A memoir that refuses to be a murder mystery



The past few times I had met some high school friends for lunch, former classmate Becca had told a brief tale of a cousin who had just finished writing and publishing a book. When Becca related at the holiday luncheon last December that her cousin had just brokered a movie deal on the book, my reporter/writer instincts took over. I had to know the rest of the story.

And Cindy Zimmerman has quite a tale to relate. She does it in a unique memoir, “A Woman of Interest.” The book details a family tragedy, told somewhat reluctantly in the form of a series of letters to a friend of hers, Ken Rotcop. Rotcop is the former creative head of Embassy Pictures and an award-winning author. He is a prime example of the notables that Zimmerman has cultivated in her life’s passion of promoting the vanishing art of hand-written notes.

“A Woman of Interest,” while serving as a method of healing through writing after the brutal murder of Cindy’s husband, serves as one huge, hand-written thank you note to the people who helped her through the tough times.

Now Zimmerman has brokered a development deal with producer/director David Mackay of Los Angeles and Vancouver-based Battle Ground Productions to produce a film based on the book.

If you’re looking for a sensational murder mystery, you won’t get it here. Instead, you have a novel form of a memoir. It’s obvious that Zimmerman has a tough time talking about her husband’s murder, discovered ironically on the day her divorce became final. And to add insult to injury, her brother-in-law, who was the personal representative of the estate, refused to cooperate in releasing funds to allow Cindy and her family to pay expenses.

So, Zimmerman only alludes to the more salacious issues of the murder through use of official police interviews and recorded transcripts of a probate court hearing that seeks dismissal of her brother-in-law as personal representative of the estate. Instead, we learn of a life full of jet-setting and trend-setting by Cindy and her husband. Cindy was and is a perfect example of a woman who defies the odds . . . first by making her mark in the once male-only stronghold of medical sales, then by her unique passion for promoting quality, hand-written communication in a world of digital anonymity.

Through it all, her love of her children and her desire to protect them from life’s ugliness shines through, as does the warmth of her personality.

If you’re looking for a sensational murder mystery, don’t pick this book up. You might want to wait for the movie. But, knowing Cindy Zimmerman like you come to do in her memoir, you won’t find it there either. She has a more compelling story to tell.


A tale of two Valentines



I’m considering giving up Valentine’s Day for Lent.

I know, I know! I’ve got the holiday order totally reversed. But what do old farts need with Valentines anyway?

I say this, because, as I proudly presented my mate with his annual little Russell Stovers’ four-pack and a funny card that outlined my old-age-imperfect love, he immediately noted, “This is the same card you got me last year.”

Of course, I hotly contested that assertion . . . until he produced the evidence.

I refrained from a counter-attack that would have noted the only reason he couldn’t be guilty of the same offense is the fact that he didn’t get me a card at all.

I’ll bet that if he could, he would buy a Valentine for his truck, since he has such a fondness (weakness?) for his vehicles. In fact, several years ago I wrote a column about being displaced by 17″ wheels and sexy running lights on his truck de jour. Here is what I wrote back then . . . which you may recognize as a sneaky way to get my revenge for the lack of a Valentine this year. It will be one of the items in my soon-to-be-published book, “Letters from Home: Adventures with Mad Mother, Lemonade Man and the Kid.” Coming soon to a website or bookstore near you:

I always suspected that men preferred hunks of metal to warm flesh. Now it’s been confirmed. Couldn’t help but be a little jealous recently when Lemonade Man spoke more lovingly of his Ford F-150 than he does of his almost-50 wife. 

He calls her “Big Lou,” and while he’s had this truck for well over a year, he never ceases to admire his possession, asking me to appreciate the sexy running lights on the custom running boards, or to listen to the growl of the engine and the roar of the glass packs he just had to have installed after the neighbor came home with his.

Mechanical gadgets have an allure for the male species that no mere flesh and blood woman can ever compete with. Take the auto-start function on Big Lou. On cold mornings, Lemonade Man just pushes a button from the warmth of the dining room, aims it in Big Lou’s direction, and when he’s ready for work, the truck is warm and toasty.

“She gets started a lot easier in the mornings than you do,” he remarked recently. Could be because all I get is decaf coffee while Big Lou gets an auto-start caress and high octane fuel.

The really bad thing about the love affair with a truck is that Big Lou has 17″ wheels and Lemonade Man is 5’3″ and shrinking. His insurance agent still tells the story of this huge truck parking in front of his building and this man getting out of it and then disappearing. It totally dwarfs him. And climbing into it is a feat.

Guess I’ll put up with Big Lou because she’s great to have for hauling yard waste. The verdict’s still out on whether having a big garbage can with running lights is worth diverting and diluting a husband’s affections. But if he decides to put one more gadget on the thing, he can start making his bed in it.


Snowpocalypse: We’re only in prison if we think we are



White houses on white snow with brown stick people pushing it around in futility. 


That’s what our neighborhood looks like right now. Because it hasn’t stopped snowing and the weather girl says we can look for another round on Friday. 


The same weather girl, and more of her ilk on other stations, were the cause of a supermarket frenzy Monday. We fell for it too, crowding the aisles and throwing into our carts totally irrational items like crab wraps and hot chocolate mix. It wasn’t even the bread and milk and toilet paper that satirists depict in pre-storm parodies.


The weather girls aren’t the only guilty parties here. The state transportation departments and the highway patrol told us to stay home too so they could do their jobs. They’re out there somewhere eating donuts and drinking coffee because we made their jobs so easy. Entire multi-floor corporation headquarters shut their doors today. 


And what did most of us do with the precious gift of a snow day? My sister-in-law paced from room to room eating a box of chocolates. My husband wanted to work on taxes but took a nap instead. I wanted to build a fire in the fireplace and write a blog and read three books and watch movies, but also took a nap. And got depressed.


We are reluctant shut-ins, internally raging against our powerlessness in the face of raw elements. We can’t handle enforced idleness because our culture hasn’t taught us how. We are educated, over-achieving baby boomers programmed with our auto-pilots constantly set to “Full Speed Ahead.” We’re not content unless we’re doing something, making our mark somewhere, anywhere, even if it’s wrong or inappropriate.


We don’t have a clue how to just be . . . how to listen to that still, small voice. How do we face ourselves long enough to know just who the heck we are?


In doing this morning’s journaling, I happened to notice an entry from February 20 of last year.  I needed this fresh perspective:




The world stops, stands still


Hushed and in awe of the power 


and majesty of God.


A gift.


The chance for rare, sustained contemplation


In the quiet of a blanket of white.


Our attention draws inward,


Our thoughts dwell on the holy,


But are poised, if necessary


To turn to survival and to sustenance


For those unable to provide it for themselves.


 A snowstorm reminds us


Of what is elemental


And truly important,


Gives us perspective,


Covers us with purity,


Cleansing and blessing us


With hope.

So now I look out my window at the 2014 version of Snowpocalypse, and what once seemed like prison bars turns back into a mere frame for a photo. For now it’s a harmless one, mentally and physically. But let’s not let it last more than three days or a desperate plea will go out to borrow someone else’s rose-tinted glasses.