Titles by Kij Johnson are available for purchase online

I think sometimes that fall flowers are the loveliest. This is not going to be a beautiful autumn in Kansas: the blight has ruined too many trees, and the leaves that fall off them are ragged and pasty, spotted brown on an unhealthy yellow. Even the trees that aren’t struggling are not coloring up so much as fading, green to yellow-green to yellow-brown to dun. I spent a big part of yesterday outside on my front deck, and the leaves dropping into my hair and my glass were withered, drab looking. But this means that for once the flowers come into their own, splashes of vivid gold and hot pale pink and orange — like little memories of the colors of previous autumns, set against this year’s demure season.

American Tour is ongoing. Now I am one longish scene from the end of Chapter Nine. This whole chapter has just been a romp to write, as was Chapter Eight. After I finish Nine, I have to walk away for a little while to finish up a really interesting freelance project, which is not the worst place to be, I guess.

For months now, my friends Marti and Jay and I have every morning listed five things we’re grateful for. (Coffee is always 0.) Good news, good weather, a nice garden, money coming in, friends and loved ones and the cat. But there have been very bad days, when it was hard to think of anything good to point at, and we all had to reach a bit. When things felt truly terrible like that, our lists often filled with things that were minor and immediate, easy to ignore on a better day: a delicious lunch, comfortable pants, clean sheets, light bulbs. But quotidian things deserve gratitude, too: in fact, they often have more impact on our day-to-day quality of life than the big-ticket items. I have learned a number of lessons since the pandemic started, but this might be the most useful of them.

I started a rewatch of Killjoys, a Canadian space opera that manages to do everything Firefly did, though no Alan Tudyk, but on the other hand, no unpleasant Lost Cause overtones, either. I haven’t seen the final season, so I want to catch back up before I find out how it ends. Character arcs for even minor characters move so fast that I am sure I have forgotten things since I watched the fourth season, a year or two ago.

I have fallen in love with the artwork of L. Byrley, a very young science illustrator from California. Here’s his tumblr, and here’s his professional site. He’s all about fresh-looking, gorgeous technical art, though if you want see what a teenaged utahraptor’s bedroom looks like, he can do that, too. Be prepared for a lot of invertebrates.