How Does Your Garden Grow?

Really slow.

We had a cold, late Spring, and some things aren’t even up yet.

Meanwhile, I planted dill and yarrow seeds on the actual rows (both plants are supposed to repel pests and support the growth of other veggies), but with the strong winds we had around here, they apparently got carried into the furrows and that is where they are coming up.

I’m just a beginner.

Metroplex Monsters: A Book Review

This one was pure fun.

What, I ask you, could be more of a romp than a book about cryptids, urban legends and paranormal experiences, set in a metro area in which you once lived and even taking place in parks you have walked in?

Almost nothing, expect maybe gifting same on Father’s Day to your husband, who lived in said metro area longer than you did and who knows it even better.

Or, enjoying the fact that the book is illustrated in a retro, pulp-fiction style by the author, who is also a graphic artist.

All of these minor delights are now mine.

The D/FW metro area is not the first place one would think of when hearing the word “Bigfoot,” or the word “spooky.” Even as a city, it is not very attractive. The area is sprawling, and tends to be unwalkable, with wide streets, vast parking lots, hot temperatures, and glaring daylight. It gets lot of Wild West points for its cowtown/railroad/cotton growing local history (all documented in the book), but it gets almost no gothic points.

However, despite being a vast metro area, D/FW is seamed through with green spaces around the Trinity River and its tributaries. As the book points out, the brushy edge of this greenspace is so dense that it could really be called a “green wall.” As is alleged to have happened, surprisingly recently, you could drive by this “green wall” and be unaware that Bigfoot was quietly standing 40 feet from the highway.

The area also has a quite a few large lakes, such as Joe Pool Lake (I’ve been there!) and White Rock Lake (I’ve been there too!). These are man-made, created by damming various tributaries of the Trinity River. They are popular recreational areas, but also big enough and old enough to have spooky urban legends associated with them and to allow people to have hard-to-believe encounters.

Finally, because of the river system and the associated lakes, the D/FW area has a lot of large birds, such as egrets and blue herons. I can confirm that it is very common to see these feathered creatures while simply driving from place to place in the metro area. One really fascinating contention in this book is that some of these “herons” are actually, on a closer look, featherless and are in fact a kind of small pterosaur. A few people have gotten a good enough look to realize that the “heron” looked more like a lizard, but they have understandably kept quiet.

About the Author

Jason McLean, the author of Metroplex Monsters, is the founder of the SIRU papers podcast on YouTube. I found out about him, and his book, when the two of us were on yet another podcast discussing the weirder elements of the Old Testament. So, this book, while I have described it as a romp, is actually in deadly earnest. McLean traces the origins of various Dallas urban legends somewhat in the style of Snopes, though more along the lines of let’s-find-out-the-actual-history rather than whatever-it-is-we-will-debunk-it. Though you can’t tell from Metroplex Monsters alone, he has a worldview that allows for quite a few paranormal phenomena to make sense within a biblical, and entirely rational, framework. If you are interested in that sort of thing, I encourage you to check out SIRU papers (and of course, The Unseen Realm by Michael Heiser, Giants: Sons of the gods by Douglas Van Dorn, and The Scattering Trilogy by a distinguished novelist. But SIRU papers is even more hair-raising). If you are not interested in how a Christian could possibly countenance the paranormal, but just want to laugh and shake your head over how even a seemingly banal metro area like D/FW can have cryptids, feel free to read, and enjoy, Metroplex Monsters at face value.

This is Exactly How I Feel about my Cowboy Hat

“Why did you decide to be a cowboy?” she asked.

“There are no real cowboys anymore, just a lot of pickup drivin’ wanna-be’s.” He shrugged. “Me, I love the wilderness, horses, and saddle leather. They just sorta come together out here.” He removed his hat and stared at it. “This is just functional gear that goes with it all I suppose.”

White Out, by Robert Marcum, p. 24

… by which I mean it is practical for sunny, windy environments. Not that I have horses like he does.

Incense of the West

My hubby got me this as a gift on his travels. Thereby hangs a tale.

My husband has had one of these miniature adobe houses in his childhood room for decades. The set comes in two parts. You light a little brick of “incense” (in this case, pin͂on scented), put it upright on the house’s foundation, and then set the house itself over it. The incense burns down in about half an hour, and meanwhile the smoke comes out of the house’s smoke hole. It makes the whole room smell like you are burning a woodfire.

Now, looking at this little thing, and especially the extremely retro style of packaging, you might think this is the sort of hard-to-find item that might appear on the Antiques Road Show as a piece of 1960s memorabilia. But no! They are still being sold, and quite affordably. Nevertheless, when I look at this thing, I can’t help feeling that I have been given a piece of kitsch from a world that is vanishing.

My man got this for me because he knows I like the Southwest, and enjoy Tony Hillerman novels and books about the Anasazi. It looks really good sitting among my potted cacti.

Snow or Sahara?

So, what are these things do you think? Are they snow drifts, or sand dunes?

Yes to both.

These were the surreal conditions in my front yard last week, after a cold snap and some very strong winds first created sculpted snow drifts, then covered them in dirt. The surface was such that you could walk on it, and I’m no featherweight.

Things are melting now, which means that a lot of dirt is being dumped on top of the grass in my front yard.

You Guys Think I’m Exaggerating with this Painting

… but this is really what our sunsets look like around here, quite often.

And that isn’t even the finished version. I give you:

Really?” you’re saying. “Sunset clouds and a rainbow? Come on.”

No, I promise you we get these conditions here in Idaho, and not that rarely either. This would be the eastern sky about half an hour before sunset, with a small rainstorm in the area. Now, granted, I did this from imagination and memory, not from life, and I left out details like the rain visibly falling, and I’d never painted a rainbow before … but it was an emergency! We were about to have a rainbow-themed party: