Monday, March 19, 2018

Flights of Cactus Fancy at the Desert Botanical Garden

Yes, one of the reasons why I love going to the Desert Botanical Garden here in the Phoenix metropolitan area is flowers. I love when all the flowers are blooming. But there's another reason: I also love the garden's vast variety of cacti, and I've discovered that looking at them is one way to exercise my imagination.

For example, no two saguaros are the same, and I've walked (or jolted along in the Jeep) through stands of these mighty cacti and found myself inventing one story after another. I remember a cactus that looked as though it was wearing a Viking helmet. Two that looked like they were having a "High Noon" shootout on Main Street. Two more that looked as though one were being held at gunpoint by the other. And on and on and on. A cactus can provoke a good story.

I'll be going to the Desert Botanical Garden at the end of the week, hoping to see hundreds of cactus blossoms, but I thought I'd share some non-blooming photos for you. Many are best viewed in their original sizes. Click on any one of them, and a new window will open automatically in order for you to see them all in more detail.

Enjoy-- and stay away from those spines!

Chainfruit Cholla

This Medusa-like cactus above is a huge chainfruit cholla. Those little segments at the ends of the arms fall off one by one and get carried away by birds and other critters or washed away in thunderstorms. That's how they propagate. And those segments are covered with tiny-- almost invisible-- thorns that are superstars at getting under a person's skin. Of course, I don't know how I know that... (I can still be like a little kid. I pick strange things up. I just don't put them in my mouth.)

Teddy Bear Cholla

Someone with a twisted sense of humor named the Teddy Bear Cholla. Those thorns are not to be messed with. I know someone who, years ago, was bucked off his horse and fell crotch first in a teddy bear cholla, and all I'm going to say is that-- eventually-- he was back to normal, although he has an abiding hatred of any type of cactus.

I don't remember the official name, but I call this the Polka Dot Prickly Pear. I wonder why...

I always think of plants like this as Bedrock plants because they remind me of the trees and flowers on one of my favorite childhood shows, "The Flintstones."

The various structures of cacti and succulents are fascinating. Doesn't this look as though it belongs on a coral reef in the sea?

This prickly pear grows up in columns. I don't know why it's called a Tulip Prickly Pear.

The colors of this cactus & the patterns of its thorns remind me of the embroidery stitches my great-grandmother used on the crazy quilt she made.

This may be a Crested Whortleberry, but I think it looks like Hollywood is inventing a new line of aliens. I can see faces. Can you?

Awww-- a baby alien, er... Crested Whortleberry!

Ruffles (to the left), fans & ridges

Harry & Vicky: two Old Man cacti in the center with white-edged Queen Victoria agaves at their bases.

The most anti-social cactus I have ever seen. I wish it had a nameplate so I knew what it was. Definitely NOT for Christmas lights!

Did any of these tickle your imagination? Or am I the only weirdo in here? Inquiring minds would love to know!

Friday, March 16, 2018

A Sending the Black Dog Packing Weekly Link Round-Up

I am no stranger to depression, and I think it's safe to say that many of you are acquainted with it, too. Hopefully not to my degree, since I spent years being on the brink of suicide because I refused to get help. (I'm not always the sharpest knife in the drawer.)

I never will forget reading a British mystery and seeing the phrase "black dog" being used for depression. It's quite fitting. When that black dog has fangs, all you want to do is end the pain, but a lot of the time this canine is just an annoying persistent shadow that never leaves you alone.

That's what I've had lately: an occasional cold nose on the back of my leg that pops up at the strangest times. The best thing for me to do has always been keeping my little grey cells busy. Do I have all the ingredients for this recipe? Have I cleaned everything on my to-do list? Did I make a note of that place on Daisy's List?

One of the best ways for me to send my black dog packing has always been BOOKS. No surprise there, eh? And that's what's brightened my doorstep now. I've curled myself up with two books. One, Jenn McKinlay's Death in the Stacks. Familiar characters have had me laughing and cheering them on while another character has had me grinding my teeth. The second of my cures is brand-new, and there's nothing quite like something new and shiny to distract you, is there? I've been laughing my way through Wendall Thomas's Lost Luggage featuring Cyd Redondo, a Brooklyn-based travel agent who puts me in mind of Stephanie Plum's (much) smarter sister. (Hey, Cyd knows how to kickbox in four-inch stilettos!)

Yep. Once again books have sent Fido packing, so it's time for me to head on out to the corral. Head 'em up! Mooooooove 'em out!

►Books & Other Interesting Tidbits◄

►Channeling My Inner Indiana Jones◄

►Channeling My Inner Elly Mae Clampett◄
  • Rex, a two-year-old German Shepherd is a hero after protecting a sixteen-year-old during a home invasion.
  • This prehistoric puppy may be the earliest evidence of pet-human bonding. 
  • This rare yellow cardinal was spotted at an Alabama bird feeder.
  • When it comes to counting wildlife, drones are more accurate than people.

►Fascinating Folk◄
  • For forty-seven years, Stanley Cushing curated a 200-year-old library.
  • Dolly Parton donates her 100 millionth children's book to the Library of Congress. You may not like country music, but she is one fantastic human being who loves it when children call her "The Book Lady." 
  • Terese Marie Mailhot and Tommy Orange are helping to launch a new wave of Native American literature.
  • How early female travel writer Lady Mary Wortley Montagu became an immunization pioneer.

►The Happy Wanderer◄
  • How churches are improving Wi-Fi access in rural England.
  • Penguin is opening a pop-up shop in east London that will be stocked solely by women writers.
  • Here's a selection of gorgeous WPA National Park posters to get us in the mood for traveling.

►I ♥ Lists & Quizzes◄
  • Fifteen major award-winning novels you've probably never heard of. 
  • Quiz: Which part of Scotland should you be living in? My answer? Highlands and Islands, and if I hadn't gotten that answer, I would've laughed hysterically.
  • The last meals of famous literary characters.
  • Which book perfectly matches your personality? (You should've heard my bark of laughter when my answer popped up: Gone Girl. I read less than fifty pages of that thing! But then the description mollified me a bit: "With that sharp wit and quick-thinking mind, it’s no wonder you’ve been matched with Gone Girl. Your keen eye for detail makes it easy to gather clues, swap theories, and solve the mystery before everyone else does. That can also mean you’re a bit nosy sometimes, but hey, it’s all in good faith.")

That's all for this week! Don't forget to stop by next Friday when I'll be sharing a freshly selected batch of links for your surfing pleasure.

Have a great weekend, and read something fabulous!

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Death in the Stacks by Jenn McKinlay

First Line: September in New England was about as perfect a season as there was on earth.

It's time for the Briar Creek Library's annual Dinner in the Stacks fundraiser, the biggest moneymaker of the year, and library director Lindsey Norris and her staff have no time to put up with the new library board president. Olive Boyle is behaving like Attila the Hun. Every time she makes an appearance, she's threatening to expose secrets and take away people's jobs. But no matter how much the woman gets up her nose, Lindsey is determined to stand up for herself and her staff and to make the fundraiser a success.

She almost gets away with it... until she finds one of her staff members crouched over Olive's dead body in the fiction section of the library. Paula's proximity to the body may make her the prime suspect in Olive's murder, but everyone who knows her knows she's innocent. Everyone looks to Lindsey to catch the real killer.

There are some series I have a tendency to hold back and read when I need a pick-me-up because they're special. Jenn McKinlay's Library Lovers is one such series. I know the author and her publisher would rather I gobbled them up as soon as each new book came off the press, but sometimes a girl just has to have a go-to book when she needs a little extra sunshine in her life.

Death in the Stacks provided me with just what I needed. I was back in the midst of a cast that has become old and dear friends-- especially with cameo appearances from McKinlay's Cupcake Bakery and Hat Shop series characters. Another thing that makes me smile is the continuing evolution of the lemon, Ms. Cole. Ms. Cole proves that there's hope for us all.

