Tribute to Justice Ginsburg on Release Day

Edith/Maddie here, writing from north of Boston where the light, the day length, the turning leaves, and the calendar all tell me it’s fall. We’re still eating tomatoes and lettuce from the garden, local farms still have sweet corn and cucumbers, and we’ve had a spate of warm weather. I haven’t hauled out sweaters and boots – yet. But apples and pumpkins are everywhere and the leaves on my blueberry bushes are a deep winey red.

We all know winter is coming and with it the holidays. So a book called Candy Slain Murder (out today!) is only a little early for the Christmas season. Read down for a giveaway.

I had started to draft this post about where I got my ideas for the book. But what I want to write about is how deeply I am grieving the death of Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Physically she was tiny, but intellectually and ethically she was so much stronger than just about anyone. She fought for justice her entire adult life. Justice for women, for same-sex couples, for the disabled, for African Americans, for the environment. For us, the people.

I started learning more about her a few years ago when my friend, author Leslie Karst, asked if I would read Cooking for Ruth, her manuscript about preparing dinner for the justice and her husband. Leslie talks about it in this recent Jungle Red Writers blog post. In subtle ways, retired lawyer Leslie also weaves in the story of Ginsburg’s long years of legal/civil rights work, her challenges and triumphs, with the story of the meal planning and execution.

Leslie and Ruth at the dinner; photo used with permission

Then I discovered the RBG Workout book written by Bryant Johnson, Ginsburg’s fitness trainer, and, inspired by a ninety-pound eighty-something, I started lifting weights again and doing planks. (Did you see the man paying his respects by dropping and doing three pushups as she lay in state at the capital? That was Johnson.)

And then came the biopic “On the Basis of Sex” and the lovely documentary, “RBG.” I thought, why hasn’t this marvelous person been on my radar for decades instead of just now? I even got her action figure.

I’ve been a feminist since I was a girl. I remember an acute sense of injustice when, in fifth grade, the teacher asked two boys to bring back a box of books from the book room. I demanded to know why I wasn’t asked. (Maybe being the smallest kid in the class had something to do with it. Or maybe not.)

So I feel a kinship with RBG. I attribute being able to write books with strong female protagonists to the advances she fought for. I know my ability to own a credit card in my own name is because of her, and my friends in same-sex marriages owe her the same.

Thank you, Justice Ruth. May we all carry on your work in our own way and fight injustice wherever we find it.

But since you, dear readers, probably also want to hear about the new book, here are a few bits:

I dedicated Candy Slain Murder to another strong woman, dear friend and stalwart author, Sheila Connolly, who died last spring.

In a recent guest post, I talked about the inspiration for the subplot of Danna’s birth brother showing up on page one to meet her for the first time. This book also features a decade-old skeleton, the current murder of the skeleton’s twin sister, and a delightful Hungarian grandfather. Winter holidays are about family for many people, and this book is no exception. I hope readers will love the family-centered surprise at the end.

For many of us, the holidays means a lot of sweet baked goods and some special drinks. Over on Mystery Lovers’ Kitchen last week, I offered a recipe for holly-shaped sugar cookies as well as the history of the recipe. Maya Corrigan (whose Gingerdead Man share this release day) and I interview each other on Jungle Red Writers today. I guested with a no-egg nog over on Drinks with Reads. Cinnamon, Sugar and a Little Bit of Murder will feature the Gingerbread People recipe in the book on October 2. And on October 6 I’ll be celebrating in a Super Cozy Release Party with seven other fabulous authors – hope you can join us!

I don’t think Ruth Ginsburg would want any of us not to continue celebrating our successes, so I am happy to send one commenter a copy of the new book, and you can specify how you would like it endorsed. What’s your favorite winter holiday memory, or food or drink? Do you have an RBG story to share?

65 Thoughts

  1. My fondest Christmas memory was the First Christmas after my Mm passed away in
    October. My dad came to my house. I did Christmas much like we had it when we were kids at home in the 60s. I found a silver tree as a display in grocery & wanted to buy it. It was part of a beer display. The store owner gave it to me & the color wheel. In bought the singing bird for in the tree. I bought a small electric track train for circling under the tree. Found a pickle to go in the tree. I planned a turkey dinner until dad admired he didn’t care for turkey but liked Christmas ham. I had all the foods I could remember including Green Goddess salad (Watergate Salad). I made the divinity & fudge Christmas logs. My sister & her partner brought pies. When Dad got there, he was very surprised & pleased. It was the best. Alas, No RBG story.

