Sunday, January 27, 2013

The mid-winter homesick blues

by Erin Murphy

- from Death al Dente, Book One of the Food Lovers' Village Mysteries, by Leslie Budewitz, coming in August 2013

If I spend one more minute in the corporate world–well, I won’t scream, because that would bring all sorts of people running, and I’d have to explain myself, and that would make it all even worse.

What’s so bad? you ask. You have a great job in a great company in a great city.
True, true, true. And on my good days, I know that and love it all, and am so thankful.

But some days–especially the gray, dreary ones so common in Seattle in January–I just want to go home. My mother owns a gift shop in Jewel Bay, Montana, in the heart of the village. It occupies the building my great-grandfather built in 1910 for the town’s first grocery store, Murphy’s Mercantile–the Merc for short. It stayed in operation until the 1970s, when many of the town’s essential businesses moved out to the highway, where there was room to expand, space for parking, and all that other progress. Hey, this is a familiar small-town story, isn’t it?

So my family reinvented the Merc. Perfect timing– the other downtown merchants and building owners were experiencing similar upheavals and needed a new direction. So, they recruited artists and opened galleries, recruited chefs and opened killer restaurants. And now folks come to town for the art and the food. “Jewel Bay – A Food Lover’s Village.”

I think my mother’s shop is struggling, but she’s not saying much. Not sure what to do about that ... .

Still, I do have great friends here. Especially Roxy Turner, this sparky old lady who lives in my neighborhood, Seattle’s Capitol Hill. She would hate being called “sparky” even more than being called “old.” We first met her out walking around Volunteer Park, but now that the weather’s damp and chilly, we meet for coffee at the OddFellows CafĂ© on Saturday mornings.

When she was in the hospital, I went to her apartment to take care of her cat, Mr. Sandburg.
He’s a Burmese, and a really great little guy.

If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be? 

(Death al Dente, the first book in the Food Lovers' Village Mysteries, debuts from Berkley Prime Crime in summer 2013. The series is set in a small, lakeside resort community in Northwest Montana, on the road to Glacier Park. Guess where my author, Leslie Budewitz, lives! Leslie is also a lawyer and won the 2011 Agatha Award for Best Nonfiction for Books, Crooks & Counselors: How to Write Accurately About Criminal Law & Courtroom Procedure (Quill Driver Books). Visit her at and )

(Seattle skyline photo from City of Seattle website; Oddfellows Cafe photo from restaurant website, used with permission. Bridge and cat photos by Leslie Budewitz)


  1. I left Manhattan and a good job. I didn't go home, but I'm living my dream life in a small village that has become home to me. Dreams come true...

  2. In the USA..San Francisco
    Outside USA...Paris

  3. Willow, one's true home may not be where one grew up. So glad you found yours!
    Dru, wonderful choices!
    BJ, thanks! Me, too!

  4. I live in QLD, AUSTRALIA and while it is normally the most amazing place to live, the conditions lately says otherwise. A heat wave that was off the scale, raging bush fires, now cyclones, floods & tornadoes. However, I would not choose to live anywhere else, because with this adversity the QLD spirit just rises.

  5. Ah, Mary -- sounds like the place has got hold of you! That's what makes it home.

  6. I live right where I want, Santa Barbara CA on the ocean. It is home to me and I have no desire to travel to far.

  7. Lexie, my author just read Dearie, the new biography of Julia Child, who spent part of her childhood and her last years in Santa Barbara. My author's been there once and found it quite delightful -- so glad you're "at home" there!

  8. Home is where the heart is, right? I think I would have some extensive travelling to do before choosing a new home. But I would love to come to America, land of bookshops ;)