Friday, June 10, 2022

The Joy of the Windfall, a guest blog by Amy Pershing

 JULIA SPENCER-FLEMING: Our guest today, Amy Pershing, knows about the thrill of the unexpected "get." When our own Deb Crombie read Amy's first Cape Cod Foodie Mystery, A SIDE OF MURDER, she sent an email out of the blue, saying, “LOVED it!! I literally walked around trying to clean my house with the book in my hand! I couldn’t put it down!” Now, that's a nice way to kick off your career as a published author (and consider that a recommendation, dear readers, because if Debs loves it, you know it's good.) 

But we all know the very BEST get is moolah. The green stuff. Bucks. Whether it's finding a forgotten twenty in your purse or receiving a lawyer's letter informing you you've inherited millions, there's nothing quite like the joy of the windfall, as Amy, and her heroine Samantha Barnes, know...

 

 

Photo by Patrick Fore on Unsplash

 Windfall: The term windfall originally referred to fruit that the wind blew down from a tree — no need for all that climbing of ladders, no need for any effort at all.  The word eventually came to mean any unexpected and easily won good fortune, typically one involving (yay!) money.

 

One of best gifts I ever got was a lottery card. It wasn’t for one of those humungous millionaire-type lotteries, just a nice little unassuming lottery. But I loved that lottery card. Not because I won the lottery. As if. But because of the endless possibilities I conjured up in my head before I didn’t win the lottery as to how I would spend the windfall if I did win the lottery. Because that’s the beauty of a windfall – you are expected to spend it.  Not save it for a rainy day. Not invest it wisely. Not to leave it to your kids in your will.  It is your obligation to spend it, to personally do your bit to jumpstart the economy. Imagine the possibilities. Maybe a trip to Bali… Maybe a new floor in the kitchen… Maybe buy every book that catches your fancy…

 

In my latest Cape Cod Foodie mystery, MURDER IS NO PICNIC, it appears that our heroine, Samantha Barnes, might be looking at a very nice windfall from a dusty old clock found in her Aunt Ida’s attic (actually a Massachusetts case-on-case shelf clock made by one Samuel Mulliken, which, if you should find one in your attic, will bring you a nice five figures at auction).  Almost immediately Sam is in fantasy land…

 

Photo by Nicholas Ng on Unsplash

Is there anything more fun than spending money you don’t actually have? The sheer unreality of it means you can be totally unrealistic. Flipping to a fresh page in the pad in front of me, I began to write.

1. Get someone to actually screen in “screened-in” porch

2. Buy new furniture for screened-in porch in time for Fourth of July picnic, including rattan peacock chair

(All my life I had wanted a rattan peacock chair. Because who hasn’t? I could picture myself, hands resting gracefully on the chair’s woven arms, its back rising in a great curve behind me like a throne.)

3. Hire roofer to replace flashing

(I didn’t actually know what flashing was, but Miles had told me that was what needed to be done to stop the roof from leaking, so who was I to argue?)

5. Replace crappy old electric stove with gas stove

(Which meant that I could cook with gas instead of electric, which made me so happy, I wanted to weep.)

6. Buy a red car

(I don’t know anything at all about cars except that I love red ones.)

 

By the time I’d finished my wish list and reviewed it, it occurred to me that the clock probably wasn’t going to cover everything on it. With a sigh, I carefully crossed out the rattan peacock chair. There. Fiscally conservative.

  

Red readers, to be entered in a drawing for Murder Is No Picnic, which just came out this Tuesday, tell us …  Have you ever had a windfall (i.e. a lottery winning (as if), an unexpected tax refund, a ten dollar bill lying on the sidewalk)? If so, how did you spend it? And for the rest of us: How would you spend a windfall should Fate choose to favor you with one?

 

 

When a celebrity chef is found dead, Samantha Barnes, the "Cape Cod Foodie," finds her search for the world's best blueberry buckle turning into a search for a killer…

 

The Fourth of July is coming, and for professional foodie Samantha Barnes, it’s all about the picnic. Okay, and the fireworks. And the parade. But mostly the picnic. What could be better than a DIY clambake followed by the best blueberry buckle in the world? Sam has finally found the perfect recipe in the kitchen of Clara Foster, famed cookbook author and retired restaurateur, and she’s thrilled when Clara agrees to a buckle baking lesson.

