Showing posts from 2023

No weekend posts - again

Your faithful scribe is sick and, I am sorry to say, unable to put together the usual weekend posts. So no "This week in birds" or "Poetry Sunday." I blame it all on my son-in-law who recently made a business trip to China. I'm convinced he brought home some exotic bug that jumped right across my immune system barriers and made me ill. Ah, well, this, too, shall pass in a few days and I hope to be back at my usual post next week.    

Poetry Sunday: On December 21 by Amos Russel Wells

I hear rumors that in some parts of the northern hemisphere, they actually have winter, but here in the humid South, not so much. At least not so far. Our daytime high temperatures have not dipped below the 60 degrees Fahrenheit mark yet.  Our actual winter with its coldest temperatures usually comes in January and that will probably be true in this winter as well. Perhaps then we may see days with just a touch of the wintry conditions as described by Amos Russel Wells in his poem. But every such day just brings us closer to spring. On December 21 by Amos Russel Wells   Now let the weather do its worst, With frost and sleet and blowing, Rage like a beldam wild and curst, And have its fill of snowing. Now let the ice in savage vise Grip meadow, brook, and branches, Down from the north pour winter forth In roaring avalanches. I turn my collar to the blast And greet the storm with laughter: Your day, old Winter! use it fast, For Spring is coming after. The world may wear a frigid air, But

This week in birds - #575

  A roundup of the week's news of birds and the environment : An Orange-crowned Warbler enjoying an orange! *~*~*~* Here are some of the key biodiversity issues for the coming year. *~*~*~* El Niño continues to build strength. What does that mean for the weather in 2024? *~*~*~* At least it gave plenty of warnings; now an Icelandic volcano has erupted . *~*~*~* Space rocks slamming into our planet have long affected life on Earth. *~*~*~* Five endangered gray wolves have just been released into the wild in the western part of Colorado. *~*~*~* Some of the weirdest life on Earth exists in deep caves. *~*~*~* I would love to visit this exhibit of leaf-cutter ants at the American Museum of Natural History. Amazing critters! *~*~*~* A bird of the alpine peaks is the American Bird Conservancy's Bird of the Week . It is the Black Rosy-Finch , a species that is endangered and decreasing in numbers. *~*~*~* Have you ever seen an orange river? Some of the Arctic rivers are turnin

Holly by Stephen King: A review

  Stephen King is a very good writer but his preferred genre, horror, is something I tend to steer clear of in my reading. There seems to be more than enough horror in the real world, so why inflict it on myself in my reading life. I think the only book of his that I'd ever actually read was  Billy Summers  which was notable for its lack of horror. But I kept reading so many intriguing reviews and comments about his new book that I decided to give it a go. And I found plenty of horror but still... The book features a character who has appeared in the background in other King novels, Holly Gibney. In this one, she is front and center as the title of the book would indicate. Holly is a partner in a detective agency called Finders Keepers. Her life is a bit complicated at the moment by the facts that her mother has just died and her partner, Pete, is currently suffering from Covid. So Finders Keepers is a bit strapped for working detectives at the moment, but when the agency receives

A Stonehenge solstice

Happy winter solstice!

No Poetry Sunday

 Poetry Sunday is taking the week off and will return next week.

This week in birds - #574

  A roundup of the week's news of birds and the environment : It's December and the Chipping Sparrows are back! *~*~*~* Our sun has been putting on a show this week with the biggest solar flare since 2017. *~*~*~* A robotic spacecraft launched by NASA has brought back asteroid pieces that offer clues to life's origins . *~*~*~* Two men have been charged with killing more than 3,600 birds , including Bald Eagles , to sell on the black market. The mind boggles at the wanton waste. *~*~*~* Are you a morning person? Then you might have Neanderthal genes as part of your makeup. *~*~*~* The climate summit approved a plan to move away from fossil fuels and to ramp up the use of renewable energy. Still, climate experts were disappointed that the summit fell short of insisting on a phase-out of fossil fuels. *~*~*~* The fossil of a juvenile tyrannosaurus rex showed that before its death it had recently feasted on turkey-sized creatures somewhat similar to an emu. It died with

The Running Grave by Robert Galbraith: A review

This is the seventh entry in Robert Galbraith's (a.k.a, J.K. Rowling's) Cormoran Strike series. It has evolved into the Cormoran Strike/Robin Ellacott series as the two are now partners in the detective agency. In this entry, it is primarily Robin's story as she goes undercover to try to find out more about a dangerous cult.  That cult is the Universal Humanitarian Church, a religious cult operating in the Norfolk countryside. The cult has attracted a young man named Will who has become completely enthralled and committed to its activities. Will's father engages the detective agency to find out what is going on and try to extract his son. On the surface, the UHC appears to be a benevolent organization doing charity work among the poor, but when the detectives dig below the surface, a different picture emerges. That picture is a lot darker and more sinister with a series of unnatural and unexplained deaths. So Robin infiltrates and becomes a part of the cult to find evid

