Friday, September 29, 2023

a confession and a tirade

Thursday's are my SHARE days and yesterday I should have just kept my big mouth shut and now I have to offer an apology to one of the other volunteers. This woman works in the clothing area supervising clients making their selections so I don't normally interact with her all that much. She's loud mouthed and pushy in my opinion (yes, I know, people have said the same about me) and I took an instant dislike to her when she first started volunteering which I admit is inherently unfair but I feel like I've sort of suppressed that over the last year or so and I try to be pleasant to her when we interact. Anyway last week because of the food shortage and the dwindling grant money to purchase food, J sent around a memo for us all to sign saying we would not be allowed to take any food purchased for SHARE or donated unless it was a perishable at the end of the day that we had no room to either refrigerate or freeze till the next week.

Now we all on occasion, some of us more than others, have helped ourselves to things that have been bought or donated especially at the end of the day when there are things like day old milk that we get from the dollar stores left over. We can give it out that day but we can't give it out the next week when it's a week out of date or if we get a lot of meat or fish or desserts that we don't have freezer space for it all or like the box of sausages that we couldn't give out because they weren't pre-packaged. But this is all done at the end of the day, not at 11 AM strolling back and helping yourself to whatever meat you want from the freezer because you have guests coming for the weekend. I rarely take stuff for myself though I have. 95% of what I take goes to a neighbor at the other end of the street who has a raft of grandkids she cares for.

So yesterday, this woman came back to the food area where we were all standing around in between food orders wanting candy, gotta have candy for her sweet tooth (and we did get a butt load of chocolate bars that morning from one of the dollar stores) and that's when I opened my big mouth and told her that this food wasn't for us, that we all signed the memo last week about not taking stuff, and if she wanted candy go buy it. When she started complaining about how much candy cost I walked back to my station removing myself from the conversation. And here's the thing, it was a candy bar, not a rack of ribs or something equally egregious, several people had already helped themselves to a candy bar or a small bag of chips and I didn't say anything to them.

Then she came back to where I was, wanted to know what was my problem, that if I have a problem with her to say it to her face (which is what I did I thought) and you take stuff too and I work hard and deserve what I take and I put money in the jar. I wasn't about to argue with her over who takes what, when, or for what reason, I just turned my back on her and went about my job until she finally went back to her station.

Because it really wasn't about her wanting a chocolate bar.

Ten minutes before, she had been going around to every volunteer with her phone telling people to be sure and vote for her man and, big surprise, it was a picture of Trump. When she approached me I just shook my head and walked away and she walked over to the guys, same thing, saying he's better than who we have now destroying the country, heading us into a recession. I managed to keep my mouth shut then because of course there's no convincing a MAGAt who only gets their information from Fox or OAN that Trump is pure evil and doesn't give a shit about anyone but himself and intends if elected again to consolidate power in the presidency, throw his detractors in jail, fill every position with people loyal only to him instead of the constitution or law, and fulfill his dream of being a dictator like Putin or Erdogan or Kim Jon Ung all of whom he admires; a convicted rapist, a vindictive liar who refused to accept defeat in a fair and secure election and called his thugs to overrun the Capitol to kill or otherwise incapacitate his vice president and Speaker Pelosi and prevent the peaceful transfer of power that has been a hallmark of our democratic system of government, twice impeached for extortion and dereliction of duty, a criminal indicted four times on 91 counts, who stole highly classified sensitive documents concerning our national security and refused to return them (why exactly do you think the Saudis gave Kushner $2 BILLION), who has had all his business certificates rescinded in NY for fraud and that's just a very short list. Besides not wanting to get into an inappropriate and useless argument with a MAGAt, I do not bring politics into SHARE, none of us do, but me personally, I DO NOT WANT TO KNOW if any of my fellow volunteers support Trump, a man who is ordering the far right 'Freedom Caucus' controlled House to shut down the government in a bid to get the investigations and indictments against him to disappear regardless of how it will negatively affect hundreds of thousands of federal workers, our national security, and our standing on the world stage. I do not want to know because it will permanently negatively affect my opinion of them.

So next week I have to go apologize to this woman for jumping on her over a candy bar because it's really none of my business what she takes or who she votes for.

