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Showing posts from August, 2022

A blast from my blogging past

We have recently been watching and enjoying the "Joe Pickett" television series on Paramount+ which led me to reminisce about when I read and reviewed the first book in that series. It was eleven years ago and I liked the book quite a lot and subsequently read the others in the series. Here is that review. *~*~*~* Open Season (Joe Pickett #1) by C.J. Box - A review August 29, 2011 I was introduced to the writing of C.J. Box through my local library's Mystery Book Club.  Open Season , the first in Box's Joe Pickett series, was the club's selection for reading in June. Although I didn't get a chance to read it in time for the meeting, the discussion of it made me curious and I put it on my to-be-read list. I'm glad I finally got around to it this week. Box has created an enormously appealing character in Joe Pickett. A Wyoming game warden, Joe is a devoted family man with two young daughters and a pregnant wife when we first meet him. He and his family are a

Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day - August 2022

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I admit that I completely forgot about Carol Michel's meme Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day this month. It was only after I started seeing other bloggers' posts that I remembered, so I grabbed my camera and ran outside to record what is blooming in my garden this month. It didn't take long because there is not much there. Only the toughest of the tough plants can still manage to produce a few blooms when the temperatures hover around 100 degrees Fahrenheit every day and the few puffy clouds have forgotten how to drop their moisture. Here then are the hardy few that still brighten my garden and provide sustenance for the butterflies. ( If some of them look wilted, it's because they are. The pictures were taken when it was 96 degrees and felt like 103 .)   The native butterfly weed is impervious to heat and drought. And the old standard, petunias, can match the Asclepias for toughness. Justicia 'Orange Flame.' Purslane, of course, in pink... ...and yellow. Blue plu

Poetry Sunday: An August Cricket by Arthur Goodenough

Sitting on the swing in the backyard, listening to the song of a cricket in the shrubbery next to my little pond, I thought, "Someone should write a poem about that cricket who is completely undaunted by the heat." And, sure enough, someone already had!  An August Cricket by Arthur Goodenough When August days are hot and long, And the August hills are hazy, And clouds are slow and winds also, And brooks are low and lazy. When beats the fierce midsummer sun, Upon the drying grasses; A modest minstrel sings his song To any soul that passes. A modest, yet insistent bard Who while the landscape slumbers; And Nature seems, herself asleep, Pours out his soul in numbers. His song is in a tongue unknown, Yet those, methinks, who hear it Drink in its healing melody Renewed in frame and spirit. His life is brief as is the leaf To summer branches clinging! But yet no thought of death or grief, He mentions in his singing. No epic strain is his to sing;— No tale of loss or glory;— He has

This week in birds - #513

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  A roundup of the week's news of birds and the environment :                               White Pelicans preen next to Galveston Bay. *~*~*~* The fact that the Climate Bill actually managed to pass in both houses of Congress is little short of a miracle. It's less than what environmentalists were hoping for, of course, and, in fact, some groups believe it will do more harm than good . I guess they would have preferred nothing. *~*~*~* It's not exactly concerning our earthly environment but the pictures of our larger galactic environment from the Webb telescope are nothing short of spectacular.  *~*~*~* Even as the climate bill was being debated, word came that our planet's Arctic region is heating up much faster than had been predicted. *~*~*~* This is the American Bird Conservancy's Bird of the Week . It is the Newell's Shearwater ('A'o) , a Hawaiian specialty. The species is listed as critically endangered, with less than 10,000 remaining in the

The House Across the Lake by Riley Sager: A review

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Shades of "Rear Window," the classic Hitchcock movie. In this case, instead of looking into a neighboring apartment, a woman spending time at her family's lake house in Vermont passes her days by watching her neighbors in The House Across the Lake . Her neighbors are Tom and Katherine Royce and Casey Fletcher becomes somewhat obsessed with them. Tom is a tech mogul and Katherine is a gorgeous former model. Casey has retreated to her lake house to escape the bad press she was recently receiving in New York. She is a successful actress who was widowed when her husband drowned in that very lake. She is attempting to assuage her grief with alcohol. Her viewing of - some might say spying on - her neighbors is fueled by a plentiful supply of liquor.  A fateful change in her relationship with those neighbors comes when Casey saves Katherine from drowning in the lake. It is the beginning of their friendship, but as Casey gets to know her better, she learns that Katherine's ma

