Showing posts from March, 2019

Poetry Sunday: Looking For Each of Us by Linda Gregg

Linda Gregg was an award-winning American poet. She died last week at age 76, and since I didn't know her work, I thought I should get acquainted and introduce her to you. Here is one of her poems. L ooking For Each of Us by Linda Gregg I open the box of my favorite postcards    and turn them over looking for de Chirico    because I remember seeing you standing    facing a wall no wider than a column where    to your left was a hall going straight back into darkness, the floor a ramp sloping down    to where you stood alone and where the room    opened out on your right to an auditorium    full of people who had just heard you read    and were now listening to the other poet.    I was looking for the de Chirico because of    the places, the empty places. The word    “boulevard” came to mind. Standing on the side    of the fountains in Paris where the water    blew onto me when I was fifteen. It was night.    It was dark then too and I was al

This week in birds - #347

A roundup of the week's news of birds and the environment : The American Robin is the harbinger of spring in some places but around here they are present throughout the year and their nesting season has begun. *~*~*~* Farther north, large flocks of robins are showing up in yards as their spring migration is well underway. In the 1800s, these flocks would have been fair game for hunters. Thankfully, that is no longer the case and robin numbers are increasing. *~*~*~* Communities in California where the superbloom of wildflowers has taken place are still having to deal with large numbers of tourists, some of whom are quite thoughtless and destructive. Some have even landed in helicopters which have flattened the wildflowers around their landing spots. *~*~*~* Scientists at the Fish and Wildlife Service in 2017 wrapped up a comprehensive analysis of the threat that three widely used pesticides present to hundreds of endangered species .  But just before the team pla

Cherokee America by Margaret Verble: A review

Cherokee America is the name she was given at birth but she is known to family and friends as Check. This is her story. It is 1875 in Cherokee Nation West (now Oklahoma) and Check is about to become a widow. She had married a white man and they raised five sons together after their first baby, a daughter, died. Now the two oldest boys are in their late teens and are considered men. Of the three younger boys, the youngest is a two-year-old toddler. Check and her husband are successful and wealthy potato farmers but now her husband is dying from a disease that is never explicitly named but seems to be stomach cancer. Check's time is spent mostly caring for him as the two older boys must take increased responsibility for the farm. In addition to the family, a black couple who are the family cook and handyman live as part of the household and are treated as part of the family. Besides these characters, there is a mind-boggling number of others that we must get to know and keep al

Territory of Light by Yuko Tsushima: A review

A reader who was expecting a lot of drama and excitement from this spare and slender (less than 200 pages) novel would be sorely disappointed. It is a narrative of a year in the life of a recently separated young mother and her two-year-old, turning three-year-old in that year, daughter. It is a meditation on what it was like to be a single parent, a woman, in postwar Japan. The time frame of the novel is not mentioned but it can be assumed to be the '70s. The book was published in 1978. The book explores this young mother's coming to terms with her new life, learning to stand on her own two feet and become independent. It also details her relationship with her young child and the surprising fact that she sometimes leaves the sleeping child alone in her apartment at night while she goes out to run errands. As a mother, this seemed appalling to me and I wondered if it really was accepted practice at the time or if it simply was a product of the writer's imagination. Wh

Poetry Sunday: Phenomenal Woman by Maya Angelou

I've actually featured this poem before but it's been a few years and I think it is time for it again. It is, after all, still Women's History Month and what better way to celebrate that than a poem by a woman. A phenomenal woman.  Phenomenal Woman by Maya Angelou Pretty women wonder where my secret lies. I’m not cute or built to suit a fashion model’s size    But when I start to tell them, They think I’m telling lies. I say, It’s in the reach of my arms, The span of my hips,    The stride of my step,    The curl of my lips.    I’m a woman Phenomenally. Phenomenal woman,    That’s me. I walk into a room Just as cool as you please,    And to a man, The fellows stand or Fall down on their knees.    Then they swarm around me, A hive of honey bees.    I say, It’s the fire in my eyes,    And the flash of my teeth,    The swing in my waist,    And the joy in my feet.    I’m a woman Phenomenally. Phenom