Monday, September 25, 2023

busy as a little bee was me

Yesterday I went to the fish market down the highway and got two catfish filets for a recipe I want to try on my next night to fix dinner and then I spent the rest of the day finally finishing wading through those two boxes (previously I had basically just emptied them and the stuff was scattered on the floor) one of which had small frames with pictures of family members, old old pictures. All the pictures were ruined from the flood and most of the frames. I did salvage a few of the frames like these two that had very old pictures of my grandparents as children (you can't tell from the picture but the glass in the frames is curved so I'm glad they weren't ruined)

and these little petite mosaic frames (they still need a little more cleaning)

but I'm still soaking the photos off the glass that goes with other frames salvaged to which they are securely stuck.

The other box had just a mish mash of things like a Halloween witch made from a gourd,

some glassware left over from when I was making the garden totems and flowers, some cast metal pieces that were part of a wind chime kind of thing, a turtle shell, a small ceramic bowl, the broken tea cup bird feeder, some small ceramic faces from another long ago art project,

stuff like that.

Decades ago, before even we started doing the pate de verre cast glass work, I made a lot of these, I don't know what to call them really, they aren't dolls, more like totems. Anyway, I gave some away to friends like the one done up as Carmen Miranda for a river guide friend who was hiking in the desert and had run out of water and was having mild hallucinations when he saw another guide friend mirage dressed up like Carmen. I sold some and kept these four, the last ones I made. They're about 16” tall. They got more and more elaborate as I worked through them, first ones being much simpler. Right now I have them in a glass display case but most the time past they've just been on a shelf getting dusty so they're a little worse for wear having been cleaned several times over the years and the copper wire of the decorations are now all tarnished.

So that's the art project the little faces were for.

The sorted stuff is either in a box to take to SHARE or in a box by the door to be taken over to the shop and stored over there or in the trash. Don't ask me why it all didn't go straight in the trash, I'm an artist/crafter and I might want to use it someday.

Then I consolidated my scrap fabric and leftover quilt padding in a larger plastic storage box, gathered up my colored pencils, watercolors, sketchbook, and various watercolor related stuff into the now vacated smaller plastic storage box as all that stuff had just been laying out on a shelf, rearranged some of the pictures in my bedroom and hung a couple of others, and finally swept the floor in the activity room.

Now I need to go take the hummingbird feeders down, clean them, and refill. 

Friday, September 22, 2023

changes and what the rain brought

The days have been getting shorter since the Solstice but it was so incremental that it was barely noticeable. Getting dark by 9:00 instead of 9:30 seemed to take forever and then a couple of weeks ago I was closing up the garage door and was shocked to see it was full dark at 8:30. Whoa! When did that happen! The arc of the sun has shifted giving us that golden light in the early evenings and while it's still hot during the day, there's a subtle difference in the air, mornings are cooler.

I put the hummingbird feeders out a couple of days ago. They aren't being mobbed but there are two that spend more time chasing each other off than feeding.

A few days after the rain last week, rain lilies started popping up. My small yellow ones have really multiplied and put on a gorgeous display.

Then the small white ones started popping up in places I didn't even know they were, just a few here and there though over at the shop yard they're popping up all over.

The large white rain lilies that a friend gave me sent up a couple but so far not the ones I dug up on the side of the road.

And this morning I saw a pink one in the front flower bed.

I'm getting sort of anxious to do stuff outside but it's still just too hot and 5 days out of seven in the evenings I'm either at yoga class or cooking dinner so that leaves mornings and what I get done depends on how early or late I get up. Also, my mind is drifting over to the shop more and more these days to get it cleaned up and reorganized and actually do some work. I've been doing some little nit picking here at the house, sorting through two boxes that have been hanging around since the flood, stuff that I obviously haven't wanted or needed and I'm tired of shifting them around. And I emptied the last container of dead headed zinnias, pulling the seeds out and bagging them up for next spring, finally put the sewing machine away from when we were working on Jade's quilt. I was going to sort through those boxes some more today but we watched the two latest episodes of Only Murders In The Building and then discovered there were two more episodes of Reservation Dogs in season 3 when we thought we had seen them all and that was a nice surprise, so we watched episode 9 and 10, the very last, will be released next week.

And then we got an unexpected unpredicted rain shower this afternoon that gave us ¼” so maybe the long dry spell is over.

