Showing posts from March, 2020

In the garden

As our self-isolation continues, I seek and find daily solace in my garden. There is always something happening there. In the front garden, the Dietes, popularly called "butterfly iris" around here, are beginning to bloom next to the old birdbath. Can you see a resemblance between the bloom and a butterfly? The camellia is nearing the end of its bloom cycle but still has a few blossoms. This Encore azalea is named 'Autumn Lily' but could just as rightly be called 'Spring Lily.' Hibiscus and dianthus blooming together. In the backyard, the muscadine grape vines are beginning to green up. And the loquat tree is loaded with fruit. Know any good recipes using loquats? Our warm weather recently has brought out the frogs. They serenade us with their nightly chorus. This one is a southern leopard frog. And this is a little green tree frog trying to make itself invisible against a crinum leaf. My husband recently weede

The Mirror and the Light by Hilary Mantel: A review

Well, we knew how it was going to end, didn't we? Because, in spite of what you might have heard from a certain orange blowhard, facts are immutable and history cannot be rewritten. And so we knew that Thomas Cromwell's road with all of its convoluted machinations would one day lead him to an appointment with the ax. But if we hadn't known that we might never have guessed it at the beginning of The Mirror and the Light , Hilary Mantel's third and final volume on the life of Cromwell. It is May 1536 and Cromwell is riding high.  Mantel picks up the story just as Anne Boleyn has been beheaded by the executioner brought in specially for the purpose from Calais. Cromwell is a witness to the execution and afterward speaks with the executioner and admires his sword of Toledo steel that separated head from body. Then he goes to breakfast with those who had wanted Anne disposed of. Anne had to be gotten rid of because Henry had tired of her and had lost patience with wa

Poetry Sunday: Look It Over by Wendell Berry

If you have the opportunity this week, I would advise doing as Wendell Berry does: Leave everything behind and go into the woods and sit on a log that Nature has provided for free. Look, listen, be present there. Take the gift that Nature offers. Peace. It's a bargain. Get it while it lasts. Look It Over by Wendell Berry I leave behind even my walking stick. My knife is in my pocket, but that I have forgot. I bring no car, no cell phone, no computer, no camera, no CD player, no fax, no TV, not even a book. I go into the woods. I sit on a log provided at no cost. It is the earth I’ve come to, the earth itself, sadly abused by the stupidity only humans are capable of but, as ever, itself. Free. A bargain! Get it while it lasts.

This week in birds - #395

A roundup of the week's news of birds and the environment : American Robins are not the harbingers of spring around here, for the simple reason that they live here all year long. But they certainly are a lot more active and more visible these days. Whether they are looking for materials to build a nest or they are looking for food for the babies in that nest, they are around the yard all day long and even when they are not in view, one hears their cheery song as background music to one's daily activities. *~*~*~*  Well, those dastardly "deep-state" scientists are at it again! When instructed to undo regulations that many have worked on for decades, federal lawyers and scientists have managed to embed data into technical documents that environmental lawyers are able to use to challenge the rollbacks in court. *~*~*~* Where do pandemics come from and how do they get started? Those are complicated questions, of course, but environmental scientists believe

This week in the garden

I'm still reading The Mirror and the Light by Hilary Mantel. It's a very long book and full of informative details. It takes close reading which makes it slow - but very enjoyable - work. I say all that to explain that I don't have a review for you this week and so, instead, I offer this placeholder. In addition to being slow reading, my progress on the book has been slowed because I've been spending quite a lot of my daytime hours in the garden. It is that time of year, after all. The garden demands my attention after its (relatively short) winter nap.  In the vegetable garden, the curly kale is at its sweet and succulent best. The sugar snap peas on their trellis are just beginning to bloom. They need to get a move on. Spring is heating up fast.  Next to the vegetable garden, the wild blackberries are beginning to plump up. The green anoles are out and about. This one enjoys a sunbath while resting on one of my succulent plants.  The gerbera dai

Poetry Sunday: You Are Old, Father William by Lewis Carroll

And now for a bit of fun. You may remember this poem, as I do, from childhood. I read quite a bit of Lewis Carroll in those days. In fact, he may be the first poet I learned to appreciate. I loved his nonsense poems. Here's one that isn't entirely nonsense. Now having arrived at an age where I can more easily appreciate and commiserate with Father William, I've gained a different perspective on it than I might have had in my younger days. You Are Old, Father William by Lewis Carroll "You are old, father William," the young man said, "And your hair has become very white; And yet you incessantly stand on your head -- Do you think, at your age, it is right? "In my youth," father William replied to his son, "I feared it might injure the brain; But, now that I'm perfectly sure I have none, Why, I do it again and again." "You are old," said the youth, "as I mentioned before, And you have grown most uncommonly fat; Ye

This week in birds - #394

A roundup of the week's news of birds and the environment : Image courtesy of Although they are nest parasites that do considerable damage to some vulnerable species, it cannot be denied that the Brown-headed Cowbird is a handsome creature. This is the male. The female is drabber but still a neat-looking bird. This is the season when we are most likely to see them in our yards and at our feeders. *~*~*~* One victim of the coronavirus pandemic has been several spring birding festivals that have been canceled due to concerns about spreading the deadly virus. This is a disappointment to birders and also a major hit to some local economies that benefit greatly from the ecotourism associated with the festivals. Meanwhile, the National Park Service is, for the most part, keeping public spaces in its care open , often free of charge to visitors, but visitor centers and other spaces where people would normally come in close contact are closed.  *~*~*~

Run Me to Earth by Paul Yoon: A review

I was not familiar with author Paul Yoon before I read this book. I'm sure I had probably heard of him before but the information had not stuck with me. As I read the book, I thought he must be from Laos or he must at least have a familial connection to that country. Imagine my surprise when I finished the book and read his biography to learn that he was actually born in New York City! He has no connection to Laos. His cultural heritage, through his grandfather, is Korean. His grandfather was a refugee from North Korea who settled in South Korea and established an orphanage there.  Score another one for the imagination of the writer. He has used that imagination to create a believable tale that begins in Laos in the late 1960s in the midst of the country's civil war. It was, of course, also the time during which the United States was involved in a war in Vietnam. Laos was collateral damage in that war as U.S. planes bombed the country repeatedly. Unexploded ordnance from th

Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day - March 2020; Poetry Sunday: In Perpetual Spring by Amy Gerstler

March brings a plethora of blooms to my garden here in zone 9a near Houston. March, of course, means azaleas. The blooms of mine are fading now, but just a week ago it was in full bloom.  Likewise, the Carolina jessamine only a few days ago was a wall of blooms.  It has dropped most of its blossoms by now but still hangs on to a few.  The 'Peggy Martin' rose continues in full bloom.  The pot of pansies on the patio table bloom on.  As do their cousins, the violas.  Snapdragons are still in bloom.  The loropetalum is at its most floriferous now.  The camellia has been the star of the show for a while.  The redbud is full of blooms and full of bees enjoying them.  Purple oxalis.  Indian hawthorn.  A single delicate blossom of the Tradescantia 'Purple Queen'. The blue plumbago has continued to send out a few blossoms all winter long. It never got cold enough to cause it to die back.  Dianthus.  And more