Friday, September 18, 2020

good news, bad news, and a finished drawing

The good news is, I woke up this morning feeling well. The afib is settling down and I went 38 hours with only a blip here and there, had a minor flare up last night but it quit sometime after I went to bed. So far so good today. I think part of the problem besides too much attention to bad news is that I was dehydrated from working out in the heat and sweating profusely and not drinking enough water to make up for it.

The other good news is that the owner of the python found her. She was in the garage the whole time. A major sigh of relief went up from the neighborhood.

The estate sale at Pam's old house is ongoing, tomorrow being the last day with everything 50% off, then everything that is left will be hauled off and we can get in there to finishing making repairs before the house officially goes on the market next week.

It finally happened, no more access to the legacy version of blogger but it seems two of my three biggest complaints about the new version have been remedied. I tried a test post, copied and pasted two paragraphs into the the new post form and while it did double space the paragraphs, I was able to just delete the second one and it let me drag and drop an image from my desktop instead of have to go through the 6 or 7 steps to post a picture. My third issue was the 'labels' where previously they showed a cloud of all the labels and you could just click on the one you wanted. Now, they don't show any at all but when you type a letter, all the labels that include that letter show up and you have to scroll through them to find the one you want. Still very cumbersome. The rest is just having to get used to the new arrangement of tools. So here's my first post using the new version (which I still don't like).

I'd have more to
rage write about if I was allowing myself to get immersed in all things Trump and the destruction of our democracy and it is just snowballing, the more desperate he gets the crazier he and Barr get with Barr musing about charging the governor of Oregon with sedition for allowing the protests there and Trump's attitude that it's only the incompetent blue states that have made our death toll so high (just to be clear, red state Texas is #3 in total deaths, more than California now, falling behind only New York and New Jersey and nearly twice as many cases as New York and second only to California, red state Florida being third), and all the revelations coming out about the actions of his appointees, people quitting left and right and coming forward with the goods. But I'm not going there.

So I spent the day finishing the drawing of the lotus bud.

Here's the photo Linda took.

Well, the dog is reminding me it's her dinner time.

Just back from walking the dog to devastating news. We are truly fucked now. RBG has died and you know McConnell has already broken out the champagne.

Thursday, September 17, 2020

flowers, frogs, and other miscellania

Well, dammit, I completely forgot about the night blooming cereus and every single flower opened Monday night. I bet it was a sight to see and fragrant. Oh well, next time.

Other things in bloom...cuphea 'bat face', the last coral butterfly ginger, the bridal bouquet plumeria continues to bloom it's little heart out, and the yellow angel trumpet, and while I was out there taking pictures there were two frittilaries and a queen butterfly but the queen was very shy and would not let me take her picture.

I caught a glimpse of movement through the window in the back door and went out to investigate. A little tree frog had leapt onto one of the leaves of the walking iris

and then a few minutes later leapt back onto the screen on a window.

And then last night at dinner I noticed there was a green tree frog in the house snugged into the corner of the dining area

so I scooped him up 

and took him outside.

Wednesday morning I was outside in the little backyard and there was a very loud explosion and the power went off on our street. It brought all the neighbors out. The transformer blew or the fuse or whatever it is that explodes with a loud bang so there should be a dead squirrel somewhere underneath it or in the general vicinity depending on how far it flew. Power was back on in about an hour and a half.

So this happened...apparently someone in this small town keeps a 9' python as a pet and it escaped on Monday! She had just eaten, claims the owner, so small pets and small children should be safe...for about a week. Still hasn't been found and the neighbors are not happy.

I've been staying off social media for the most part, just quick scans passing over anything political, looking to see if any really cool art has been posted or other non-political interesting stuff. The afib is starting to settle down I think. I've gone 30 hours so far without an episode, just an occasional blip here and there.

My neighbor at the other end of the street has his three hummingbird feeders out and he says in the mornings there's about 30 of them swarming around them so I put mine out Tuesday evening. Nada. I have seen one that comes and investigates and then flies off. Someone told me that if you have a lot of flowers in the yard they will go to those and not the feeders. Which is smart because I imagine nectar has more nutritional value than sugar water.