Tuesday, September 19, 2023

better temps, supply run, and garden prep

We did not get any more rain but the temps have adjusted down to mid to low 90s. After this horrible summer it's amazing how tolerable that feels.

My life is so exciting that I cannot remember what I did on Saturday. Apparently nothing. Oh, I guess we finished watching season 3 of Reservation Dogs. I had replied to a comment that it has been canceled but then I read that season 3 was written as and intended to be the last season which is a shame because it is so good.

Sunday I read all day trying to plow through this last book of a trilogy which I'm totally over to the point that I'm just skimming over some pages. Depends if there's action or just the same sort of dialog that has been prevalent through all three books.

I did haul two cart loads of fallen tree debris over to the burn pile and trimmed two small branches off the yew tree over the deck with my little mini chainsaw and picked up the dropped pecans which I hadn't done for two days. When they drop early and with the husks still on they're either rotten inside or empty. I've filled two 5 gallon buckets to the rim and am a little less than halfway on a third. Still, I look up and see plenty of pecans on the trees. My neighbor thinks the ones being dropped are at the tops of the trees getting scorched by the horrible heat and lack of rain.

We did a run to Spec's (liquor warehouse) and Costco today to stock up. Spec's is in the shopping mecca in Rosenberg and Costco a little farther in Sugar Land which is basically an extension of Houston nowadays. When they built that Costco out there it was in the middle of nowhere, standing alone. Now it's surrounded by another shopping mecca and housing developments. Houston is slowly inexorably stretching out towards us. This visit to Costco was a little disappointing. They did not have the cereal I buy, they did not have the samosas, they did not have bird seed, and when I asked about the chia seeds the woman told me she heard they had been discontinued. They did have the spanikopita which they haven't had the last several times we've been though I think it's a different brand. They used to carry the short grain brown rice which I like but haven't had that for years which is why I buy it online now. You know what they did have? A million different versions of moon cakes. OK, maybe not a million. And Christmas. They had Christmas out the wazoo, just passed over Halloween and Thanksgiving altogether though I did see a rack of Halloween costumes. Anyway, I just avoid those isles.

Since this morning was the coolest morning we've had so far I grabbed the shovel and turned the dirt where the tomatoes and zinnias were this spring to start getting it ready for the winter garden. It was perfect for digging, not too wet from the rain, not hard and dry. I'll mix in some compost and fertilizer before I plant.

That 2” of rain after so long without has prompted the yellow rain lilies. The camera would not focus on the rain lilies no matter how many times I tried.

And while I don't have any surprise lilies (yet hopefully) or hurricane lilies as Ms Moon calls them, the oxblood lilies are popping up all over.

Oh, just saw a hummingbird come hover right outside my window looking in.

Saturday, September 16, 2023

rain! well, sort of, and other activities

It's Friday and the weather app on my phone still claims there is an 88% chance of rain today. Empty promises. It's raining somewhere I guess, just not here. We've had two little showers since yesterday, maybe a 1/4” total. Just enough to make it humid but at least it hasn't hit the 90s yet.

The new hose I got for the front isn't long enough. I need at least 20 more feet so Wednesday I decided to do a single repair on one of the hoses I replaced but hadn't got rid of yet and to connect it to the new one. After a frustrating half hour I gave up (no need to go into the details, suffice to say it was being an asshole) and now my old hose isn't just old but also useless as well since it's in two pieces.

Thursday morning's sky on my way to SHARE.

It was a food delivery day from the Food Bank in Victoria. Jan had ordered three boxes of sausage that they had on the list. When we opened the first box, this is what we saw...

small loose sausages; beef and pork brats with cheese fully cooked and frozen, not the separately packaged sausages that Jan thought she was ordering. We can't give those out because they are not prepackaged and we don't have the facility required by the state to package them ourselves. So in between filling food orders we filled zip lock bags with the sausages from one box for the volunteers to take home or give away. The other two boxes she took to two religious organizations that have residents while they recover from the bad choices they've made in their lives.

We also got not one but two of the giant cartons of watermelons and so we also took a lot of those home to share with friends and neighbors since in this hot weather there's no guarantee they will still be good a week later.

On Friday after two nights of not sleeping well because the dog was in panic mode from the thunder that did not bring us any rain, I was sleepy. I should go take a nap but I probably won't.