Not only did the entire cast keep me smiling (well, not Olive Boyle-- she is a very worthy body in the library), the mystery kept me guessing. There's lots of good misdirection, and I loved how the cupcake and hat shop folks kept appearing and disappearing from Lindsey's suspect list.

All in all, it was another marvelous visit with the gang in Briar Creek, and if there's one quote that I'll take away with me from this book, it's this: "There was nothing she loved better than laughter in the library." Libraries are, indeed, repositories of knowledge, adventure, dreams, and laughter. They are one of the cornerstones of civilization. Thanks, Jenn, for reminding us of this in such an enjoyable way.

Death in the Stacks by Jenn McKinlay
ISBN: 9780399583759
Berkley Prime Crime © 2017
Hardcover, 304 pages

Cozy Mystery, #8 Library Lovers mystery
Rating: B+
Source: Purchased at The Poisoned Pen.


Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Orphan X by Gregg Hurwitz

First Line: Evan's twelve-year-old body is stiff in the cushy passenger seat of the black sedan as he is driven in silence.

If you are truly desperate and deserving, someone may give you the phone number of the Nowhere Man. He's a legendary figure who can and will do anything to protect and save you. But the legend has a name: Evan Smoak, a man with an extraordinary skill set and a stockpile of resources that he uses on his personal mission to help those with nowhere else to turn. But his dangerous past is catching up with him.

As a child, he was raised and trained as an Orphan-- a member of a government off-the-books program designed to create the perfect deniable intelligence asset: assassins. Evan was Orphan X until he broke with the program and used his skills to disappear. But now there is someone with similar skills and training who is out to get him... and this shadow always seems to be two steps ahead.

I was in the mood for a good thriller and liked the synopsis of Hurwitz's Orphan X. This fast-paced story did deliver, but not quite as much as I'd expected. Hurwitz doles out Evan's backstory sparingly, which only makes readers want more. However, it is enough to wow you with the character's abilities and to make you want to hug the little boy he once was. As a result of his training, Evan really doesn't know how to play well with others. Actually, he doesn't know how to play with others at all, and we see this during his interactions with the other residents of the building in which he lives. There's the grumpy old lady who seems to lay in wait for him at the elevator so she can complain non-stop, but we normal folk would have problems with her, too. No, it's when Evan becomes acquainted with divorced lawyer Mia and her inquisitive eight-year-old son Peter that we see how much he has to fight against that long-ago training of his.

Where the soufflé fell for me was in the too-numerous-to-count fight scenes. Hurwitz wants us to know exactly how extensive Evan's hand-to-hand combat skills are, and each fight scene is laced with mixed martial art terms like "wing chan oblique kick." Over and over and over again. This is all well and good if you are a fan and want to be able to picture the fight in your mind, but I definitely do not fit that category. One movie scene comes to mind. Raiders of the Lost Ark. Indiana Jones is cornered in a bazaar by a sword-wielding showoff. Jones doesn't have time to wait for the nitwit to stop strutting his stuff, so he pulls out his gun and shoots him. Problem solved. Since this is the fight scene category I belong in, you can see where these minutely-described scenes in Orphan X made my eyes cross in boredom.

Since I have a feeling that these fight scenes will continue as the series progresses, I will leave Evan Smoak here in book one. But I am certainly glad that I made his acquaintance, and I wish him well.

Orphan X by Gregg Hurwitz
eISBN: 9781466876514 
Minotaur Books © 2016
eBook, 367 pages

Thriller, #1 Evan Smoak mystery
Rating: B
Source: Purchased from Amazon.

On My Radar: Judith Flanders' A Howl of Wolves

Yes, once again I've come across news of the upcoming publication of a book that makes me do a Happy Dance. Be thankful that you cannot see the aforementioned dance since my middle initial "G" does not stand for "graceful"!

