Coloradans like giving grades to officials. For example, in 1982, a massive blizzard closed down Denver for days. When asked how he’d grade the city’s snow removal effort, then-Mayor Bill McNichols ranked it an “A.” Others, including newspapers, preferred “F.” I’ve always been sympathetic to the Mayor, since this was one of the worst blizzards to hit the city ever. Be that as it may, the Mayor went down in defeat at the spring election.

You’d think we’d learn not to attempt this sort of challenge, but here I am ranking our country’s response to COVID. Why? Because thinking about the pandemic, certain elements stand out as especially good or bad.

Leading the pack is the medical research and development community whose reputation SOARED when they came up with vaccines in less than two years! And not just one, four or five or whatever. Do we realize how miraculous this is? The Black Death lingered for centuries, from about mid-1300s until mid-1700s, although it actually still exists but now can be cured. Small pox has been around since 350 BC and finally was thought eradicated in the1970s. Major polio epidemics were unknown before the 20th century, but were a terror throughout that century. I remember my parents prohibiting public pools because of polio’s threat. In addition, the medical people worked themselves to the bone for us and ours. Grade A++++

Amazing to me, some people, especially anti-vaxxers, seem to lack the most basic information about vaccinations and ignore the dangers to which they’re opening their children and themselves. So be it. No skin off my personal nose.

Next, businesses in general. While struggling to stay afloat, and sometimes sinking with their ships, the majority retained a nonjudgmental, supportive attitude toward the public. A number went the whole nine yards (alternately, the whole ball of wax) to support their employees and people in financial trouble with special services and goods. Chasing constantly changing government regulations, they performed well to continue their services. Grade: B

Then there are the government and nonprofit agencies large and small that struggled to do their best in the face of unknowns. While trying to evaluate the advice from “experts” of every type. Then interpret those for their staffs and the public, in the face of unknown financials, they kept their offices and agencies functioning. Grade: B-

What comes in at level of “C?” Probably the media, keeping in mind that their charge is to deliver whatever passes for news 24 hours a day. This leaves them in the unenviable position of having to create a new angle on tired information each and every day. With the dearth of gossip about celebs, they’ve been forced to focus on less interesting fodder, mostly about the pandemic.

At rock bottom—human behavior: A flat out F, for the entire population of the USA. Selfish, rude, annoying, All of us indulging in our favorite activity: busily judging one another, condemning friends, family and neighbors because they did or did not comply with whatever standard existed in each person’s individual opinion. I’ve seen adults scream at teens for walking in the park, customers in grocery stores malign the next person for daring to infringe on some nebulous barrier they thought would protect them, neighbors steal limited goods like milk and toilet paper because they feared to be left without. Vaxxers mock others for not getting shots. Antivaxxers mock in return for being robot rule-followers. Yes, if the future of the human race depended on our actions, we deserve no breaks. I hope at the next pandemic, we do better.



“Housekeeping,” says the Odd Old Woman Next Door. “What a very strange term for the actions we perform around our home.”

She’s contemplating the never-ending list of work necessary to keep the place semi-decent and functioning. “Clean the carpets” has been registered for at least three years. When she discovered most services charge as much to clean a rug as the item cost to begin with, and the cheaper companies couldn’t or wouldn’t do the work inside the house, she was thrown into such indecision, she’s never proceeded to hire a company.

            The Odd Old Man Next Door has started making the bed. She’s helping him although, as usual, she’s several beats behind him. Most mornings nowadays, he’s half-way through the chore by the time she gathers herself together to join him. Should she allow this inequity to disturb her equilibrium?

            No, she decides. For years the chore was assigned based on the time each one arose. The last one up made the bed. Most times that was she, so she estimates she’d made the bed, oh, twenty years now. In fact, they used to have a kind of competition. If they got up at nearly the same time, the rule was that they had to crow, “Ta-dah” and throw their arms wide, to overtly mark the time of their activation. She almost always lost.

            Now they often get going at nearly the same time, so they’ve started making the bed together. The bone of contention: just what the proper manner is for arranging the final covers. They agree on the initial approach with the military method. They spread sheets and blankets evenly on both sides, tuck in using a hospital corner with a 45-degree angle, smooth any wrinkles out.

            The OOMND, having received instruction in the Marines, believes the top sheet should extend only about two inches above the blanket, then he folds the sheet edge down over the cover. The OOWND, being more feminine and inclined toward artistic design, feels the sheet’s edge should be folded down between four and six inches over the blanket. Each morning they commence a tug-of-war. He folds the top sheet down only two inches, using his four fingers as a rude measure. She then flicks the edge of the top sheet down another few inches, smooths it across the head of the bed. He pulls it up again for the proper military appearance.

