We’re finally getting a reprieve from the long string of brutal 100-plus degree-days that plagued us this summer. The hummingbirds are migrating south now, this one enjoying the turk’s cap, one of my favorite Texas natives. (Photo: my brother, John Webber). But nectar flowers aren’t plentiful in September, so we keep refilling the bottles of hummingbird hooch on our front porch–plenty of buzzing, high-velocity traffic, dawn to dark.
We’re all grateful for September, I think. The spring fawns have lost their spots and are deer-size now; they come in the evenings to browse the mustang grape leaves on the meadow fence. The little flock of six young turkeys and their turkey mom survived coyotes and arrive most mornings, eager for the corn I leave for them under the cedar tree. Yesterday, a pair of yellow warblers enjoyed splashing in the bird bath. Soon, we’ll hear the wild calls of the sandhill cranes high overhead, on their way south to the Rio Grande valley. After the long, stagnant summer, life feels as if it’s beginning again.
It’s been a busy summer for us. We sold our New Mexico cabin. The new owners have a large family and are looking forward to vacations and family weekends in the mountains. Bill has just finished moving us out and cleaning up after our 20 years there–I’m sure you can imagine what that job was like. (Now we have to find places for all that stuff!) But it was time to close that chapter.
While Bill was doing the heavy lifting in New Mexico, I held the fort here at Meadow Knoll, managing the chickens and the dog, writing and working on my current cross stitch project. Molly, our ancient heeler, no longer travels well and would be terribly unhappy in the kennel. We were told she was 4 when she came to us in 2008, which makes her 18 this year, and feeling her age. (Aren’t we all?) The Girls are molting–feathers all over the place. If they keep this up, they’ll be naked before their new feathers grow in.
The cross stitch project (Charles Wysocki’s “Quilts for Sale”) is progressing. As you can see, I started in the top left, working across the top third of this all-over pattern. I draw in a numbered grid (so I can see where I’m going). In June, I began using Pattern Keeper, software that tracks every stitch and takes most of the frustration out of complex chartwork. A genuine game-changer. I love it.
On the writing desk, two projects. One is a new mystery, Forget Me Never, for all you China Bayles fans. (The signature herb, if you haven’t guessed: forget-me-not.) I’m about a third of the way through it. The other is the Reader’s Companion to Someone Always Nearby, a novel about Maria Chabot and Georgia O’Keeffe. I’ll have a publishing update on that for you in another week or two. The Companion compiles the extensive research behind the novel, like the Companion I did for A Wilder Rose.
I’ve been getting a lot of mail about The Darling Dahlias and the Red Hot Poker. Yes, the similarities between corrupt politician Huey P. Long and the former president are real and unmistakably clear. No, I did not make it up or stretch the truth. Yes, Long was really killed by accident–at least, according to the book, Accident and Deception: The Huey Long Shooting By Donald A. Pavy, which makes very good sense to me. Read it for yourself and see what you think. And yes, unless we remember the past (as Santayana says), we are doomed to repeat it, as our current experience seems to illustrate.
It wasn’t a pleasant summer for those who care about what’s happening to our democracy, which is (don’t forget it) also a work in progress. And there are a tough couple of months ahead. Reproductive rights, voting rights, Second Amendment issues, inclusion–they’re on the ballot in November. Please, do what you can to ensure that our country does not slide backward into the past we thought we had left behind.
Your works-in-progress? I’d love to hear what keeping your hands and hearts busy as we turn toward autumn and winter. I can’t reply to everyone, but I read and enjoy all. Thanks for sharing. And do be civil, please.
Reading note. Happiness is not a finished product, it is a work in progress.―