I first became acquainted with Judith Flanders' writing through her social histories of the Victorian era because there was a time when I just read social histories, biographies of non-twentieth-century folks, and historical fiction. (Haven't changed much, have I?) When I read the first Samantha Clair mystery, A Murder of Magpies, it took me a while to realize that I was already familiar with the author. I enjoyed the publishing house setting, the characters, the solid mystery, and the snarky wit. Each Sam Clair book got stronger until the third (and most recent) A Cast of Vultures made my Best Reads of 2017 List. So what did I do when I learned that book four would be available on May 15, 2018? That's right: rubbed my hands together in glee and did a Happy Dance. Here's more about the upcoming book---


"Sam Clair figures she’ll be a good sport and spend a night out at the theater in support of her upstairs neighbors, who have small parts in a play in the West End. Boyfriend (a Scotland Yard detective) and all-round good sport Jake Field agrees to tag along to what is apparently an extra-bloody play filled with dramatic, gory deaths galore. So Sam expects an evening filled with faux fatalities. Until, that is, the curtain opens to the second act, revealing a dummy hanging from the rafters, who’s been made up to look suspiciously like Campbell Davison, the director of the production.

When Sam sees the horrified faces of the actors onstage, she realizes that this is indeed not a dummy, but Davison himself—and this death is not part of the show. Now everyone wants to know: who killed Campbell Davison? As Sam learns more about the murdered man, she discovers that he wasn’t all that well-liked amongst the cast and crew, so the suspect list grows. The show must go on—but Sam knows a murderer must be apprehended, so she sets out to find out what happened, and why.

New York Times bestselling author, Judith Flanders once again brilliantly fuses mystery with humor in the fourth installment of her critically acclaimed ­Sam Clair series."

For fellow fans of Samantha Clair, this is good news indeed. For those of you who aren't acquainted with her yet, here's your chance! If you like to start in on the ground floor, the order of books in this series are:

  1. A Murder of Magpies (APA Writers' Block)
  2. A Bed of Scorpions
  3. A Cast of Vultures
  4. A Howl of Wolves

I wonder what book will make me do my next Happy Dance?

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

This Is How It Ends by Eva Dolan

First Line: This had been a happy home once.

The building is nearly empty, the inhabitants being forced out of their homes in a London neighborhood by property developers. Two women are giving it their all to save the building and the residents' homes. One, Ella, is a young, idealistic, impassioned blogger. The other is Molly, a seasoned campaigner/protester and photographer.

Both women know that they have very little chance of saving the building, but they refuse to give up-- hoping that their hard work now may save this building and others in the future. Then a body is discovered hidden in an elevator shaft, and that's going to have far-reaching consequences.

I chose this book because I enjoyed the first book in Dolan's Zigic and Ferreira police procedural series, but I have to come right out and say it: This Is How It Ends was just not my cup of tea although there is much good to be found within its pages.

The story is told from the points of view of both Ella and Molly. They are ardent protesters against property developers who destroy neighborhoods and throw long-time residents out on the street in order to put up pretty new buildings for rich people who will probably never even live in the properties they buy. No, these people are buying tax breaks or money laundering schemes, not homes. When Dolan wrote about this, I was fully engaged; she had my blood boiling, and I definitely wanted to join Ella's and Molly's fight to hold off the wrecking ball. There is also a plot twist at the end that I didn't see coming, and I always like it when an author can surprise me like that. These are the bits I liked. Now for what I didn't like.

I didn't like either of the main characters, and I could not have cared less what happened to them. I don't have to like the characters in the books I read, but I do want to care about the fate of at least one of them because it gives me a good reason to keep turning the pages. However, there was something even worse than my lack of feeling for the characters: the unrelenting doom and gloom tone of the entire book.  Now, I can handle doom and gloom if I happen to care about one of the characters, but you already know what happened there.

No, This Is How It Ends just wasn't my cup of tea. But it may be yours, and I sincerely hope it is.

