Book Report: Byrne Your Bridges

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Oh look, a book report! Since it’s been foggy for two days, I’ve been reading books on my beach trip. The first one is Byrne Your Bridges, by my friend, Liza Cameron Wasser, who lives in Germany. That explains the .de extension on her website, which is where you can buy this book if you would also like to read it.

Liza’s been writing ever since I’ve known her (which is since my children, who are well into adulthood, were small; we met on an email list for feminist mothers who were at home with their children, which is still going strong through all our lives’ ups and downs). I’m very happy Liza took the plunge and sent her first novel in the Byrne Sisters Mysteries series out into the world!

There’s lots to love in this book. Liza is really good with character development and dialogue. There are some funny lines you’ll enjoy, which sure sound like Liza’s clever sense of humor. You’ll get to be fond of the two sisters who are the “detectives” in the series. You will also get hungry while reading it, because nearly every scene includes cooking or eating something prepared by vegetarian chef Maggie.

There’s also an incredible amount of coffee preparation and drinking. One of my minor issues with Byrne Your Bridges is that people drink so much coffee late in the day that I wonder how they EVER get any sleep. Of course, though, Liza slips in ways to flavor your coffee with spices. Tricky. I do think they could have switched to herbal tea or something in the evenings!

The mystery part of the book was enjoyable, and if you’re a fan of mysteries, I predict you’ll want to read this and grab the future installments as well. All the characters are fun, too.

Bonus! At the end of the book, you will be happy to find the recipes for all the things Maggie Byrne cooks during the process of solving the mystery. And I assure you, Liza is a great cook and a fine recipe writer (that’s as much of an art as writing novels).

Editorial Notes

You know, I’m an editor. That’s one reason I don’t usually read things written by my friends and family. Little things irritate me. I’m happy to say that, other than all the coffee, there wasn’t much to complain about in this novel, even for me! Here are a few notes, more to show how I think than to criticize the book.

  • There is a distinct lack of typos. Liza had lots of pre-readers and it shows. There were no distracting issues with this one. Kudos!
  • I found one distinctive phrase that repeated. All writers have pet phrases that they like to use (me included, as any reader will agree). In this book, people shrug off their coats twice. Shrugging off is a cool phrase, but it’s so distinctive that I noticed it appearing twice. Maybe the second time, the person can shake it off, slide out of it, hang it on a chair…I don’t know, I’m NOT a novelist.
  • I noticed that the characters seem to all have magical ways of obtaining money that lets them live lives of leisure. Maggie got a ton of money in her divorce, the lady across the street can afford someone to care for her household so all the has to do is play with her kids (wish I’d had that), etc. The ones who do work have inherited money or businesses or something. The book needs more poor people (OK, the dead person was deep in debt, though). Maybe that’s just how it is on the east coast.
  • The writing is exactly what I like. There are occasional clever turns of phrase, but there isn’t so much descriptive exposition that I get bored, and there aren’t zillions of distracting details. I do like writing that just tells you enough to keep you interested.

I encourage you to get this book, which is reasonably priced and lots of fun. It’s digital only, but since most people seem to read on their computers, e-readers, or tablets, this should not be a problem. I’m staring at screens so much during the day that I enjoy reading physical books and magazines, but I think I’m a minority.

The Great Scary Lump Mystery

Oh the poor horses! Today we looked out the front window and saw something out of place. There was a brown lump where there is usually smooth grass.

What the hay?

I looked to the left of the lump and there were the horses and Fiona. They were standing transfixed, with their heads and ears pointed at that mysterious lump. It must have been perceived as a threat.

Two seconds earlier, Apache was also staring.

I had to work so I went back in the house. When I came out to get the mail later, they were still on high alert, not letting that lump out of their sight.

Drew and Dusty are ok, but the other 3 are watching.

I walked down the driveway, cautiously approaching that threatening lump, which got less and less scary as I got closer.

Hey, that’s some hay!

