Fall’s Arrival

Friday, September 26, fall arrived in the Texas Panhandle, at least as far as I’m concerned. The days have been growing shorter, and the days cooler, after a last gasp of 100+ weather during the first week of September. The mornings dipped down into the 50s and the afternoon highs remained in the low 80s, unless a storm line plunged things back into the 60s, as happened this past Wednesday. But the air still felt like summer. Continue reading

Animals and Environments 4: Sources and Further Reading

Here are the most readily accessible books and articles about the Great Plains, High Plains, bison, and beaver.

Sherow, James E. The Grasslands of the United States This edited volume from ABC Cleo is a collection of overviews, essays, shorter articles, and case-studies about different aspects of the North American grasslands.

McHugh, Tom. Time of the Buffalo A great natural history about bison, readable and well illustrated.

Flores, Dan, “Bison Ecology and Bison Diplomacy” in the collection The Natural West.

Isenberg, Andrew The Destruction of the Bison Despite its title, this is a well-balanced account of bison and their predators.

Müller-Schwarze, Dietland, and Lixing Sun, The Beaver: Natural History of a Wetlands Engineer. More than you ever wanted to know about beavers, well written with nice illustrations.

McCarty, John D. Maverick Town: The Story of Old Tascosa is not an animal book per se, but he explains a great deal about the Canadian River Valley and how it looked prior to 1890.

Rathjen, Frederic, Texas Panhandle Frontier describes the region as it was before Anglo settlement began.

Of the books listed above, McCarty and Sherow may be a little difficult to find, but should be available through inter-library loan.

An Excess of History?

I wish I could take credit for the line that “It’s rough to live in a place where a lot of history happens.” I don’t recall if it was Charlie Martin, the Writer in Black, Sarah Hoyt, Kim du Toit, or someone else who wrote it as a blog comment, but it wasn’t me, alas. It is true, however.  The Carpathian Basin has been afflicted by a great deal of history, making it a fascinating place to study but difficult to survive, depending on when you happened to live there. It makes Bohemia and Moravia look tranquil by comparison. Continue reading

Book Updates

Elizabeth and Empire is back from the editor and the cover design process is underway. It should be available in November [knocks firmly on wood]

Carpathian Campaign, the first of the Power of Pannonia duology, is starting to jell in terms of characters and broad plot arc. I’m still researching details, but things are beginning to make sense, at least in the author’s mind. What happens when words hit the page remains to be seen. The second book is also taking form, although it will require more research as well.

The next Cat book is simmering because of two looming non-fiction projects.

Wednesday Fiction: That Which is Hidden

(For Dr. Jószf Sisa)


The rental car lurched left, then right, each tire finding a bigger hole in the road. “Damn it, when did they last repair this? Just before the Soviets invaded?” Gregory kept waiting for an axle to break, or to discover that the water in the holes hid something too deep to get out of, even in first gear. “So much for reaching Eger before dark,” he grumbled. The shadowy face of the mountains loomed to the north, and as he jounced back and forth, Gregory wondered just where the hell the GPS had taken him. “Last time I do this without a back up map,” he grumbled. Continue reading

Animals and Environments 3: Beaver of the Breaks

Ah, beaver, the cute rodent property owners love to hate. Beaver are, as one author described them, “nature’s wetland engineers,” re-working the local hydrology to suit their own needs. In the process they can have some very long-term effects on the environment around and down stream of their chosen location. The Canadian River valley, although at the margins of beavers’ usual domain, showed the effects of their activities in several different ways. Continue reading

The Creatures of ColPlat XI

When Colonial Plantation Ltd. terraformed and restocked Solana (as their brochures called it), they included the basic human compatible mix of plants and animals and soil bacteria, with a few odd additions such as wild boar. They also left several native species, something the surviving descendants of the original colonists would probably want to strangle the bureaucrats for, if they knew why they had to deal with dar dogs, and the great digging “cat” of the eastern plains.  Continue reading