            By this time, he’s bored with the routine and leaves, while she hurriedly re-positions the top sheet so it will cover the blanket by a good four to six inches. Then she pulls the spread up and over the completed bed. She believes he won’t notice her handiwork. And he doesn’t, so they’re both satisfied with the handiwork.



Terrible times call for superhuman responses, and nowhere can we find better examples than war. Unfortunately, humans aren’t at their best unless challenged, deprived, threatened, or persecuted. An excellent example of this truth is this book set primarily in France In WW II. Based on notes, memories and interviews about Jean Claude Guiet, by his son Daniel Guiet and coauthor Timothy Smith, Guiet was a duel citizen. When time came for him to be drafted, Uncle Sam was smart enough for America’s sake to recruit him as a spy in occupied France.

He was the radio operator in one of a number of Allied underground teams parachuted into France, left to function independently, and survive if they were able. Blown away. Dumbstruck. Speechless. Lots of descriptors for a work that’s full of words, experiences and emotions about people in war. What sticks with me upon reading was not the thrill and chill episodes, but the sheer strength and courage of the team, one of whom was Violette Szabo, who eventually was captured, tortured and executed. Indeed, the life expectancy of any of the teams involved was estimated to be about two weeks. Jean Claude survived, playing his part not just in vital communications but also in assault and defense actions. All at the age of about 20. We also see the enthusiasms and energies of young adulthood. Incidents that would seem impossible for most people—climbing mountains, sneaking around forests, become challenges to be exuberantly overcome by Jean Claude.

This is a valuable work for anyone interested in military history or politics. More than that, it reminds us on every page that the words “Free World” came at an immense cost to humanity. Some things are more important than money, status, fame, even the law and rules. One of those is an individual’s personal code of ethics and honor. Regardless of nationality or religion, ultimately we each should strive to do what we think is right.

Scholars of Mayhem: My Father’s Secret War in Nazi-Occupied France, by Daniel C. Guiet  and Timothy K. Smith (Penguin Books, 2020)

Guest Blog by Kim McMahill: Series Fiction

I would like to thank Bonnie for hosting me once again on her blog. I last visited her blog in June of 2019 and discussed the third installment in the Risky Research Series, A Foundation of Fear, as well as when a writer should end a series. The best part of series fiction is that it gives the reader the opportunity to really get to know the characters on a personal level, to see the recurring protagonists and antagonists progress emotionally, evolving into better or worse people, and sometimes we even see them grow old. And, eventually all series must come to an end.

In the fourth installment of the series, A Measure of Madness, which released on April 9, 2021, FBI agent Devyn Nash’s pursuit of a deadly organization heats up, and the action takes us south of the border…way south! In this novel Coterie, a deadly organization that has been manipulating the diet and nutrition industries, starts to unravel exposing the truth behind the organization’s inception and the commitment level of its remaining members, leaving some questioning if they’ve gone too far.

Since my last visit, I do have a better idea on when this series should end. I am currently working on the fifth, and likely final installment of the series, A Recipe for Revenge. But for now, here’s a bit more on the latest novel, A Measure of Madness.


After a Washington, D.C. fundraiser exposes members of Coterie, a deadly organization that has been manipulating the diet and nutrition industries, the pursuit by FBI agent Devyn Nash rachets up. The FBI locates the mastermind behind Coterie in Puerto Rico, but despite help from local agents, their attempt to bring him in results in a shootout that sends Coterie’s members scrambling for cover, Devyn’s partner fighting for his life, and Devyn more determined than ever to bring them to justice. Her decision to pursue the head of Coterie to Brazil puts her job and her relationship with Wyoming Sheriff, Gage Harris, in jeopardy, but she is unwilling to allow those responsible for so much death to live out their lives in paradise.


There was nothing she wanted more at the moment than to go home and to hear Gage’s voice. At least one of those she could remedy immediately. She retrieved her cell and selected the first contact in her list.

“Hey cowboy, how are you doing?”

“Devyn, where are you? Are you all right?” When he was worried and anxious for information, he always jumped right to the point. It felt good to have someone who cared enough to really worry.

“I’m about forty miles from São Paulo. Gordo has made arrangements to fly me out of Brazil and into Uruguay on a private plane, and I’ll fly home commercial from there.”

“Thank goodness you’re on your way home. How about the second part to my question?”

“Do you want the truth or the candy-coated version.”

“I’m a big boy; lay it on me.”