I finally started a new drawing Tuesday. It's from a photo taken by Shoreacres on her blog Lagniappe. She takes the most amazing photos of our native wildlife. 

I meant to publish this yesterday but Tuesday night I ate something that didn't like me and was up just about all night with pains and gas and a monster afib episode that finally settled down around 5 AM but the intestinal distress continued all day Wednesday and I spent most the day in bed and it continued last night as well. It's better this morning, the cramping is about over but my guts feel like someone pounded on me so I imagine I'll be spending a good part of today in bed as well.

Monday, September 14, 2020

flowers and yard work and website maintenance

That little cool front is just a memory now but I did get out there Saturday and hauled the full garden cart over to the burn pile and dumped it and then got distracted from my intended chore of hacking off the top part of the three banana trees with the machete that toppled over. The distraction was pulling the cowpea out of and off the pink desert willow trumpet flower shrubby thing that I thought was supposed to be a vine when I bought it but isn't very viney. Instead it sends out long woody branches that arch up and over.

the 'after' picture

Anyway I got the cowpea out which filled up the garden cart again and put it on the burn pile and then I tackled the banana trees. Don't get overheated, Marc tells me as I'm pulling the once again full cart to the barn. No worries, I'm done outside for today.

However, I spent about 3 hours over at the shop yard today cutting down tall weedy trash and virginia creeper and native passion flower vine that rarely blooms but covers everything like kudzu so Marc could get to those areas while he was mowing and I managed to excavate two of my tomato cages that have been there since spring of 2019 (there's 10 more under that mound) but it is heavily overcast today and a nice breeze would come up now and then.

my old garden site with the raised beds, this is why I'm abandoning it for a new location

I spent the rest of Saturday finishing up the 'recent work' page on my website and getting it all uploaded. Then I have to refresh the page to see if I have any broken links and how many and then trying to figure out where the problem lies. Usually it's because the tags don't match, for image might be named 'picture.jpeg' but on the coded page it's 'picture.jpg' so either I have to change the tag on the image or on the coded page and then upload the new version. The whole thing was complicated by the fact that my desktop wouldn't refresh to the new version, just wanted to load the cached version over and over. Fine! I'll look at it on my phone which refreshed to the new version so I could see where the broken parts were but wouldn't refresh again. Fine! Be that way. Got my iPad which refreshed and I saw what was fixed and what was still broken and then it wouldn't do it again. I double checked everything one more time, desktop still wouldn't give me the new page even though I closed the window and waited a while. Finally I went and got Marc's phone and lo and behold, it refreshed and all the broken links were fixed. Sunday I added three more items. Now I just have two more pages to update...the archive gallery page and the news and events page.

I've been better about my home yoga routine lately and I've weaned myself off the news and all things Trump over the weekend and intend to be Trump and all other bad news free all week. Hopefully I'll get some creative stuff done this week like finish putting the new studio room together over at the shop or working on another drawing or watercolor or maybe even starting on a new model. It hasn't been as hot lately, low 90s as opposed to high 90s but still too hot to work outside for long.

Garden report - my night blooming cereus has/had 13 buds on it. I say 'had' because 3 of them opened last night. I knew they would and still I missed them. I remembered about midnight but I was already in bed.

five more buds in this picture

This bromeliad is sending up it's late summer blooms

and the periwinkles I planted around the birdbath have not done well. All the pink ones died and all but two of the red and white ones are struggling. It's been a pretty brutal summer. I'll dig up any survivors and plant them elsewhere when I'm ready to put pansies in there for the winter.

I have some more garden pictures but I'll save those for the next post.

Friday, September 11, 2020

the continuing corruption of our government and destruction of our democracy

I'm testy today. Was testy yesterday. It's all feeling like too much. Every day a new revelation of the horror that is Trump and none of it is enough for his supporters to abandon him. He knew in January how bad the virus is, was going to be, and he purposely did nothing and lied about it for 6 months, is still lying about it, because, he says, he didn't want to create panic. People dying in droves was apparently just fine with him as long as the stock market didn't crash. Because that's the only panic he didn't want to create since he sees the stock market as crucial to his re-election to a job he doesn't like and didn't want in the first place.