Actually I did lay down to take a nap and just as I was about relaxed enough to drift off my phone rang. It was Rocky. When I took him some watermelons and sausages on my way home from SHARE I asked if he could help me get rid of some old appliances. You might remember when Marc was in the hospital the water heater crapped out on me and the old one has been in the garage all this time. And then soon after he got out of the hospital we bought a new washer and dryer. The old washer was so old replacement parts weren't always available when it needed repair and the dryer just as old. The washer still worked but it wasn't really doing a great job and then the dryer quit in protest. I'd been availing myself of my sister's dryer. Anyway, the old washer and dryer have been sitting outside in front of the overhead garage door we rarely open ever since because we were too cheap to pay $40 each to have them hauled away when the new ones were delivered plus there are two metal junk yards here in town one of which is at the end of the road our street ends at and we have a truck and a trailer. But the truck is always full of downed branches waiting to be taken across the street to the burn pile and always has a dead battery. So a couple of weeks ago Marc got the battery charged, emptied the truck, got it inspected, and was going to get a new battery so we could finally load up the old appliances when a pulley fell off the engine. So back to Rocky. I've got a guy he said. I'll call him cause I've got some metal trash for him to haul away too. And so they showed up yesterday and those old appliances were finally hauled away.

All in all, over two days, we got about 5/8” of rain while areas north and east got pounded. Still some storm activity out there so we could get more today but probably not. So this morning I picked up the piles of dead zinnias and ginger and hauled all that over to the burn pile in the garden cart and then picked up a cart's load of fallen sticks and branches but did not haul that over yet as I was sweating by then, not that hot out but very humid, though I'm going to have to throw a strap around that mountain of sticks before I do.

Later I got out there with my little mini battery operated chainsaw to cut up five large branches into more manageable size since the truck is out of commission and I have only the garden cart to trundle stuff over to the burn pile. Then I went to the very back corner of the property and just started cutting away at the ropes of wild grape vines that are trying to take over the big cedar tree and the dead raintree and from there into one of my pecan trees which Will. Not. Happen.

Tuesday, September 12, 2023

maybe finally cooling off a bit and other activity

The shrimp never made it into gumbo as we ate them for dinner that night.

This month or more of triple digits preceded by 2 months or more of high 90s has altered my perception of 'comfortable'. I was outside around 6 PM one day last week and it was almost pleasant. It was 92˚. This morning when I went out before 8, it was almost cool outside though I failed to look and see what the temp was. Sitting on the deck this evening it was comfortable, low 90s (with the benefit of low humidity). I looked at the forecast and no one need worry that I might swoon and fall and hit my head on the 23rd. The high temp has been upgraded to 95˚. I knew it was too good to be true. This morning though when I went out about 7:30 it was definitely pleasantly cool at 76˚. This is a real improvement since it hasn't dropped into the 70s in months.

My big activity Sunday was scrubbing all three bird baths clean of all the algae and crud that had built up. I had to use a steel bristled brush though to get through it all. It just laughed at my plastic bristled scrub brush. They haven't been this clean since they were brand new.

Yesterday afternoon we watched three episodes of Reservation Dogs, a series that follows the lives of four Native American teenagers growing up on a reservation in rural Oklahoma. It's streaming on Hulu and maybe Disneyplus. There's three seasons and we just started season two. It's described as a comedy, and it is, but it's also much deeper than that. I recommend it if you're looking for something to watch.

Some miscellaneous pictures...

Sunrise coming through the glass in the back door.

This frog hangs out by the hose bib in the backyard. Generally I only see the movement out of the corner of my eye when it leaps away but this day it leapt just a short distance and let me take a picture. It blends in well don't you think?

My datura finally started blooming.

Bees drinking from the birdbath.

This sunset was awesome. I took a lot of pictures and it was hard to settle on these three. Top: looking southwest. Middle: looking west, Bottom: while all that was happening, this was looking east.

Saturday, September 9, 2023

actually getting off my butt and doing stuff

The weather peeps say that yesterday, Friday, was our last triple digit day of the year and sure enough today's predicted high is a mere 98˚ (currently 99˚ at I PM) and this morning was, dare I say, almost pleasant? I mean I didn't ooze out a single drop of sweat while I was out watering. High temps will slowly diminish over the next two weeks to the low 90s with lows in the mid to low 70s and on the 23rd, gasp, a high of 86˚. I think I'll just swoon if that happens.

