The first hummingbirds arrived last week, as the Gulf winds shifted to strong, warm southerlies and brought the birds up from Mexico, where they spend their winters. We always put up the first feeder around the middle of the month, expecting the early birds in the migration around the 17th. Our first birds are ruby-throats, on their way north to their breeding grounds. Here's a map of recent migration sightings. They're particularly interested in the paintbrush, salvia, and crossvine, all in bloom this week.
True story: for years, I had a hummingbird feeder outside my writing studio window in the summer; during the winter, I hung a suet log there for the titmice and chickadees. I always exchanged the log for the feeder in mid-March, but one March I was on book tour and the job didn't get done. I came back home to find an irate hummer poking at the suet log, clearly expecting it to be his feeder--evidence that he was a returning bird. Hummers are carnivores (love to watch them catch flying insects), but suet was not on his menu. Here's a page with a recipe for nectar, and some feeding tips.
Homestead report. The beds are cleared out and it's time to put in the tomatoes. For our hot, dry Texas garden, I like Porter, an old-fashioned open-pollinated plant that bears well into July, several weeks after other tomatoes have turned sulky and refused to bloom. Porter takes a lot of room but it makes great sauce--and there's a local guy who starts the plants from locally-grown seed in his greenhouse. (Locally-grown means locally-adapted.) I'll get a couple of dozen plants from him and put them in the ground this week.
Book report. I sent in the finished China Bayles manuscript last week, #26 in the series (would you believe?) for publication by Berkley in April 2018, with a proposal for 3 more. We'll see what happens with that. Meantime, I'm making good forward progress with the next Dahlias, which I think will be the first in a trilogy with linked plots. It will be published via my own imprint, Persevero Press later this year or early next.
The General's Women is out and available in print (hardcover and paperback) and ebook. Please tell your library about it. And if you missed the big news, Loving Eleanor (already a prizewinner) is shortlisted for several awards this spring. The earliest will be announced next month. I like to think that Hick would be pleased with all the attention.
Politics and political reporting. I did a happy dance when the GOP healthcare bill was defeated. It took away coverage, particularly from women, and contributed to the worsening deficit. But that's the only thing there is to celebrate, as Trump & Company dismantle citizen protections in every department of the government: Justice, Education, Environment, Labor, Treasury, and more.
I'm particularly watching (and I hope you are too) the developing story around Russia's meddling with our election and the possibility that the Trump campaign coordinated and perhaps even colluded with the Russian government to damage and defeat Clinton. Excellent investigative reporting is keeping this issue in the news and on people's minds, with the hope that there will be an independent commission to get the facts. I try to keep abreast of developments via Twitter. You'll find me there @SusanWAlbert. If you're interested in the investigative journalists I read daily, here's my list: https://twitter.com/SusanWAlbert/lists/journalists
Reading note. In a time of deceit telling the truth is a revolutionary act.--George Orwell