Showing posts from November, 2021

The Sentence by Louise Erdrich: A review

  Acclaimed author Louise Erdrich who is also the owner of an independent bookstore called Birchbark Books & Native Arts in Minnesota has given us a new book that features an acclaimed writer named Louise who has an unnamed independent bookstore in Minneapolis. The book's Louise, however, is not the central character in the new book; that role belongs to an Ojibwe woman called Tookie. Tookie had led a checkered life prior to her employment at the bookstore. In response to a friend's request, she had stolen the corpse of the woman's boyfriend, wrapped it in a tarp, and taken it across state lines to deliver it to another friend. It was a stupid but not evil thing to do. She was trying to help out a friend. What she didn't know was that the "friend" had duct-taped crack cocaine under the armpits of the man. Unlucky Tookie is found out and arrested by a tribal policeman. She is indicted and found guilty and sentenced to 60 years. After ten years, Tookie's

Poetry Sunday: Perhaps the World Ends Here by Joy Harjo

Joy Harjo is currently serving her second term as the country's poet laureate. She is the first Native American to be poet laureate. She is a member of the Muscogee Nation. In this poem, she gives us an appreciation of the humble kitchen table. It serves so many functions in our lives and perhaps the world even begins and ends there. Perhaps the World Ends Here by Joy Harjo     The world begins at a kitchen table. No matter what, we must eat to live. The gifts of earth are brought and prepared, set on the table. So it has been since creation, and it will go on. We chase chickens or dogs away from it. Babies teethe at the corners. They scrape their knees under it. It is here that children are given instructions on what it means to be human. We make men at it, we make women. At this table we gossip, recall enemies and the ghosts of lovers. Our dreams drink coffee with us as they put their arms around our children. They laugh with us at our poor falling-down selves and as we put ourse

This week in birds - #478

 A roundup of the week's news of birds and the environment : Cedar Waxwings have reportedly been seen in the area already, although it is a bit earlier than I normally see them here. I took this picture last year. I always look forward to their arrival. They are a most welcome winter visitor. *~*~*~* Nature itself is our best defense against runaway increases in greenhouse emissions and encouraging and working to conserve biodiversity in the landscape is the best way for us to assist Nature in this important work. Here are some ways for us to best accomplish that. *~*~*~* Apparently, right-wingers are beginning to acknowledge that there might just possibly be something called climate change going on but they are now pairing this acknowledgment of possible ecological disaster with their fears of immigrants . This narrative is finding its way into mainstream politics. *~*~*~* New legislation in Britain will require that all new buildings there have a charging point for electric veh

Happy Thanksgiving!

My favorite holiday of the year is here! I have a lot to be thankful for but near the top of my list is you, dear reader. Thank you for reading the blog this year and for being a part of the conversation. My fondest hope is that that will continue.

The Promise by Damon Galgut: A review

  Can I share a shameful secret with you? I don't think I had ever heard of Damon Galgut before he won the Booker Prize for fiction with this book. If I had heard his name mentioned or seen it in print, it obviously did not register with me for I'd forgotten it. But he has actually published eleven novels beginning in 1983 when he was only seventeen. His works have been highly praised and some have won prizes and he had previously been shortlisted for the Booker in 2003 and 2010. He is also a playwright. His writing documents life in his native South Africa both during apartheid and after it was abolished. This current novel details the experiences and actions of the Swart family who live on a farm outside Pretoria. There are three adult children. It begins during the apartheid period and stretches all the way to the present. When we meet the family, their mother has died and they gather for her funeral. Before she died, she extracted a promise from her husband that he would si

The Lincoln Highway by Amor Towles: A review

  Amor Towles' latest features two young brothers, an older teenager and a pre-teen, who set out from Nebraska to go to San Francisco where the younger brother has hopes of finding their mother who left them years earlier. Their father has recently died and their home, a farm, is being foreclosed by the bank which holds the mortgage. They have to go somewhere and San Francisco seems like a good option. It is June 1954 and eighteen-year-old Emmett Watson has just been driven home by the warden of the work farm where he was sentenced after being found guilty of involuntary manslaughter. His sentence has been reduced because of his father's death and the fact that his eight-year-old brother, Billy, has no other family to care for him. Emmett has a 1948 Studebaker Land Cruiser that he had bought with wages earned as a carpenter before being sentenced. His plan was to take his brother and head to Texas where he thought there would be work for a carpenter and he could support the two

Poetry Sunday: When I am an old woman, I shall wear purple by Jenny Joseph

I have to admit that purple has long been a favorite color of mine and I frequently wore it even before I became an old woman. As for the red hat, well, I'm not really into hats so much but if I wore one it would definitely be red. So, you could say I've been practicing at being an old woman for quite some time now. I should be really good at it by now. Perhaps I've already made up "for the sobriety of my youth."  When I am an old woman, I shall wear purple by Jenny Joseph   When I am an old woman I shall wear purple With a red hat which doesn't go, and doesn't suit me. And I shall spend my pension on brandy and summer gloves And satin sandals, and say we've no money for butter. I shall sit down on the pavement when I'm tired And gobble up samples in shops and press alarm bells And run my stick along the public railings And make up for the sobriety of my youth. I shall go out in my slippers in the rain And pick flowers in other people's gardens