Yesterday I finally got the piece for the gallery boxed up and ready to send. It'll go out Monday.

I had gone over to the shop to get boxes and packing material and determined that none of my boxes were big enough or square enough and no bubble wrap so I grabbed the scale and the big bag of shredded paper (old shredded records from SHARE) (I'll take that to the recycling center I told them, that being my shop for packing material) turning my back on the last big box of miscellaneous foam pieces from previous years of sending to and receiving work from galleries that are no longer existent. A trip to the Evil Empire and I had bubble wrap, tape, and three different sizes of boxes that surely would do. And yes, I used the smallest box and the biggest of the three but I had to cut down the height of one by 5” and the other by 7”. Anyway, this was probably the fastest I have ever packed up a piece. That shredded paper is genius. No dicking around with foam, cutting it down or finding shapes and sizes that were usable, no fucking peanuts to bag up and stuff in. A 2” layer on the bottom, the bubble wrapped piece with more stuffed around the edges and a 2” layer on top, done. Same for the little box inside the bigger box (I always double box my work when sending it to the gallery).

Well, Cat did not learn her lesson spending the night outside Monday night. Wednesday evening sitting on the deck with Cat stretched out nearby

when my neighbor (the Wicked Bitch of the West's son) pulled into the empty lot next door with his big truck and trailer. Cat is easily spooked and she shot off the deck and under the house and would not come when called. So she spent another night outside but I had once again propped open the garage door and left the light on and when I got up Thursday morning and opened the door to the garage, there she was on the mat. She's shown no interest in going out since.

I finally got some caulk in my constant battle to outsmart the ants. I've actually gotten kind of blasé about them. They've been in the trash can in the kitchen the last two mornings so I moved one of the ant baits there which they got all excited about and today there were far fewer. Regardless, the afternoon's activity is caulking all around the pocket door casing between the kitchen and the activity room. Which I did and man was that a chore, mostly because the side with the door only provided a slot about 3/8th of an inch access so I had to use a putty knife to slide it in there with caulk on it and goop it in there as best as I could without really being able to see what I was doing all that well. So it ain't pretty on that side but you can't tell unless you look in there with a flashlight.

After breakfast today I drove out to the Peach Creek Market just down the highway. It's recently been bought by a new guy and he's expanding what they offer bringing in locally grown produce to augment the peaches, pecans, local honey, all kinds of canned stuff...pickled everything and sauces and oils and stuff like that. Today I got peaches (unprecedented to still have Hill Country peaches at this time of year but apparently spring was late and the trees flowered late), okra, cucumbers, and garlic. Then I went next door to the new seafood market that recently opened and got a pound of medium sized Gulf shrimp. I guess gumbo is in our future.

Despite the horrible heat the yellow bells are blooming, the porterweed just finished a round of blooms, the pink trumpet flower shrub thing, andthe rangoon creeper.

Tuesday, September 5, 2023

ants, Cat on the roof, shortages

Five days without ants in the house. They showed up again yesterday, not a whole lot, two or three dozen on the kitchen counter, and a few this morning. They seem to be coming in somewhere through the vertical row of drawers I keep utensils, baking dishes, and pots and pans in. I pulled out the top drawer with utensils but have to empty the two deep drawers before I can pull them out and see what there is to see.

The status quo re the weather has not changed though we did get a sudden little burst of a rain storm yesterday which lasted less than 15 minutes, gave us about 1/4” in the rain gauge, and the sun came out immediately and started turning that newly fallen water into steam. Oh goodie.

The only thing of note in the last few days was last night. I'm determined to use the deck out front so I've been sitting outside in the 90˚s temps around 6:30 in the evening for a half hour or forty five minutes. Cat and Minnie come out with me though Minnie generally wants back in after a while so it's me and Cat and she's usually laying down somewhere near me. But last night when I was about ready to come in she was over by the yew tree looking up in it and the next thing I knew she was in it and on the roof. Damn it Cat. She ignored me calling her and sauntered off on the other side of the peak. Fine, stay up there. I checked on her several times, she was still up there when I was ready to turn in. Fine, stay out all night. I propped the garage door open and left the light on inside and went to bed. This morning I went out on the deck and called her and she came running out from the garage, letting me know how unhappy she was that she had to spend the night outside.