This Is How It Ends by Eva Dolan
ISBN: 9781635570526
Bloomsbury USA © 2018
Hardcover, 336 pages

Thriller, Standalone
Rating: D+
Source: Amazon Vine 

Monday, March 12, 2018

Isabella Maldonado at The Poisoned Pen!

Denis knows how to make me laugh. We were well on the way to our favorite bookstore, The Poisoned Pen in Scottsdale, when he asked-- completely out of the blue-- "So... who is this Isabella Maldonado?" (He's learned that coming with me to see authors he's never heard of always means new books for him to read.) I filled him in on a few facts: retired police officer, local author, her books are set here in Phoenix, and her second mystery featuring a Latina police officer, Phoenix Burning, was launching that night so there might be cake. I may be mistaken, but I think he drove a little faster the rest of the way to our destination.

Denis and I reserved our seats, then sat in the back to relax, read, and chat. A cake and goodies table was set up, and a man was busily going through a couple of boxes of what I thought of as props. I could see this was going to be an interesting evening-- especially when many people showed up who were ready to celebrate.

L to R: Isabella Maldonado & Patrick Millikin

"It's great to see more Arizona and Phoenix talent and novelists start to come in and fill the void. For a long time, there weren't too many people writing about Phoenix, so it's great to see someone with an extensive police and law enforcement background really doing it right-- and not just North Scottsdale but the entire Phoenix area," host Patrick Millikin said. After discovering that almost everyone (with the exception of Denis) had read the first book in the series, Blood's Echo, Patrick asked Isabella to tell us a bit about her new book, Phoenix Burning.

"As we know at the end of book one, Veranda makes an oath to herself that she will take her secret to the grave. No one will ever know her deep dark secret," Isabella said. "Well, that doesn't play out very well. It's hard to keep secrets like that. Unfortunately, in book two everything blows up in her face and she's scrambling to deal with her department, her own loud, interfering, loving, Latino family, and of course, the Villalobos crime family."

Isabella Maldonado
"We do have to be careful of giving away spoilers because there are some big ones to give away," Millikin said. "But it's safe to talk about this one because it happens at the beginning of the book. It's when a certain person is killed on a street corner. Can you kind of set up the basic plot for us?"

"One of the things I wanted to do was use my own experience in law enforcement when I was involved in a huge, multi-jurisdictional task force where we were trying to track down some really, really bad folks. I wanted to draw from that experience and have a situation in Phoenix where things went so horribly awry that it would necessitate a multi-jurisdictional task force.

"So I asked myself and I asked my friends on the Phoenix police force what could happen, what would be so bad that it would make national headlines? So the book opens with that premise. There's a high-speed pursuit and a shootout, and it goes all the way through Phoenix. I have to warn locals," Maldonado continued, "that I did make up roads. I did that on purpose so I wouldn't cast aspersions on any particular parts of the city. At the end of the pursuit, the gunman runs into a shopping mall that I made up called the Arcadia Shopping Mall. You can tell by the name that it's a high-end, posh place. A cross between Biltmore Fashion Park and Scottsdale Fashion Square. The shootout continues right into the mall with guns blazing and people running and screaming. And yes, it does make national headlines. And then the task force comes in."

Available Now!
 "Talk a little about the Villalobos cartel. Is there a particular model for that group?" Patrick asked.

"The cartel I've created is more sophisticated than your average cartel. I describe it as the largest cartel in the world. You can think of it as any large family business dynasty, but their business is crime," Maldonado replied. "The father, Hector Villalobos, has come up with his own retirement plan, which is to divide up his cartel between his four adult children. Bartolo was given the drugs sector. Adolfo is the oldest son and was pushed out of the way by Bartolo, but Bartolo gets his in book one. Now it's Adolfo's turn to be in charge. He's the CFO. He does money laundering, gambling, racketeering, and everything else that goes on. The third son, Carlos, is in charge of human trafficking and sex trafficking. Daria is the only female. She's in charge of explosives, of gun running and that sort of thing.