Other Books in the Series

A Dose of Danger (book #1)

A Taste of Tragedy (book #2)

A Foundation of Fear (book #3)

A Measure of Madness (book #4)

A Formidable Foe (perma-free prequel novelette)

Midnight in Montana (perma-free micro-read)

To learn more about the Risky Research Series or to Download your copy of any of Kim’s novels, visit:

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/s?k=Kim+McMahill&i=digital-text&ref=nb_sb_noss_2

Barnes and Noble:  https://www.barnesandnoble.com/s/Kim+McMahill?_requestid=1007373

Kobo:  https://www.kobo.com/us/en/search?query=Kim+McMahill

About the Author

Kim McMahill grew up in Wyoming which is where she developed her sense of adventure and love of the outdoors. She started out writing non-fiction, but her passion for exotic world travel, outrageous adventures, stories of survival, and happily-ever-after endings soon drew her into a world of romantic suspense and adventure fiction. Along with writing novels Kim has also published over eighty travel and geographic articles, and contributed to a travel story anthology. She has had the opportunity to live in Hawaii, New Mexico, South Dakota, Iowa, and Colorado, but has finally returned home to Wyoming. When not writing she enjoys gardening, traveling, hiking, puzzles, playing games, and spending time with family.

You can find Kim at any of the following:

Blog: http://www.kimmcmahill.blogspot.com

Twitter: https://twitter.com/kimmcmahill

Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/KimMcMahillAuthor/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/kimmcmahill/

Goodreads author page: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/849945.Kim_McMahill

Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/Kim-McMahill/e/B007IK0EJW/

Bookbub: https://www.bookbub.com/profile/kim-mcmahill


Have you gotten an appointment for our COVID shots?” asked the Odd Old Man Next Door of his wife.

The OOMND was in no hurry for the vaccinations, but he figured if he didn’t remind his wife, she’d forget entirely.

            The Odd Old Woman Next Door has spaced on the date, but fortunately she’d signed them both up weeks before with their health care provider. “Right as usual,” she answers. “I forget, but I can track it online. We were about number seven thousand, but I can look it up.”

            Shot day arrives, and they set off for the appointment. She’s not looking forward to this, for she remembers a car trip months ago when they wandered around in circles for hours near the city amphitheater, looking for the entry currently hidden by construction zones.

            “Now what in the hell, which way are we allowed to go here?” he’d said as they passed sign after warning sign. Of detours apparently directing traffic in perpetual circles, spirals, dead ends. “God damnit,” he said as he slapped the steering wheel with both hands. ”I’ll try it anyway.”

            Several blocks later, “Which way do we want to go here?” he asked. She had no answer because she lacks even the most primitive sense of direction.

            After another eon, she finally pulled out her smart phone that she’s still learning to use and was able to direct him.

            Today on the way to the clinic, she hopes they’re not ready for a repeat performance. They drive the 30 minutes needed to get to the health facility, not the nearest because that one was too busy, and they couldn’t get in. After reasonable progress, they glide into the parking lot, don their masks, and get their shots. The nurse gives them the record of their procedures on small cards and warns them to take great care of the record. “Bring it back for your second shot.”

            A month later, the OOMND asks his wife, “Do you have your vaccination record handy?” They’re scheduled to get their second today. He has been reminding her about the record daily for a week but today kicked it up to hourly. Fortunately, she’s able to pull it from her wallet immediately.

            He drives carefully. She recalls he seems to drive more carefully by the day. At times, like today when the weather is snowy and icy, she’s glad because she’s terrified of an accident in these conditions. Other times, if they’re late and he’s hyper-careful, the minutes creep by. She’s impatient. She wants to say, turn here, just swing to the left, feeling that foundation of frustration common to wives who have always catered to their husbands, without either of the partners being aware of it.

            No, he can’t, she reminds herself, he hates left-hand turns like the plague, always has avoided them since half-century ago when he caused a massive pileup doing the same. The damage included knocking all his bottom teeth out and breaking his jaw. He’s never admitted this to her, but she guesses that’s the reason for his avoidance of left-hand turns.

            As they exit the highway for the clinic, he mutters, “I hope they’re not working on Grant Street. Well, I guess if they are, they are.” He sighs.

            She’s gotten much more patient on trips like this since she asked her granddaughter to load Kindle and solitaire on the OOWND’s smart phone. She’s tolerant nowadays because she can distract herself with those without worrying about wasting time. Change is difficult at his age, she realizes. One advantage of growing old is you just don’t care about these minor irritations the way you used to.

            As he turns into the parking lot, he says, “This should do the job for me, I think.” She agrees.