Bored with my ennui and lack of motivation yesterday I finally made myself cut down the box and pack up Jade's quilt to send it off to Joanne's sister to do the quilting. And I need to go over to the shop today and gather up packing material and bring it over here and pack up the piece for the gallery's anniversary show and get them both in the mail.

I think I mentioned that the juvenile cardinals had been eating my succulents, gnawing three of the down to nothing and now they've pretty much decimated the paddle plant. Oh well, fewer things to have to bring in for the winter.

Jan at SHARE got an email last week from the food bank in Victoria, and I assume all the other smaller local food banks they service as well, that since they are having a hard time getting supplies due to a food shortage we should no longer consider them our primary source but supplemental to our other sources of food and goods. All well and good except there are no other regular sources. We get donations from individuals and when organizations have food drives but they aren't regular and we never know who, what, when, or how much comes in. Our other source is grant money and Jan will use that to buy (at retail prices) food and small appliances from the two grocery store and Walmart here. Hopefully when the current grant money runs out we will have found another source because you can't apply for the same grant every year (we have to wait three years to apply for this particular grant again). We'll still get shipments once a week from Victoria (which we pay for btw but they often send stuff we didn't order which we don't have to pay for) but we probably won't get all we order. Jan figures they will start rationing based on how many people each food bank serves. It's been slim pickings for most of this whole year really. Things we used to get every month aren't even on the list anymore. I'm already rationing some of the the canned goods we do have so people are getting less than what is on the lists for A, B, C, D, and E sized families. It's give a few a lot or give more a little less. Right now the main shortages in my area at SHARE are canned corn, canned fruit, fruit juice, tomato sauce, and mashed potato flakes.

The shortages are due to a culmination of many factors...lingering supply chain problems from covid; climate change causing extreme weather like droughts, floods, and disease/pests; war in Ukraine; labor shortages due to anti-immigration and anti-immigrant policies like in Florida causing produce and fruit to rot in the fields, delays in transporting, and packing plants to be idle; shortage of packaging materials like glass, plastic, paper, and aluminum so even when there's enough grain, fruit, and vegetables being grown and harvested, it's not getting processed, packaged, or delivered...and we have no idea how long these conditions will prevail.

So on that happy note, here's a picture of the sunset from one evening last week.

Sunday, September 3, 2023

spring/summer reading list part 2

Here's the second half.

The House At The End Of The World
by Dean Kootnz – Katie loses her parents and daughters in a gang attack on the ice cream shop in which they are sitting. There is no justice because the father of one of the punks is highly connected but she pursues it anyway. And then her husband is killed in a hit and run and as he is dying extracts a promise from Katie to live, live for him and their two girls. Katie buys an island, Jacob's Ladder, at the end of an archipelago in an enormous lake arming herself and stocking up with a two year supply of food and goods. One day intense activity occurs on and around the nearby island of Ringrock reported to be a secret government installation. Soon after two secret government men come to Katie's island looking for an escapee and then all hell starts to break loose. That evening 14 year old Libby who has barely escaped with her life from the other near island, Oak Haven, is standing on Jacob's Ladder knocking on Katie's door. Libby's parents are the lead scientists on Ringrock and one day she gained access to her father's computer and learned that an alien life form was discovered and has been studied and has now escaped and threatens the very existence of life on Earth if not stopped. Katie and Libby must escape Jacob's Ladder for the mainland, escaping not only the alien life form but also the government men trying to silence them permanently.

The Little Shop Of Found Things by Paula Brackston – I had no idea what this book was about when I asked the library to get it for me through the lend program with other country libraries but the title intrigued me. I don't know what I was expecting but it wasn't what I read. Flora, newly divorced, and her 20 something daughter Xanthe (really?) have just bought an old antique store in the town of Marlborough whose previous proprietor had died. Xanthe has a talent for getting glimpses of an object's past when she holds it, psychometry, and at auction she holds a chatelaine, a set of short chains that the mistress of the house wore from which dangled various objects she needed close to hand, and got the strongest reaction she had ever experienced and so bought it. In the yard behind the shop Xanthe uncovers a rounded stone hut, a blind house, used to hold prisoners until they can be transferred to court. There she encounters ghost Margaret who tells her to use the chatelaine to go back to the 17th century to save her wrongly accused daughter, ladies maid Alice, of theft whereupon she dissolves and finds herself in the barn of the great house in which Alice worked and sets about to clear Alice's name after she becomes a kitchen servant to give her access to the house to search for the missing items. Little Shop is the first of four books, each involving a different adventure for Xanthe as she travels back in time with the aid of a different object. I liked it well enough but I'm not sure I liked it enough to order the next in the series.