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      1. Ruth Bader Ginsburg was an amazing woman! Our politics are different but no one, absolutely no one can take away from the fact that she was brilliantly dynamic and a credit to all women, regardless of politics!

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  2. No story to share about RBG.

    Holiday food? Well, it wasn’t a dish that had a holiday theme or anything but my aunt made this chicken dish I love, but only on the Christmas Eve extended family gathering. I loved it and called it “My Aunt’s World Famous Chicken Dish”. I loved it so much that I would take home leftovers and have it for breakfast on Christmas morning. One year, I handed her a Tupperware dish when we arrived for the gathering. She asked what it was for and I said that she could put my leftovers in it NOW so I didn’t have to wait. The gatherings ended the same year my mom died but that year my aunt came down to the house with a pan of the chicken dish. And she gave me a copy of the recipe. I’ve never made it though. It’s a little because I’m lazy about cooking but also I say that it wouldn’t taste the same without my aunt’s tender loving skill of making it.

    As for Christmas memory, I am ruling out anything that might’ve been from when I was a kid since every holiday is supposedly “magical” then. But as I got older and it was less about what I was hoping to receive and more about anything other than gifts, I suppose the last year my grandfather was with us was pretty memorable. His health was failing and we all knew it would be the last Christmas with him. So we had our big family gathering but we set about making it really special so there would be a very good feeling whenever we thought about his last Christmas with us.

    It’s either that or the time we gave my grandmother the exact Christmas gift she told us she would accept. The year before she told us she didn’t want any more gifts for herself. She said, “Unless you are going to give me $1,000 dollars, I don’t want or need anything. So my family taking her literally divvied up how much each person would have to contribute and when she opened her gift the following year she discovered one thousand one dollar bills. It was hilarious to watch as she went from shocked to trying to give it back to us.

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  3. Congrats on your new release, Edith! Like you, my wife Nancy and I are devastated by the loss of Justice Ginsburg. I got the same action figure for Nancy for Christmas a couple of years ago. She was an absolute titan. We are all better off because of her.

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  4. You got me to thinking about Christmas memories and the one that made me smile this morning was of my brother not being able to find his presents. This particular year, my brother searched high and low but could never find my parent’s stash for our Christmas presents which greatly perplexed him. Christmas morning, he fessed up on his extended searches to no avail just so he could ask and find out where they had been hidden. In our bathroom growing up, there was a closet with shelves and a tub at the bottom for dirty clothes. This closet also went back a bit to the left from the door way. Seems my parents thought the best place (and evidently it was) for hiding presents was in plain sight – sort of. They put the presents in the little part to the left of the door right beside the dirty clothes tub. Since my brother seemed to never get his clothes to the closet even after many reminders, it seemed to be the most logical place to put them. This memory, like so many more, are special because all of them (Mom, Dad, and brother) have went on to their heavenly home. With all the big things that we hold dear as memories, isn’t it funny how some times it’s the small things that bring us such joy and laughter in thinking back!

    My favorite holiday food hands down was my Mom’s Coconut Cake where she cracked, peeled and grated the fresh coconut to have for her made from scratch cake. Years later we found the recipe for Three Day Coconut Cake which was a good alternative and a whole lot easier to make. This is the recipe and yes you have to make it three days before you can make it. Which is a great thing because you can make it early leaving time for the many other things that need to be done for the holidays.
    Three Day Coconut Cake
    Ingredients
    1 box of Duncan Hines Butter Cake mix
    3 pkgs of the fresh frozen coconut (freezer section at WalMart usually during holidays or Kroger year round) thawed
    8 ounces of sour cream
    2 cups sugar
    Directions
    Prepare cake mix according to package directions.
    Recipe calls for 3 layers – this gal now used the 9 X 13” pan and then just split the cooled cake into two layers.
    Cool 10 minutes and then cool on racks.
    While cake is baking make the icing.
    Mix the sour cream and sugar stirring until sugar dissolves – DO NOT BEAT.
    Then stir in the thawed coconut and place in refrigerator until ready to ice cake.
    When cake has cooled spread icing onto cake already on cake plate that has a sealed cover like Tupperware. Top with layer(s) and finish icing. Cover with lid, seal and place in refrigerator for a minimum of three day before eating. I check once a day and if any liquid comes off cake I spoon back to top of cake. If you do the sheet cake with two layers, you can also put first layer back in pan, put half the icing mixture, top with top layer and then top with remaining icing. Doing it this way you don’t need to check it daily. Just put in refrigerator and forget it for 3 days.
    After three days, you will never know there is sour cream in the icing and it’s the best moistest cake you will eat. It will just continue to get better. It will never dry out. The longer it sits the better it gets IF you can have it last long enough to find that out. It also freezes very well.

