Retired schoolteacher, Matilda Thistlethwaite, widow of a renowned archaeologist, works hard to keep her extraordinary mind sharp and her body fit with classes in everything from yoga to playing the bagpipes, while still finding time to bake her famous goodies and get involved in her community, too. This time, her insatiable curiosity finds Tillie and her gentleman friend, Slim, rubbing elbows with a kidnapper and a notorious serial killer. Will even her wise sayings and mottoes save the day?
Targeted Age Group:: adult
What Inspired You to Write Your Book?
Matilda Thistlethwaite was a minor character in my book, A Corpse in the Chapel. She was such a delight that I decided she deserved a series of her own. Tillie, with her wisdom, courage, humor, and zest for life, is exactly the sort of woman I'd love to become at her age.
How Did You Come up With Your Characters?
Many of the characters in the Tillie series came to life in my First Ladies Club series. Some are composites of people I've actually known, while others are merely types encountered in most churches and small towns. The villains of the stories are pulled from the news and my imagination.
…in the Tillamook Senior Center, Tillie’s Ripe and Ready Yoga Class was in full swing. Elderly women togged out in their own unique interpretations of appropriate yoga wear were seated on mats, struggling with varying degrees of success to follow the movements of their equally mature, but still energetic leader.
“Inhale, sit up straight, now exhale while placing your right hand on your left knee…your left knee, Edna, that’s it… now, lengthen your spine and look over your right shoulder, turning your head as far as you… oh, forevermore! What’s that racket?”
Matilda Thistlethwaite stopped mid-instruction when the discordant strains of what sounded like either The Battle Hymn of the Republic, The Colonel Bogey March, or The Yellow Rose of Texas, filled the air and the center’s multi-use room was invaded by a ragtag marching band holding kazoos to their lips.
A gaggle of enthusiastic and musically challenged senior citizens followed their high-stepping leader into the room, circling the startled yoga class.
The tall, lanky director waved his long arms like a symphony conductor and his thick, slightly too-long silver hair flopped in time with the marching feet until he lifted a whistle to his lips and blew a shrill blast, bringing his wobbly followers to a stuttering halt.
In the blessed quietness which followed, he turned toward Matilda with a broad grin.
“Well, Tillie, what do you think? Are we ready for prime time?”
“Slim Bottoms! What’s the idea of interrupting our yoga class like this?” Tillie asked with her hands on her well-padded hips.
Standing a compact five-foot-nothing in a yoga costume of bright yellow leggings topped by a flowing multi-colored tunic, with her long white hair in a single braid flung over one shoulder, Slim thought she resembled an exotic, angry dumpling.
“Ah, heck! We just wanted to show you our new band, Tillie. Don’t be mad,” Slim said, looking down at her and trying not to smile.
“Yoga is a peaceful exercise, Slim! Relieving stress helps us keep our memories sharp. We need quiet to relax and allow our muscles to become flexible, too. Being ambushed by your cacophony is hardly conducive,” she said.
“Ambushed? By us?” Slim exclaimed, sweeping his arms wide to include his group. “I’ll have you know we are the newly formed, soon-to-be-renowned, musical group of Slim Bottoms and the Wrinkly Keesters Kazoo Band, and I won’t have you calling us a caco-whatsit.”
Tillie burst out laughing in spite of herself, and the yoga students and kazoo players, who had been silently observing this encounter, joined in.
“I guess that will be all for today, class,” Tillie called over the ensuing laughter and lively conversations.
“Slim, you are a caution!” she said, while her class gathered up their mats and prepared to depart. “I never know what you will get up to next. Are you serious about this kazoo band?”
“Yep. We are going to play for the rest homes and anywhere else we can find a captive audience. We’ll give folks a laugh and my people will get to perform. You know as well as I do, how invisible old people sometimes feel. Besides, it’s good exercise. Marching around blowing into a kazoo is as good as a visit to the gym and lots more fun. Some of these Wrinkly Keesters have breathing problems, so this will be good therapy for them, too.”
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