And if that's not enough Barr and his corrupt DOJ is now going to defend Trump in the defamation lawsuit brought by the woman who accuses him of rape, a case that could be settled immediately if Trump would just give over a sample of his DNA, which anyone would do if they were innocent. So now us taxpayers are paying for Trump's defense in a case where he is obviously guilty.

And if that's not enough, there is a new whistleblower complaint from Brian Murphy, former Acting Undersecretary for Intelligence and Analysis, accusing DHS acting secretary Chad Wolf of twice telling him to withhold reporting on potential Russian threats to the election because it made Trump look bad and to focus on threats from China and Iran instead on orders from the White House national security advisor Robert O'Brian. Murphy was also told to downplay the domestic threat posed by white supremacists and focus on leftist movements like antifa and to modify intelligence assessments to make sure they aligned with Trump's public statements. When Murphy refused to do so he was demoted. Let me repeat that...Murphy was ordered to stop investigating Russia and to lie in intelligence reports.

All this and still Republicans won't denounce him. No wonder my afib has been acting up. The past week, week and a half, it's been very active, every day or day and a half, episodes that last half a day, not intense but after 6 hours I just want to sit on the couch. So I had my check-up with the electrophysiologist today, it had been 6 months since the last one. I had to call from the parking lot to let them know I was there and they would call me back when they had a room ready for me but I was able to go right up, the waiting room was empty. The nurse took my temperature then took me to the room where she took my blood pressure, a little high she said, yeah, I know, I could feel it going up on the drive in I told her. Then she did an ekg which was good. Then the doctor came in and I told him about the uptick in episodes and he said that if it keeps up we may have to do the ablation, which I really don't want to do, I said, to which he replied, nobody does. I told him I thought it was probably stress from paying too much attention to the horrible news and that I was trying to address that. I've also been thinking about the procedure more, I told him, but not until sometime next year. He stressed once again that the condition was not life threatening, just a quality of life issue and to come back in 3 months. If the current episodes settle down during that time, good, if not, we'll talk more seriously about the procedure.

That little cool front did make it down here after all. Not as cool as predicted but it was 68˚ yesterday morning, and this morning, at 8 AM and low humidity. So I took advantage of it yesterday and got the trimmer out and got it started by myself yay and trimmed the house yard til I ran out of gas, refueled and trimmed over at the shop yard around Pam's house and the gate and the rose bush and the banana trees and yellow bells til I ran out of gas. My right arm is really sore today.

So, what else, I've been working on my website again this week tackling the recent work gallery page which is so out of date. After the first day I was so confused trying to remember which folders all the changed files and images were in so I finally created two new folders, one for images and one for pages, to put all the changed things in until I get them uploaded.

Three happy making things in the yard...the rangoon creeper is continuing to bloom profusely on both sides of the fence,

the oxblood lilies are shooting up, yesterday there was just one,

and my little redbud tree in a pot, which nearly died this summer because I wasn't watering it enough and needs to be root pruned and repotted with fresh soil, sprouted new growth after I dragged it into the shade under the magnolia tree. I had noticed one day that the leaves were all limp and shriveling and so I gave it a good watering but by the next day or so all but 3 leaves had turned irrevocably brown, dead. That's when I moved it into the shade. I'll repot it this fall but I won't prune it back til spring just in case the branches are still alive. It's about 7' tall and is at least 20 years old, could be older, I just don't remember what year I got it as a freebie when it was about 4” tall during one of the many Trees For Houston giveaways.

I'm amazed that it's still alive.

