Showing posts from April, 2019

Note to readers

It seems that my husband and I are taking turns being sick this spring. Unfortunately, his is a bit more serious than mine was. Sometime in the next few days, he will be having heart surgery. The exact time hasn't been scheduled yet. So I will be preoccupied with other matters for a while and blogging will be very sporadic if it happens at all. Don't forget about me - I'll be back. And in the meantime, send your positive thoughts and energy our way. Thank you!

Throwback Thursday: Dune by Frank Herbert: A review

I read recently that a remake of the movie Dune is in the works and will be released next year. The first version, released in 1984, was not a great success. I remember seeing it in the theater and being rather underwhelmed, but I saw it several years later on television and actually sort of liked it. It's a bit of a cult favorite these days. The books were quite another matter. I LOVED the books! I read all in the series authored by Frank Herbert, though I never moved on to the ones authored by his son after Herbert's death. They were great works of the imagination and there seemed to be quite a bit of truth there that was relevant to our own society. That relevance may be even more evident today than it was when the books were first published. In 2015 for the fiftieth anniversary of the publication of the first book, I reread it and wrote my review. I was just as gobsmacked by the book the second time around as when I first read it all those years ago. ~~~   Frida

Poetry Sunday: The Walls by Ray Gonzalez

Walls are very much in the news these days. In 2005, Ray Gonzalez imagined some walls. Some of them were real; others were a product of magical realism.  Gonzalez was born and raised in El Paso on the Mexico/Texas border and walls feature in many of his poems. Perhaps there is a connection there.  What do these walls represent? That depends on your perspective, I suppose.  The Walls by Ray Gonzalez Julius Caesar’s head was cut off and fed to the barbarians waiting outside the walls of Rome. Salvador Dali wore one orange sock and a white one on days he went to eat breakfast in cafes. On days he stared at the wall, he did not wear socks. Yukio Mishima sheathed his knives in wall of whale oil, claiming such creatures were the only ones that understood the art of sacrifice. The last thing John Lennon saw before he was gunned down was the brick wall of his apartment house. Sitting Bull had fourteen wives he lined up against the cliff

This week in birds - #350

A roundup of the week's news of birds and the environment : Yellow-breasted Chat image courtesy of Houston Audubon Society. I heard my first Yellow-breasted Chat of the season on Thursday. "Heard" is the operative word; I never actually saw the bird. It was in the shrubbery in my next-door neighbor's yard and, as is typical of the birds, was giving its strange hooting, whistling, laughing calls as it skulked about scouring the leaves for insects. I've always been fascinated by chats, partly I think because I remember them well from my childhood. Their behavior, as well as their calls, is unique and memorable. But the birds are fascinating for other reasons as well, mainly because ornithologists can't agree on what they are! For more than a century, they were classified as members of the wood warbler ( Parulidae ) family, even though they are more than twice the size of some members of that family and their behavior is not typical of wood warblers. In

The Colors of All the Cattle by Alexander McCall Smith: A review

It's been quite a while since I traveled to Botswana, land of eternal sunshine and many-colored cattle, to have red bush tea with Precious Ramotswe. I was feeling a bit thirsty for that tea and so I decided to check in with Precious and see what was happening in the little town of Gaborone. It turned out Precious had gone into politics! It was a most un-Precious-like thing to do but she had been pushed into it by her great friend Mma Potokwane, head of the local orphanage and a woman who knows how to get people to do her bidding. An opening had come up on the Gaborone city council and the word was out that the council was to soon vote on whether to allow the building of the flashy Big Fun Hotel next to the city cemetery. Mma Potokwane was appalled at this effrontery and disrespect to the "late" people who reside in the cemetery. Mma Ramotswe was equally appalled when her friend told her about it, but she didn't see that there was anything to be done about it. Th

Gingerbread by Helen Oyeyemi: A review

Reading Helen Oyeyemi's latest book is a bit like looking at the mirrors at a carnival where everything is distorted and you can never be quite sure what you are seeing. Is this science fiction? Social commentary? Satire? A fairy tale? Magical realism? All of the above? Oyeyemi keeps the reader guessing and, frankly, I was never quite sure.  One thing I am sure of is that this novel requires the reader's strict attention to every sentence. If one's attention wanders, as mine did midway through the book, one is quickly lost and must regroup to find one's way again. So, what is this book actually about? Well, at its root, it is about a family of women: Margot, the grandmother; Harriet, the mother; and Perdita, the daughter. There are ancillary characters, the fathers and other relatives, friends, and those who exploit the women, but, mainly, it is the story of these three women. The story begins in the magical country of  Druhástrana. Where is this country? Well,

Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day - April 2019

Happy Bloom Day! Welcome to my zone 9a garden near Houston, Texas. The busiest gardening season of the year, spring, is very much with us here, but my gardening season has not been very busy so far. Some health issues have limited my ability to work in the garden. As a consequence of that, no new plants have been added this spring which means no new blossoms. Still, I'm happy to have the blooms that my old plants produce. Many of the same plants that were blooming for March Bloom Day are still going strong. Things like... ...the pansies and violas. And still more violas. The snapdragons. The yarrow. And, of course, the 'Peggy Martin' rose. 'Peggy' has been in bloom since January but she is just now reaching her peak.   The gerberas. The purple oxalis which I plant on purpose. And its wild cousin that plants itself in many of my beds around the garden. Feverfew has completed one bloom cycle and is just starting

Poetry Sunday: Song of Myself, 3 by Walt Whitman

The only time I've featured a poem by Walt Whitman here was way back in 2013 with "I Hear America Singing." Time to rectify that. In this one, Whitman sings of himself. He celebrates the body and he celebrates it, as he did most things, with passion. He accepts and approves of every "organ and attribute" of that body; "Not an inch nor a particle of an inch is vile." How much less anguish there would be in the world if we could all be so accepting of our bodies. Song of Myself, 3 by Walt Whitman, 1819 -1892 I have heard what the talkers were talking, the talk of the beginning and the end But I do not talk of the beginning or the end. There was never any more inception than there is now, Nor any more youth or age than there is now, And will never be any more perfection than there is now, Nor any more heaven or hell than there is now. Urge and urge and urge, Always the procreant urge of the world. Out of the dimness opposite equals advanc

This week in birds - #349

A roundup of the week's news of birds and the environment : This Carolina Chickadee seems to be enjoying a refreshing shower in this brief spring rain. *~*~*~* A new study by scientists at the Environmental Protection Agency (apparently there are still some who haven't been purged) attempts to put a dollar cost to the effects of climate change. Their conclusion is that unchecked climate change will be costing the United States hundreds of billions of dollars per year by the end of this century. *~*~*~* Some fascinating news from the world of archaeology this week: Archaeologists on Luzon in the Philippines have turned up the bones of a distant relative of ours . They've named it Homo luzonensis. These cousins stood less than three feet tall and lived at least 50,000 years ago. *~*~*~* In a recently released report, conservationists have ranked the American cities with the most dangerous skyscrapers that present death traps for migrating birds. Topping th