Tag Archives: Fran

An Unsolvable Secret

My baby bro, older sister, me, and my second-oldest sister loooong ago

My little bro, older sister, me, and my second-oldest sister posed together loooong ago.

My beloved baby brother, the hot-shot Chicago lawyer, turned 57 years old last Saturday. As I was thinking about him that day while walking through my house, I looked up at the mantle where the above photo sits.

It seems like a simple portrait of the four of us “mobsters” (as my Dad used to “lovingly” call us) back in 1957. But appearances can deceive. It’s actually a mystery.

After my father died in 1991, my mom would periodically check in on his dad, who lived with his girlfriend, Ida, after being widowed twice, in Chicago. One day Ida, who had started suffering from dementia, pulled out a large photo from a drawer. She showed it to my mom and said, “I have no idea who these kids are.”

Usually my dad was our photographer. He loved to line us up, especially at the Brookfield Zoo. (1963)

Usually my dad was our photographer. He loved to line us up. (1963, Brookfield Zoo)

Well, of course, my mom did! She stared at the picture, which featured the younger version of those now-adult mobsters. Believe it or not, she had never seen the photo before, plus she didn’t remember my dad ever schlepping the four of us to a portrait studio in 1957.

The four of us looked so groovy in 1970.

The four of us looked so groovy in 1970.

So this became one of my mom’s favorite pics. We’ll never know why my dad decided to get a professional portrait done of us, why he never told my mom about it, and why my grandfather had it all those years. This is an unsolvable riddle, because the answer died with my dad.

But it sure makes for a great story!

Getting Hooked By a Mystery Series

Harlan Coben’s first two Myron Bolitar novels.

Like my #1 son, I love to read. I’ve been flipping fascinatingly through pages since the age of four when my older sister Fran taught me how letters formed words, which begat sentences and then books.

But unlike #1, who beat me in learning to read by a year, I don’t have time to sit with a book glued to my face whenever possible (where “whenever possible” = not on the computer). Instead, I usually limit my reading of novels to when I go out to eat lunch solo. Which is why it can take me a long time to finish a book.

Books three and four

For the last year, my favorite choice of lunchtime reading material has been Harlan Coben’s Myron Bolitar series. If you’re a fan of the mystery genre, you need to check out Coben’s novels. There are nine Bolitar books so far; the first one debuted in 1995, just like my #2 son!

As I noted in a previous blog post, my friend Diane, my nice neighborhood crack book dealer, got me hooked on the Coben books, just like she did with the Janet Evanovich series. I waited about a year before reading “Deal Breaker” and then wondered why I had put off becoming part of Bolitar’s world.

Coben is a master at writing thrillers: His plots are intriguing, his characters are compelling, his writing is tight and humorous. I’ll be reading one of his books several chapters at a time, depending on how slowly I’m eating lunch. Until all of a sudden I’m nearing the end of the book, and Coben has me hooked! I just can’t wait to find out the who, what, when, where, why, and how Bolitar, who is part sports agent and part detective, solves the mystery.

Books five and six (the one I'm currently reading)

I’ve steadily made my way through Coben’s first five Bolitar novels. I’m currently reading number six, “Darkest Fear.” It’s so good and so compelling that I’ve been tempted on more than one occasion to bring it inside from its temporary home in my Honda Pilot and become comatose with it on the couch as I gobble up and enjoy every sentence.

But I won’t (well, until I near the end), because there still are three more Bolitar books to read. Plus, Coben has written eight stand-alone (non-Myron) mysteries as well. I’m set for my lunchtime reading for a long time!

Sister Shoutout


If you’re lucky, there are people in your world who you can look up to and who love you unconditionally. For me, one of those is my oldest sister, Fran. Above is a photo of the two of us in 1962 on Halloween. Being three and a half years older than me, she was considerably taller than me back then; now we’re the same height. But I still look up to her! She continues to inspire me and make me think; I just with we lived closer so we could spend more time together.


Fran at her eighth-grade graduation in 1963.


Fran in 1954.

As the oldest of four kids, Fran was undeniably the leader of our pack as we grew up in Chicago. My mom didn’t know how to drive, so we walked, rode our bikes, or took the bus and/or train everywhere. When we would walk the three miles to the public library, Fran decided we were like an army, and she was our colonel. She dubbed us “Colonel McNutt and his screwball army.” Oh, the adventures that unit had! It’s one of my fondest childhood memories.

The four of us in 1958 (I'm second from the right).

The four of us in 1958 (I'm second from the right).

Even though Fran and I are only three and a half years apart, our kids are exactly 20 years apart—she married young, and I was older when I finally got hitched. This is going to be a big year for my big sis: She turned 59 over the weekend, she’s about to become a first-time grandmother in a week or so, and her older daughter is getting married in July. So, happy birthday, Colonel McNutt! I hope your 59th year is your best year ever!!

And another shoutout to my baby brother, Art, who scanned these photos from my father’s slide collection. Thanks, little bro!

Get ’er dones

I actually enjoyed a productive weekend! It probably helped that the Mister and our #2 son traveled to a disc golf doubles tournament and were gone both days. The Scout CDs have been burned and delivered, my track photos have been uploaded to Smugmug, the family room clutter chair finally is empty (although I do need to work on what I’ve kept). I even got rid of some extra music CDs to a high schooler collecting for the troops.

Today I have a dental checkup, I need to find the Photoshop Elements install disc and reinstall it on the boys’ iMac, and I need to do a Time Machine backup on my MacBook (I only need to back it up monthly). Just enough to keep me out of trouble!