A World Of Curiosities by Louise Penny – another in her series about Chief Inspector of the Sûreté du Québec Armand Gamache and Special Agent Jean-Guy Beauvior and the little village of Three Pines where Gamache lives. The story spans decades involving the murder of a prostitute that was pimping out her two damaged children, Fiona and Sam, and the escape of a heinous serial killer from prison intent on revenge against Gamache. The children are now grown, the daughter having been taken under Gamache's wing, and receiving her engineer's degree, Fiona and Sam return to Three Pines for the graduation party of another resident, Harriet. A mysterious letter, a hidden room discovered, a copy of a famous painting with modern changes all raise Gamache's hackles as he tries to understand what it all means and protect his family. It's a good story, she's a good writer, and this is the first book I've read in a while that I had a hard time putting down.

Wake by Shelley Burr – A once thriving farming community, the small town Nannine in Australia has a claim to fame, the unsolved disappearance of the child Evelyn McCreery nineteen years previous from her parents' isolated farm. Her older sister Mina spends her days sectioning out an area and searching it for her sister's body. Lane Holland as a teen was working the 'guess your weight' attraction at the fair the night Evelyn disappeared. His abusive father had been fired and ordered off the grounds. Now grown, Lane makes his living cracking cold disappearance cases and when he learns that his father is due to be released from prison, he is determined to do whatever it takes to protect his younger sister by proving that his suspicion about his father and Evelyn are true. He shows up on Mina's doorstep and gradually earns her trust by tracking down another disappeared child. However, the day the elder Holland is released, Lane meets him outside the prison determined to force his father to take them to the spot where he buried Evelyn and when Mina gets drawn in inadvertently both their lives are in danger. A little twist at the end. I just could not get drawn into this book until the very end when all is revealed, not because it is poorly written, could not settle down with it which I'm sure it had more to do with me that the quality of the story.

The Spite House by Johnny Compton – Eric and his two daughters are on the run, constantly moving and moving on, Eric taking jobs that paid under the table so they couldn't be tracked down. Eric and 17 year old Dess are very protective of Stacy, never leaving her alone or out of their sight. They are in Degener, Texas en route to Odessa where Eric grew up when Eric sees an ad placed by Eunice Houghton, the last living Houghton, for a job to stay in the Masson House aka the Spite House and record any phenomenon he might hear or observe for an enormous amount of money that was enough to set the three of them up for life somewhere they couldn't be found. The house is, of course, haunted with a backstory generations old involving two families, the Massons and the Houghtons, betrayal and murder. A Houghton betrayed 12 innocent people during the Civil War that caused them to be hanged and their ghosts haunted the Houghtons. They gave Peter Masson's father, the last living descendent of the 12, land and a house hoping to lift the curse. It did not. When Peter went to war during WWI, he died and his mangled body was shipped home and buried. A year or so later Peter returned to Degener furious that his brother had sold the family home to an orphanage and built the spite house overlooking it. Turns out Eric's grandfather was supposed to have died in the fire that burned down the family home but one day he came strolling back to get his revenge on those he blamed for the fire and we find out that Stacy had also died and been buried and showed up one day about a year later, all three having no memory of having died. So Eric is invested in staying in the house that steals people's souls and bodies in some cases looking for answers. It all comes to a head but nothing is resolved, no answers are found, the last Houghton dies, and Eric is split with half himself remaining in the house and the other depleted half moving on with his girls and the money. I've told too much of the story because it's dumb and not very well put together and I don't recommend wasting your time.