    Congratulations on the release of “Candy Slain Murder”! Can’t wait for the opportunity to read this book on my TBR list. Shared and hoping to be the fortunate one selected.
    2clowns at arkansas dot net

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  5. My favorite Christmas memory is the decedent dessert my mother used to make. It had a chocolate layer, then a marshmallow and Cream layer, topped with crushed peppermint. It was frozen, and we always had a hard time waiting for it to thaw enough to cut!
    Congratulations on the new release!

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  6. I recently discovered who RBG was by reading a book from the book club I’m in! It was a wonderful book with photos and biography. Its message and images have stayed with me.
    And I have a favorite friend Christmas memory and a favorite family memory – my friend Kathy and I get together every December and make hundreds of sugar cookies at her house – they literally cover her kitchen table when we done decorating them! Its also close to her birthday so I always bring her a birthday present to open first and Christmas present to open second! My family memory is Christmas morning breakfast with the kids- they are 30 and 33 and still insist on coming over for ‘breakfast pizza’ and always popovers!

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    1. And we have a grey female cat Lucy who could be your new kitty’s twin sister! He looks like a love, especially the photo with the RBG statue!

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  7. What a lovely tribute to RBG and Sheila Connolly and congratulations on Candy Slain Murder.

    I have two favorite holiday memories. The first is Christmas at my great-grandparents’ upstate NY farm. We kids were taken to church in a horse-drawn sleigh every year. When we came back, in a nod to my German father, the tree was up and waiting for the youngest to place the star at the top while my French great-grandparents had the yule log burning in the fireplace.

    The second favorite memory is of a Thanksgiving dinner party in the mid 1960s. My father had decided to smoke the turkey outside on a covered barbecue grill so my mother could handle the sides inside. NJ Novembers were generally not frigid. This one was. Only one side of the bird cooked. After hours of banking the coals this way and that trying to even the bird, my father pulled it from the grill and all ten people dined on the cooked half. It was a big bird, fortunately and very tasty!

    Please don’t enter me in the drawing, I won a copy in an earlier competition!

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  8. Darn you for making me cry! 🙂 First with the reminder of what a great person we lost with RBG and then with the dedication to Sheila.
    My favorite winter holiday memories are of my mother and I making lots of batches of cookies, with sugar cookies being her favorite. While I sat decorating them, mom would eat a dozen by herself! My husband and I would also go over to my mom’s and step-dad’s house for Christmas Eve, eat way too many cookies and we always had bacon wrapped water chestnuts, ham sandwiches, and a pasta salad with lots of cheese chunks (from WI., you’ve gotta have cheese!)

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  9. Congratulations on your release day!!!!
    One of my funniest and favorite Christmas memories is. When my dad was trying to put the Christmas tree up and for some reason it would not stay standing up . He had decided enough was enough and it went flying out the front door. Lol!!!
    When it did finally get up and decorated. It was beautiful!😊

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  10. My favorite memory is all the Christmas eve’s that we had all of our kids at home and also all of there friends who came from broken homes or felt more at home at our house than at their own. We would makes lots and lots of sugar cookies (made from my mom’s old 1950’s Betty Crocker cook book) and they all decorated them. All the extra kids got big containers of cookies to bring home with them along with a fun family time at our home.

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  11. My mom likes to tell the story of when I was around 3, helping make Christmas cookies. I said, “it’s snowing.” Mom looks out the window and it was NOT snowing. She’s thinking “dumb kid” only to turn around and see me slowly pushing flour off the side of the table, making it “snow” onto the floor. She was not real happy at the time.

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    1. Ha! Good one. When my two oldest nephews were toddlers, my sister caught them playing in the ten-pound bag of flour on the floor. Wise and patient mom that she was, she FIRST snapped a picture of them looking happy and adorable – and THEN cleaned them up.

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  12. Congratulations, Edith, on yet another book release. You are amazing.

    Every year, on Christmas eve, my husband and I read The Night Before Christmas to our daughter (with a lot of jokes and funny noises thrown in). We still do it and she is 50. One Christmas eve we were on a train on the way to the in-laws, So, we read the story to her in her own roomette, and had wine and cheese and crackers. We would always find a way. This year we will be doing it by Zoom since she won’t be able to safely come visit. Nothing stops us!

