Showing posts from May, 2018

Dressed for Death by Donna Leon: A review

A dead body is found in a field near a slaughterhouse in Marghera, near Venice. At first glance, it appears to be one of the prostitutes who work the area around the abbatoir. But on examination, it turns out to be a man dressed in a woman's red dress and underwear and red silk shoes. The victim has been beaten about the head and face so badly that he is rendered unrecognizable. When his gender is discovered, the assumption becomes that he is a transvestite prostitute and the investigation of the death at first proceeds on that theory. But you know what they say about assuming things... It is the middle of August when all of this happens, vacation time for Italians. Commissario Guido Brunetti and his family have plans to escape the oppressive heat of Venice for two weeks on a refreshing trip to the mountains where, even in mid-summer, sweaters are required. Then he gets "the call." He has been assigned to head the investigation of this appalling murder. His wife and

Poetry Sunday: Losses by Wesley McNair

Losses are a part of life and how we deal with them, one could argue, says just about everything anyone needs to know about the kind of person we are.  I love the images of Wesley McNair's poem about loss, particularly the part about the widower who "can't stop reaching for the other side of the bed" until finally one odd afternoon...   " watching something as common as the way light from the window lingers over a vase on the table, or how the leaves on his backyard tree change colors all at once in a quick wind, he begins to feel a lightness, as if all his loss has led to finding just this." Loss can teach us, if only we are open to learning. Losses by Wesley McNair It must be difficult for God, listening to our voices come up through his floor of cloud to tell Him what’s been taken away: Lord, I’ve lost my dog, my period, my hair, all my money. What can He say, given we’re so incomplete we can’t stop being surprised b

This week in birds - #305

A roundup of the week's news of birds and the environment : Clapper Rail with chick, photographed at Anahuac National Wildlife Refuge. *~*~*~* Every single month since February 1985 has been warmer than normal, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. That's 400 months in a row . Anyone born after that month has never experienced a “cool” month for Earth, let alone a normal one. *~*~*~* Just to underline that point, dozens of people have died recently in Karachi, Pakistan from a suffocating heat wave that has paralyzed the city. On Monday, a temperature of 111.2 degrees Fahrenheit was recorded in the city, which is often referred to as a concrete jungle because it lacks large areas of plants or trees. And that, of course, is part of the problem.  *~*~*~* A long-delayed study of how rising sea levels might damage national parks has finally been released by the National Park Service after charges of scientific censorship. *~*~*~*

Wordless Wednesday: The first dahlia of summer


Nowhere to Run by C.J.Box: A review

After successively reading two relatively long and dense literary novels with complicated plots, I felt the need for something simple and undemanding. I thought of C.J. Box's Joe Pickett series. This is actually the tenth book in that series. Hard to believe I've read that many; they all sort of elide together in the memory. I like Joe Pickett and his family. He's an honorable man trying to do a job that he loves and believes is important. His wife and daughters are believable people with whom the reader can empathize.  In the last novel, the Picketts learned that the foster daughter who they thought was dead was very much alive and living in Chicago in rather desperate circumstances. They brought her home but she has many problems emanating from her hard life and she is a disruptive influence in the family, constantly at war with her two sisters. Joe had been sent away from his home and family for a year to be the temporary game warden in Baggs, Wyoming. At the b

Macbeth by Jo Nesbo: A review

Shakespeare's Macbeth is his shortest tragedy and one of his shortest plays. Jo  Nesbø's Macbeth, which is the latest in the Hobarth Shakespeare project in which modern writers are invited to reimagine one of the bard's works, goes on and on and on for nearing 500 pages of dense prose. It took me a full week of reading whenever I had the opportunity to finish it. Admittedly, I was occupied with other things as well, but still. But the description of the book as 500 pages of dense prose is not meant to imply that it is in any way boring or not worth the trouble. In fact, it is a bit of a page turner in the  Nesbø tradition of tightly plotted thrillers, but it is not an easy read. Nesbø sets his reimagining of the classic in 1970s Scotland in a city that is never actually named but a couple of the reviews that I've read have inferred that it is Glasgow based on the description and the evidence presented. Apparently, Glasgow in that period was a pretty grim place fi

Poetry Sunday: Another School Shooting, Too Fucking Close by peachpit

I went looking for poems about school shootings and found this one by a poet who goes by the moniker peachpit . It reeks of the anger and frustration that so many of us feel. I offer it here without comment. Another School Shooting, Too Fucking Close by peachpit A school shooting so damn close to home I know everyone says it but You never expect it to happen so close to you. Always seems so far away when it's on the news Until it happens to you Classmates tell about friends of friends dying Friends are injured We give our condolences  But it's all we can do Gun control As if this will every happen They shot up small children at Sandyhook An ELEMENTARY SCHOOL WITH SMALL CHILDREN That's literally the worst case scenario of a school shooting But nothing happened No new regulations  No gun control If they didn't do anything there Why would they now? As long as they can keep their guns  They're happy "Oh it was

This week in birds - #304

A roundup of the week's news of birds and the environment : It's been a bit of weird spring for birds in my yard. As I mentioned here a couple of weeks ago, I had not seen any Common Nighthawks or Chimney Swifts in the skies over the yard, although they normally arrive around the end of March at about the same time as the Ruby-throated Hummingbirds - who were also late this year. Well, the swifts and the nighthawks have now shown up. I saw my first ones in the late afternoon of May 14. But now I'm wondering where are the Baltimore Orioles like the one pictured above that visited in a previous year? We usually see them in the first week of May, but so far not a one this year. I have heard the song of the Orchard Oriole in the neighborhood, although I haven't actually seen one in my yard. But where are the Baltimores?  *~*~*~* CFC (Chloro-flouro-carbon) is a chemical that is known to destroy the ozone layer that protects our planet from damaging ultraviolet

Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day - May 2018

May flowers. The words seem to go together, don't they? Perhaps that's why Carol calls her blog "May Dreams Gardens."  Here are some of the May flowers that are bringing color to my garden. The gerbera daisies are in bloom. And so are the marguerite daisies. The old species cannas are showing their colors. As are the gaillardia. And blanket flowers. A few of the daylilies are blooming. Here's another. And yet another. This was actually the first one to bloom this year. The yellow cestrum is flowering. The blue plumbago was killed back to its roots during the winter and took its time coming back this spring, but now it, too, has begun to bloom. The potato vine sports a few flowers. And the volunteer snapdragons have just begun to snap. Salvia greggii in red. Salvia greggii in white. Salvia greggii in raspberry.    Pentas. We think of chrysanthemums as fall fl

Circe by Madeline Miller: A review

Having long been captivated by the Greek myths that explain creation and how the universe works, how could I resist Madeline Miller's wonderful telling of them in Circe ? Her story reads like historical fiction and it is told in the manner of an autobiography in the voice of Circe herself. Circe is the daughter of Helios, god of the sun and mightiest of all the Titans. From the beginning, she was different from the other children of Titans. She did not possess the powers of her father nor the allure of her mother, and, strangely, she seems drawn to mortals for their companionship. In time, she discovers where her true power lies: She possesses the power of witchcraft by which she can change her rivals into monsters and can threaten the gods themselves.   When Zeus realizes what Circe is, he demands her banishment. He and Helios arrive at an agreement on sending her to a deserted island of Aeaea. There, she tames the wolves and lions of the island and they become her compani