Showing posts from May, 2017

Daylily season

May is daylily season in my garden and now that the month is winding down, many of them are in their glory. Don't ask me their names - they are lost in the mists of history or in my chaotic garden records.

Poetry Sunday: For the Fallen

This is a poem that was written over a hundred years ago in 1914.  It was a memorial for the fallen in what then was called the Great War, the War to End All Wars. It could just as easily speak for the fallen of any war. Sadly, World War I did not end all wars. Wars continue and so do the fallen. More names are added to the rolls every day. On Memorial Day, we honor all of them who have died in the service of this country. For the Fallen by Laurence Binyon Related Poem Content Details With proud thanksgiving, a mother for her children,  England mourns for her dead across the sea.  Flesh of her flesh they were, spirit of her spirit,  Fallen in the cause of the free. 
 Solemn the drums thrill; Death august and royal  Sings sorrow up into immortal spheres,  There is music in the midst of desolation  And a glory that shines upon our tears. 
 They went with songs to the battle, they were young,  Straight of limb, true of eye, steady and aglow. 

This week in birds - #258

A roundup of the week's news of birds and the environment : American Robins are introducing their chicks to new neighborhood. This one was keeping an eye on a couple of fledglings that were trying out their wings. *~*~*~* Energy Transfer Partners, the oil company behind the Dakota Access Pipeline, is facing intense scrutiny from regulators and activists over a number of pipeline leaks around the country , including a spill in Ohio that is now believed to be significantly bigger than originally reported. *~*~*~* The Endangered Species Act continues to be under threat of being repealed or revised beyond all recognition, but here is more proof that such laws do work: a list of ten birds from around the world that have been saved due to conservation efforts. One of them is our very own Kirtland's Warbler . *~*~*~* The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is predicting an active hurricane season in the Atlantic with 11 to 17 named storms, of which five

The Gravel Road by Glenna L. Redcliffe: A review

Many of us who love language and reading have probably dreamed of writing a novel, maybe even the Great American Novel. Most of us never act on that dream and so those who do are in a special category and deserve our respect. It must take a certain amount of courage, not to mention purposefulness and perseverance to stick with the task of writing that book and then sending it out into the world, hoping that it will find an audience. I freely admit that those are all qualities which I lack. These days, many first-time authors are taking the self-publishing route to getting their work out. It is a chancy course to take, because a book without one of the publishing houses behind it to publicize and bring it to the attention of the reading public already has two strikes against it and the possibility of it ever finding an audience are slim indeed. And yet that is the path that Glenna Redcliffe has taken with her first book. It is a self-published spy novel/psychological thriller feat

Everybody's Fool by Richard Russo: A review

Everybody's Fool once again takes us to the small upstate New York town of North Bath just a bit more than a decade after the events of Nobody's Fool . The town is still the hapless poor relation of its neighboring town and chief rival Schuyler Springs and on the surface things seem pretty much as we left them. But, inevitably, time has made a few changes at least in the cast of characters. Sadly, Miss Beryl, the woman who taught eighth grade for many years at the local school and whom we met as Donald (Sully) Sullivan's beloved landlady in the last book, is no longer on the scene. However, even though she may be physically absent, her spirit lingers and as we visit North Bath this time around, the town is getting ready to honor her memory during Memorial Day festivities by renaming the school after her.  Sully is still there and he and Miss Beryl seem to have exchanged roles. For many years, he had been her boarder in her big Victorian house on North Main Street; no

Poetry Sunday: Abandoned Farmhouse

An old abandoned farmhouse reveals the lives of the people who once lived there. The story is there for the poet to interpret and relay to us. A sad story of lives interrupted. Abandoned Farmhouse by Ted Kooser Related Poem Content Details He was a big man, says the size of his shoes on a pile of broken dishes by the house;  a tall man too, says the length of the bed in an upstairs room; and a good, God-fearing man, says the Bible with a broken back on the floor below the window, dusty with sun; but not a man for farming, say the fields cluttered with boulders and the leaky barn. A woman lived with him, says the bedroom wall papered with lilacs and the kitchen shelves covered with oilcloth, and they had a child, says the sandbox made from a tractor tire. Money was scarce, say the jars of plum preserves and canned tomatoes sealed in the cellar hole. And the winters cold, say the rags in the window frames. It was lonely here, says the na

