My tiny reading nook

My tiny reading nook

My living room is a dark cave, which is how I like it, but I recognize this isn’t necessarily healthy and is definitely off-putting to visitors. A couple of weeks ago there was a plant and flower expo in town, so I went and refused to let myself leave until I had bought enough green things to give the room some life.

And because I am basically a ridiculous person, I immediately purchased tiny decor to turn the plant in my reading nook into another, tinier reading nook.

Backyard adventures

Backyard adventures

I didn’t actually grow up in an apartment in the city, but it’s been a long time since I’ve had access to personal green space and so my instinct is to stay indoors when I’m at home. My house sits on a very nice piece of a land, though, so on Saturday, after an hour or so of trying and failing to find something to do in the living room, I decided to grab my camera and go outside.

My pair of backyard ibises have been joined by a new couple, so there are now four of these goofy birds that roam my yard looking for grubs, and I heard them honking noisily so I thought I’d get the group in action. By the time I came out, though, they were gone. Since I was already outside, though, I decided to make the best of it. After a few weeks of rain my gardens are looking quite lush. I don’t know squat about flowers, so if anybody can identify any of these species, let me know.

Palm trees always make me think of the opening scene in Apocalypse Now.
These grow high up on a tree that spills over onto my neighbor’s yard. When the flowers aren’t in bloom the tree is quite scraggly.
I can’t imagine the evolutionary advantage to growing tiny flowers in the middle of the stem, but they do look lovely. Maybe plants prize beauty over practicality as much as any oter species.
This is actually a potted plant on my balcony. I’m sure they guy who sold it to me told me what it was, but I either wasn’t paying attention or forgot. The flowers only bloom in the morning. When I brought it home I didn’t even realize it had flowers.
I like the ant crawling on this thing.

Earlier this year I bought some chickens for a downtown chicken factory. They were adorable and I loved them, but in one brutal weekend they all caught bird flu and died.  In September I got around to buying new chicks, these from a farm a little more connected to nature. “Local chickens,” as they are known, are hardier than factory chickens, and I couldn’t have a second chicken plague sweep through my property in a year.

My local chickens, though, weren’t sexed, so instead of six hens I got three roosters and three hens. They’re young enough that they all still get along, but the Internet warns me that probably two of the roosters will have to go away eventually.

Anyway, my local chickens (all of them have names and personalities, by the way) are much more curious than the factory chickens, and explore all over the yard. This time I found them as far from their coop as they could go, hanging out under that purple-flower tree. I took some chicken glamor shots of them. If they were ever in a band, these could be their publicity stills.


Left to right: Lemon Drop (vocals), Stripe (bass), P.B. (lead guitar), Chain Mail (rhythm guitar), Strawberry Shortcake (keyboards), Slimer (piano), Hey-Hey (dancer)


I learned this summer (or rather, someone who knows about this stuff pointed out to me) that I have four coffee trees growing in my backyard. Apparently, if I really wanted to, I could harvest them, dry them, roast them, and make a cup of coffee or something. It probably wouldn’t take good, since I am doing nothing to maintain or nourish the trees.

A palm tree grows beside my coffee plants. From far away palm trees look nice, but up close I find them, or at least their bases, a bit gross. See:


I always appreciate an inviting walkway, and I found a couple not far from the coffee trees.


Before retreating back into my living room (so much time in the sun! it’s scary out there!) I came across this little shoot growing near yet another palm, and I spent an inordinate amount of time trying to get a good shot of it. This is the best I could come up with.


Chapter 11: Julian

Chapter 11: Julian


“The Demon is among us. A dangerous and murderous creature, vile and vicious, debased and disgusting, an abomination and an affront to God Almighty and all of His creatures. He walks among us, disguised as us, eating of our bread, enjoying and abusing our cherished liberties.”

Bishop Mather’s hard eyes looked out over the pulpit to the congregation. There were three churches in Bungay, but St. Mary’s was the largest, the one to which the best families of town belonged. I recognized their faces from the market, where they had all been warm and smiling. Now they sat on the cold wooden pews, their backs stiff and their eyes locked on Bishop Mather. Even the littlest children dared not squirm.

“He is a slave to the Devil,” the bishop continued, his voice rolling over us like a thick fog. “A man cannot serve two masters. A man must choose to serve God, or he must surely choose the Devil. And be he the Devil in Hell or the Devil in Rome makes no difference.”

A curious trick among the congregation. Although they kept their eyes on Bishop Mather, and he kept his on them, they were all watching us for a reaction. Our family histories—Winston and Edmonstone—were well-known. In broad outlines they differed little from those of our neighbors: until Henry VIII all of England had been Catholic, as indeed had almost all of Europe. By the reign of Queen Elizabeth we were Protestant, like most English noble families. But long after the kingdom had renounced Catholicism, our families continued to marry Catholics: Isabelle’s father had found a wife in Spain, and my mother’s mother had come from Portugal. And then, of course, my father’s mother was a witch. Or his grandmother was, or possibly both.

They watched us as Bishop Mather spoke, checking our reactions and judging appropriately.

“A reckoning is coming,” he continued. I admitted that he had a very powerful presence. He appeared every inch a giant. Fee-fie-fo-fum. “The Devil’s servant in Westminster would wrap us in his coils and crush England. He would lay the yoke down upon our necks and press us down before that Antichrist, and commit the care of our England’s sheep to the very wolves of the Vatican.”

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