 But when Clara dies in a house fire blamed on carelessness in the kitchen, Sam doesn’t believe it.  Unfortunately, her doubts set in motion an investigation pointing to the new owner of Clara’s legendary restaurant—and a cousin of Sam’s harbormaster boyfriend.  So, in between researching the Cape’s best lobster rolls and planning her clambake, Sam needs to find Clara's killer before the fireworks really start... 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Amy Pershing, who spent every summer of her childhood on Cape Cod, was an editor, a restaurant reviewer and a journalist before writing the Cape Cod Foodie mysteries, including A SIDE OF MURDER -- which Elizabeth Gilbert called “the freshest, funniest mystery I have ever read” -- and AN EGGNOG TO DIE FOR -- which Kirkus Reviews gave a starred review, saying, "A delightful sleuth, a complex mystery, and lovingly described cuisine: a winner for both foodies and mystery mavens." The third book in the series, MURDER IS NO PICNIC, is now (YAY!) available from Berkley Books.

Order MURDER IS NO PICNIC here

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78 comments:

  1. Congratulations, Amy, on your new book. I’m looking forward to finding out what Sam discovers about the lobster rolls [yum!] and who torched poor Clara's house . . . .

    Windfalls do inspire fanciful dreams . . . I once received an unexpected bequest from our long-time next door neighbor. It wasn't a large amount of money, but it came at a propitious moment; we used it for our daughters to participate in a skating competition . . . .

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    1. I love small "thank you for being my friend/neighbor" bequests! And I love how you spent it, Joan. Perfect.

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  2. AMY: Congratulations on your recent book birthday for MURDER IS NO PICNIC! I'm looking forward to reading about Sam's adventures on Cape Cod during the Fourth of July & that blueberry buckle recipe.

    My windfalls have been small (but unexpected). I found a Canadian $100 bill near the entrance to my local branch of the Toronto public library. NOTE: Our $100 bill is brown in colour & can be easily hidden among fallen autumn leaves. I'm an avid walker so I used that money to buy a good pair of walking shoes at the nearby indie shoe store (Walking on a Cloud). I have also found smaller amounts of cash: $20 (green), $10 (purple) on the street as I was walking (or cycling) in Ottawa. I probably spent that money at the local FM or groceries.

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    1. A windfall at the library! Love it! And thanks for the good wishes, Grace!

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  3. Amy, I love that Sam crossed off probably the LEAST expensive thing on her list!

    I did get (earn, in a way) a nice windfall not long ago. I sent larger-than-usual donations to several charities, gave a windfall each to my sons and to Hugh, and then paid for a new deck and a new driveway, which we sorely needed. But finding that twenty dollar bill in the pocket of my winter coat the next fall is also great.

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    1. I'm glad that you saw the humor in Sam's attempt to be fiscally conservative, Edith! And I love how you divvied up your windfall. Also, I've been happily following the deck/driveway saga on FB, so, in a sense, you've been sharing the windfall with all of us ;)

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  4. While I've won on a couple of scratch tickets decades ago for $500 dollars each, the biggest "windfall" I've ever gotten came courtesy of the pandemic. When the federal government gave back some money related to that extra money people got for being out of work, I ended up receiving abou $2500 dollars back. It was a surprise to say the least. While I did get myself a couple of small things that would qualify as "fun", the majority of the money went to simply paying bills. Not a great story I know, but hey...bills paid!

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    1. Are you kidding -- bills paid definitely counts!

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  5. Amy, welcome, welcome! I love your creations. Samantha is a wonderful character! My pre-ordered copy is on the way, and I am patiently awaiting its delivery. ( As I told you on Facebook, my one virtue is patience.)

    I have found money at home and abroad and have won drawings at events winning (among others) a turkey, a Peruvian sweater, and a screen door ( it was a door prize.) I have won books from authors, too.

    My biggest windfall was first, finding Deborah Crombie. She has become my book guru. When she recommends an author, I am sure to read his/her books. Debs led me to this community of writers and readers. I cannot begin to tell you how that is one of the "finds" of my life.

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    1. Hi, Judy! I loved everything about your comment, but I have to echo your praise for Deborah Crombie. I'll never get over seeing that email! I have to say, the best thing about this new writing gig of mine has been the kindness and support of so many women writers including Debs, of course, and the wonderful Lucy Burdette aka Roberta Isleib, not to mention Edith Maxwell, Krista Davis, Elizabeth Gilbert, Barbara Hinske and Darci Hannah, among so many others. These "writer buddies" (Edith's phrase!) have been my true windfall!

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    2. Thank you to my Cape Cod writer buddy!

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    3. JUDY: Do you still wear the Peruvian sweater? And a screen door as a prize is an oddity.

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    4. Grace, the sweater never fit well, size x-large and I was a size 4 back then. I passed it along years ago, with regret. It was gorgeous but looked like a blanket on me;-)
      So funny about the door prize. The event planners went to businesses in the area asking for donations for raffle prizes and a lumber/ home improvement company donated a door. We laughed so hard, but that door is still on our porch;>)

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    5. Amy and Edith, they are kind and generous to readers, too. I feel the love daily!

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    6. Judy, that is so sweet! I'm so glad we connected. You've been a wonderful addition to the Jungle Red community!! Hugs!

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    7. Okay, huge group hug, girls!

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  6. We have had windfalls over the course of time, but my husband has always insisted on socking however much it is away in savings or investments. Which rankled, believe me. However, now that we are retired, it's nice to have a little extra cushion for our non-working lives, and I'm glad I didn't end up frittering it away.

    Having the security is loads better than whatever "stuff" we may have had. I always wanted a BMW roadster, but it is really not practical. And when my daughter moved to Africa, she sold me her BMW sports car, for way less than I would have paid new. Vroom, vroom!

    Amy, the scratching of the peacock chair cracked me up! If the rest of the book is that entertaining it will be a fun read. And blueberry buckle! Yum. I might have to use my any-day-now blueberry crop for some buckle.

    Judy, a screen door was a door prize? Too funny.

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    1. You will love Amy's books, Karen. I really wanted to buy a red convertible Miata like my protagonist Mac drives, but I restrained myself and instead am finally getting my nine year old Prius C repaired from when somebody backed into it a year ago (while I was parked in a library parking lot!).

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    2. Hi Karen! We appear to be married to the same kind of guy. Now if only I had a daughter with a BMW to offload... And so glad you got the peacock chair joke. Sam is (her writer says modestly) a hoot. Unless you threaten her dog -- in which case, watch out! And finally, I'm glad somebody else thought a screen door as a door prize was hilarious.

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    3. The whole party broke up laughing at our "door prize!" We replaced one of the ugly old screen/ storm doors on the screened porch. It was a good prize! It had been donated by a local home improvement company.

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    4. You can buy an older Miata for not a lot of money. They are a simpler car easy to repair and work on with basic car knowledge. We have a 1995 red Miata with over 200,000 miles on it. All we have done is basic maintenance on it.

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    5. Edith, I'm pretty sure I read Amy's first book! And am looking forward to the rest.

      Amy, I'm not sure whether to offer condolences or congratulations on your choice of a husband. LOL And I lucked out on the Bimmer, for sure! Her previous car was a Ford that had every possible problem.

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  7. My post disappeared from the wee hours of this morning. I ill try to reconstruct it.

    Congrats, Amy.

    What happened to number 4 in the wishlist? Inquiring minds want to know!

    I've experienced two small windfalls. Once, some 30 years ago, I was spending Thanksgiving weekend alone, and skipping (though missing) all the food, when I stopped by a local supermarket to play the Wednesday lottery (in those days, 50 cents), I also bought a fifty cent scratch off. The lottery did not pay off, but the scratch-off yielded $20. Since I was already in the grocery store, I bought some turkey wings and canned cranberry sauce, a sweet potato and the makings for stuffing. So while I caught up on work, I also wound up actually having Thanksgiving dinner.

    The other was actually my dog's windfall. He found a folded up five dollar bill in the course of a walk. I told him it was his, and let him pick up a toy of his choosing at the pet supply place. (I covered the tax). He was one happy pup.

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    1. And my initial reply also disappeared! (the ghost in the machine). But may I just say I love the image of your pup choosing his windfall toy ("How about the one that looks like a dinosaur? No, wait, here's a tug-o-war rope! No, wait...")

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    2. Also, how embarrassing that I can't count to six...

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  8. Hank Phillippi RyanJune 10, 2022 at 8:27 AM

    This is the absolute greatest and most universal question! It’s absolutely riveting to think about, because nothing seems quite right— Too selfish, or too extravagant, or too… complicated. And think of all the relatives and friends who would be angling for money exclamations . . In the tiny times that I’ve had tiny windfalls, I tend to do a ridiculous thing: I save it. A gift card, or something like that? I save it, and then I lose it. actually, one of my pandemic lessons is not to do that anymore! Just use whatever it is . A couple of times I have won money in the lottery, I’m talking two dollars, and I instantly buy two more lottery tickets which then lose. This is exactly what they want you to do, I know.
    Congratulations! Debs’ stamp of approval is the ne plus ultra ! Xxx

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    1. I tend to react the way you do. I have lost or not used so many gift cards. I still have some sitting in a drawer.

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    3. Thanks so much for chiming in, Hank! For some reason, my earlier reply(ies) never came through so I'm trying again. You capture the downside of the windfall perfectly -- having to make a decision on how to spend it. (This from a woman who literally has to close her eyes and put a pin in the menu to decide what entree she wants.) And you are so right about gift cards. I recently found one that was given to me ten years ago -- and the store still accepted it! Now THAT'S a windfall ;) PS: Deborah Crombie should be put up for sainthood.

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  9. Congratulations on the book, Amy! We actually did get a windfall. An uncle of The Hubby's passed away and left us a nice little chunk. I don't remember what we did with it.

    But finding a twenty in the pocket of a winter coat is just as nice!

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    1. Hi Liz! Any windfall is a good windfall, amiright?!

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  10. Wow.. I'm definitely going to have to look for your books, Amy! So many books, so little time. Congratulations.
    About 30 years ago, my great aunt in Texas unexpectedly left me 3/4 of her estate. I don't remember the exact amount, but it was about 60K. The other 1/4 went to my mom. It was a total surprise. I had never met her and my grandma had died years before. My mom had been writing letters to her and after my son was born, I wrote to her too and maybe shared some pictures, so we had a sweet correspondence for a couple of years. That's it! She had decided that she didn't trust her relatives in Texas and wanted to leave money to her favorite sister's descendants. There was one claim on the estate from someone who had worked for her and we just gave him what he was asking for.

    I didn't actually feel the need to spend the money. I felt that it was a bit unfair to my sisters, who weren't included. I split it with them and put what was left in my bank account.

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    1. My biggest non-monetary win was when my son was reaching kindergarten age. We applied to two language immersion programs through the public schools that selected via lottery for kids outside the neighborhoods. We got into both the Japanese and Spanish programs! What luck. We chose Spanish, because it's a more useful language around here.

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    2. Given your last line about sharing your windfall with your sisters, Gillian, I'm going to go out on a limb and say I totally understand why your great aunt was so fond of you... And how cool for your son to win that language immersion program!

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  11. Can't think how I've missed Samantha's antics, but plan to remedy that immediately! Yay, three new books to read!

    In flush times, I've been known to stick a twenty in a small, zippered pocket of my wallet, then forget it. When I rediscover it, it's like found money! Ice cream for everyone!

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    1. Ice cream is a fabulous way to spend found money! And I hope you love the Cape Cod Foodie!

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  12. Congratulations on your new release! After blueberry buckle, can Indian pudding and strawberry rhubarb pie be far behind?

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  13. My TBR list has another title! As for windfalls, years ago in Vegas we won a lot playing a card game I didn’t even understand. My husband gave the honeymooners who sat next to us a chip to continue playing and they won about $500. According to them, that covered the cost of their honeymoon! And we vaulted to favorite aunt and uncle status as we spent the rest on Christmas gifts for our nieces and nephews:)

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    1. "playing a card game I didn't even understand" I love it! I pretty much don't understand any card game. And you and your husband are living proof that the best way to handle a windfall is to give it away (or at least some of it!).

