November: Works in Progress

My early Christmas present arrived last week and I’ve been enjoying it enormously–not just for the pleasure of playing again after decades away from the keyboard, but because of the memories. Lots of them. Like many kids, I started piano lessons when I was eight–not yet old enough, certainly, to appreciate the opportunity. That came […]

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Another Dahlias Giveaway!

We’re having another book giveaway to celebrate the publication of The Darling Dahlias and the Voodoo Lily. You can win these four signed hardcovers for yourself or for gifting. One of the things I enjoy about this series is writing about Southern food–especially (since these are 1930s novels) the foods that were popular in the […]

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Election Cake: A Tasty Slice of History

  I love old recipes. They show us what foods people liked, what ingredients were available, and–sometimes–what traditions and events they celebrated. I was browsing through a late eighteenth-century cookbook not long ago when I came across a  recipe for something called Election Cake. “Old-fashioned election cake,” I read, “is made of 30 quarts of […]

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On the Flyway

We’re lucky enough to live on the Central Flyway, a bird and insect migration route from the northern Great Plains in Canada down to the Gulf and into central Mexico. The continent is home to so many traveling species. In the spring, the flyway brings birds and butterflies north to their breeding grounds; in the […]

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The New Dawn, Beta, and a Deep Breath

This rose bush doesn’t look like much–only a flurry of unremarkable green leaves. But just two weeks ago, it was a mass of leafless brown sticks. This was a first, for over the 25 years of its life, this resilient New Dawn had never lost its green leaves until after December’s killing frosts. But August’s […]

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A Curious Herbal

I’ve always loved old herbals–illustrated books that describe plants and their uses. I especially  enjoy browsing through my collection of reprints, noticing how our understandings of plants have changed over the centuries. Take the dandelion, for instance. Every  year, Americans dump over 90 million pounds of herbicides on their lawns, primarily to get rid of […]

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Works in Progress: Summer 2020

The current cross stitch project. This one is a Dimensions kit called “European Bistro”–16″ x 11″ on Aida cloth, 18 count, so it’s big and a bit picky. I started it in April 2020, and it’s going pretty fast–except that I haven’t done much of the detailing yet–the outlining that creates the illusion of depth […]

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Desert Willow: A Texas Native

It looks like an orchid, doesn’t it? It isn’t, and it isn’t a willow, either. Chilopsis linearis is actually in the begonia family, along with the catalpa tree and the trumpet vine. But the leaves look willow-ish and the native peoples used it in the same way they used willows. Close enough.  Here in the Texas […]

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Mesquite: A Texas Tree

It’s been a blistering summer already, 108 at Bill’s weather station yesterday afternoon. But summer has another way of announcing itself here in the Texas Hill Country. The beans are beginning to ripen and drop from the honey mesquites (Prosopis glandulosa), to the great delight of the raccoons, rabbits, possums, coyotes, and deer. (I’ve read […]

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