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Two Authors' "First Novels": one Noir and one, just plain Dark

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Noir:

James Anderson is a regional, Pacific Northwest writer of fiction, poetry, reviews as well as an editor and teacher. "The Never-Open Desert Diner" is his first novel.

I have mentioned my local book exchange often provides 'uncorrected proof; not for sale' books for advance readers, reviewer and I guess, the library.  I love these editions and always give them "a look". I find authors I never would have.   This book was one of those.

The Hero, Ben Jones, has an interesting business: he has a short haul (200 miles round trip everyday) truck service over an isolated desert route in Utah, south of Salt Lake City. His route is so remote that the Majors in the business hire him to carry their packages. Often, he's the only vehicle on the road.

Against this blank desert canvas, Anderson begins sketching the outline of various weird, eccentric characters Ben supplies with the things they need to survive, packages, things he sells from the truck, etc. (He…

Still "Hier"!

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Having a great summer, having parties (this one brought both of our sons home (at the same time) for the first time in 7 years; and their sweet wives; it was great!).

A few more butterflies are nearing readiness for release; a few little trips still to come--and working steadily on trim painting details, etc. on the house.


Butterflies! Butterflies! and more Butterflies!

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Above, the Before Picture"...


After about 12 days, the butterfly emerges from it's tight enclosure (on the lower left, above) with amazing speed, (like, 2 seconds) once it is ready. The swallowtail above was out for a few hours, since its wings are well expanded.

 After it has had time to dry off and expand, we take it--cage and all--outside. Sometimes they have to be coaxed onto your finger and lifted out, to fly away. Sometimes, they want to ride around on your finger for a while. They are surprisingly individual.


This one settled on a cone flower in the garden and sat for several hours, another perched in a tree for a while, others soar immediately and disappear.


When they first emerge, their wings are tiny.




Here is a glorious example! We charmed both sets our neighbors' visiting grandchildren with this venture.

The photos have all shown different butterflies--we've released about a dozen at least, by now. The one shown above was especially individual. After his/h…

...a Book by its Cover...Robert Hicks' "The Widow of the South"...

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What an eye-catching cover design on this novel of historic fiction! So evocative of the second half of the 19th Century. But is it fiction? Partly: the story is a novel based on the life of a lady--almost totally forgotten now--whose name, Carrie McGavock--was practically a "household word" at the turn of the 20th Century.

In the tiny town of Franklin, TN (now part of greater Nashville; home to country music stars) late in the American Civil War, a giant gush of bloodletting took place called The Battle of Franklin. The South lost; even had they won the battle it would not change the outcome: the surrender came about 4 months later. For the number of troops and the length of the battle: about 5 hours, Franklin is considered perhaps the bloodiest battle ever fought by Americans; a hopeless charge by the South against entrenched Northern troops in the town.

At end of the day, about 6,000 Confederates were dead--all over town--along with 1,000 Northerners.
Countless were horr…

Update on the "Hotel"

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A total of 11 caterpillars were found and brought inside away from the greedy beaks of the birds.

I was concerned the over-crowding would result in caterpillar fights, but they get along nicely together. Ignoring one another.

I clean the tank frequently. 7 caterpillars are actively eating now. 4 have purged, found a comfortable twig and formed their cocoons. That is a very interesting process to watch, too.

In a few days, we will have lovely butterflies to release. I will try to photo record them. I have plenty of nectar rich blooms to support them once they are free. I hope they hang around a while.

The only "down side": the messy tank and the overpowering "dill" smell. Otherwise, a fun experiment.




Our Butterfly Shelter Hostel and Resort (for Black Swallowtail Butterflies) is open for the Season!

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A couple of years ago, we noticed the caterpillars on our dill plants; research showed they were of the Black Swallowtail type. To our horror, we observed that the little caterpillars were the perfect snack for any passing bird!

More internet research showed us how to bring the little guys (and girls) inside to a dry aquarium with paper towel on the bottom and several plastic contains for water to keep their food (dill sprigs) fresh. Cover the container with aluminum foil so the caterpillars don't fall in and drown.

You need a couple of strong twiggy branches in there too, for their last transformation into butterflies.

The caterpillars eat the dill and poop. So you need to get in there every couple of days, renew the dill and change the paper towel, maybe refresh the water.

The first year we tried this, we saved one butterfly. Last year, two. Downstairs in my butterfly hotel right now I have 8 or 10 specimens, in different stages of caterpillar-dom. Old Lady Fun.

"Meh" Thrillers from (not-so) Great Britain...

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The best books by John LeCarre may be behind us by now; but I keep on reading all I find.

Lately, that included "Single & Single", a post Cold War crime thriller, featuring violence, money laundering, vice peddling of all kinds, gun running and so on. A readable novel, certainly.

The relationship between the spymaster (or undercover agent runner, in this case) and his agent, the son of the money launderer who has "turned"is delved.  As in "Our Game", the agent goes rogue in former USSR Georgia; as in "The Night Manager", the agent flirts with love---this female character was stronger, more interesting than the ladies in either of the above.

Bad Bait:

I was interested to find a British novel, made and sold in the UK which somehow found its way to my local paperback exchange: John Harvey's "Good Bait". "No one in Britain is writing better crime fiction" gasps The Times on the front cover. I feel I was duped, or standar…