The Trackers by Charles Frazier: A review

This book is set during the Great Depression of the 1930s. It's not really an era that I prefer reading about, maybe because I grew up with parents who had lived through it and my life was informed by their stories of it. I have somewhat the same prejudice about World War II. It was the defining event of my father's life and I heard about it all during my childhood. But setting my prejudices aside, I had enjoyed Charles Frazier's Cold Mountain , so I decided to give his new book a chance. I'm glad I did. It was an enjoyable read. It tells the story of a painter, Val Welch, who secures a New Deal assignment to paint a mural in the Dawes, Wyoming post office. The mural is supposed to represent a vision of that region of the world. Val considers himself very lucky to have landed the job when so many are out of work. He travels west to Dawes prepared to get busy with the project. A wealthy rancher, John Long, and his wife, Eve, have invited Dawes to stay in one of the bunkh

Poetry Sunday: The Wind and the Moon by George Macdonald

This was one of my favorite poems when I was a child; this and Paul Revere's Ride by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, which probably tells you everthing you need to know about my childhood taste in poetry! So when I came across it this past week in my search for a poem to feature today, I thought "Yes!" And here it is. Enjoy. The Wind and the Moon by George Macdonald Said the Wind to the Moon, "I will blow you out; You stare In the air Like a ghost in a chair, Always looking what I am about — I hate to be watched; I'll blow you out." The Wind blew hard, and out went the Moon. So, deep On a heap Of clouds to sleep, Down lay the Wind, and slumbered soon, Muttering low, "I've done for that Moon." He turned in his bed; she was there again! On high In the sky, With her one ghost eye, The Moon shone white and alive and plain. Said the Wind, "I will blow you out again." The Wind blew hard, and the Moon grew dim. "With my sledge, And my we

This week in birds - #552

  A roundup of the week's news of birds and the environment : Plain Chachalaca photographed on a trip to the Valley region of Texas. *~*~*~* It was thirty-five years ago that NASA scientist James Hansen first  warned us of the climate change that was coming. *~*~*~* The Supreme Court, in a decision handed down this week, has limited the Environmental Protection Agency's ability to protect the environment by undercutting the agency's authority to protect millions of acres of wetlands under the Clean Water Act. *~*~*~* The last Spotted Owl in Canada is fighting for its survival . *~*~*~* Brazilian forests are being decimated in order to provide land for raising beef cattle. *~*~*~* Companies that produce "forever chemicals" successfully hid the dangers of their products for decades. *~*~*~* Is climate change disrupting the mating habits of Arctic squirrels? *~*~*~* In yet another effect of climate change, insects are moving their habitat . *~*~*~* Do you some

Murder Under a Red Moon by Harini Nagendra: A review

This is the second book in the Bangalore Detectives Club series and the second book by Harini Nagendra that I have read. The books feature newly wed amateur sleuth Kaveri Murthy. The events of this book take place a few weeks after Kaveri has solved her first case and become well-known as a lady detective in 1920s Bangalore. As the new bride of the local doctor, Kaveri is trying to work out her relationship with her mother-in-law and so when the mother-in-law's cousin, Shanti Sharma, wants to enlist her help in finding out who has been embezzling money from her husband's factory, Kaveri feels she cannot refuse. But when she goes to the factory at the appointed time to meet with Mr. Sharma, she finds him dead. Not only has he been murdered but he is holding a chain belonging to Kaveri in his hands. Obviously, someone is trying to implicate Kaveri in his murder, but why? And who could it be? Has Shanti rid herself of an unwanted husband and set up Kaveri to take the fall? Or coul

Poetry Sunday: The Unknown by E.O. Laughlin

Tomorrow is our Memorial Day, a day to remember those who are no longer with us, especially those who fell in battle. There are, of course, many quite well-known poems that were written for this occasion. This one is perhaps not so well-known but it spoke to me when I chanced to find it in my search for a poem to feature today and so here it is. I hope you find it meaningful. The Unknown by E. O. Laughlin I do not understand...     They bring so many, many flowers to me– Rainbows of roses, wreaths from every land;     And hosts of solemn strangers come to see My tomb here on these quiet, wooded heights.     My tomb here seems to be One of the sights. The low-voiced men, who speak     Of me quite fondly, call me "The Unknown": But now and then at dusk, Madonna-meek,     Bent, mournful mothers come to me alone And whisper down–the flowers and grasses through–     Such names as "Jim" and "John"... I wish they knew. And once my sweetheart came.     She did not

This week in birds - #551

A roundup of the week's news of birds and the environment :  A Black-throated Sparrow feeding on the ground, photographed during a trip to West Texas.  *~*~*~* Super Typhoon Mawar hit Guam this week, creating devastation over a wide area. *~*~*~* A breakthrough agreement to protect the drought-strained Colorado River was reached this week. *~*~*~* Orcas seem to have finally had it with us humans and they are fighting back ! It started off the coast of Spain and Portugal and the behavior may be spreading . *~*~*~* The current iteration of the Supreme Court seems intent on destroying our hard-won environmental protections . This week it was the Clean Water Act. *~*~*~* The Bahamas are facing an existential threat as the sea levels continue to rise. *~*~*~* It seems that climatologists are finding this hurricane season particularly unpredictable . *~*~*~* Attempting to climb Mount Everest has always been a perilous adventure but this week has been particularly deadly . *~*~*~* I c

The Rabbit Hutch by Tess Gunty: A review

Set in the dying (fictional) town of Vacca Vale, Indiana, The Rabbit Hutch introduces us to four teenagers who share an apartment in the housing development officially named La Lapiniere Affordable Housing Complex but more familiarly known as "The Rabbit Hutch." They are Blandine, Jack, Todd, and Malik, all 18 or 19 and recently aged out of the state's foster care system.  As a bit of an aside, we also get to know of a plan to develop an area adjoining Vacca Vale, a place called Chastity Valley. As a further aside, we learn about a child star from a 1960s sitcom. But always at the center of the story is Blandine, once known as Tiffany. Blandine is a brilliant and talented high school dropout who is fixated on the lives of female mystics and saints. The events of her story take place over five days from July 15 through July 19 in some unstated year. The book is divided into five parts and the various chapters in each part are told from the perspective of one of the charac