Saturday, May 30, 2020

The New Kid by Jerry Craft

In all honesty, graphic novel aren't my favorite storytelling medium, but I'm trying to expand my horizons. This graphic novel for kids was recommended, and I have to say, I really enjoyed it.  

The story and characters were interesting, the format really worked, the illustrations were great, and I really liked the glimpses of the main character's actual artwork and cartoons.  I found it quite funny in places, and quite thought-provoking in others.

Personal enjoyment:  solid 4 stars

What I imagine a real fan of this genre of graphic novels might think:  4.5 or 5 stars

Find it on Amazon:

The author, Jerry Craft, does some cool Youtube videos, like blindfold drawing.  Check it out:

Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Ironwood and saguaro blossoms

May is time for lovely lavender Ironwood blossoms in the Sonoran Desert.  These were taken on May 13 in the Phoenix areas.  I could hear some of the trees before I saw them, because the bees love the blossoms so much.  The saguaros were also blooming.  A lovely time of year...if it weren't also so hot.  

A close-up of the ironwood flowers

Saguaro blossoms.  Each flower blooms only for night and into the next day.  

You can see where the wash is from all the purple blossoms in a line.  
Bigger trees like ironwoods tend to follow water.  

Here's the wash.  Dry of course.  

Such a lovely, delicate color.  And so very full of bees.  

Sunday, May 10, 2020

Jungle Cat

Here's a pick from my recent safari.  
Pretty scary, isn't it?  Looks like she's ready to jump down and maul me.  
I'm lucky I escaped with my life.'s still COVID-19 lockdown.  This was a safari to the yard.  And that's my Mama Kitty.  She IS actually a bit dangerous.  She's lovey-dovey if it's her idea, but if you try to pet her otherwise, you might get claws or teeth in your skin.  You certainly will get a fearsome hiss. 

Tuesday, May 5, 2020

Buzz Sting Bite by Anne Sverdrup-Thygeson

I really enjoyed this.  It was well-written and fascinating, accessible to the interested layperson but also scientific enough to be a serious book. 

It was also depressing.  We need to take better care of our planet! 

I admit that—rather shallowly—my favorite parts were the juicy little tidbits about fascinating insects.  But the more weighty parts about insects' usefulness to us and their importance in the ecosystem and their sad fate were also very interesting and important. 

Very, very interesting book.  Highly recommended.

4.5 Stars!

Wednesday, April 29, 2020

Hiraeth Publishing and my Short Story

Hiraeth Books is going to publish my short story, "Stashed Away," in their September 2020 sci-fi anthology. The working title is "Martian Wave." I'm excited to read it.

If your quarantine reading stack is getting low, check out their other offerings:

Tuesday, April 21, 2020

Buckeye Butterfly

Spotted on a hike near Wickenburg, Arizona:

I don't think it's a common buckeye, since they generally have a cream strip on their forewing, stretching down around the "eye," but this one's strip is orange. I believe it is, instead, a tropical buckeye.

What a beautiful creature.

Saturday, April 18, 2020

Creosote Gall

Something interesting: This is a creosote gall I found. I didn't know what it was, so I researched. It's an old, dried-up one, but once it was green and leafy. Creosote galls are caused by gall midges from the genus Asphondylia. Midges are little fly-like insects. They lay their eggs and the gall forms around them to provide nutrients for the larvae.

I wondered if the plant formed the gall to keep the hungry larvae in one place. To...shall we say...slow the spread. Something I'm sure none of us have heard anything about recently. But it looks like most galls that form in response to insects are actually controlled by the insects. The larvae inject a chemical which induces the plant to involuntarily form the gall (though some may rely on mechanical damage to induce the growth). So, the little midges restructure their environment to suit them.

The whole process doesn't benefit the creosote bush, but neither does it seem to cause serious harm. Nature is amazing.