    RBG has always been a favorite of ours, and our daughter named her most recent cat, who is small and independent, RBG, calling her Ruthie.

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    1. My sons always read it aloud and I have darling pictures of them in their new Christmas jammies (a family tradition dating to my childhood). It’s going to have to be by Zoom this year for us, too!

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  13. Congrats on the release date. Your tributes were both wonderful.

    My family always made a huge holiday meal. My grandmother’s chicken and noodles were the best as well as all the Christmas candy she made. I have so many wonderful Holiday memories and I hope now that I have my own kids, we are making wonderful memories for them.

    Thank you again for reminding us how special RBG was.

    My copy of Candy Slain Murder is on the way.

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  14. The cover makes me want to visit and reminds me of the magic of Christmas. The tree took over our small living room, and we’d sit awhile in the dark just admiring the lights. We only made cookies at Christmas, which made them extra-special.
    Admiring your fitness efforts. I was exhausted just looking at that book.
    After watching the documentary, I dreamt I was on an opera stage as RBG made her entrance.
    Hugs ❤

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  15. I’ll never forget when I was little, I was pestering my mom while she was baking pies. She sent me in to my dad who was watching a football game. He told me to go in the kitchen and help my mom. I went back and chattered away at my mom about all the what’s, why’s, how comes, where’s and when’s of pie baking. Despite my “help” the pies looked wonderful.
    My uncle was a policeman and he had to work on the holiday. He got a piece of mom’s pumpkin pie before he had to leave. He took a big bite and said he was so full he’d just take it with him and eat the rest later. Well later, when everyone else got their pie, OMG! I had my mom so distracted that she put salt in the pies instead of sugar!!! My uncle was just too nice to say anything about it so as not to hurt my mom’s feelings. It was a good little while before I got to help my mom bake again. This was just one funny story from my childhood holidays.
    Congratulations on the book and I hope I win a copy. Fingers crossed.

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  16. In the winter I love to sip hot drinks – not just tea (which I drink year round) but hot cocoa and mulled cider. Of course, I’m bundled up in warmth with a good book while sipping!

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  17. Edith, congrats on your new release! My favorite childhood memory of Christmas is eating my Aunt’s Candy Date Roll. It is so sweet and so decadent that you will think you are a child in Narnia eating Turkish delight or a child in The Nutcracker eating a sugarplum. It is an old fashion candy.

    1 1/2 Cups sugar
    1 Cup pitted dates, chopped
    1/2 Cup Pet milk (the canned kind)
    1/2 Cup chopped nuts (my aunt used pecans)
    2 teaspoons butter
    powdered sugar

    Cook together sugar, dates and milk until mixture forms a soft ball when dropped into cold water (236 degrees on candy thermometer). Remove from heat, set pan in a bowl of cold water and cool to lukewarm. Add chopped nuts and butter. Beat until thick and entirely cold. Turn onto board dusted thickly with powdered sugar and knead until it will mold well. Roll into a long cylinder about one inch in diameter and let stand twenty-four hours wrapped in wax paper. When ready to eat, cut into slices. Enjoy!

    RBG will long be remembered for her service to helping women.

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  18. What a wonderful dedication! And tribute for RBG, what a mighty woman and I saw your friend’s post about the dinner! It all hits you right here, you know? We love continuing the family fudge tradition at Christmas.

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  19. Congratulations on your New book Release! I love your book cover! ❤ We were 6 siblings growing up . When we were all young and at home, every first week in December my mom would tell us that she was going to go talk to Santa and asked us to trace our feet on a piece of paper or a cardboard, so we all did. Well, on Christmas morning, we would all find a pair of shoes or boots plus an outfit, toys and Christmas stockings full of goodies. I will forever treasure and cherish these Beautiful memories. Have a Great week and stay safe. God Bless you and your family.

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  20. Favorite food is the fruitcake Grandma and Grandpa used to make back in the 40s/50s. When I was about 12 I knew I was getting new ice skates because I had tried them on and we had gone home with them! Christmas morning I picked up the package with a big smile on my face – we went ice skating almost every day in Duluth MN – and shook the heck out of the package. My folks had a look of horror of their faces as they told me to just open it. Surprise, surprise, the skates were my first clock radio! And, no, I hadn’t broken it!

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