"That's how Hector has set it up where everyone has a part in the division of labor. You'd think it would work, but none of them get along in this family because their father has raised them to be hyper-competitive."

"For those in the audience who aren't acquainted with you, could you talk a little bit about your law enforcement background?" Millikin asked.

Bella and her nightstick
"I got into law enforcement in the 1980s," Bella told us. "Some of you may remember the 80s. It was a time of big hair and shoulder pads and a lot of lip gloss... and those were just the men. But that's when I got into law enforcement. Back East. In the Fairfax County Police Department. It's a suburb of Washington, DC. The county is similar in size to Phoenix and has 1.2 million people, so it has a large population and a good-sized police department.

"Back then I was one of the few women in the department, so that was quite interesting," Maldonado continued. "I slowly climbed my way through the ranks and over the course of twenty-two years, I eventually became a captain. As captain, I held the title of Gang Council Coordinator; I was a precinct commander; I was the spokesperson for the department at one point; and then when I retired, I was the commander of Special Investigations and Forensics. I had the chance to do a lot of different things in the department. I was a hostage negotiator; I would also do interpreting for some of the detectives. I was exposed to a lot of different things, and I had a very interesting and fun career.

"That's one of the things I wanted to write about. I thought you know what? I want to write about these stories and have them end the way they should end, instead of the way they do end."

Bella's husband Mike who's head of the Phoenix Crime Lab
"What brought you out to Phoenix?" Patrick asked. "Is he standing over there?"

Bella laughed. "Yeah, that guy standing over there wearing the Phoenix Burning t-shirt. He's modeling for me tonight."

"You say 'retired,' so you put in your twenty..." Maldonado nodded, "and did you always have the desire to write and make that a second career?" Millikin asked.

"Yes, absolutely. Since I was a little kid I always knew that I would be a writer at some point. After I retired, I spent five years studying the art and craft of writing. I put a lot of work into it. I joined Sisters in Crime, and that really did a lot to help me hone my skills. I also published three short stories to try to home in on what my style was."

Patrick said, "I always like to ask authors with a law enforcement background if they read police procedurals and really dial in on what they got wrong."

Maldonado laughed. "Yes! I was a lot worse at it before I started writing my own stuff. Now I've learned why they have to do stuff a different way. I'll use an example from the Phoenix Police Department. They've changed their policy, and now if an officer is involved in a fatal shooting, there's nothing unusual about taking that officer off duty for thirty days while they investigate and evaluate. Well-- talk about slowing the plot down! Now I have a much better appreciation of why you have to bend things a little."

"And officers are working more than one investigation at a time," Patrick commented.

"Yes. Not only that, but it's not just two partners working a case. A whole squad will be working it," Maldonado said.

Interesting bracelet....
Bella's series takes place all over Phoenix. Police headquarters is in the middle of downtown Phoenix. The Villalobos live in a mansion in Paradise Valley. But Veranda and her family are based in South Phoenix.

The author fell in love with Phoenix when she moved here, and when she began to write, she realized that few books were set here. She also wanted to ensure that Latino food and culture and family traditions played a big part in her books. "Some people have told me that they always get hungry when they read my books," she laughed.

"I know we have some aspiring writers in the audience," Millikin said. "Do you have any advice for them?"

"You have to really believe in what you're doing," Maldonado said. "And you have to have nerve. A lot of nerve. I pitched directly to editors and publishers at conferences. I was offered a three-book deal right out of the chute, and I was really surprised at that. To get an agent, I went to Thrillerfest in New York City.

"It's kind of like speed dating. You get three minutes-- they set a timer-- to pitch your book, and you need to convince them you're fabulous. In three minutes. And these hardened New York City publishers have heard it all! You have to push the boundaries, but I was able to get an agent."

"Wait a second. Let's back up," Millikin said. "You published your first book without an agent?"

