It is always fun to be writing this time of year. It’s almost Christmas!
This season I dived behind the scenes to give you some backstory on Shepherd Malone and how he got the curmudgeon face he sometimes shows to the world.
Shepherd, Peg’s old partner, is retired and feeling a little sorry for himself. He’s spending Christmas alone since his daughter Sheryl is with her mother. And it’s snowing. And the blinking light on his window decorations is driving him crazy.
Besides that, Shepherd is planning on the purchase of a very expensive German Shepherd puppy.
What could possibly go wrong?
Join me as we follow Shepherd through three days of confusion and misdirection in this heart-warming story of the holiday season.
My cat Foxy is small, but fiercely independent. She knows what she likes when she likes it.
For this afternoon nap, she chose to sleep crossways in this cat basket with one ear completely covered, even though, clearly, the right way to do it was just the opposite. But who is to say which might be more suitable for her?
I learn a lot, watching my cats.
Men wanted for hazardous journey.
Small wages, bitter cold. Long months off complete darkness. Constant danger. Safe return doubtful. Honor and recognition in case of success. ~Sir Earnest Henry Shackleton~
One of the fun things of being a photographer is that you get to go out in the elements when saner folks are at home, staying warm and dry on a stormy day.
I did take an umbrella on this rainy afternoon, but gave up when I found it impossible to balance both bumbershoot and camera in order to get just the picture I wanted. As a a result, the picture of this massive leaf of the giant agave was taken with rain dripping off my nose. Plant and person mirrored each other!
What I liked was the paradox of wet and dry. Here was this desert plant, designed with thick leaves to minimize the loss of moisture, brimming with water.
Hard to imagine, but we CAN embrace opposites if we just try.
If we all did the things we are capable of doing,
we would literally astound ourselves. ~Thomas Alva Edison~
I stopped to take a picture of this old fire hydrant because I was fascinated by the number of coats of paint covering it. I can see red, yellow, black and blue at least, maybe more. The hydrant’s been there a long time and I wonder if it’s ever been put to the test with a real fire.
Then I looked closer. It almost appears to be a traffic cop, holding those three pumpkins at bay.
And then look even closer. See the blue bottle cap? Always some smart aleck ready to challenge authority!
Every act of rebellion expresses a nostalgia for innocence and an appeal to the essence of being. ~Albert Camus~
Several years ago I was privileged to be part of a group that did volunteer gardening at a former artist’s home called Eliphante. It wasn’t easy to get to. Here you see us pulling across on a rope tow, from the little town of Cornville in Arizona.
For 28 years, Eliphantewas the home for artists Michael Kahn and Leda Levant. Together they created a magical village, now closed to the public. It is filled with hobbit-like houses, the most amazing art, and a wonderful fount of creativity. You can see some examples of the environment at the home website here. The site is now an official non-profit, so donations are welcome!
The experience has haunted me all of these years and finally today, I begin work on the new Pegasus Quincy novel set, in part, at Eliphante. The working title is Malice in Eliphante, or MIE for short.
Over the next several months I’ll be posting periodic reports on how I am doing with this new writing adventure. I invite you to follow me from start to finish as this new Pegasus Quincy mystery evolves and comes to life.
I love reading cookbooks because I get to enjoy all that great food without any calories! THE LAKE MICHIGAN COTTAGE COOKBOOK takes you on a road trip all around Lake Michigan, the only great lake that is entirely within the boundaries of the US.
They say the trip, which encompasses parts of Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana and Michigan, would only take you 14 hours if you drove straight through. I have my doubts!
What makes this book special, in addition to the nifty recipes and amazing pictures, is the sense of local businesses and good food people you’ll encounter on your road trip. The book was printed 2018, so their recommendations are current.
Here you meet the beekeepers and jam makers and restaurateurs that encircle the great lake: The cheese makers of Wisconsin, the cider makers of southwest Michigan and the cherry pie people in Traverse City on the north coast.
Some of my favorites were recipes for cherry-poached pears with marscarpone cream, cheddar cheese scones, beer-battered cheese curd with homemade ranch dip, sweet potato and pineapple salad, red curry chicken skewers with apricot chutney.
It is a fun read, a feast for both the eye and the imagination!
Envision, if you will, an aging, retired Spook and a young, fragile teenage genius. A perfect partnership! Together they lay siege to the bullies of the world, the North Koreans, Iranians, Middle Eastern terrorists.
One has the wisdom and the master-chess-player ability to anticipate the opponent. The other has the ability to penetrate multiple, proven-impossible firewalls to wreak havoc on ill-intentioned enemies.
The author, Frederick Forsyth, has been at this a long time. He started out as a journalist, has written 17 books such as DAY OF THE JACKAL, has won three Edgar awards and was the recipient of the lifetime achievement award, the Diamond Dagger from the Crime Writers of America.
His prose, unlike that of Dan Brown or Tom Clancy is spare, terse, and tongue-in-cheek humorous. His statements are fact-checked by experts.
For example, when speaking of the Russian GPS system, the Glonass-K2, Forsyth has this to say: “Glonass will define a Russian naval ship’s position to ten to twenty yards anywhere in the world. It relies on twenty-four satellites spinning in inner space. Any hacker seeking to disrupt the system would have to suborn five separate satellites simultaneously, which is clearly impossible.”
Clearly impossible, that is, for anyone but our two heroes. Join them as they high-center tankers, blow up mountains and enemy missiles, and generally do what we all wish WE could do to right the world order.
Can you just sense the sinuous curl in the paper as it drifts from the trees?
It was breezy the day I took this picture, (and no, I was neither participant nor recipient!) and I shared for a moment in the feeling of exuberance the streamers portrayed.
Then I thought about what I’d do if this were my house. Those trees are tall and there is no way I’d be climbing a tall ladder in the windy weather to retrieve the strands. I could pull on the rolls, but I am sure they would obligingly break at the nearest perforation–that’s how they are designed.
I could find the kids that did it, and persuade them not to ever, ever do it again. I could wait for my own teenagers to grow up so they wouldn’t encourage it.
OR, I could just laugh and wave as cars drove past.
We’ve all been there, in moments we’d rather forget and can’t undo, and wished we were a million miles away from, and aren’t. Sometimes the only thing to do is accept the situation–and pray for rain!
~Each day brings its own gifts.~ ~Marcus Aurelius~