May 21

Good morning.
Last week I hung up my oriole feeder, and we have been having regular vists from both the male and female Baltimore oriole. They appear to be nesting in our poplar tree again. We're hearing them singing quite regularly.

At noon today we noticed our first hummingbird of the year. He was a beautiful greenbacked little fellow. They usually stay around for few days in spring and disappear for the rest of the summer, stopping in again in fall. They use the same feed the orioles use, so that works well.

Several times now we have noticed a wood duck flying out of our poplar tree, but can't determine yet if they have nested there or not. It has a very distinctive call and we are beginning to recognize it.

What I'm Reading Now: book splurge edition

I've just been on two book-buying sprees.

The first was the library book sale, this last Thursday night. While I didn't net any truly amazing finds, I did come up with a respectable armload of books. I'll have pleasure reading to hand for a while to come. The list:
True crime, all by Ann Rule:
But I trusted you and other true cases
Smoke, mirrors, and murder and other true cases
A rage to kill and other true cases
In the name of love and other true cases

Untried Mystery:
Back to school murder - Leslie Meier
Murder is binding - Lorna Barrett
Trust me - Brenda Novak
Wildcard - Ken McClure

Known Authors :
The corpse in the waxworks - John Dickson Carr (mystery)
The crooked hinge - John Dickson Carr (mystery)
Triple Cross - Amanda Cross (mystery)
Death qualified - kate Wilhelm (mystery)
Thief of time - Terry Pratchett (fantasy)
Goldengrove unleaving - Jill Paton Walsh (literary fiction)
The Ipcress file - Len Deighton (spy thriller)

Previously read:
Shell game - Carol O'Connell (mystery)
Bone by bone - Carol O'Connell (mystery)
Dragonsinger - Anne McCaffrey (fantasy)
Dragonsong - Anne McCaffrey (fantasy)

English fairy tales
Debbie Travis' decorating solutions

The second buying spree was yesterday, and it all took place online. I was given some gift cards to spend, and so I took my wishlist of titles and checked Chapters,, amazon marketplace (used), and ABE books to see how best to spend said gift cards. I came across a few deals in my comparison shopping, so I placed a few credit card buys as well. As I was doing this, I suddenly remembered that I had been given an gift certificate four years ago, which I had never used. After a few minutes of poking around, I found the information, and discovered that it was still good. So I placed one more order.

I have ordered from Chapters, from Chiron Media in the UK (via ABEbooks), from, and from two used sellers, one of which I'm fairly certain is UK-based as well. Let's see how fast they come in. I'll tell you what I ordered as I receive it.

What I'm Reading Now: 12 May 15

Finally, a chance to read.

The wild beasts of Wuhan - Ian Hamilton
The risk of darkness - Susan Hill
Worth more dead - Ann Rule (true crime)
Mindhunter - John Douglas and Mark Olshaker (memoir)

I finished the wild beasts of Wuhan after a two-week hiatus. It didn't suffer from the wait. Wild beasts is the third Ava Lee novel (the first one was The water rat of Wanchai, reviewed here). Ava Lee keeps getting hit by cases, one after the other, and this one takes her into difficult territory. It starts with one of her business partner's Chinese connections, who has been defrauded by an art dealer. Ava understands bad debt, and collecting on it; the art world is terra incognita, and she is not used to being lost. Her pursuit of the suspect paintings takes her Denmark, London, and New York, and Uncle's and Ava's clients are not always content to let Ava handle things her own way... Another very good book, with some tidbits of Ava's always-interesting family and home life worked in around the edges. I'm now awaiting the fourth book (and the second, but that's already on order at the library...)

The third Simon Serrailler crime novel, The risk of darkness, finishes the missing-child story that began in The pure in heart (reviewed here). It also throws a few loops Simon's way, as things change within his family, his workplace, and within himself. Simon is not necessarily the most likeable of people, but as a character, he stays with you, and you do understand him and like him anyway. Susan Hill has a gift for putting crime in context; you see and feel the horrible aftermath of violence and death, without that easy but unrealistic resilience of some fictional mystery characters. This series keeps getting better.

Worth more dead is an Ann Rule crime files volume (number 10); it's a collection of true crime cases, all around the theme that the killer in each case believed the victim was worth more dead than alive. I won't say much more than that Ann Rule is the best true-crime writer I've read.

Mindhunter is either true crime or memoir, or possibly somewhere in-between. John Douglas was one of the pioneers of criminal profiling in the FBI. Mindhunter is his story of how he got there and some of his cases. I admit to skimming over some of his how-I-got-there chapters, but it was an interesting read nonetheless.

May 12

Last year when our plum tree was in full bloom, we spotted a Cape May Warbler flitting around among the blossoms.  We sat and watched him for a few hours. Now the tree is again in full bloom, but this year we have to content ourselves with a few butterflies and bumblebees around the blossoms. 

Yesterday I was pruning the raspberries - not a very pleasant task - but while I was at it, the brown thrasher was singing to me.  His song is varied and he can mimic a number of different birds.  I can now recognize his song by the fact that it is varied, and that he repeats each phrase. 


Another  thing happened the other day.  We heard the drumming noise of a woodpecker.  It was a yellowshafted flicker, using the neighbour's playhouse as a drum.  He kept this up for some time.  I think he was just making noise.

The wood ducks have been checking out our cottonwood tree as a potential home.  It seems that they again have decided to build elsewhere.