Right now I am working on a middle-grade book called Fifteen Miles to Snockum Town. It is a contemporary novel placed in the Bootheel area of New Mexico, a place where there are more ghost towns than live people towns. The title is based on a game my brother used to play on long car trips when we were kids. Our car only went 30 miles an hour which, in 110 degree heat in Arizona, was unbearable. My sister would get ratty and my brother would entertain her with stories of Snockum Town where there was ice cream and cold drinks and a swimming pool with a waterfall, etc. He would keep it up until she was almost rabid with the desire to get there. Unfortunately Snockum Town was ALWAYS fifteen miles away no matter how fast you traveled.
The most interesting event recently was the appearance of a coati on the front porch. (see pictures) He is supposed to be a wild animal, but sure doesn’t act like it. Coatis are intelligent like raccoons. They figure out quickly who is a threat and who isn’t. He was trying to climb the ramada outside to get a suet block I put out for the birds. He could smell it. I threw a handful of shelled sunflower seeds outside and voila! Instant friend. I had to close the door to keep him out. Harold and I left the house to interview a professional rattlesnake milker for the new book. I expected the coati to be gone by the time we returned, but no. He came running up to us. I got him an apple. The apple didn’t go over well. It was sour.
I didn’t feed him anything else because I didn’t want him lurking outside. Coatis have very sharp teeth. He wandered off and I assumed he was hunting a mate, which is what coatis do this time of year. The females live in groups and the males are solitary. Most of the males I’ve seen look like they’ve been in a bar room brawl and are nearly hairless and scarred. This coati was fluffy and fat. He came by a few days later and looked in the window. I got him a slice of bread and a handful of sunflower seeds. Harold took more photos, and he said that when I went inside the coati put his paws against the door and tried to open it. He came by a third time and I gave him some stale raisin bran cereal. Not popular. This animal has fancy tastes, which leads me to believe he makes the rounds of houses.
The javelinas showed up later and fought over the stale raisin bran. They aren’t a bit fussy and will eat prickly pear cactuses and deadly nightshade.
Our son Daniel (in the Navy) was up in Eureka, California, to see whether his ship was seaworthy (it isn’t). The captain wouldn’t let anyone off the ship in groups less than four because of the big, dangerous homeless encampment next to the dock. What kind of homeless encampment WAS this?
We used to live in Arcata, next door to Eureka, at a time when we were desperately poor. The high point of the month was when we got a 2-for-one hamburger coupon from Toni’s Restaurant. It was a big event. We got the two hamburgers and divided them into three parts. It was the only place we could afford to eat out, except for (I’d better not name it because it’s still there) where we got the cha-chas after eating the bargain burrito. Well, Toni found out that Daniel was in Eureka. She drove out to the dock and fed him and his friends a huge dinner. There are really nice people out there.
Here is a Christmas card someone sent me of patriotic bugs that live in Arizona.