North Woods by Daniel Mason: A review

I finished reading this book almost three weeks ago and more books have been read and passed through my brain since then so I had to refer to the Goodreads synopsis of the book to refresh my memory of just what I read. I noted that at the time I finished it, I rated it with four stars, so in fact, I did enjoy it.  The book tells the story of a house in the north woods of the title and of the people who inhabited it through many decades. The woods are located in western Massachusetts and the first inhabitants are a Pilgrim couple who had fled the rigid strictures of their society. The novel then proceeds through twelve interlinked stories of that first couple and all the residents that followed. Those residents include an English soldier who abandons the battlefield to raise apples; a pair of spinster twins; a crime reporter; a lovelorn painter; a conman; and yes, even that panther that appears on the cover. Their stories were a bit uneven in my estimation. I enjoyed some more than othe

Poetry Sunday: December by Harvey Carson Grumbine

I went looking for a poem about December and found them mostly covered in snow. That's winter as it looks up north, of course. Around here, in Southeast Texas, things are considerably greener but evidently no one has written a poem about that! Ah, well, many of my readers live in colder climes and so perhaps will find the sentiments expressed in this poem at least somewhat familiar. December by Harvey Carson Grumbine High like skeletons grim The trees hold up their arms; The last leaf's hurried from its limb By the tempest's wild alarms; The river ripples gray and cold, And autumn's o'er like a story told. Deep in the lonely wood The leaves lie thickly strown; The timorous rabbit finds him food, The snow-bird seeks his own; The cricket long has ceased his song, For the breath of winter's cold and strong. Close to the level plain The snow clings like a sheet; The chimney moans as if in pain, Lashed by the hissing sleet; And all good men are glad to be Where the

This week in birds - #573

  A roundup of the week's news of birds and the environment : Its call is its name - Chachalaca . They are endemic in South Texas. *~*~*~* Here are those pesky scientists again! This time they are warning that Earth is on the verge of five catastrophic tipping points .  *~*~*~* Here's some good news for a change: The wildfire season has been exceptionally quiet this year. But don't expect that to hold in the future.  *~*~*~* Indigenous advocacy has led to the removal of four dams along the Klamath River in northern California. *~*~*~* In the Southern Ocean, the world's biggest iceberg has broken free and is drifting with the steering wind and currents. *~*~*~* Efforts are underway to try to save Brittany's rare Quimper snail before their habitat is destroyed by the construction of a tramway. *~*~*~* This is the Prairie Falcon , a bird of the plains of North America. It is the American Bird Conservancy's Bird of the Week . *~*~*~* 2024 is expected to be a par

Poetry Sunday: Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening by Robert Frost

I seem to be in a "frosty" mood when it comes to my poetry reading these days. Here is quite possibly my favorite of Robert Frost's poems. After this, I promise to move on to another author for next Sunday's poem. As the poet says, we all have "promises to keep" and I'll do my best to keep this one! Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening by Robert Frost Whose woods these are I think I know. His house is in the village though; He will not see me stopping here To watch his woods fill up with snow. My little horse must think it queer To stop without a farmhouse near Between the woods and frozen lake The darkest evening of the year. He gives his harness bells a shake To ask if there is some mistake. The only other sound’s the sweep Of easy wind and downy flake. The woods are lovely, dark and deep, But I have promises to keep, And miles to go before I sleep, And miles to go before I sleep.

This week in birds - #572

A roundup of the week's news of birds and the environment :  The American Bird Conservancy's Bird of the Week for this week is a favorite of mine - the perky little Carolina Chickadee . But the Bird of the Week for last week was one that I admit I had never heard of. It's the Baudo Guan , a bird that lives along the coastal regions of Colombia and Ecuador.  *~*~*~* How much life is there on our home planet? A new study confirms that the answer to that question is "Quite a lot!" *~*~*~* That life could be threatened by an outbreak of rabies which the city of Omaha is working to contain. *~*~*~* It's been an exceptionally quiet hurricane season here along the Gulf Coast but the Atlantic Coast was a different story . *~*~*~* Some people in Wyoming are not at all happy about the Biden Administration's emphasis on conservation, recreation, and renewable energy production on public lands. *~*~*~* There was a bit of a scandal at the United Nations climate con