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  14. These books look like fun. I will certainly add them to the list for summer reading.

    An elderly aunt left me some money once. It was a tidy sum. I was without a car at the time so I used it to buy a used Nissan or Datsun 4x4 pickup truck and paid the insurance for the first year. It was a purchase that would have amused her.

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  15. Congratulations on the new book! Another new-to-me series to add to my TBR. (Because like most others here, if Debs gave it that strong a recommendation then I know it has to be great!)

    Your comment about lottery tickets reminded me of a conversation I had with my eldest brother decades ago. The Ohio Lottery had just moved from one drawing a week to two drawings a week. He said that they had just doubled the price of his dream -- that the way he justified a lottery ticket purchase to himself was that it gave him the right to spend a week fantasizing about how he would spend his winnings, and now it would cost him $2 to get that week's worth of fantasy. Prior to that, I had never really understood why people DID buy lottery tickets, as the odds are so miniscule. But his comment put it in a whole new perspective for me.

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    1. Your brother had it exactly right! It's the fantasy that's so much fun!

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  16. I once found a twenty inside a purse I picked up at the Share Shop at our transfer station (formerly known as the dump) and I was so excited you would have thought I had won the lottery.

    I do have a friend who got the author's equivalent - Spielberg's production company optioned her book series. She used the money to take her family of four to Spain for two weeks! She had the same reasoning Sam uses; it wasn't planned and budgeted for, so it could be used in a way she and her husband wouldn't have spent the "real money" on.

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    1. I used to love our "Swap Shop" at the dump! Every find (an old Agatha Christie I hadn't read, an adjustable wrench) was a mini-windfall! Next time, I'm going to look in every purse, though ;) And when Spielberg options the Cape Cod Foodie series (ahahahahaha), I'm thinking two weeks in Spain sounds pretty darn good...

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  18. Congratulations on the latest release. Looking forward to reading.

    Unexpected windfalls - hum, yes. An unexpected inheritance from a friend. I was fiscally sound about it. I put half away and spent the rest doing things my friend and I had always talked about. It was great fun and I was grateful for it.

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    1. What a wonderful way to celebrate your friend and your friendship, Kait!

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  19. Congratulations on your release! My aunt left the 3 of us siblings since we were her closest relatives a windfall. I have invested it and used it for a vacation which was a wonderful memory.

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    1. The perfect combination of practical and fun!

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  20. Congratulations and best wishes on your release. Years ago I found a $20 dollar bill. Windfalls are unexpected but very welcome. elliotbencan(at)hotmail(dot)com

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  21. AMY: Congratulations on your book release. A windfall sounds lovely. I love the idea of fruit falling from a tree as a result of the wind. Speaking of money, it would depend on the size. It could be anything from a new book to a train tour across Canada to buying a house in Europe.

    Diana

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  22. Never had a windfall but if I did and it large enough, I would find the perfect house, in the perfect neighborhood, with a gardener for life because it would have mature trees, just enough lawn and a cutting garden so I can have flowers in my house year round and fresh tomatoes warm off the vine during the summer.. It must at least two comfy indoor and one outdoor places to stretch and read. And bookshelves, lots of bookshelves for my books and crocheting with space to add more. And after that, I'd find a nice little cottage on the coast to escape to when I needed a change. Is that too much? No? Good!

    Congratulations on the latest book. I have an unexpected day off and was planning on enjoying some quality time in the bookstores. I'll check your previous books, always like to read things in order. :-)

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    1. I absolutely LOVED this description of your dream house. I read it twice just to hold onto the images. Hope you enjoy the Cape Cod Foodie mysteries, Deana!

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  23. Yay, Amy, I loved your first book so much! I'm sure I got the recommendation here and I can't wait to read this one.