This week in birds - #477

  A roundup of the week's news of birds and the environment : A Tufted Titmouse stops by my little fountain for a drink and maybe a quick bath.  *~*~*~* COP26 wrapped up with an agreement signed by almost 200 countries that would intensify global efforts to fight climate change. Many activists were disappointed that the agreement was not more forceful in setting higher goals for countries to reach, but looking on the brighter side, at least it established a clear consensus that more is needed from those countries. *~*~*~* The success of COP26 will in large part depend upon whether certain powerful countries like the United States, China, and India that are major emitters of greenhouse gases actually live up to their promises . *~*~*~* Satellite data reveals that the deforestation of Brazil's Amazon rainforest rose by nearly 22 percent over the past year. It was the worst loss of any year since 2006. Many blame the policies of President Jair Bolsonaro.  *~*~*~* In some better

Raven Black by Ann Cleeves: A review

  I had seen the "Shetland" series on television but had never read any of the books, even though I am a big fan of Ann Cleeves' writing. So I decided to remedy that starting with the first book in the series. It was a creditable beginning. Raven Black takes place in the fictional town of Ravenswick, Shetland, where on New Year's Eve a simpleton loner named Magnus Tait is visited by two teenage girls, Sally Henry and Catherine Ross. When the girls turn up at his door, he invites them in to toast the New Year. The girls then leave but they, especially Catherine, have left a vivid impression on Magnus. A few days later when he's riding a bus, Catherine gets on. When they both start to leave the bus, Catherine offers him her hand to help him down and he invites her in for a cup of tea.  A deep layer of snow covers Ravenswick but the next morning a local artist on her way home sees some bright colors in the distance on the snow and ravens circling around the area. Sh

No Country for Old Men by Cormac McCarthy: A review

  "Don't read Cormac McCarthy," they said. "He's too bloody and violent. You wouldn't like him," they said. And for years I heeded that warning. But finally, this year in thinking about ways to challenge myself with reading, I considered McCarthy again. After all, how bad could he be? How much worse than some of the other bloody stuff I've read? (I'm looking at you, Jo Nesbo.) So, I picked up No Country for Old Men and began to read. What I learned was he's not bad at all. In fact, he's very, very good. Oh, he's bloody enough all right. I quickly lost track of the body count that continued to rise throughout the book. But the violence was never particularly explicit. It was just reported rather matter of factly. You've probably read the book or seen the popular 2007 Coen brothers movie based on the book. There was, of course, a lot of talk about the movie after it came out and especially after it won the Oscar for Best Movie, so

Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day - November 2021

And just like that, here we are in November. Where has the year fled? We've been enjoying unusually pleasant (for us) autumn weather here in zone 9a. Cool, sunny days and often quite chilly nights, sometimes dipping into the lower 40s F. And while the garden still looks a bit raggedy around the edges, it, too, has enjoyed this cooler weather with the occasional fall rains. Here's what has survived to bloom this month.   The Encore azaleas have been putting out a few blooms recently. If it's autumn, then of course Esperanza "yellow bells" must be in bloom. A pot of pansies on the patio table, just added for fall and winter color. And I must have my red cyclamen, also for seasonal color. The Cape honeysuckle has been in bloom for several weeks and shows no signs of letting up. Another autumn "must-have" - petunias. Duranta erecta blossoms with their beautiful attendant, a Tiger Swallowtail. These butterflies seem to particularly like these blossoms. I see

Poetry Sunday: Fire and Ice by Robert Frost

Will the world end in fire or ice? Considering how the planet is rapidly heating up, it seems most likely that it will end in fire. But after the fires burn out and all the humans are gone, ice may once again have its chance. It's a question that Robert Frost considered in 1920 and, of course, he wrote a poem about it. It is brief and to the point. Fire and Ice by Robert Frost   Some say the world will end in fire, Some say in ice. From what I’ve tasted of desire I hold with those who favor fire. But if it had to perish twice, I think I know enough of hate To say that for destruction ice Is also great And would suffice.

This week in birds - #476

  A roundup of the week's news of birds and the environment : The American Bird Conservancy's Bird of the Week is the Greater Sage-Grouse . The Sage-Grouse is one of the most prominent inhabitants of the sagebrush "sea" that covers millions of acres across 13 U.S. states and portions of a few Canadian provinces. It is considered an "umbrella" species meaning that efforts to conserve it also benefit many other species. *~*~*~* The bird of the week in my backyard is the Ruby-crowned Kinglet . The little birds have arrived in the area for their winter sojourn with us. *~*~*~* Cop26 is winding down. Has it been successful or not? Researchers from the world's top climate analysis coalition are not impressed . Their report says that the world is still on track for disastrous heating of 2.4 degrees Celsius by the end of this century. This is in spite of the pledges made by governments at this conference.  *~*~*~* It turns out that the largest delegation at Cop

The Reading List by Sara Nisha Adams: A review

  The list of the title is a series of eight well-known books. It was a list written by an unknown (until near the end of the book) hand and tucked into several different books at the struggling public library in Wembley which the lister frequented. The list read as follows: Just in case you need it - To Kill a Mockingbird Rebecca The Kite Runner Life of Pi Pride and Prejudice Little Women Beloved A Suitable Boy As it happens, the people who find one of the lists need it very badly indeed. The first one who does is Aleisha, a seventeen-year-old teenager working at the library. Aleisha is not a reader. She's only working at the library because she desperately needed a job and her beloved brother, Aidan, a book lover who had previously worked at the library, recommended it. Between shelving books and working at the front desk, she is bored senseless and spends much of her time looking at her phone. That's what she is doing the day that Mukesh comes to the library. Mukesh is an ei