Tuesday, September 8, 2020

labor on Labor Day weekend

Saturday, was a very busy day. It's Monday evening now so I have to try and cast back and remember why it was a busy day. We decided to sell the four chairs from our old dining room table. I bought those chairs from an unfinished furniture store when the kids were still in elementary school, I think, making them over 30 years old. I sanded those fuckers down and stained them and we had used them ever since until I bought the new table and chairs at an estate sale. My granddaughter Jade claimed the table and chairs and then returned the chairs forthwith because they are really uncomfortable, she says. So since we have 8 chairs (6 with the new table and two 'closet' chairs, you know the chairs that masquerade as a closet, for clothes too dirty to be hung up or put away, clean enough to wear a few more times) we decided to see if we could sell them at the 'estate' sale so I loaded those in the back of the truck along with the mini-fridge and a queen size bed frame that got abandoned here by our grandson and a spiral library staircase for the upper shelves that belonged to my father that I did not want but ended up with after he died and took them over to Pam's old house where the ladies conducting the sale were doing what they do, unpack and set up and price. Her two daughters and one son-in-law were here and she borrowed another truck from a friend so two trucks we got the buffet for home and white chest for the new room in the shop I was taking and backyard furniture and stuff. Did I mention I was soaked when I came in? That I stripped down naked and waited til I cooled off enough to take a shower? That evening I went over to my daughters house to do the dog and cat thing while they were gone for the weekend.

Sunday morning the same thing. Dog and cat thing. My sister and her daughter, here for a week from New Mexico, got the garage at the old house empty. One more thing to mark off the list.

Monday, Pam and daughter went and got one truckload of plants in pots. I joined them with my truck for two more truckloads of plants. Still at least another truckload or two of plants and yard stuff. Stopped a little after 11 AM. 

Did I mention I was soaked when I came in? That I stripped naked and stood there til I cooled off enough to take a shower? Our friend Gene whose studio we stored for three years had cabin fever and so brought out the three section steel sink he was giving us that he didn't have room for and we had a nice visit. After our late lunch I went out to my daughter's house and visited and appropriated 7 spindles from their bundle so Rocky could finish the last handrail of the little porch on Pam's new house.

I noticed a 'maker's tag' on the inside of one of the doors of the buffet, or sideboard as the company called it, I got from Pam...Summers guaranteed hand-made furniture. 

I looked them up. They have a FB page. English company which closed in 1950, the year I was born. The son and granddaughter live in the US. I sent them pictures and he says this piece was probably late 1930s.

We got 3/4” of rain on Sunday, at Pam's old house 2 1/2”, accompanied with thunder and lightning. Not enough to lift the burn ban which is a shame because a very large limb fell off the native pecan at the back edge of the property sometime Sunday or Sunday night. Too bad it didn't land on the bitch's container and fall onto her property. It probably did hit her container but it fell our way onto the end of one of the flower beds which is mostly daylilies and salvias so I don't think it damaged anything but it's going to be a bitch to cut up and haul away. The big end must be 10" in diameter.

All that work wore me out I guess because I didn't wake up til almost 9 this (Tuesday) morning.

Sunday, September 6, 2020

week 24 and week 25

Trump's new pandemic doctor with zero experience in epidemiology is pushing the 'herd immunity' concept. Herd immunity is just another word for 'survival of the fittest'. So what that means is let everyone get sick, let the weak die, and the strong survive. The only problem with this though is that just because you don't die doesn't mean your health won't be compromised as a result and neither is there any proof of long lasting immunity if you contract and recover from covid-19. This is the approach Sweden pursued to disastrous results with a higher per capita death rate than the US.


Turns out covid-19 really likes your nose. A study published by Cell (a cell press journal) reports that the nasal regions are far more susceptible to covid-19 infections than the mouth and exhales from the nose also contain more infectious particles. From the nose it moves into the lower respiratory tract via respiration. So if you don't cover your nose when wearing a mask you aren't really protecting yourself or anyone else. 


MSN reports the CDC has notified all 50 states to begin preparing for distribution of a covid-19 vaccine to frontline workers and other high risk groups by late October or early November as Dr. Fauci and the head of the FDA Dr. Hahn have reported that a vaccine might be available before the completion of clinical trials if the data is overwhelmingly positive. Public health officials all agree that agencies at all levels of government should prepare in advance for what will be a huge task of vaccinating the American public but they also have concerns about how fast these vaccines are being rushed for approval and how much politics plays into it to get them released before election day in November as opposed to concern for the safety of the vaccine and the public health. The two vaccines being rushed both utilize gene slicing of RNA. I personally will not take any vaccine produced by this method, especially ones rushed through clinical trials and testing. They have no idea what the long term implications are of changing a person's RNA and those changes will be inherited down the line. 