This week in birds - #257

A roundup of the week's news of birds and the environment : Five fledgling Barn Swallows wait for their parents to bring them a meal. Picture taken at Anahuac National Wildlife Refuge. *~*~*~* The Global Seed Vault ,  designed as an impregnable deep-freeze to protect the world’s most precious seeds from any global disaster and ensure humanity’s food supply forever, is   buried in a mountain deep inside the Arctic circle. It was thought that the permafrost would protect it, but now it has been breached after global warming produced extraordinary temperatures over the winter, sending meltwater gushing into the entrance tunnel. No seeds have been lost, but scientists are rethinking the strategy and endeavoring to come up with alternative solutions to protect the seed bank.  *~*~*~* Does Nature evolve toward beauty or is it all utilitarian function? Ornithologist Richard Prum argues that esthetics are also a feature of evolution . He has written a book called The Evo

Between Them by Richard Ford: A review

I don't usually read memoirs. Perhaps I have an unreasoning prejudice against them born of some reading experience in my distant past, but, generally, I just don't enjoy them. But I will always make an exception for Richard Ford. Ford has written this short (less than 200 pages) memoir of his parents and of his experience growing up with them. It essentially consists of two long essays written some thirty years apart in time.  Both were written after his parents' deaths. The one about his mother was written first, although she was the second one to die. The second one about his father was written many years after his father died in 1960. Ford was only sixteen years old at the time. In the book itself, the essays appear in the order of the deaths, so the one about the father is first, followed by the one about the mother. We learn that Richard was an only child and his arrival was a bit of a surprise for his parents. They had been married for fifteen years when he

Anything is Possible by Elizabeth Strout: A review

This is not a sequel, but it would certainly enhance one's pleasure in reading the book to have first read Strout's previous book, My Name is Lucy Barton . In fact, I can't imagine reading Anything is Possible without first having read that earlier book. Lucy Barton appears physically in only one of the stories here, but her spirit and memories of her are the connective tissue that binds all the stories together. Those who have read My Name is Lucy Barton will remember that Lucy and her family were from the small town of Amgash, Illinois. The Barton family were dirt poor when Lucy was growing up and the children were conscious of other children, other families feeling superior to them. Moreover, in later life, Lucy and her two siblings remember the daily slights and humiliations, but they also remember those who treated them kindly. This book takes us back to Amgash and we get to hear many of the stories of those people who interacted with the Bartons, both the on

Backyard Nature Wednesday: What was that?

I was trying and mostly failing to get a decent picture of this Rose-breasted Grosbeak at one of my backyard feeders when this guy showed up: Wha...??? Is it a skeksis? No, it's actually a cardinal. A bald-headed cardinal. Birds go through an annual molt, generally in mid to late summer after all nesting duties are completed and the kids are fledged and on their own. As you can imagine, feathers take quite a beating what with migration, then establishing and defending a territory, building a nest and raising a family. By the end of summer, they have been seriously degraded, so over a period of weeks, the bird gradually shucks them off and grows shiny new ones in their place. These bright new feathers take them through fall, winter, spring, and partway through summer until its time to shed them in turn and grow new ones.  As a bird gradually sheds and grows new feathers, it is not unusual to see a bald-headed Northern Cardinal or Blue Jay or Common Grackle . I've

The Book of Joan by Lidia Yuknavitch: A review

I remember the thrill I got the first time I read Frank Herbert's  Dune, lo those many years ago. After that, I waited impatiently for each new entry that Herbert made to the series. Arrakis was real to me. The characters who contended to control it were real to me.  I was reminded of all that while reading The Book of Joan ; it gave me that same kind of shiver along my spine. Lidia Yuknavitch has created a post-apocalyptic world of our not-too-distant future, but a world where evolution and technology have been speeded up exponentially by the effects of incessant warfare and uncontrolled global warming. It is a world where the surviving "humans" have lost everything corporeal that made them human. Their heads are "white and waxen. No eyebrows or eyelashes or full lips or anything but jutting bones at the cheeks and shoulders and collarbones and data points, the parts on our bodies where we interact with technology..." Their "skin is Sibe

Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day - May 2017

And just like that, here we are in the "lusty month of May" already. It's the beginning of true summer for us here in zone 9a of Southeast Texas and blooms are busting out all over. Yesterday was Mother's Day, of course, and hydrangeas are a traditional gift. My very non-traditional daughters decided to go with the flow for once and got me two of these magnificent 'Endless Summer' hydrangeas to anchor each side of one of my garden sitting areas.   This is another hydrangea - the oakleaf variety. The yellow flowers in the background are wedelia. May is sunflower season, of course. Lots of sunflowers. My cup runneth over with sunflowers! All kinds of sunflowers. Including sunflowers that are well on their way to being sunflower seeds. Dahlias, salvia, daylilies, orange milkweed, and Blackfoot daisies Lantana 'Peaches and Cream.' 'Dallas Red' lantana. 'Lady of Shalott' rose. '