On our visit to the Desert Botanical Garden at the end of February, I saw two things at the gift shop that just had to come home with me. One was a plant, a succulent that my grandmother always called "hen and chicks." It had been years since I'd seen that particular succulent, and the memories of my grandmother came back to me so strongly that I couldn't swallow for the huge lump in my throat.
Hen and chicks loved my grandmother. I think most of us have a plant that we just can't kill. (Some of us just haven't found it yet.) For example, I had a spider plant that almost took over my bedroom. It was like living in a jungle.The thing was huge and just kept popping out babies. Supposedly the conditions were not ideal for spider plants in my bedroom, but the one I had ignored the odds. My grandmother was the same way with hen and chicks. Hers would just keep sending out little chicks, and it's obvious that the plants were thrilled with their home.
Once my grandmother came home from an estate sale with six planters shaped like old boots. She cleaned them up and then didn't know how she was going to display them. My grandparents had a deck off their kitchen that had two different sets of steps... three steps up on both. I looked at the steps. Looked at the boot planters. Looked at my grandmother. "Have them climb up the steps on one side and down the steps on the other," I suggested, and that's what she did. Half the boots had impatiens and the other half hen and chicks. I wish I'd brought at least one of those boot planters with me to Arizona when she died.
Here are my hen and chicks soaking up the sun at the office window-- along with their guard iguana from the same gift shop. I think they're happy because I took that photo a couple of weeks ago, and they've grown a lot since then. Denis had never seen anything like them before and keeps a close eye on them. He swears I'm going to have to buy a bigger pot soon. Perhaps I have more of my grandmother's green thumb than I thought...
►Books & Other Interesting Tidbits◄
- Move over, lady psychopaths, the locked-room mystery is back.
- The time Cal Poly police busted an Oscar-nominated writer for stealing thousands of library books.
- Why do so many book covers still use the phrase "A Novel" for works of fiction?
- The rise of "zero-waste" grocery stores.
- 113 museums transformed illustrations from their collections into free coloring pages.
- News on the next Harry Bosch novel!
- First deception, now plagiarism: a new Dan Mallory scandal.
- What schools teach about women's history leaves a lot to be desired.
►Channeling My Inner Indiana Jones◄
- A 12th-century toilet is flush with a new lease on life.
- Found: Two of the quarries responsible for the megaliths of Stonehenge.
- Hidden meanings and secret codes buried in Da Vinci's The Last Supper.
- Sampling DNA from a 1,000-year-old illuminated manuscript.
- Female mummy hunters and the remarkable impact they made.
- What poop can teach us about an ancient city's downfall.
- The mask of the bat god was found in the ruins of the pyramids of Monte Alban.
►Channeling My Inner Elly Mae Clampett◄
- Trump's wall threatens 93 endangered species.
- A teenager transformed this 22-acre island into a summer home for a lovable bunch of bunnies.
- This talking crow asks people passing by on the street "Y'all right, love?" in a strong Yorkshire accent.
- Golf courses across the U.S. step up to save Monarch butterflies.
- Tigers don't eat humans, so why did this one kill over four hundred people?
- A loophole in Australian federal law allows one million tons of sludge to be dumped on the Great Barrier Reef.
- The decades-long political fight to save the Grand Canyon. (And the threats never stop.)
- Raye Montague, the "Hidden Figure" who revolutionized naval ship design.
- Mary Mildred Williams, the enslaved girl who became America's first poster child.
- Women's contributions to early genetics studies were relegated to the footnotes. (So what else is new?)
- Dick Churchill, the last survivor of "The Great Escape," is dead at the age of 99.
►The Happy Wanderer◄
- The crime fiction of Johannesburg, South Africa.
- F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald's 1930s home is now available as a nightly rental.
- "Yanked from the ground": cactus theft is ravaging the American desert.
- Karl Lagerfeld's amazing library will surely steal the hearts of book lovers!
- I have a thing about buttons. Don't ask me why. If I ever get to New York City, I definitely want to pay a visit to Tender Buttons, a shop filled with rare and wonderful buttons.
►I ♥ Lists◄
- Fifteen of the greatest "twists" ever written.
- Nine mysteries that will take you on a journey from Paris to the south of France.
- Twenty unusual things that famous people did.
- Fifteen animal names that can be used as verbs.
- The top fifteen global brands ranked annually from 2000 through 2018 in order of determined valuation.
- 100 words turning 100 this year.
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!