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Poetry Sunday: Birthday by Robert William Service

When it comes to poetry, I'm a dipper. I don't tend to read entire books of poetry, but I dip into them from time to time, usually in search of an appropriate poem for this weekly feature. While "dipping" last week, I happened upon this little gem written by Robert Service in commemoration of his seventy-fifth birthday. It made me smile and I thought it might do the same for you. Just for the record, I'm with Robert; I think eighty would be just about the appropriate time to recant my sins. Until then, let's whoop it up! Birthday by Robert William Service (16th January 1949)  I thank whatever gods may be  For all the happiness that's mine;  That I am festive, fit and free  To savour women, wit and wine;  That I may game of golf enjoy,  And have a formidable drive:  In short, that I'm a gay old boy  Though I be Seventy-and-five. My daughter thinks because I'm old  (I'm not a crock, when all is said),  I mustn't let my feet get cold,  An

This week in birds - #484

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  A roundup of the week's news of birds and the environment : White-winged Doves have been prominent visitors to my bird feeders this week. When they come, they generally come en masse. It's not unusual to see 10-15 on the feeders or on the ground under the feeders at a time. *~*~*~* Lots of "hot" stories in the news this week: - 2021 was the fifth hottest year on record according to scientists. The seven hottest years on record have occurred in the last seven years. - How hot has Earth been during your lifetime? This link allows you to check that. - For nearly a quarter of the planet's population, 2021 was actually a record hot year .  - The waters of the Gulf of Maine spiked to record warm levels in autumn of last year. The gulf is warming faster than 96% of the world's oceans. - This map shows where all-time record temperatures for both heat and cold were set in the United States during 2021.   - In most of the country, winter is the fastest-warming se

Red Bones by Ann Cleeves: A review

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  I enjoyed reading the second book in the Shetland series, White Nights , so much that I decided to head straight on into the third. So on to Red Bones . And these follow the first book in the series, Raven Black . I do believe I'm sensing a theme here. This one features Jimmy Perez's colleague Sandy Wilson a bit more prominently. The action takes place on Whalsay Island where Sandy's family lives. His grandmother, Jemima (Mima) Wilson, is a bit of a recluse but she had agreed to allow an archaeological team to dig on her land. She had bonded with one of the young archaeologists digging there, a woman named Hattie. The team had made some interesting discoveries, including human bones, among them part of a skull.  Sandy was supposed to visit his grandmother one night but when he went there she was not in her house. He went looking for her and discovered her body near the digs. She had been shot. He calls his boss, Perez, to report the death. Perez is not on the island and m

White Nights by Ann Cleeves: A review

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  The white nights of the title are a phenomenon of the far north in summer when the sun never entirely sets. A truly dark night does not happen, thus "white nights." It is a phenomenon that can be disturbing to human biorhythms, and one can understand how it might make some sensitive people just a little bit crazy. The phenomenon is just a part of life on the Shetland Islands. Once again Ann Cleeves takes us there and the best part about this Shetland series of hers from my point of view is her evocation of the landscape, the culture, and people of the islands. Her main character, detective Jimmy Perez, is a creation of those islands and that culture and he understands very well the insular nature of the communities and the fact that things may move a bit more slowly here. This is highly irritating to the big-city detective, DCI Roy Taylor from Inverness, who is sent in to lead the investigation of the latest murder on the islands but he and Perez do manage to work together

Convenience Store Woman by Sayaka Murata: A review

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  I was so disturbed by the last book of Sayaka Murata's that I read, Earthlings , that it put me off reading this one. Consequently, this little gem had languished in my TBR stack for almost a year. But this is a new year and, determined to clear out my backlog of books to be read, I picked it up and began to read. Now I'm wondering why it took me so long. Eighteen-year-old Keiko Furukura has never fit in anywhere, not in her family and not in school, because she has never been able to comprehend the rules of social interaction. She comes to understand that "The normal world has no room for exceptions and always quietly eliminates foreign objects. Anyone who is lacking is disposed of. So that's why I need to be cured. Unless I'm cured, normal people will expurgate me." She thinks of herself as that "foreign object" that needs to be "cured." She apprehends that in order to survive she needs to be able to mimic the social exchanges of those

Poetry Sunday: New Day's Lyric by Amanda Gorman

One of the most memorable moments in the inauguration of President Biden last year was provided by the young poet Amanda Gorman when she read her poem "The Hill We Climb." Since then, she has published a new book of poetry that ended up on the best sellers' list, a rare place for poetry books.  Here is her new and inspirational poem, "New Day's Lyric," in which she reminds us that "wherever we come together we will forever overcome."  New Day's Lyric by Amanda Gorman May this be the day We come together. Mourning, we come to mend, Withered, we come to weather, Torn, we come to tend, Battered, we come to better. Tethered by this year of yearning, We are learning That though we weren’t ready for this, We have been readied by it. We steadily vow that no matter How we are weighed down, We must always pave a way forward. This hope is our door, our portal. Even if we never get back to normal, Someday we can venture beyond it, To leave the known and t

This week in birds - #483

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A roundup of the week's news of birds and the environment : This is the first week that American Goldfinches have shown up at my feeders - or maybe just the first week I've seen them there. This picture was actually taken a couple of years ago. I haven't seen this many yet but they will likely come. *~*~*~* The Revelator has identified six big environmental stories that bear watching in 2022. *~*~*~* Clean drinking water is at a premium in so many parts of the world. The problem in most cases is an inadequate infrastructure. A water bottle company has one possible solution to the problem. *~*~*~* The Arctic region's air does not generally engender lightning strikes, but there has been a drastic rise in such strikes due to the warming air caused by climate change. Scientists find the change worrying.  *~*~*~* Twenty wolves have been killed after wandering outside of Yellowstone National Park where hunting is prohibited. Now, only 94 remain in the park, but the hunti