat.

Spoon over the peaches, until there is ¼ inch of headroom. Add seals and lids.

Process in a boiling water bath. In Calgary, I do it for 20 minutes. Consult your canning guide for the appropriate time for your altitude.

When the appropriate processing time is done, turn off the heat, remove the cover, and after about 5 minutes remove the jars. Line them up on the counter to cool and do not move them for at least 6 hours. Listen for the pop.

Then after 6 hours, check each seal. Store for up to a year, and hide from Toria.


Death Row Meals: Victor Feguer Prisoner # 28105

It used to be my party ice-breaker question: If you were going to die tomorrow, what would you choose as your final meal?

As you might imagine, the question quickly thinned the crowd of people who wanted to hang around me for the evening. But it’s a question that death row inmates have had to consider time and again as an execution date draws closer.

This set of blog posts takes a look at their fascinating choices and speculates about the reasons surrounding those choices.
Victor FeguerFirst up is Victor Feguer. Executed by hanging on March 15, 1963 in Iowa, Feguer’s last meal request was a single olive. With the pit. He tucked the pit into the pocket of his suit the morning of his execution. I could find no information on the significance of the olive to Feguer.

Diagnosed as a paranoid schizophrenic, Feguer had a long history of mental illness culminating in the kidnapping and murder of Dr Edward Bartels. The motive for the murder is unclear; it seems Feguer randomly selected Bartels name and number from a phone book. He lured Bartels to his apartment on a house call with a story about a wife in pain after a recent surgery. In fact, Feguer had no wife.

There are theories that Feguer simply wanted to get morphine or Demerol from the doctor, but whatever his motivation, it ended in the death of Bartels, a father of three and with his wife expecting a fourth child.

Captured when trying to sell Bartel’s 1959 Rambler, Feguel revealed the location of the doctor’s body but pinned the crime on a fictional “Alex Dupree”.

After Feguel’s death it would be 38 years before the next federal execution in Iowa – Timothy McVeigh.

Easter Ramblings

I’ve always been interested in the apparent portability of Good Friday and Easter Monday.  I was born on April 11 and once, many years back, my birthday and Good Friday fell on the same day. According to the date of Easter depends on “the ecclesiastical approximation of March 21 for the vernal equinox”. Yeah, I have no idea what that really means either. Romance writer Suzanne Stengl does a better job of explaining this with some clarity here.

The word Easter is derived from the Old English word Eastre or Eostre, believed to be a reference to an Anglo-Saxon goddess, Eostre. Christians claim the holiday as a pivotal point in their history, but are Easter bunnies, jelly beans and chocolate eggs related to the resurrection of Christ?

Not really.

The Easter bunny can be traced back to 13th century Germany and the above named goddess of Spring and fertility, Eostre. What do bunnies and fertility goddesses have in common? Yep, you guessed it.

In medieval Europe eggs were among the foods verboten during Lent and the surplus of eggs would be eaten immediately afterwards (Easter) to prevent spoilage.

Over the years, the celebration evolved to include colored eggs, Easter hats, marshmallow peeps and many themed activities around the world:

  • In 1878 President Rutherford and First Lady Lucy Hayes held the first Easter Egg Roll – now an annual tradition – on the front lawn of the White House.
  • In Poland,  Smigus-Dyngus (shming-oos-ding-oos) is celebrated on Easter Monday by boys throwing buckets of water on girls they like and spanking them with pussy willows. This frequently happens in North America as well, but it’s not confined to one day and has nothing to do with Easter.
  • In Haux, France a 5,000 egg omelet serves about 1,000 people in the town square.

Enjoy the long weekend, whatever your religious or secular leanings, and don’t eat too much chocolate. But if you do, might I recommend my Playlist for a Dental Visit?