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This week in birds - #469

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  A roundup of the week's news of birds and the environment : The Golden-winged Warbler is American Bird Conservancy's Bird of the Week . This is a bird of the forests that nests primarily in the Great Lakes states. Its numbers are in serious decline and its continued survival is threatened primarily by loss of suitable habitat. *~*~*~* The Biden administration has launched a government-wide strategy for combatting extreme heat . The strategy includes a plan to set standards for protecting workers from the impact of rising temperatures linked to climate change. *~*~*~* Oil and gas companies have a well-known history of drilling wells and then abandoning them, leaving them for others to clean up. Congress has a plan for plugging those abandoned wells but it seems that the taxpayers may be stuck with the bill  for the cleanup rather than the oil and gas companies. *~*~*~* Six Ojibwe tribes in Wisconsin are suing the state in federal court over its planned autumn wolf hunt. They

Billy Summers by Stephen King: A review

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  Billy Summers is a killer for hire. But he has his standards. He only kills bad men. Some of the men he has killed have been very bad indeed. Billy was trained as a sniper in the military. When he got out, with no real prospects in view, he decided to use the killing skills he had learned. This is the "profession" that has sustained him in the years since. When we meet him though, he's decided he's had enough. He's ready to retire. But first, he's persuaded to take one last job. It is a job that will set him up for life. He gets a half a million dollars payment up front and will get one-and-a-half million when the job is completed. It's an offer he can't refuse. In this final job, Billy will get to use his skills as a sniper. The man he's been hired (by a mob boss) to kill is being extradited from another state to face murder charges. His potential victim will be delivered to the steps of the courthouse near a rented office where Billy is pursuin

The Madness of Crowds by Louise Penny: A review

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  Louise Penny's latest mystery set in the little Quebec village of Three Pines takes place at a time in the future when the present pandemic has been officially declared over. Things are beginning to get back to normal, but the effects of the pandemic and its consequences are still very much on the minds of the residents.  All of those Three Pines residents that we have come to know over the course of this series, characters who feel like our friends that we enjoy spending time with, are present and accounted for and Inspector Gamache is still on the job. Gamache is marked by a horrendous experience he had during the pandemic. He was called to a nursing home where he discovered that the inmates had been abandoned. They were dead or dying. He feels shame, not that he himself had abandoned these people but that his society had abandoned them and that, as a senior police officer, he had not realized earlier that something like that could happen.  Now it is late December and the holid

Poetry Sunday: Tell me not here, it needs not saying by A.E. Housman

This is one of A.E. Housman's most famous poems. It was published in 1922 and it speaks of the poet's relationship with and feelings about Nature. He seems to say that he feels a close bond with Nature, even though Nature is heartless and witless. It needs not saying that it takes no heed of him but he appreciates the gifts it gives. Tell me not here, it needs not saying by A. E. Housman Tell me not here, it needs not saying, What tune the enchantress plays In aftermaths of soft September Or under blanching mays, For she and I were long acquainted And I knew all her ways. On russet floors, by waters idle, The pine lets fall its cone; The cuckoo shouts all day at nothing In leafy dells alone; And traveller’s joy beguiles in autumn Hearts that have lost their own. On acres of the seeded grasses The changing burnish heaves; Or marshalled under moons of harvest Stand still all night the sheaves; Or beeches strip in storms for winter And stain the wind with leaves. Possess, as I pos

This week in birds - #468

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  A roundup of the week's news of birds and the environment :  The American Bird Conservancy's Bird of the Week is the Broad-winged Hawk. This is a hawk of the eastern forests. It is about the size of a crow. It is the smallest of the Buteo genus on this continent. If you are looking up during migration season, you might be fortunate enough to witness a "kettle" of Broad-wings. These are large groups of the migrating hawks that can number from a few dozen to several thousand. *~*~*~* It is the middle of the migration season and birds are dying by the thousands when they crash into lighted high-rise buildings at night. This week a volunteer with the New York City Audubon found more than three hundred bird carcasses littering sidewalks outside the World Trade Center. *~*~*~* Sequoia National Park in California has been closed and evacuations ordere d because of the threat posed by the KNP Complex fire. As of Wednesday, the fire had scorched more than 7,000 acres. *~*

A Slow Fire Burning by Paula Hawkins: A review

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  Paula Hawkins had a best seller with her 2015 thriller The Girl on the Train . That book featured a damaged female protagonist. Perhaps on the theory that more is better, her new thriller features not one but three damaged female protagonists. And all of them are suspects in a murder. The murder victim is one Daniel Sutherland whose body is found on his scuzzy houseboat moored on Regent's Canal in London. He had been stabbed and blood is everywhere including on a set of keys lying near the body. His neighbor from the next houseboat over finds the body when she notices his door open when she is out. For whatever reason, she picks up the keys and takes them with her. That neighbor is named Miriam and as the discoverer of the body, she is immediately on the police's radar as a potential murderer. As we get to know Miriam, we find that she actually had a tenuous connection to the family of the murdered young man but it is not a happy connection. She is full of resentment and a de

Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day - September 2021

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Happy September Bloom Day. I hope you and your garden are doing well as we soon head in to official autumn (or spring in the southern hemisphere). We had expected to be hit by Tropical Storm Nicholas this week but it mostly missed us to the east headed toward Louisiana which can't seem to catch a break from the storms. We got less than an inch of much-needed rain and a bit of wind. That was the extent of our "storm." My garden appreciated the rain, but frankly, it is looking pretty ratty at the moment. This year has not been kind to it, bringing one weather disaster after another. So, instead of showing you much of the garden this month, I decided to do something a bit different. Over the last couple of months, my garden has been visited by scores of butterflies, and today, I'd like to show you some of them. ( Full disclosure: Not all of these pictures have been taken recently but all of these species of butterflies have been in the garden this month and all of the fl