"I got the three-book deal without an agent," Maldonado replied. "I had all sorts of people tell me that I wasn't going to get an agent now that I already had a contract, but I thought to myself, if these people can't see any potential in me they're not right for me to begin with.

"And there were a few in that room filled with agents who said, 'What do you need me for?' and I said to myself, I don't. I don't need you. You don't have any imagination if you can't see anything going forward. But there were four or five who could see, so we'll see what happens."

The author as police officer

Then we had a trivia contest in order to earn some fun swag. Unfortunately, I did not know the correct terminology for a nightstick. (PR-24) Lots of fun and laughter filled the remaining part of this event-- including locals' incomprehension of tourists who think 8 oz. of water, a pair of flip-flops, and a tank top are sufficient to go hiking up Camelback Mountain. (This can lead to almost daily mountain rescues. Many people want to pass a Stupid Hiker Law to join Arizona's already existing Stupid Motorist Law.)

When the event drew to a close, Denis and I were glad we'd come... and we left with a slice of tasty launch cake apiece!

A delicious launch cake

Friday, March 09, 2018

A We'll Be Driving Miss Daisy Weekly Link Round-Up

In a little over a month, our niece Daisy will be visiting from England, and I've been making a list on the computer in preparation. She was here two years ago, and we packed a lot into the two weeks that she was here. A lot of it was done by road trips to the northern third of the state. We stayed in hotels for three or four nights, and when I made those reservations, I learned that there's no such thing as a "slow/cheap" time for hotels and motels in Arizona-- especially if you're booking two rooms each night. Yikes.

Deborah DeWit's "The Traveler"
This time, I intend to stick to things to see and do primarily here in the Phoenix area and only do day trips elsewhere. It's not as easy as you'd think. Why? Because there's so darned much to see and do in this state! There's the Phoenix Zoo, Butterfly World, the OdySea Aquarium, the Heard Museum. We can go to Black Canyon Lake where we could get snowed on, or feed the Stellar's jays and ground squirrels lakeside. She can go ziplining over giraffes and other critters at the Out of Africa Wildlife Park in Camp Verde and see Montezuma's Castle on the way. There's the Arizona Science Center with its Pompeii exhibit. The Phoenix Art Museum. The Penske Racing Museum. The Superstition Mountain Museum. The list seems endless. She's also going to meet the stylist who cuts our hair (exciting, huh?), be taken to dinner by a local author, and... there's the CozyCon at The Poisoned Pen just before she leaves.

No, I didn't run through everything on my list-- like hanging out at home and taking advantage of the pool. It's an embarrassment of riches, but I suppose that's much better than not being able to think of anything to do at all.

Before I take another look at this list of mine, I'd better mosey on out to the corral. These links have things they want to show you.

Head 'em up! Mooooove 'em out!

►Books & Other Interesting Tidbits◄

►Channeling My Inner Indiana Jones◄
  • Wouldn't you like to be the woman who found out that the statue she paid $100 for is actually worth $100,000? 
  • Is the fall equinox the secret to the pyramids' near-perfect alignment? 
  • The Navajo Nation Treaty of 1868 lives on at the American Indian Museum.
  • An ancient statue of a Nubian king has been found in a Nile River temple.
  • White settlers buried the truth about the Midwest's mysterious mound cities. (And if you ever get the chance to visit Cahokia, you should.)
  • The ruins of an ancient Roman city have washed up on the Turkish coast.

►Channeling My Inner Elly Mae Clampett◄
  • This butterfly recently returned to Scotland, and now it's laying eggs. (Its cousins visit my garden regularly.)
  • Watching birds near your home is good for your mental health. (Good! I need all the help I can get. *wink*)
  • New dinosaurs are being discovered in record numbers, and it's changing everything we thought we knew.
  • Do trees talk to each other? (Avatar, anyone?)

►I ♥ Lists◄

That's all for this week! Don't forget to stop by next Friday when I'll be sharing a freshly selected batch of links for your surfing pleasure.

Have a great weekend, and read something fabulous!