In this first week of summer, the blue gentiansare blooming in what used to be (before the drought) a marshy area at the edge of the woods. These are my favorite, favorite Texas wildflower, sometimes called Texas bluebells. I love the Latin name: Eustoma exaltatum. Exalted, indeed. Unfortunately, we don't see as many of these beauties as we used to, along the roadsides and in pastures near highways. People pick them, so they can't reseed. Such a pity. Please consider, when you stop to pick a wildflower, that you're not only picking the single bloom, you're picking all its children. And while you may pick just one, and the next picker picks just one, pretty soon they will all be gone from that location. That's why I don't pick our wildflowers for table bouquets. I'd rather enjoy its descendents.
Garden notes. But I'm happy to pick the okra! I harvested the first one this morning, along with a nice handful of snap beans (Kentucky Wonder). They'll be on tonight's supper table. On the weekend, I dug the potatoes (Yukon Gold) and garlic (elephant garlic). Neither produced a huge crop this year, but there'll be enough for eating this summer and for replanting in the fall.
Book report. I'll have some happy news about A Wilder Rosesometime in the next couple of weeks, when the deal has been signed. In the meantime, I'm moving ahead on the 2015 Dahlias mystery and looking forward to the September 2014 book, The Darling Dahlias and the Silver Dollar Bush. I have a few galleys of that book. If you'd like one, leave a brief comment (on any subject, but do be nice). At the end of the week, Peggy (my webmistress) will choose a couple of names at random and I'll send you a signed galley. UPDATE. 6.28: Congratulations to Janet Balletto and Gayle Jackson--you've just won a signed galley!
Weather report. We had our first tornado of the season a couple of weeks ago, about 6-7 miles from us. I spent the evening with a book and the cat in Archie Bunker (our name for our storm shelter). Molly had to stay in the closet, since she refuses to join me in the bunker under her own power, and she's too big for me to lift. I tell her, "If you get blown away, MollyPolly my dear, it's your own damn fault." Here's a photo taken that night by the intrepid photographer, Aaron Dooley. Yes: the cloud really was that black.
Reading note: Writing is work. It's also gambling. You don't get a pension plan.--Margaret Atwood
We've been getting more rain (2.5" in the last 2 weeks), and the garden is flourishing--for the first time since 2011, when the drought began to seriously dig in.The photo: an Edisto melon, a small heritage cantaloupe that does well in hot, humid climates (that's us). Up to my ears in cucumbers, squash, and (soon) tomatoes. I picked green beans this morning, for dinner tonight. You can't ask for a fresher veggie than that.
Book report. I'm also up to my ears in the 2015 Dahlias mystery: The Darling Dahlias and the Eleven O'Clock Lady. These are Ornithogalum umbellatum, but I couldn't very well use that as a title, could I? They're small plants that bloom until the sun gets too hot for them. I'm sure you've seen them popping up out of the grass. Love finding interesting titles that prompt me to grow the plot around them (hope that makes as much sense to you as it does to me).
This book (Dahlias #6, set in mid-1934) is also about the Civilian Conservation Corps projects that FDR began putting in place in 1933, among his first presidential actions. Good move on his part, on all scores, politically, environmentally, economically, with a huge impact on the men (mostly--there was a related project for women) who participated, their families, and their communities. This interesting history is making its way into the book, and creating more plot elements. Love it when this happens! It allows me to come to work every morning, thinking "I wonder what's going to happen in the book today?"
A Wilder Rosegarnered a wonderful review yesterday, in the official blog of the Wilder historic home in De Smet. I'll have more news about that book later this week, maybe. Good news.
More books in the works: In April-May, I visited the Franklin Roosevelt Presidential Library and spent days doing research in the papers of Eleanor Roosevelt and Lorena Hickok. I'm looking forward to more work on that project after I've finished the current Dahlias mystery.
And I've just signed the contract for three more China Bayles mysteries! Working titles: A Malted Murder (2016), Dragon's Blood (2017), and The Last Chance Olive Ranch (2018). It's lovely to be able to look ahead and see good work on the horizon, and I'm grateful to the editors, publishers, and readers (yes, that's you!) who have made it possible for me to live the writing life I began dreaming of thirty-plus years ago.
Reading note. I’m up to my ears in unwritten words. —J.D. Salinger