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Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day - June 2021

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(Linking to May Dreams Gardens .)  Happy June Bloom Day! Since last month's Bloom Day, my zone 9a garden here in Southeast Texas has seen a lot of rain. During one twelve-day period, it rained every day. And not just light showers but real gully-washers. And then it stopped and the 90+ degree F weather started and everything dried out. Today the high temperature is forecast to be 98. Now we need rain again. All that rain sure encouraged the weeds in my garden but the May showers also brought flowers and quite a lot of them. Portulaca blooming in a pot on the patio table. Just before the rains started, I had transplanted zinnias. The poor little plants were completely beaten up by the heavy rains and they still look rather battered. But they are blooming! Here's the yellow variety. And the orange one. The summer phlox is in bloom. I wish you could smell the wonderful scent. The purple echinacea is just starting to bloom. There's quite a bit of variety in the shades of purple

Earthlings by Sayaka Murata: A review

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  I frankly don't have a clue how to sum up this strange little book or how to rate it. I was fully on board with the plot for about three-quarters of the book and completely sympathetic to the protagonist, Natsuki. Then in the last quarter, the plot really began to go off the rails for me. No spoilers here but I found the ending to be a bridge too far and the writer lost me with it. But first, let's concentrate on the positive three-quarters. Natsuki is nine years old when we meet her and she is a complete misfit. She has an older sister who is the favorite of her parents, especially her mother. The mother is psychologically, emotionally, and physically abusive to Natsuki. The child cannot do anything right in her eyes. The father seems to be a bit of a cipher. He really doesn't take much interest in his children. He certainly does not defend Natsuki. Natsuki's "best friend" is a plush toy hedgehog that she imagines comes from a far planet with an unpronounce

Poetry Sunday: Mingling by Kim Stafford

Remember how it was in the "before times"? Before the pandemic changed everything. Will we ever get back to those times? Will we ever be able to once again thoughtlessly mingle without concern about the people around us? Kim Stafford remembers how it was. Mingling by Kim Stafford Remember how we used to do it— weaving through the crowd, brushing shoulders, fingers touching a sleeve, adjusting a lapel—first an old friend here, then turn to banter with a stranger, finding odd connections—“You’re from where?…You know her!”—going deeper into story there, leaning back in wonder, bending close to whisper, secrets hidden in the hubbub, as if in the middle of this melee you have found a room and lit a lamp… then the roar of the crowd comes back, someone singing out a name, another bowing with a shriek of laughter, slap on the back, bear hug void of fear? Imagine! Just imagine.

This week in birds - #454

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  A roundup of the week's news of birds and the environment : I always enjoy his dulcet songs when I'm out and about in my yard. House Finches are an almost constant presence. *~*~*~* One of the biggest environmental stories of the week was the cancellation of the Keystone XL pipeline. The sponsor of the pipeline pulled the plug on it after Canadian officials were unsuccessful in changing President Biden's mind about the project. Environmentalists who had fought the project since it was first announced in 2008 called the cancellation a "landmark moment" in the effort to curb the use of fossil fuels. *~*~*~* More good news for the environment: Officials of the Biden administration have moved to reinstate the roadless rule in the Tongass National Forest in Alaska. This revives the 20-year-old protections for the forest that were stripped by the previous administration three months before the end of its term in office. *~*~*~* And in more reversals of policies put

Miss Benson's Beetle by Rachel Joyce: A review

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  I cannot recall the last book that gave me such uncomplicated joy in reading it as Miss Benson's Beetle did. This story of two utterly mismatched English women and their hazardous trip to New Caledonia to search for a golden beetle that has never been found by science hit all the right spots for me. It was well-written. The scientific research necessary to provide all the information about beetles as well as other things was quite impressive. The story was told with a lot of laugh-out-loud humor. The plot was well-constructed to keep those pages turning. And perhaps most importantly, the characters were well-developed and were people the reader could believe in and like. I had not read anything by Rachel Joyce before, but I will be looking for her name on works in the future.    The story begins in 1914 in London. World War I is underway and Margery Benson's four older brothers have joined the army and are fighting in France. Ten-year-old Margery is left at home with her par

Whereabouts by Jhumpa Lahiri: A review

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  In 2011, Jhumpa Lahiri moved to Rome. Since then she has fully embraced the Italian experience to the extent that she wrote her most recent book in Italian and later translated it into English. It was this English version of Whereabouts that I read and it felt as if the book's original language had been English; I could not discern any clues that it had been translated from another language. Lahiri presents us with yet another novel with the famous "unnamed narrator." How did this technique ever become so popular with today's writers? It seems to have become de rigueur for writers of a certain type of literary fiction. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't. In the present book, in my opinion, it is mostly successful. What we know about our unnamed narrator is that she is an Italian woman living in an unnamed Italian town. She is single, in her 40s, and works at a university. Her mother is still living (in another town) and her relationship with her is so

Poetry Sunday: I Wanted to Change the World by Rumi

Jalal al-Din Rumi, known in the West simply as Rumi, was born in Balkh Province, Afghanistan on the eastern edge of the Persian Empire in 1207 C.E. He was descended from a long line of Islamic jurists, theologians, and mystics, including his father who was referred to as "Sultan of the Scholars." When he was still a young man, his father led his family 2,000 miles east to avoid the invasion of Genghis Khan. They settled in present-day Turkey, where Rumi lived and wrote for most of his life. He died there in 1273 C.E. Rumi was a prolific writer in many forms but is best known for his lyric poetry. He was also a teacher and was considered a Sufi mystic. His poetry with its spiritual teaching is popular throughout much of the world and he is sometimes spoken of as the most popular poet in America where volumes of his poetry still sell well in the 21st century.  I happened to encounter one of Rumi's poems this past week and it spoke to me so I decided to share it with you tod