Friday, September 1, 2023

spring/summer reading list part 1

When I sat down to write my report on my then most recently finished book I realized I failed to publish my spring reading list for March, April, and May. I was well into the summer quarter so I just decided to wait and publish the spring and summer reading lists together. I can't tell you where spring left off and summer began but I haven't been reading very much this summer. Ten books over six months. Ten is kind of a long list so I'm going to split it into two posts.

The Limpopo Academy Of Private Detection by Alexander McCall Smith – some of you might remember I started this series and wanted to read them in order and it has been a long time since one appeared on my book reviews. The reason for that is that while the library said they had to next in the series and that it was indeed in the library, I could never find it until a couple of weeks ago. Mma Ramotswe and Mma Makutsi meet Clovis Anderson, the author of their private detection bible; save the matron of the orphan farm's job, Charlie saves Fanwell from being wrongly imprisoned, and the cheating by the builder of Rra Rhadiphuti and Mma Makutsi's new house is discovered. I did not enjoy this one as much as the others, too much repetition. A character would say something and the person they were talking to would repeat it and it seemed longer than all the other ones I've read.

Fractured by Karin Slaughter – a Will Trent novel. Abigail Campano comes home after her tennis game to find a body lying in a pool of blood that she assumes is her teenage daughter and is charged by a young man holding a knife. They struggle, fall down the stairs and Abigail in her fury strangles the young man to death. Atlanta police respond but Abigail's father is insanely wealthy and uses his pull and contacts to get the Georgia Bureau of Investigation on the case and Will Trent's boss sends him because 'he sees things no one else sees'. When Paul Campano gets home he notices right away that the body on the floor is not his daughter Emma but that of her best friend and their daughter is missing. Will examines the scene and realizes that Emma has been kidnapped and, with his newly appointed partner Faith, the race is on to find the person or persons that killed Kayla and took Emma before it's too late to save her.

Undone by Karin Slaughter – next in the Will Trent series. Henry and Judith are driving home when a naked woman steps out in front of their car and they hit her. Another car passing by stops and one of the men is a EMT who provides aid on the scene until the ambulance arrives and transports the woman to the hospital where Will has taken his partner Faith after she passed out in the a parking lot. Will learns from the ER doctor that the woman's injuries are far worse than those sustained by being hit by a car, she's been starved and tortured, and so while Faith is being examined he goes to the site of the crash and tries to start his own unwelcome by the local cops investigation. As he turns to leave he discovers a shaft leading to an underground torture chamber the woman had been kept in where he finds evidence of a second victim who was found after a search of the surrounding forest only this woman did not survive. Now two more women have gone missing and Will and Faith are convinced they have been taken by the same perpetrator. In a race against time their investigation seems to be going nowhere until pieces finally start falling into place and both Faith and Will find themselves in separate life threatening situations as they confront the family they think holds the key.

The Lost Kings by Tyrell Johnson – Jeanie King and her twin Jaime live with their aunt and uncle in California after their mother dies when their car hits an elk while their father is deployed overseas. One day their father returns, damaged the way war damages men emotionally, and moves his family to a cabin in the wilds of Washington state where Jeanie and Jaime meet Maddox and they spend their summer exploring the forest and the coast. When Jeanie is 14 her father comes home one night with blood on his hands and tells Jeanie that he is leaving. The same night her brother Jaime disappears and Jeanie is left alone until a teacher from school finds her and she is sent back to live with her aunt and uncle. Twenty years later Jeanie is living in Oxford England where her mother was from with serious commitment issues and seeing a therapist when Maddox shows up unexpectedly telling Jeanie he has found her father hiding out in a remote area of New York. Now she must decide if she wants to confront her father, not only about his abandonment of her but also about Jaime's disappearance. The story is told in sections of then and now and Jeanie had developed into a not particularly likable person and I wasn't particularly liking where the story was going toward the end when an unexpected twist or two changed everything.

Broken by Karin Slaughter – the next in the Will Trent series. When a 911 call leads to the discovery of the body of a young woman weighed down in a lake, the local police botch the investigation that causes an officer to be near fatally stabbed. The suspect, Tommy, is coerced into a confession of the murder of the young woman. When Tommy commits suicide in his cell, Will is called in to investigate not only the murder of the young woman, Allison, but also the officers on the case. He knows they are hiding evidence and lying and when Allison's boyfriend is found murdered by the same perpetrator, exonerating Tommy, things really heat up.