From The Monday Night Needlework and Murder Guild
Growing up with a doctor for a father and a mother who devoted her time to volunteering wherever she was needed, I had neither the opportunity nor the inclination to learn needlework. When I started college in Boston the word “hippie” was new to most people and it was only a few years after the famous Summer of Love. I majored in biology because my father had dreams of me following in his footsteps, but that was not to be.
Although Boston was little more than an hour commute from Pitts Crossing, I managed to convince my parents that, by sharing an apartment with three other girls, I would save commuting time and, thus, have more time to study. Maybe I would have wound up becoming a doctor if I had actually done that. However, what I did with those two hours, and quite a few more, was hang out in Cambridge or on Boston Common listening to music, talking, and smoking pot. I imagine the four decades worth of high school students I went on to teach would find that quite amusing—cranky old Miss Cecelia McGill, decked out in love beads and tie-dyed granny dresses, getting stoned out of her noodle on the swan boats in the Public Garden.
It was a time of experimentation for most of us: sexually (the less said about that, the better,) spiritually (my socially committed, Unitarian parents endured my fits of Buddhism and Wicca,) and politically (perhaps you would enjoy hearing about my relationship with Abbie Hoffman, but that will have to wait for another day.)
From The Crazy Old Lady' Revenge
The sign over Madame Defarge's Knitting Basket showed a scary-looking woman in a mob cap standing in front of a guillotine as she knitted. A black wrought iron gate with elaborate scroll work guarded the steps down to the basement level shop and, as I pushed the door open, I noticed the words Calista Defarge, Prop. painted on it. Inside there was yarn everywhere – stuffed into the shelves lining the walls, heaped in baskets covering the floor, hanging in long hanks from the ceiling – all of it exploding with color. In the middle of the room was a grouping of plump armchairs gathered around a coffee table heaped with knitting books. Several women sat knitting.
“Can I help you?”
I turned toward the voice and found a woman who looked rather like the one on the sign. She had long gray hair pulled back and tied with a scarf, and a sharp-featured face with a nose that was hard to ignore. She sat perched on a stool, knitting.
“Is your name really Defarge?” I asked.
“It is now,” she said. “You don't look like a knitter.”
“I'm not.” The truth was I wasn't really sure why I was there but after the terrible events of yesterday, it seemed like anything we could learn about Nell's activities might prove useful. I reached in my pocket and pulled out the bag and receipt. “I know it was a long time ago but I wonder if you remember this woman.” I handed her the receipt.
“Twenty-years ago,” she said lifting a pair of glasses that hung around her neck on a string made of braided yarn. She examined it then handed it back. “Of course I remember her. She came in pretty regularly for years then one day she just disappeared. She had an accent. Irish or Scottish. If you know her name what do you want from me?”
I frowned. “What do you mean?”
She shrugged. “Just curious why everyone's so interested in her lately. She die or something?”
Thanks for reading.