Showing posts from June, 2019

Poetry Sunday: I am the People, the Mob by Carl Sandburg

Carl Sandburg was a poet of the people, writ large. He wrote of and for ordinary people, " the workingman, the inventor, the maker of the world’s food and clothes." In this poem, he seems to decry the fact that the people, the mob, the mass do not know their own strength and that they never seem to learn from history but continue to be played for fools by those in power. He longs for a time when the people no longer "forget" but remember that they have the strength and the numbers to change history. It is a lesson that we can only hope people today have learned and take to heart. I Am the People, the Mob by Carl Sandburg I  am  the people—the mob—the crowd—the mass. Do you know that all the great work of the world is done through me? I am the workingman, the inventor, the maker of the world’s food and clothes. I am the audience that witnesses history. The Napoleons come from me and the Lincolns. They die. And then I send forth more Napoleons

This week in birds - #358

A roundup of the week's news of birds and the environment : Mourning Dove image by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The lovely Mourning Dove is one of my very favorite birds and has been since I was a child. They are beautiful and interesting to watch, but perhaps most of all, I love their song. It's one of the first bird voices that I learned to recognize and it never fails to make me smile. I don't find the sound mournful at all. *~*~*~* I'll bet you didn't know that June 21 - 28 was Cephalopod Week ! Yes, those octopuses, squids, and all their cephalopod cousins have a designated week in their honor. And why not? They are remarkable and intelligent creatures that have evolved a highly complex nervous system that gives their arms a mind of their own. Their unique abilities and behavior make them star attractions at many aquariums. *~*~*~* Four North Atlantic right whales have been found dead in the Gulf of St. Lawrence in Canada in the last three

A Philosophy of Ruin by Nicholas Mancusi: A review

I saw a review of this book and was intrigued by the summary of its plot of having a philosophy professor plucked from his safe if boring life and pushed into the world of drug-runners. It seemed to have possibilities. Moreover, it was another debut novel and my recent experience with first novels has been very good so I was ready to give another one a chance. Oscar Boatwright is the professor - actually assistant professor making barely $20,000 a year - of philosophy in question. His school is never actually named but is somewhere on the West Coast. He teaches introductory classes as well as some more advanced ones.  He seems to be sleepwalking through his existence until one day he is shocked into wakefulness by a phone call. He is told that his mother has died on an airplane flight from Hawaii. He had no idea his parents were in Hawaii. After all, they lived in Indiana. Oscar learns that his mother, who had suffered from lifelong clinical depression, had fallen under the sway

The Island of Sea Women by Lisa See: A review

I greatly enjoyed Lisa See's last novel, The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane , and had looked forward to reading her latest one about the female deep sea divers on the Korean island of Jeju. I was not disappointed. Much as she did with the previous novel where she gave us a window on the lives of the Akha hill tribe and the tea trade in Yunnan province through the relationship of a mother and daughter, in this book, we get to know the society of the haenyeo (women divers) through the lives of two girls who become friends and who are meant to be lifelong friends. Something happens along the way to sunder that friendship but the lives of the two remain connected in unbreakable ways. The time period covered by this historical novel is one of great violence and upheaval in Korea and on Jeju. It begins in the late 1930s when Jeju is under Japanese control. It is a brutal occupation and the people of Jeju suffer greatly. Then comes World War II. At the end of the war, the island come

Uniform Justice by Donna Leon: A review

I've been quite happily plowing through Donna Leon's series featuring Commissario Guido Brunetti, enjoying his relationships with his family and his colleagues at the Questura, and especially enjoying all the descriptions of the food and wine consumed by the Brunetti family. But all of those pleasantries cannot completely disguise the fact that this is a very dark series. The title of this twelfth entry, Uniform Justice , could be read in different ways. The "uniform" might refer to the military which in this story comes in for a bollocking by the author. Or it might be read as ironic: There is no such thing as uniform justice; there is "justice" for the rich and a much less salubrious "justice" for the poor. However you read it or interpret it, it is a thoroughly depressing view of Venetian society and, taken in a larger sense, Western society as a whole. This book begins with Commissario Brunetti being called to investigate the death of a c

Poetry Sunday: Fall Song by Joy Harjo

The Library of Congress named a new poet laureate for the nation last week. It is Joy Harjo. She will be the first Native American to serve in that post. She was born in Oklahoma and is a member of the Muskogee (Creek) Nation.  Her poetry is drawn from First Nation storytelling and histories, as well as feminist and social justice poetic traditions, and frequently incorporates indigenous myths, symbols, and values. Her poems are intimately connected to Mother Earth and her cycles and seasons. Many of her poems are quite lengthy. I looked for one that was a bit shorter to feature here and found "Fall Song." I find it quite lovely. I hope you do, too.  Fall Song by Joy Harjo It is a dark fall day. The earth is slightly damp with rain. I hear a jay. The cry is blue. I have found you in the story again. Is there another word for ‘‘divine’’? I need a song that will keep sky open in my mind. If I think behind me, I might break. If I think forward, I lose now. Forever will b