I was a little confused as to how that fairly significant pile of hay got in the pasture. Then I noticed more hay on the road. Okay, so someone had lost some nice fresh hay as they went down the road. It must have been very windy to blow so far off the road??

Road hay.

I actually took Drew some of the hay, but nope, the group would NOT go anywhere near the hay pike, which is larger now, because I added the road hay. They hadn’t by feeding time. Who could blame them? It appeared out of thin air.

This didn’t appear out of thin air, but I’m finally done.

Now, did all that hay really blow into the pasture? No. The mystery was solved later when Lee casually mentioned that he’d found hay on the road on his way back from his daily walk, and tossed it in the field.


The horses aren’t sure about it, nonetheless.

You Sometimes Wonder about the USPS

Today was a day when I wondered. Lee and I went to get the mail. The mail app had said no packages were coming.

Don’t trust the mail email. Go to the website.


He opened the box. There with a couple of cards and junk mail was a large package. It was firmly wedged into the box. Why? I don’t know. Our gate was open. The letter carrier could have brought it up to the house.

But no. Cramming was the choice. Lee pulled and pulled. The mailbox moved but not the package. Eventually the mailbox and post separated with the box still firmly inside.


After much tugging and surgerizing we got the box, which contained another box, out in pieces. I was quite relieved to discover the contents were intact: my treasured Dak Prescott bobble-head figurine along with my Dak jersey. I’m a football fool at the moment.

Go Cowboys.

Watching football keeps me out of trouble, at least. Otherwise I watch dogs. All seven were running around a few minutes ago.

We love our sandbox.

It entertains as I wish the pool people would show up. It’s becoming the imaginary pool of daydreams.

Nothing here but dogs.

Wait a Minute Here

When I went over to watch the dogs, I decided to sit by the pool. Um. Guess what? The dang letter carrier DID drop more stuff off, on the back porch! Three packages and magazines. When did those show up? Why did Dak have to get shoved in the box?

Lee will not be pleased.

It’s a mystery.

Mysteries and Owies

It’s a dark and stormy day, just right for tales of mystery and pain. My first mystery was actually painful.

You could smell ozone in the air as I went to feed horses this evening. Kathleen’s cow wondered why I was sitting on the ground taking pictures of buttercups when I should have been going hone.

Mystery Time

You know people make fun of Texans for wearing cowboy boots, right? Well, there’s a good reason. A good portion of the things here bite, stick, prick, or otherwise harm you, and feet are prime targets. Here are some prickly things I can see just walking around: prickly sow thistle, milk thistle, and bull thistle. Birds love them. Feet don’t.

Some thorny things should be found in trees, like mesquite branches. So how did this happen?

A pretty sturdy mesquite twig that was on the ground…
…was completely buried in my walking shoe.

Yeah, if I’d been wearing my cowboy boots at the tack room, as usual, I would not have felt that thorn in my foot! Thank goodness I didn’t step hard. How did it get there? There are no mesquite tree close by. Mysterious.

My guess is that it was in my square bale of hay. It was sharply cut like a baler did it. Ow! That’s my guess, anyway, because mesquite trees keep trying to grow up in our fields.

A Chilly Mystery

At least the second mystery over by the tack room isn’t prickly. First, for a week or more, we have been finding the fairly heavy doormat in front of the tack room door moved away from the door. We keep moving it back, but it keeps moving away!

That’s way too heavy for Big Red, even though she’s a strong hen.

Yesterday, I saw something jump out of the corner of my eye. Maybe the little barn cat? Maybe a raccoon? But why? I was pondering this when I went inside this afternoon as I was checking on the horses.

That was when I faced yet another mystery. The tack room, which is normally pretty warm, was really cold. That was weird to me. I looked at the air conditioner unit. It said 70!! What? That is unheard of! Ralph has it set at 76, and the rest of us are NOT authorized to change it.

Ralph said he didn’t go in there today, though he’d come by. Sara wasn’t home. Uh. I had never touched that thing until I put it back to 76 today.

Whew. Normal.