Here's the link to the NYT vaccine tracker again. 


Several drug makers working on vaccines are coming together and signing a pledge not to seek government approval of any vaccine candidate without having undergone stringent safety and scientific protocols that prove them to be safe. “We believe this pledge will help ensure public confidence in the COVID-19 vaccines that may ultimately be approved and adherence to the rigorous scientific and regulatory process by which they are evaluated,” the draft statement says.” This appears to be in reaction to Trump's political pressure and promises to have a vaccine by October. 


Trump has declined to allow the US to join an international cooperative effort to develop and distribute a covid-19 vaccine, insuring that everyone no matter where they live will have access to it no matter which country first succeeds in developing one, because it is connected to the WHO, the organization that Trump has withdrawn the US from because they don't support Trump's misinformation about the virus. More than 150 countries are setting up the COVID-19 Vaccines Global Access Facility, or COVAX. Trump, as usual, prefers to go it alone to reap whatever profits he can from it which leaves America at the risk of not getting a vaccine until the US develops one. 


From Medium, researchers utilized a supercomputer to crunch data on more than 40,000 genes from 17,000 genetic samples in an effort to better understand Covid-19. Once researchers analyzed the results they found “The computer had revealed a new theory about how Covid-19 impacts the body: the bradykinin hypothesis. The hypothesis provides a model that explains many aspects of Covid-19, including some of its most bizarre symptoms. It also suggests 10-plus potential treatments, many of which are already FDA approved.” A few excerpts follow but I recommend everyone read the entire article. 

According to the team’s findings, a Covid-19 infection generally begins when the virus enters the body through ACE2 receptors in the nose, (The receptors, which the virus is known to target, are abundant there.) The virus then proceeds through the body, entering cells in other places where ACE2 is also present: the intestines, kidneys, and heart. This likely accounts for at least some of the disease’s cardiac and GI symptoms...Covid-19 isn’t content to simply infect cells that already express lots of ACE2 receptors. Instead, it actively hijacks the body’s own systems, tricking it into upregulating ACE2 receptors in places where they’re usually expressed at low or medium levels, including the causes the body’s mechanisms for regulating (the chemical) bradykinin to go haywire...The end result, the researchers say, is to release a bradykinin storm — a massive, runaway buildup of bradykinin in the body. According to the bradykinin hypothesis, it’s this storm that is ultimately responsible for many of Covid-19’s deadly effects."


Texas is still second in total number of cases with more deaths than California which has the most number of cases.


Current US statistics as of today 9/6/20, 14:58 GMT: cases – 6,434,526, deaths – 192,886

Friday, September 4, 2020

summer reading list

The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern – There is a pirate in the basement. There are three paths. The son of the fortune teller cuts through the alley behind the building where he lives and sees a painted door so realistic that he knows if he reaches for the door knob and turns it the door will open into a magic place and yet he does not because he does not have faith that what he feels is real. Years later this boy, Zachary, working on his thesis stumbles on a mysterious book on a high shelf on the upper floor of the library, a book with no author and no publisher. He begins to read Sweet Sorrows. He reads about the pirate, he reads about one of the three paths, he reads about the son of the fortune teller, himself. So begins a story of stories. Beneath the surface of the earth is a magic place, the Harbor on the shores of the Starless Sea, a sort of library of every story told, being told, will be told. This particular story is very old and is coming to an end as it has many times before. Zachary, in his effort to learn more about the book in which a part of his life is written, finds his way to a masked ball where he meets people integrally connected to the Harbor: Mirabell who paints doors because, Alegra who is destroying them to protect the Harbor, and Dorian who pushes him through a door but does not manage to enter it himself before he is captured by Alegra and the door destroyed. Zachary finds himself in the Heart of the now empty and deserted Harbor facing the Keeper. There are stories within the story...Fate and Time fall in love, the Moon and the Innkeeper, the Owl King, the other paths, the story sculptor, among others...that help explain the story though near the end it all takes a weird turn as Zachary finds himself alone in the depths of previous Harbors on the quest thrust upon him by Fate and Time. I may have to read this one again. I really enjoyed it but there is a lot to keep track of and you must just accept things as they are presented even if they don't make sense. This is the author's second novel. Her first one is The Night Circus which I thoroughly enjoyed as well.