Two reviews

I've fallen a bit behind on reviewing the books that I've read. I blame it all on Thanksgiving. In an effort to catch up, here are reviews of two books that I've read recently from the Thursday Murder Club series. The Man Who Died Twice by Richard Osman This is the second book in the series and it brings us once again the four septuagenarians whose hobby is solving murders. Elizabeth, Joyce, Ibrahim, and Ron join together to find a murderer when Elizabeth, a former spy, receives a letter from an old colleague asking for her help. His life is being threatened by a violent mobster over his involvement with some stolen diamonds. These four are not your ordinary septuagenarians. They have particularly interesting backgrounds and skill sets. In addition to Elizabeth, the former spy, there is Joyce, the retired nurse who has an eccentric and quirky personality; Ron, the retired labor organizer who is very interested in politics and loves talking about it; and Ibrahim, the introve

Poetry Sunday: Dust of Snow by Robert Frost

Here's a very short poem by Robert Frost that succinctly explains how a relationship with Nature can affect us positively. Dust of Snow by Robert Frost The way a crow  Shook down on me The dust of snow  From a hemlock tree Has given my heart A change of mood And saved some part Of a day I had rued.

Thanksgiving break

 "This Week in Birds" is taking a Thanksgiving break and will return next week. Thank you to my faithful readers for your patience.

Poetry Sunday: A List of Praises by Anne Porter

This is longer than the poems that I usually feature here, but then there is quite a lot to be thankful for. Happy Thanksgiving to all. A List of Praises by Anne Porter Give praise with psalms that tell the trees to sing, Give praise with Gospel choirs in storefront churches, Mad with the joy of the Sabbath, Give praise with the babble of infants, who wake with the sun, Give praise with children chanting their skip-rope rhymes, A poetry not in books, a vagrant mischievous poetry living wild on the Streets through generations of children. Give praise with the sound of the milk-train far away With its mutter of wheels and long-drawn-out sweet whistle As it speeds through the fields of sleep at three in the morning, Give praise with the immense and peaceful sigh Of the wind in the pinewoods, At night give praise with starry silences. Give praise with the skirling of seagulls And the rattle and flap of sails And gongs of buoys rocked by the sea-swell Out in the shipping-lanes bey

This week in birds - #571

  A roundup of the week's news of birds and the environment : Next week is Thanksgiving and these guys should be on the alert! These Wild Turkeys were photographed in a field near Anahuac, Texas. *~*~*~* Climate and climate change are a big part of the environmental news this week. A new report documented the toll of climate disasters but also had a bit of good news . Trees are our allies in the fight against climate change but can't do the job all on their own. The city of Phoenix offers a prime example of why we must win this fight. And now a strong El  Niño waits in the wings. *~*~*~* We think of the Amazon as being a lush green area but an extended drought is changing that . *~*~*~* At a climate summit in Paris, French President Macron pledged a billion Euros to research the melting ice caps . (But do we really need a billion Euros to tell us why the ice caps are melting?) *~*~*~* Plastic waste is a major environmental problem and it is spiraling out of control across

Poetry Sunday: The Killdeer Chick by Richard Owen

I came across this poem a few days ago and it reminded me of several encounters I've had with Killdeer over the years. I am very familiar with their desperate act of dragging the seemingly broken wing to lure me to follow. And I follow, pretending I never saw their two precious chicks hiding there in the grass. The Kildeer Chick   by Richard Owen Each time we drive our grassy road, the kildeer tries  To lead us from her nearby nest. She drags her wing  And calls. She's easy prey, we could not resist  If we were fox or badger. As it is,  We are a monstrous iron thing, a truck  That goes its way unthinking, unaware. I saw a movement and I stopped, got out. Beside the wheel  A tiny bit of fluff, so close it should be crushed. I picked it up, and it was live in my hands,  I put it down. It ran towards mother's desperate cries. A tiny bit of grace it was. For once, The beauty of the world  Was spared from us.

Veterans' Day

The blog is taking a holiday in honor of all of those who have served, including my own dear hubby! Happy Veterans Day. You've earned it. 

The Vaster Wilds by Lauren Groff: A review

Lauren Groff's latest gives us the story of a young servant girl who journeys with her mistress and the mistress's second husband from England to America in the 17th century. The girl's name is a bit of a mystery. She is sometimes referred to as Lamentations and sometimes called Zed. She just refers to herself as Girl. On the trip from England, the girl meets and learns to care for a Dutch glassblower who is gentle and kind but she becomes separated from him and has only his memory to comfort her in her perilous life. The girl's duties mostly involve caring for her mistress's severely disabled daughter, Bess. They arrive in Jamestown, Virginia, and we see them there in the extremely harsh winter of 1610. It is a time of starvation and sickness with people dying all around them. This teenage orphan servant girl makes the momentous decision to flee into the wilds. She gathers the few items that she can and runs away. She has only her innate instincts to guide her, but