Now this is a real mystery. That chicken can’t open the door, nor can the clever equines. Who did it? Why?

Do we have a mat-moving, temperature meddling guest? No one knows!

I’ll keep you posted, but in the meantime, I’ll happily report that the blue-eyed grass burst into bloom today. More spring beauty awaits.

The Mystery Fig

Allow me to return to the original purpose of this blog, which was to document my nature observations and Master Naturalist activities. I want to share that I finally solved our Bobcat Lair fruit mystery.

For a few weeks we’ve been seeing these weird fruits in the road and in the grass near our house. Anita and the neighbors had been baffled. A plant identification mystery!

What the heck?

Finally, last week, Anita and neighbor Angela determined that they were coming from across the street from us, where new owners had recently trimmed back some overgrown shrubbery. That’s been letting more fruit be seen. And it appeared to be coming from…a cedar (Ashe juniper) tree?

Tree is just to the right of the lights. We had never seen the porch lights on or Christmas lights here before recently.

Looking harder, at the tree we realized there was something non-juniper-esque in there, which we never could see before. Well, we couldn’t see the house, either.

There it is!

I took a photo of the fruit, which resembled a fig or a banana or a cashew to us. It was identified on iNaturalist as a snail. Nope. I posted to our chapter Facebook group and a couple people said a fig. But it didn’t feel like a fig.

The picture that looks a lot like a snail.

So, today I took more photos, including the leaves, by crawling in the neighbor yard. Hmm. That tree could be a big vine.

I also got more fruit and cut one open. Hey, there were lots and lots of tiny seeds in there! Like a fig. Okay, so I have fig and vine.

The inside. Spongy pulp and teeny seeds.

I uploaded all my photos, and finally found a match. And it’s both a fig and a vine.

It doesn’t always have small leaves.

This seems to be a weird plant. It often has tiny leaves, but also parts with large leaves. I think the one across the street has both. (Look at what’s growing on the tree trunk above.) And those weird pulpy fruit! They are not like figs you eat. And they are in the mulberry family?

I looked into it more. Mulberries are a big family. So is ficus. Breadfruit is also one. Here’s more from Wikipedia (donate to them) about our new figgy friend:

But what the heck is a liana? I have a friend named Liana…what is she named for? It’s a woody, bridgy viney thing.

Do any of you know more about these plants? Interesting, huh?

Mysterious Evening

You’ll just have to imagine along with me as I talk about last night. So, Mandi texted me last night to ask if we were okay. Um, yeah…

She’d been seeing weird green lights that seemed to be coming from our house (she’s right down the road). What? So, Lee and I went outside to see if anything was going on.

Oh wow. We were so glad we went out. I totally forgot to investigate the weird light issue, because I was completely immersed in the night. The frogs and crickets were so loud it felt like a concert. And I heard coyotes and a barred owl.

Our spooky house.

We managed to get far enough away from the house and garage that all the lights stayed off. The only annoying light was way over at the barn. Ah, darkness.

Lee looked for the mystery light while Mandi drove around to see if she could spot a light source. All she saw was some light down the next road. Maybe they were having fun setting off flares?

I didn’t care, because I had the sky. It’s really inspiring to look at the night sky in a really dark place. Mars is at its closest right now and was really red. I could even get a photo on the phone!

It’s the only object that showed up. Go Mars!

I brilliantly thought to bring my binoculars out. That’s something you should do, if you’re ever in a dark-sky area. First, Mars was visible as an actual disk. Second, the Milky Way stretched across the sky. Pointing the binoculars up there was like suddenly being immersed in the galaxy. So many stars.

Just a good pair of binoculars made so much of a difference! It was magical, right there on our own land.

Sadly, I blinded Lee by turning my flashlight on to find my way back. Poor guy! But otherwise we had fun.

Another blinding light, yesterday’s hazy sunset.

I encourage you to get out of your house and find a dark and empty place, then look and listen. It’s a pandemic-friendly activity!

something poetic

(formerly The Lost Kerryman)

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