The Tea Girl Of Hummingbird Lane by Lisa See – Li-Yan, or Girl, as her family calls her is the youngest of four siblings and the only girl. Her family is of the Akha tribe living in the remote tea mountains of China who make their living, as all the villagers do as well as all the neighboring villages, picking tea leaves. Li-Yan excels in school and the teacher convinces her family and tribe to continue her education as an asset to the village.But Li-Yan begins to chaff against the traditions of the Akha and her family insisting on marrying a boy who is known to be a less than desirable husband. Nevertheless Li-Yan and San-Pa at 16 dedicate themselves to each other and after he leaves to go make his mark and then return for her, she discovers she is pregnant, so her mother, the region's healer and mid-wife conspires to hide her daughter's pregnancy and delivers the baby in secret since San-Pa has not returned and the child would be considered a 'human reject' and would be smothered instantly. Li-Yan then makes the 2 day journey to the nearest town where she abandons the baby girl to an orphanage and then returns home. San-Pa arrives months later, they marry and leave to return to Thailand where San-Pa has been living but stop at the orphanage only to learn that their daughter was adopted by an American family. When Li-Yan discovers her husband is a heroin addict she runs away but is not allowed to return to her village so her former teacher secures a spot in a trade school for her and Li-Yan begins another new life. The story follows Li-Yan's fortunes, always connected to tea, and that of her daughter who yearns to know who her birth parents are and why they abandoned her. She has one clue, a special tea cake that was in her swaddling when she was given up though all her efforts to identify the wrapping on the tea cake have failed. Until...

The Signature Of All Things by Elizabeth Gilbert – I did not realize when I checked this book out that it was the same author as Eat, Pray, Love, a book I have not read and don't intend to read even though it said so right there on the front cover. This book is about 500 pages but I swear it felt twice that long. The author is very wordy and she beleaguers ideas. More than once the book became tedious, other times the story moved along well enough. The story follows the life of Alma Whitaker, born to the richest man in Philadelphia in 1800, the only surviving child of her parents. This is how the book starts and then abandons her to tell the story of who her father was and how he became the richest man in Philadelphia through botanical and pharmaceutical trade before getting back around to Alma, a homely child, tall and big boned, with an extraordinary mind who was given free range to explore and study her surroundings, who was not just allowed but required to sit through dinners with all the guests that came every day to see her father and listen to and even participate in the adult discussions, an upbringing that basically made her unmarriagable. The book follows Alma's life as she grows to adulthood as a botanist, becomes her father's partner in the family business after her mother dies, sees the man she loves marry another, continues her studies and published works as she focuses on mosses, meets a man a decade her junior which turns into a disastrous 1 month marriage and here is where the book got stupid. She banishes her husband to Tahiti to manage the vanilla plantation where he dies a few years later. Her father dies and she gives away all her money to her adopted sister and travels to Tahiti to 'discover' who her husband really was. The whole Tahiti section I could have done without. Stupid. She leaves after a year or so and moves to Holland where she lives the rest of her life refusing to publish her thesis on evolution because it's not 'perfect'. Darwin beats her to it. She's in her 90s when the book ends. I've given you the basic outline so you won't have to bother reading it. To be fair, there were parts of the book I enjoyed.

The Vanishing by Jayne Ann Krentz – a quick pick off the new arrivals shelf at the library. I had never heard of her and there were a few hints that this was in the romance genre but it didn't become fully apparent until about 3/4s of the way through the book but her enormous published book list should have been a dead giveaway. She writes under three names and this name alone had 39 titles. Decades ago the government opened various secret labs around the country to investigate and try to weaponize paranormal energy but something went wrong and one of the labs hidden in a cave complex next to the small town of Fogg Lake exploded and engulfed the town in a cloud that caused the residents to sleep for two days. When they woke up they all had new strange abilities that were passed down to their children. Catalina and Olivia, best friends in high school decide to spend the night in one of the caves, a regular rite of passage for the teens of Fogg Lake, and when they hear male voices coming into the cavern where they are set up, they grab all their stuff and go hide behind a boulder where they witness a murder, the body thrown into the swiftly running underground river. The murderer sees the camp lantern the girls forgot to grab and starts toward them as they run deeper into the tunnel where they run through a psychic energy shield stumbling into/onto a part of the lost lab where they spend the night. The murderer gave up and disappeared. The girls make their way out, tell their story and when no evidence of a murder is found, they are disbelieved and eventually convinced that they were hallucinating. Now, two decades later, Catalina and Olivia have opened their own investigation agency using their peculiar talents to help them solve cases when Olivia is kidnapped and Catalina nearly so. Two murders of collectors of 'hot' paranormal items have taken place and so the Foundation, a private agency that tries to keep an eye on the paranormal community, has sent an agent, Slater Arganbright (gotta love that name) to ask for Catalina's help and she in turn enlists his help to find Olivia and in fact the kidnapping and the murders and the decades old murder in the cave are all connected. The hot romance/sex is of course between Catalina and Slater. The good guys win, the bad guys meet their fate, at least the ones they knew about.

The Double Comfort Safari Club by Alexander McCall Smith – the further adventures of Mma Remotswe and Mma Makutsi...a trip to a safari camp to find a specific guide, an investigation into possible marital infedelity, and rescuing Mma Makutsi's fiancee from the clutches of his aunt.

The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides – Famous painter Alicia and her in-demand fashion photographer husband Gabriel seem to have a perfect life together, in love and both at the top of their careers until one night Alicia shoots her husband in the face 5 times and slits her wrists. Found in time, she survives but never speaks again. In the weeks that follow Alicia paints a self portrait and titles it Alcestis, the heroine of a Greek tragedy, and after her trial she is remanded to a secure psychiatric unit. Theo grew up with an angry verbally abusive and violent father and a fearful submissive mother and spent years in therapy with Ruth trying to overcome the feelings of failure and unworthiness instilled by his father and becomes a psychotherapist himself and falls in love/lust with a woman who seems to return the intensity of their relationship. All is well until Theo discovers she is having an affair. So the story follows two threads, Theo's discovery of his wife's betrayal which churns up all his old feelings and Theo's desire to help, to cure, Alicia, determined to get her to speak again and to that end he goes far beyond the doctor/patient relationship interviewing members of Alicia's family to try and understand what event in her life triggered the murder of her husband and he does succeed in getting her to communicate which ends in another apparent suicide attempt. It seems these two story lines are concurrent until the end when we discover that Theo unwittingly played a crucial part in Alicia's breakdown the night she killed her husband.

Crooked River by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child – another Pendergast novel. After solving his most recent case, Pendergast and his ward/companion Constance, are relaxing on a remote Florida island when his boss shows up and asks him to interrupt his vacation and come look at a crime scene knowing that once he does Pendergast will be hooked and take on the case. The crime scene is a Florida beach where over the course of three days over a hundred amputated feet all wearing the exact same shoe wash up on shore. While Pendergast is investigating, Constance rents a victorian mansion scheduled to be demolished and sets out to solve a mystery of her own concerning the house. Pendergast enlists the aid of an ocean scientist researching drift patterns in the Gulf of Mexico as well as his one time partner from the last case, Agent Coldmoon. As they get closer to understanding where the feet came from, they encounter interference in the investigation and Pendergast and Dr. Gladstone are captured by their powerful enemy and it is up to Coldmoon and Constance to rescue them before they are killed. And let me just say that Constance is one bad ass.