This week in birds - #346

A roundup of the week's news of birds and the environment : The vanguard of the Ruby-throated Hummingbird migration has been passing through this week. The adult males, like the one above, arrive first. Later, the adult females and first-year birds will appear. *~*~*~* There has already been severe flooding in the Midwest this spring, but scientists warn that this is likely only the beginning. They are predicting unprecedented levels of flooding in the coming months that could imperil as many as 200 million people. Scientists say that climate change is responsible for more intense and more frequent extreme weather that contributes to the surging flood waters.  *~*~*~* A new data analysis by the Associated Press shows that in the last twenty years the country has been twice as likely to have record-breaking heat in summers as it is to have record-breaking cold in winters. *~*~*~* A new study of white-tailed deer numbers in the eastern U.S. indicates that the arriv

Daisy Jones and The Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid: A review

I have not read Taylor Jenkins Reid before, although she had written five books previously, to some acclaim. If this book is an indication of her talent, then I definitely need to be reading more of her. The format of the book is that of an oral history/television documentary. One character speaks, giving a perspective of some event, then another character speaks with his/her perspective. And on and on until all relevant characters are heard from. It is a highly effective way of telling this particular story. And this story is about the formation, the road to fame and riches, and ultimately the breaking up of a very successful 1970s band called The Six. Sex, drugs, and rock and roll - it is all here in abundance. One wonders at some points how anyone ever made it out of that decade alive. Daisy Jones is an L.A. girl, a fixture on the club scene of the late sixties. Estranged from her family, she lives a wild life, fueled by drugs, as a groupie to various rock stars, but she als

Friends in High Places by Donna Leon: A review

Donna Leon has a new book in her Guido Brunetti series. It is the 28th book in the series. It opened on The New York Times best sellers list.  It sounds interesting and I would really like to read it, but I am committed to reading the books of the series in order and I'm only up to number nine. At the rate I am going, it will be years before I can legitimately read number twenty-eight. On the bright side, that means that I have a lot of entertaining reading ahead of me. My pleasure in reading this series has increased with just about every book I have read. That trend continued with Friends in High Places, published in 1999. This book once again features the pervasive corruption that is so much a part of Venetian society, at least in Leon's fictional Venice. Commissario Brunetti receives a visit from an official from the Officio Castato, the registrar of buildings in Venice. He is there to determine if there was a permit for the construction of Brunetti's apartment

Poetry Sunday: For a Coming Extinction and Place by W.S. Merwin (with update)

( Update: There is a lovely remembrance of Merwin in the NYT opinion section of March 19. Here's a link .) We lost another great poet last week. W.S. Merwin died at his home in Hawaii on Friday. He was 91. Merwin was not once but twice named as poet laureate of the United States. He was also a winner of the National Book Award and of two Pulitzer Prizes.  In addition to being a poet, he was an environmental activist who cared deeply about conservation issues. His poetry often reflected those concerns. Here are two such poems. The first is a kind of request for forgiveness from those animals, represented by the gray whale, that we have sent to The End. In the fourth stanza, he lists some of those other animals and asks that the whale add his voice to theirs and " Tell him t hat it is we who are important ." Not a very humble way to ask for forgiveness, is it? Rather hubristic. And human.   The second one strikes quite a different note. It speaks of the end

This week in birds - #345

A roundup of the week's news of birds and the environment : The Cedar Waxwings are still with us. They are generally the last of our winter visitors to head north and will likely be here for another month at least. The flock in our neighborhood is smaller than in recent years, numbering, at a guess, somewhat less than a hundred birds. The flocks do usually get bigger as spring progresses and birds from farther south join up with the ones who have spent their winter here.  *~*~*~* The Guardian has a guide to America's five new national monuments , one of which - the Medgar and Myrlie Evers Home in Jackson, Mississippi - has particular meaning for me. *~*~*~* An Interior Department official speaking to a group of companies in the oil exploration business last month lauded our president's skill at sowing "absolutely thrilling" distractions that keep the public's attention away from the administration's efforts to open up large portions of the A