We’re used to the midsummer heat here in Texas, but this year has been brutal–the highest temperatures ever recorded (108 in Austin, 111 on our north-facing back deck) and a record-breaking string of 100-degree days that began in June and continues into July.
Severe drought here, too–everything is tinder-dry. I usually have a collection of summer annuals in pots on the porch, but it’s too hot for them. The desert willow, however, is thriving. This is its favorite time of year and the tough little tree, a Hill Country native, is covered with delicate, pale lavender orchid-like flowers. Lovely to see on a blistering day, the blossoms are adored by the hummingbirds. Nobody wants a hurricane, of course, but rain from the Gulf would be a gift, even if it came with lightning and wind.
The current needlework project is this stylized Americana scene by Charles Wysocki, “Quilts for Sale.” Fun to work on and just enough of a challenge. I usually start in the top left corner–you can see where I am in the hoop, as of last evening. I have a way to go, don’t I? I should be finished by this time next year–but no hurry. It’s the process that matters to me, not the product. Currently working on this while I listen to Scott Turow, whose complex legal novels I enjoy for their characterization and intricate plotting.
“Listen” is not quite accurate, though. I like to use the text-to-speech function on my e-reader, so I can see the text while the text reads itself to me. I can mark it and make notes, too. IMO, one of the best things that’s happened to books since movable type.
On the writing desk. I’m working on Forget Me Not, another China Bayles mystery, #29. (Is that possible? Thyme of Death seems like yesterday.) This one is set in Pecan Springs, where the fictional summers are always climate-controlled. At the rate the story is developing, it will likely be a late 2023 book. While you’re waiting for more China, of course, there are the Dahlias. Their latest, The Darling Dahlias and the Red Hot Poker, was out early this month. And Someone Always Nearby, my novel about the long friendship of Georgia O’Keeffe and Maria Chabot, is under editorial review. I’ll give you a pub date when I have more information.
Also, my brother and I are wrapping up the family history project we’ve been working on for ten years (intermittently), more intensely in the past year. Of course, there’s always something new to learn, but we’ve answered the insistent question that propelled us into this search in the first place: Who was our real grandfather? It turns out that elusive grandfathers can be even harder to find than elusive fathers. In this case, the difficulty was compounded because the Main Event took place in 1902 and our father appears to have been his father’s only offspring. But we found our guy, with luck, a couple of tell-tale clues, and a lot of DNA help from Ancestry.com. Now, we’re rounding out the story for our kids and cousins.
About Coyote Lodge. You may remember that for the past 20 years or so, Bill and I have had a home in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains of New Mexico. We call it Coyote Lodge, for the chorus that rings through the night. We can’t use it as often as we once could, so we’re listing it. You can see the photos here.
It hasn’t been a pleasant summer for those of us who watch the news and care about what happened on 1/6/21 and what is happening now in D.C. and in statehouses across the country, as some states get their teeth into recent SCOTUS rulings. Reproductive rights, voting rights, Second Amendment issues, stability in our government–it feels like everything is up for grabs, to the highest bidder, the dark money with the deepest pockets, the angriest and most hateful people. Watching, listening, we’re all at a loss for words.
But here’s what has to be said, and remembered. Each of us must find, in that deep-down core within us, the strength to get through to the other side while we work for change in the ways we can, in all the ways we can. I’m thinking of that brave young woman, Cassidy Hutchinson, who found the courage to speak, putting to shame the fearful, powerful men who have failed to tell what they know. And I’m remembering Dilsey, the strong Black woman in Faulkner’s The Sound and the Fury: “I seed de beginnin,” she says, “en now I sees de endin.” We need Cassidy’s courage and Dilsey’s strength, to see things as they are now and where they will be tomorrow. And to find, somewhere in each of us, the will to change that ending.
Reading note. She was warned. She was given an explanation. Nevertheless, she persisted. So must we all.–Hillary Clinton, tweeting about Senator Elizabeth Warren’s refusal to obey Speaker Mitch McConnell’s order to stop reading a letter from Coretta Scott King. The tweet went viral with images of Harriet Tubman, Malala Yousafzai, Beyoncé, Emmeline Pankhurst, Gabby Giffords, Michelle Obama, Hillary Clinton, and Princess Leia.
A reminder. I read and appreciate your comments. Uncivil responses will be deleted. There’s enough of that on Twitter.