    A couple years ago I did have a sort of windfall, although the money was mine all along. I got a surprise check for almost $700 from a law office in Plattsburgh. For some reason which no one explained to me, they kept back part of the proceeds for the house I had sold 10 years earlier! An audit caught it. I didn't get any interest but at least I had some unexpected money in my pocket. It came at a time I was feeling rather poor so I probably used it for bills and stuff.

    I very seldom buy scratch-off or any other kind of lottery tickets but when I do I hang on to them as long as I can before scratching. Every card is a winner with all kinds of possibilities until I scratch it off and find that it isn't.

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    1. Love this: "every card is a winner with all kinds of possibilities..." That's it in a nutshell!

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  24. I got the Facebook class action settlement for Illinois. Spent it on books and craft supplies!

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  25. I've never been lucky enough to have had a windfall but if I did I'd spend it on books, yarn, and of course I'd have to share with my cat and get her something extravagant. Or a new house for us if it was a lot of money.

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    1. I love it! An extravagant gift for your cat!

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  26. No windfalls leap to mind at the moment, but your book is SO GOOD!!!!! I pre-ordered it, so I got it on Tuesday, and I'm already halfway through. I don't know whether to gulp it all down at once or savor every page, but I am totally loving this return trip to Cape Cod with Sam and all her delightful friends. Keep writing!

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    1. Oh, Gigi, thank you sooo much! Your post made my day!!!

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  27. Years ago on our first cruise my father-in-law gave me a twenty to play the slot machines. Who knew it could get mindnumbingly boring to pull that handle over and over? Anyway, I lucked out and won some money. I promptly quit playing and cashed in. I gave my f-i-l his stake back and still had 40 or 50 dollars left to play with. I don't remember what I did with my winnings but imagine I frittered them away on that trip. Your series sounds fabulous and I am going to have to jump in and catch up!

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    1. In my opinion, trittering a windfall away is a very legitimate choice, Pat ;)

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  28. I found a $10 bill once in the parking lot of a farm market. I spent it there.

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  29. When my artist uncle (Howell Dodd) died we were pleasantly surprised by what he left us. Paid off a mortgage.. Really an enormous help.

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    1. What a lovely man your artist uncle must have been!

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  30. Amy, so sorry to be so late to the party today!! (I plead revision hell!) You know how much I adore your series. I had Picnic pre-ordered and am halfway through it, suffering from the same dilemma as Gigi. Do I savor or race to the end? I'm sure if it weren't for the aforementioned revisions it would be the latter.

    I loved Sam's wish list, especially the peacock chair!! I hope she gets it, and the gas stove, but I'll have to keep reading to see.

    As for windfalls, very early in my writing career and I got some totally unexpected foreign royalty money, and I BOUGHT A RED CAR. Sam and I are soulmates, obviously. It was a Honda Prelude and the car of my dreams. Sadly, I sold it when the warranty ran out and I realized how expensive it was going to be to maintain, but it sure was fun for a few years.

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    1. As the proud owner of a red car, I heartily endorse both Deb's choice and Sam's. Whatever she gets, I hope it brings her as much joy as my Mustang GT brings me.

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    2. No problem, Deb. Revision hell trumps all. It's the law. Everyone knows that. Also, everyone knows that we should all own a red car at least once in our lives (as Gigi so ably points out). I myself covet a red Mini. Maybe with some totally unexpected foreign royalty money. Hahahahaha. As if...

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  31. What a delightful post! I love the peacock rattan chair - everyone should have one. I can't wait for to read your latest, Amy. It sounds like a perfect summer read on a screened in porch...now you have me dreaming...LOL.

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    1. Thanks, Jenn! I actually have a peacock chair inherited from my grandmother that held pride of place in her screened in porch. I heartily recommend them. Nobody can be unhappy in a peacock chair.

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  32. Many decades ago, my husband and I stayed in an hotel with a casino attached. As we never had been in one, we decided to go with $20 each.
    In a corner was a big Cadillac as the price of the surrounding slot machines. My husband had always wanted a Cadillac and I decided to win it for him. So I played and won little cash and played and won, and again.
    I didn’t win the car but we payed our weekend there with my winnings. A good windfall for our budget.
    Danielle

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    1. If there was ever a place for a windfall, it is Las Vegas!

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