Showing posts from May, 2022

The Candy House by Jennifer Egan: A review

  Jennifer Egan's latest is billed as a sequel to A Visit From the Good Squad which I read way back in 2013. A lot of books have flowed over the rocks of my brain since then, so I don't remember the specifics of that book as well as I might, but I do remember that I liked it. In fact, I've never read a book by Egan that I didn't like. And that includes The Candy House .  This one is a bit difficult to describe. It is all about memory and the desire for privacy in a world where so much of our lives is open to the public. We can come to feel that our lives are no longer our own but are part of the shared memories of everyone around us. As I say, a bit difficult to describe or wrap our heads around. The time is 2010 and Bix Bouton is a successful tech entrepreneur on the lookout for the next big thing. A conversation with some Columbia professors puts him on the track of an idea for downloading or externalizing memory. The technology that he creates to make that germ of a

Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day - May 2022

Can it really be May Bloom Day already? Carol Michel says so and I must believe her since she is the original instigator of this monthly post. So, here goes. We've had a dry spring so far and it is looking like a dry summer but many of my tough old plants don't seem to notice.   This red salvia for example. The 'Hot Lips' salvia started blooming earlier and is almost finished with its first blooms now. I love these hot orange blossoms of the pomegranate.   Not quite in full bloom yet but this buddleia will soon get there. This sweet-smelling vine is by my back porch. These ancient cannas haven't done much for me so far, but they'll get going soon and bloom throughout the summer. Blue plumbago doing its thing. And yellow cestrum doing its. 'Darcy Bussell' rose almost finished with its first cycle of bloom. 'Julia Child' rose. 'Lady of Shallott' rose just a bit past its prime. I have lost the label for these blooming plants and have racked

Poetry Sunday: A Book by Emily Dickinson

This one is short and sweet and to the point. Emily Dickinson did not mince words! A Book by Emily Dickinson There is no frigate like a book To take us lands away, Nor any coursers like a page Of prancing poetry. This traverse may the poorest take Without oppress of toll; How frugal is the chariot That bears a human soul! ( Note to readers: My Bloom Day post will be published later today .)

This week in birds - #501

  A roundup of the week's news of birds and the environment :  This, I believe, is a female Black-Throated Green Warbler who stopped in my backyard for a visit on her way north.  *~*~*~* Wildfires continued to ravage parts of New Mexico this week. There has been an early beginning to the wildfire season in the West fed by a combination of high winds and extremely dry vegetation due to drought. *~*~*~* On the good news for the environment side of the ledger this week, the Interior Department confirmed this week that it will not be holding three oil and gas lease sales  for the Gulf of Mexico and off the coast of Alaska that had been expected to take place, removing millions of acres from the auction block. *~*~*~* But on the other side of that ledger, the global average temperature rise of 1.5 degrees centigrade is likely to be reached at some point in the next five years. That is the point at which climate impacts will become increasingly harmful for humans and for the planet a

Ocean State by Stewart O'Nan: A review

  The setting of Ocean State is the small working-class town of Ashaway, Rhode Island. The narrator is named Marie and she takes us back to the autumn of 2009 when her older sister Angel killed a girl named Birdy.  This isn't a murder mystery then. There is no mystery because we know from the very first paragraph of the book what happened. Angel and Birdy had been in love with the same teenage boy. Or at least with all the intense single-mindedness of teenagehood, they thought they were in love. Angel's solution to this "love" triangle was to knock off one of its sides.  Angel's and Marie's mom, Carol, struggles to raise her two girls and to encourage them to make lives for themselves somewhere away from Ashaway. She just wants to get them through high school and to help them as much as she can with college. Her dreams did not work out and that has left her with the feeling that their lives are a matter of chance and are basically beyond their control. Things

The Necklace by Matt Witten: A review

  I finished reading this book more than two weeks ago ( Yes, I am seriously behind with my reviews! ), and when I sat down to write a review today, I could not remember anything about it. You might conclude from that that it didn't make much of an impression on me and you would be right in that assumption.  Not that it was a terrible book. That would have made an impression and I probably would have remembered it, but it was just kind of blah. Not really terrible and not really that good.  The writing was okay. Matt Witten is mostly a writer for television and has had considerable success with that. He has also written other mystery novels, but this is the first one of his that I have read. In the end, I resorted to the summary of it on Goodreads to refresh my memory. One of the problems that I had with the book was that I just didn't like the protagonist that much. She should have evoked my sympathy. After all, her young daughter had been murdered twenty years before. A man h

Poetry Sunday: The Last Resort by Don Henley and Glenn Lewis Frey

I sometimes suffer from the disease of nostalgia. This past week it has been nostalgia for the music of "The Eagles." I've listened to it at every opportunity that I've had.  There are several of their songs that are personally meaningful to me, but the one that I return to most often is probably the one called "The Last Resort." That's its official name but I always think of it as "Paradise." The story that the lyrics tell seems to be particularly relevant just now and the two stanzas that always stand out in my mind are these: Who will provide the grand design? What is yours and what is mine? 'Cause there is no more new frontier We have got to make it here We satisfy our endless needs And justify our bloody deeds In the name of destiny And in the name of God And here are the complete lyrics: The Last Resort by Don Henley and Glenn Lewis Frey She came from Providence One in Rhode Island Where the old world shadows hang Heavy in the air She

This week in birds -#500

  A roundup of the week's news of birds and the environment : A Sora searches among the reeds for its dinner. *~*~*~* New Mexico is burning. A wildfire fueled by the drought has consumed thousands of acres and the governor of the state has asked the president to declare a disaster area in order to free up more funds to fight the catastrophic blaze.  *~*~*~* A global review has found that birds are disappearing at an alarming rate. Half of the approximately 11,000 avian species on Earth are losing population while only 6% are increasing.  *~*~*~* But there is hope. Just look at the California Condor , once nearly extinct and now flying over California's redwoods for the first time in a century. *~*~*~* India and Pakistan are suffering through a brutal heatwave which has exacerbated massive energy shortages on the subcontinent. *~*~*~* It's pollen season and the native pollinators are busy out there collecting it. One way to help protect native pollinators is to plant na

French Braid by Anne Tyler: A review

  In French Braid , Anne Tyler takes us to the familiar territory of Baltimore once again. She's also on familiar ground in exploring a family and its relations. In this instance, her focus is on female aging and its implications for womanhood and motherhood. It's a topic that is close to my heart. It may seem that this is the story that Tyler has been writing over and over through the years. We've met these insular Baltimore families in the pages of her books throughout her career, but what could be tiresome in the hands of a less accomplished writer never fails to entertain as a theme in her novels. For one thing, even though all of her families have things in common (e.g., Baltimore), they are all different; the members have their unique personalities and their idiosyncratic, often quirky, reactions to situations. And for better or worse, members of the family are all bound together, not unlike the strands of a French braid.  In this case, the family is the Garretts and

Tales of Burning Love by Louise Erdrich: A review

  Jack Mauser is dead. He has most definitely shuffled off his mortal coil. But before he died, he married five women. No, not all at the same time. Serially. The first one of them is also dead, having died not long after their marriage, but the four others are still living and they are in a reflective mood after the death of their ex. When they are stranded in a North Dakota blizzard after the funeral, they spend their time together telling stories of Jack, of how they met and married him, and why their relationships with him did not last. We get to eavesdrop on their conversation. The mystery is why these accomplished and responsible women each fell in love with this loser of a man. The man they describe, perhaps accidentally, is an incredibly selfish and short-sighted person. He is completely irresponsible and seems to have betrayed everyone he had ever had a serious relationship with. Still, these women loved him and some of them still do and it seems likely that on some level he r