Henbit (Lamium amplexicaule) is flourishing this spring--if I allowed it, this little eager beaver would monopolize my veggie garden beds. A member of the mint family (but not very "minty" in taste), it began showing up in early January, one of the first green plants of the new year. It's been blooming since mid-February, to the great delight of the early bees, who have been swarming it for its nectar. And now that the hummingbirds are here, they've been enjoying it too. I pull a couple of handfuls every day for the chickens (it's called "henbit" because somebody noticed, way back when, that chickens love it). We enjoy it too, in salads, and cooked along with other spring greens (kale, spinach, chard). It's high in iron, vitamins and fiber, and in folk medicine, it's been brewed in a tea to treat rheumatism, fever, constipation, lethargy, and used as a poultice, to treat stings and scrapes. This little plant, now generally recognized as a weed, has had a long and helpful relationship with humans. The next time you see one of these little guys, pause to appreciate it and say hello.
Book report. Moved a lot of work off my writing desk last week. Blood Orange (China's 2016 mystery) went off to its editor at Berkley Prime Crime. I worked through the copyedited manuscript of The Darling Dahlias and the Eleven O'Clock Lady) and sent it back to Prime Crime, as well. (This will be the last Dahlias mystery for a while--there are other things I want to do.) This week, I've returned to Hick and Eleanor, for another work-through, for a possibly-interested editor. We'll see how that turns out.
Bittersweet. This coming week is a BIG week for China Bayles, with her new mystery out. Bittersweet is China's 23rd novel. Some readers may be uncomfortable with the hunting theme, but I have some very strong feelings about the deer-farming industry in Texas and have been wanting to tell that story for a long time. The book got a starred review from Booklist and praise from Suspense. Good news for a series that's been around since the early 1990s.
A Wilder Rose Giveaway. Mary Robinette Kowal has done a wonderful narration of the novel for Brilliance Audio. We're giving away two copies of the CD edition of the book (the true story of Rose Wilder Lane and the writing of the Little House books). Go here to enter (through 4/8/15). This is a book of my heart, one that I was simply compelled to write. (That's the best kind, believe me!) The new edition came out last month, from Lake Union Publishing, and is doing very well. I've put some free resources for the book, including a downloadable (and free) Reader's Companion, on the website. These will be helpful if your book club is reading the book.
Books I'm reading. I've just finished Book of Ages: The Life and Opinions of Jane Franklin, by Jill Lepore. I especially appreciated its juxtaposition of two lives: Jane Franklin and her better-known brother, Benjamin. You can read my review of it at Goodreads. I'm currently reading another dual biography: Hissing Cousins: The Untold Story of Eleanor Roosevelt and Alice Roosevelt Longworth. Dual biographies fascinate me, because the author has an opportunity to create a new way to see two people, one against the mirror of the other. Hissing Cousins is a lighter read than Book of Ages and 'm not sure that it fully exploits the possibilities, but I haven't finished it yet.
Book travel. I'm finding more pleasure in staying home with my garden and books than in traveling. But there are several events on the schedule for the next couple of months. Go here to take a look.
Reading note. Beware the woman who reads.--18th century admonition, quoted in Book of Ages, by Jill Lepore.