More From Maury and Debbie (WTAFP)


Longtime friends of this blog, Maury and Debbie, recently returned from a visit to Chetland. Maury’s an excellent photographer. This saguaro photo really captures that magic side of AZ. (Saguaros are important in the Chet and Bernie series, no more so than in Scents and Sensibility.)

14 Comments on “More From Maury and Debbie (WTAFP)”

  1. Thanks again Peter for continuing to post photos of our trip. This one is quite significant given the prominent role of the saguaro to the Chet and Bernie plot line development, including Bernie’s ongoing fascination and preoccupation with the aquifer. But what may not be as well known is that Bernie’s preoccupation was instrumental as well in the creation of the Plunderers (thank you again Betty Stover for coming up with that name).

    Let’s go back several years in time and let me explain. The blog began in 2009, shortly after the publication of Dog On It. For the first several months while many started posting to the blog, it was very much an individual effort. Then sometime in 2010, after publication of Thereby Hangs A Tail and Spence was well along to completing To Fetch A Thief, he decided to have a contest consisting of ten questions covering the prior two books, with the winner winning an autographed ARC (advanced readers copy) of To Fetch A Thief.

    The questions were not that difficult and Spence wound up with a lot of correct submissions. To to break the tie, he focused on anything more distinct in the answers. The last question, I believe, concerned the photograph over the safe in Bernie’s home, which was of Niagara Falls. One erstwhile participant answered the question correctly, but went on to somehow relate its possible significance not only to the aquifer but also to the Abbott and Costello routine about Niagara Falls (whenever those words are uttered, the person hearing it would respond “slowly, I turn, inch by inch. . . .”) This was apparently so off the wall that it resulted in that participant being selected as the winner (the winner then known as Wookie of Chevy Chase, and yes I still have the ARC on my bookshelf along with all the other Peter Abrahams and Spencer Quinn books that I own). But in presenting the results, Spence revealed some real names of participants, which for the first time sparked the realization that perhaps we could communicate with one another off line (including by setting up a separate email address that we used to trade contact information and later plot things like Spence’s quilt or the Plunderer cook book). The excitement that this all generated, largely due to Niagara Falls and Bernie’s aquifer fascination, led us to appreciate what a special group had come together on the blog, and as they say, the rest is history.

    1. There’s a COOKBOOK?! Is it an electronic cookbook, perhaps still available to those of us late to the game?

      I am somewhat familiar with the Abbott and Costello slowly I turned bit but I don’t remember what it had to do with Niagara Falls. Do remind us, please.

      So the Plunderers started even before Snowhook and the Iditarod?

      I think this blog needs a historian or archivist or something.

  2. Thanks, WTAFP for sharing the blog’s story. I think I slid in a little after all this. And thanks, HRH B for giving us that great name. :^)

  3. That looks like quite the healthy Saguaro. Perhaps it is located at a hotel or resort?

    I know that there has been and probably still is a black market illegal stealing of cactus as is illustrated in the plot of one of the C&B books. Saguaros are targets due to their value but other cacti too. Difficult plant to make money from growing in a nursery as they are very slow growers so takes years before they are commercially viable in size.

    They’re now microchipping cactus to try to deter theft.

    I had a plain old cactus that I had bought in a little 2 inch pot and nursed along for maybe a decade. It was getting big so I planted it and one day came out and it had been stolen. I don’t plant anything outside my fence any more. And the gate is locked except for USPS and deliveries. The rest of the time it’s locked and the dogs are on patrol (only they call it recreation). Dogs are the number one deterrent to thieves and the entire neighborhood knows Diana pawPrints, the Wonder Puppy and big black dog with big white teeth and her lookout and accomplice, Freyja Grey the security guard Husky and Lookout.

  4. ML! Mom just spent a few minutes looking for her copy of the cookbook. She doesn’t cook so would be willing to send it on to you. However, it is not within easy reach (meaning she has no idea where it is) but will let you know if she finds it.

    1. Thank you. If it does arrive I may create an electronic version, add some recipes of my own, collect a few more from posters here and then send it out. Perhaps if she can find it by Thanksgiving I can get it done before Christmas.

      I just love cookbook collections from groups.

  5. ML — Various points. Re Niagara Falls, that is actually the trigger term for causing the “slowly I turn . . .” dialogue to begin. FYI, it was also used in an I Love Lucy episode back in the 1950s (you remember then).

    As to the cookbook, it was actually printed for us by a blog member in Australia named Liz (yes, our reach extended that far) and then she actually shipped it to the U.S. for us to distribute. But there is an electronic version of it as well, and if you check your SDD (that is yoursecret decoder device, aka personal email address– another Plunderer term of art), you should see it there.

    Happy cooking.


    1. Oh, cool! I got it. It’s beautiful. I no longer have the Adobe professional software to add to it but I might try creating a supplemental addendum in the spirit of the original, then solicit additional recipes from these here plus some of my own. I can’t believe no one has a new recipe in 15 years.

      I would like Rio to explain the “mistake” her friend made which resulted in scalloped potatoes. I’ve never been much of a fan of my Mom’s scalloped potatoes but that recipe I might try.

      I am so making that Siber’s Dream of Alaska! Ditto Queen Bee’s Scones. I love me a good scone recipe. So many delicious recipes. The book is so well organized, beautifully laid out and I love the included photos and the bios at the end. What a treasure.

      At a glance I can add my Pesto Deviled eggs, Curried rice shrimp salad, Three different enchiladas (chicken, cheese and “green”), lentil soup, broccoli soup, lasagna, chicken cacciatore, spaghetti and meatballs, Butterzueg cookies, Creamy cheese pie and my recipes for dog food and dog cookies.

  6. Wow! Thanks so much, WTAFP for the excellent origin story! I’m surprised that Wose and ML aren’t charter members of that august Plunderers group. I thought I was the only newbie.
    ML, I, too, am a cookbook collector! In a recent Facebook post I said that OFA has such a wide range of audiences and story types, perhaps a cookbook would be next. Was that foreshadowing? Or group history? Anyway, I hope you get a copy and do send out your updated version!
    Wose has my SDD if any of you want to contact me directly!

    1. I joined much later but still on the old blog. I don’t remember when but maybe 7-10 years after the Snowhook Iditarod. Maybe 2016-2019? I know I was retired by then.

      I had been reading Chet and Bernie years before I found that blog. In fact I got my first few books autographed by OFA at Mysterious Galaxy in La Jolla, CA and that was before I found the blog, so it was at least after the first 3-5 books had been released in hardback.

  7. ML, I just was reading a few old posts I missed. I’m happy to share my praline recipe with you. Shall I type it here or send it to you somehow?
    There are really two basic types: shiny chewy caramel style or dull sugary dry type. I prefer the latter. More authentic, and more tasty imho. Would love for it to be included in your Plunderer Cookbook update.

    1. Both. I’d be glad to have them. Wose has my e-mail.

      Perhaps a discussion should be had on a follow up Addendum version in PDF form. If Wose is willing, we can sent her copies, one recipe per page so they can be groups into the different categories.

      I will hold off on printing my copy so rather than print back to back I will print single page so I can insert all of the additional recipes.

      I did notice a dearth of Southwestern and I do have some nice enchilada recipes and one tostada one so will definitely include those. The family recipes are German and Italian.

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