This week in birds - # 357

A roundup of the week's news of birds and the environment : Picture of Purple Martin male from Country Roads magazine. Purple Martins are among my favorite summer visitors and they are very much in evidence in my neighborhood this summer. Every time I'm outside I see many of them in the skies over my yard. One or more of my neighbors have nesting boxes for them. These birds in the eastern United States depend entirely on the nest boxes that are erected by humans. Several years ago, we had a martin "mansion" in our backyard but, after it was taken over by House Sparrows and European Starlings, we finally admitted defeat and took it down. There are fewer of these pests around our area now. Maybe it would be a good time to put up another one. Meantime, I'll enjoy my neighbors' birds. *~*~*~* The aphorism that it is an ill wind that blows no good is proven true once again, this time by Hurricane Sandy. The big storm which hit the east coast in 2012 c

Throwback Thursday: Should journalists point out blatant lies that politicians tell?

Little did I know when I wrote this post back in the fall of 2013 that the problem that I was describing was going to get so much worse in the years to come. Television news was to become a megaphone for lying liars who could not speak without lying and it would never call them out for their lies. Instead, they blast those lies at an easily led public twenty-four hours a day. Is it any wonder that the public is no longer able to recognize the truth? What passes for "truth" these days is whatever you can get the most people to believe. I never watch television news anymore. I gave up on it in 2016. I read that some television journalists now actually do call a lie a lie. Better late than never, I guess. Not Chuck "That's not my job!" Todd though. He's still peddling the same "he said, she said," "both sides do it" shit.  ~~~ Thursday, September 19, 2013 Should journalists point out blatant lies that politicians tell? D

Mostly Dead Things by Kristen Arnett: A review

Some of the reviews that I read of this book described it as a comic novel. Those reviewers must have read a different book than I did.  Admittedly there are some moments of black humor but mostly this is a story about a grieving family that is unable to reach out to each other and communicate their need for understanding and love. These are some seriously mixed up folks in the mold of characters that we've come to expect in novels set in Florida. This one is set in Central Florida and is Kristen Arnett's first novel. It features a family of taxidermists who are tortured by a couple of tragedies from which they seem to be unable to recover and move on. We meet the family through Arnett's narrator, Jessa-Lynn Morton. Jessa-Lynn is the child of a taxidermist. She has a younger brother, Milo, but Jessa-Lynn is the one who is close to her father and wants to follow in his footsteps. Her happiest times are those she spends at his side learning the art of taxidermy, along

Machines Like Me by Ian McEwan: A review

In his latest book, Machines Like Me , Ian McEwan gives us a bit of alternative history, a bit of science fiction, and wraps it all up in a unique menage a trois love story featuring a fully-functional humanoid robot named Adam. In the world of this novel, Alan Turing did not die in 1954; he is still alive in the London of the 1980s, and, having been knighted by the queen, he lives openly with his longtime partner and is contributing to the advancement of computer technology and artificial intelligence. He is a much-honored member of society whose work during World War II and later is recognized for the world-changing event that it was. And Turing is the idolized hero of Charlie Friend, one of the main characters in this story. Charlie leads a rather drab existence in which he makes a living - sort of - by playing the stock and currency markets. He lives in a shabby apartment and pines for the woman who lives upstairs, an enigma named Miranda. He is also obsessed with robots, a

Poetry Sunday: A Red, Red Rose by Robert Burns

There are no red roses in my garden just now - only pink, yellow, and salmon-colored - but, with any luck, there will be soon. In the meantime, I'll settle for enjoying Robert Burns' iconic red, red rose.  A Red, Red Rose by Robert Burns O my Luve is like a red, red rose     That’s newly sprung in June;  O my Luve is like the melody     That’s sweetly played in tune.  So fair art thou, my bonnie lass,     So deep in luve am I;  And I will luve thee still, my dear,     Till a’ the seas gang dry.  Till a’ the seas gang dry, my dear,     And the rocks melt wi’ the sun;  I will love thee still, my dear,     While the sands o’ life shall run.  And fare thee weel, my only luve!     And fare thee weel awhile!  And I will come again, my luve,     Though it were ten thousand mile.

Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day - June 2019

Summertime (almost). The cicadas are serenading and the crape myrtles are in bloom. Here in hot pink. And here in lavender. 'Cashmere Bouquet' clerodendron. And potato vine. 'Belinda's Dream' rose. It doesn't look very red but this is red yucca. This was my much-appreciated Mother's Day gift from my daughters - a vitex shrub, also called chaste tree. The blossoms remind one a bit of lilac which we can't grow here. They are much-loved by all pollinators, especially bees. A Mother's Day gift from a previous year was this hydrangea which has been blooming its heart out this spring. I do love its big squashy blossoms. These blossoms are definitely not big and squashy. It's buttonbush ( Cephalonthus occidentalis ) and you can see how it got its common name. The blossoms do look a bit like buttons. It is a native plant, also much-loved by pollinators. An oldie but a goodie - 4 o'clock.