Horse by Geraldine Brooks: A review

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Geraldine Brooks has written a fictionalized account of the life of a record-breaking thoroughbred named Lexington who lived in pre-Civil War Kentucky. It is an account of the horse's life and the life of the enslaved groom named Jarret who loved and cared for him.  Jarret was just a boy himself when he was first given the care of the new foal as his responsibility. The boy and the horse formed an unbreakable bond that saw Lexington through a long series of record-setting victories in races throughout the South.  In those years, a young itinerant artist was hired to paint Lexington's picture. Those paintings were quite successful and helped the young artist to make his name as a professional. When the war began, the artist took up arms for the North, and in that role, he would encounter the horse and his groom one more time.   A hundred years later, a gallery owner in New York became obsessed with an equestrian painting from the nineteenth century, a painting of unknown provena

Poetry Sunday: In August by Paul Laurence Dunbar

I am not a fisherperson, although I freely admit that I like eating what that person catches. But the fish that I enjoy most are the ones in my aquarium and in our little goldfish pond. I find it pleasant and restful to watch them. If I did fish, I think August would be a good month to do it. Goodness knows it's too hot to do much of anything else.  Paul Laurence Dunbar evidently enjoyed fishing or at least he understood those who did. And it seems that he may have understood their propensity to... um ...exaggerate about their catch. He also understood the need for some libation to fuel one's angling efforts. Since he was a poet, he expressed all of that poetically. In August by Paul Laurence Dunbar When August days are hot an' dry, When burning copper is the sky, I'd rather fish than feast or fly In airy realms serene and high. I'd take a suit not made for looks, Some easily digested books, Some flies, some lines, some bait, some hooks, Then would I seek the bays a

This week in birds - #512

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A roundup of the week's news of birds and the environment :  A Long-billed Curlew searches for his dinner in a field populated with Laughing Gulls . *~*~*~* The big news in the environment on this continent this week has been the heat wave that has affected more than 80 million Americans in the central and eastern states. The hot weather will continue for the next several weeks , with only the Southwest and Alaska forecast to have cool or average temperatures. *~*~*~* Are we truly headed toward a climate meltdown on the planet and is it too late to prevent a global catastrophe? *~*~*~* This tiny green sea turtle, after being rescued on a Sydney beach,  pooed nothing but pure plastic for the first six days after it was brought in, startling evidence of the damage that is being done to the ocean environment.  *~*~*~* The High Plains of Texas have plenty of wind and they are home to more than 11,000 wind turbines , but, sadly, the state's transmission network is incapable of m

The It Girl by Ruth Ware: A review

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The setting is Oxford, always a great place for a mystery. As a student there, the first person that Hannah Jones meets is April Coutts-Cliveden, a vivacious and charismatic girl who pulls everyone she meets into her orbit. She is Hannah's roommate. April and Hannah - mostly April - develop a circle of friends during their first term at the school. Will, Hugh, Ryan, and Emily along with April and Hannah become devoted to each other and inseparable. April, though, has a dark side and by the end of their second term, April is dead. She was murdered in their room. Hannah is convinced that the only person who could have gone up the staircase to their room, unobserved, was the porter, John Neville, and she so testifies. Mostly on the basis of her testimony, Neville is convicted and sent to prison. There was no other evidence against him and there was no apparent motive for the crime.  Fast forward ten years. Hannah has married Will and they are living in Edinburg and expecting their fir

The Daughter of Doctor Moreau by Silvia Moreno-Garcia: A review

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The first thing to grab my attention about this book was that wonderful evocative cover with its hints of mystery and a jungle that threatens to reclaim the structure it depicts. The second thing was the title - The Daughter of Doctor Moreau . It refers, of course, to the H.G. Wells classic The Island of Doctor Moreau . This is, in a sense, a retelling of that famous story from the perspective of the daughter, Carlota Moreau. Carlota grew up in nineteenth-century Yucatán in Mexico as the only child of the madman/genius. It was a time of conflict and strife but, on the well-hidden, distant estate where they lived, the Moreaus were shielded from the troubles that boiled around them. The estate is actually owned by the Lizalde family who also finance Dr. Moreau's experiments. Moreau is assisted by the estate's overseer, the melancholic Montgomery Laughton. And what exactly is Moreau's work? Why, it is nothing short of attempting to create a new species, or perhaps several spec