Conventional people are roused to fury by departures from convention, largely because they regard such departures as a criticism of themselves.

—Bertrand Russell

(Via Oprah Magazine.)

Verlaque and Bonnet Mystery Series (Review)

I discovered M. L. Longworth’s Verlaque and Bonnet mystery series via Erin, who heard it on NPR’s Crime in the City series: Mystery Writer Weaves Intricate Puzzles In Sleepy French Town. The books are a delightful mix of mystery, travel writing, and memoir.


The 3 books in the series so far—a 4th is due out, and a 5th is in writing—pleased me on multiple levels. The writing and characters are engaging and interesting, full of daily details about food and drink, city life, and poignant regional commentary about Provence and France.

The mysteries are thrilling and exciting, echoing other classics in the genre that showcase a lead investigator and his team of sidekicks—both official and otherwise.

Most of all, since I spent a semester in Aix-en-Provence as a college student, I connected with the regional and linguistic side of the stories as the narrative and descriptions brought back memory after memory, both sensory and geographical. I know these streets! I know these people!

Superbe, Mme Longworth.

August Mystery Photo Revealed

Congrats, Lisa! You were right – the critter up in the tree was a raccoon. The sun was long gone and we were finishing up an afternoon of birding at Sweetwater Wetlands. So, the only other photo I have is not a very good one either but at least you can see that distinctive mask.

The photo I used for the Challenge was taken with my flash on (worth a try) and I was rewarded with a classic case of eyeshine.

Eyeshine is pretty common in nature since most creatures (except humans) have tapetum, a special membrane behind the retina that reflects light back through the eye. This light recycling feature helps nocturnal animals see better in the dark.

One of the neatest things about eyeshine is that the color differs between species. So, it could help you identify just exactly which critters are going bump in the night. As we saw in the Challenge photo, raccoons eyes glow yellow, deer eyeshine is white or bright yellow, cows and horses glow blue-green, coyotes and mountain lions shine greenish-gold, rabbits and bears reflect red. Obviously, you will need to consider other features such as size when using eyeshine. I would hate to mistake a bear for a rabbit, if you know what I mean.


Mystery Photo August 2014

Here’s a blast from the past for you on Throwback Thursday – a Mystery Photo Challenge!

Your task is to identify the critter in this picture. This photo has not been doctored; it is the glorious combination of two things, my lack of ability as a photographer and the subject’s stubborn refusal to be photographed.

Enter your guess in the comment field. Please be as specific as possible. We’ll announce the winner next week.

Good luck!



Funny sign from a shop window in Willcox. It was 3pm on a Saturday, apparently, when the owner does come in she doesn’t stay very long…