Showing posts from July, 2023

Poetry Sunday: Insect Life of Florida by Lynda Hull

I must say the insect life of Florida sounds very like the insect life of Southeast Texas. Our days are filled with "their endless thrum." Especially the cicadas. And our nights are now "metallic with cicadas, musical and dangerous as the human heart." Insect Life of Florida by Lynda Hull In those days I thought their endless thrum    was the great wheel that turned the days, the nights.       In the throats of hibiscus and oleander I’d see them clustered yellow, blue, their shells    enameled hard as the sky before the rain.       All that summer, my second, from city to city my young father drove the black coupe    through humid mornings I’d wake to like fever       parceled between luggage and sample goods. Afternoons, showers drummed the roof,    my parents silent for hours. Even then I knew       something of love was cruel, was distant. Mother leaned over the seat to me, the orchid    Father’d pinned in her hair shriveled       to a purple fist. A necklace of

This week in birds - #558

A roundup of the week's news of birds and the environment :  This may be my favorite picture of the week - the President of the United States being upstaged by a Mourning Dove ! *~*~*~* June was Earth's hottest month on record . July and August say, "Hold my beer!" *~*~*~* U.N. Chief Antonio Guterres says that Earth is now in an era of "global boiling." *~*~*~* Architectural styles can be an important component of keeping cool. *~*~*~* One place you won't keep cool is Death Valley and yet tourists flock there . *~*~*~* Tourists visiting national parks should be aware to stay well clear of any wild animals to avoid a tragedy like this . *~*~*~* The Gulf Stream is nearing collapse and that could mean catastrophe for Earth's climate. According to an analysis of 150 years of temperature data, the Atlantic Ocean's circulation system has slowed and become less resilient .  *~*~*~* House Wrens can be instruments of chaos and havoc for other species


I've been quite negligent about posting reviews of the books that I've read recently, so here's my effort to begin to catch up. *~*~*~* I find that Elin Hilderbrand's books are generally good for a light summer read and this one certainly falls into that category. The setting is Nantucket ( of course! ) and the main character is Hollis Shaw. Hollis has recently lost her husband and as a grieving widow, she is lonely and searching for a focus and purpose for her life.  Hollis has a summer home on Nantucket and she comes up with the idea of inviting a friend from each decade of her life to spend a weekend with her at that home. Accordingly, she invites Tatum, who was her childhood best friend; Dru-Ann, her best friend from college; Brooke, a friend from when their children were growing up together; and Gigi, who is her favorite internet friend. (Hollis is a blogger and Gigi follows her blog.) Little does Hollis know that she and Gigi share another connection and grief at

Poetry Sunday: Shakespeare...again

It's too hot to do much of anything. Temperatures in the triple digits (Fahrenheit) do tend to make one somnambulant. So, instead of doing all the ( ahem ) hard work required to seek out a new poem for Poetry Sunday, I've decided to feature an "old" one from 2017. Actually, of course, it's a lot older than that, yet evergreen and forever young. *~*~*~* Poetry Sunday: Sonnet 18 July 02, 2017 When I think of poems about summer, this is the first one that pops into my head. It's one of Shakespeare's most famous sonnets. It compares the person to whom the poem is addressed to a summer day and concludes that although summer may be an uneven and imperfect season ("Sometime too hot the eye of heaven shines..."), for the subject of the poem his/her "eternal summer shall not fade". And it concludes with this famous couplet: "So long as men can breathe, or eyes can see, So long lives this, and this gives life to thee." He was not wrong.

This week in birds - #557

  A roundup of the week's news of birds and the environment : The perky and energetic Carolina Wren - always a constant in my backyard.  *~*~*~* The environmental news this week has been dominated by stories of the extraordinary heat dome that continues to linger over the northern hemisphere. Three continents are in its grip. The heat is shattering records and there is no immediate relief in sight. Even in Siberia , the temperature has reached 100 degrees Fahrenheit. In some places, the heat has been near the limit for human survival. Here in Texas, all we can say is thank goodness (and science) for air conditioning! *~*~*~* Al Gore warned us about all this 17 years ago. *~*~*~* A core sample collected fifty years ago highlighted the Greenland ice sheet's vulnerability to a warming climate. *~*~*~* In the world of Nature, beavers are heat wave heroes in helping other species. *~*~*~* The best way we can help birds to survive this heat is to get a birdbath   and keep it

Poetry Sunday: Fishing on the Susquehanna in July by Billy Collins

Billy Collins ranks right near the top, if not at the top, of my list of favorite contemporary poets. His poems always seem to speak directly to me, to be written especially for me. Now that is a rare and wonderful talent in a poet! And like him, I have never been fishing on the Susquehanna or any river for that matter... Fishing on the Susquehanna in July by Billy Collins I have never been fishing on the Susquehanna or on any river for that matter to be perfectly honest. Not in July or any month have I had the pleasure—if it is a pleasure— of fishing on the Susquehanna. I am more likely to be found in a quiet room like this one— a painting of a woman on the wall, a bowl of tangerines on the table— trying to manufacture the sensation of fishing on the Susquehanna. There is little doubt that others have been fishing on the Susquehanna, rowing upstream in a wooden boat, sliding the oars under the water then raising them to drip in the light. But the nearest I have ever come to fishing on

This week in birds - #556

A roundup of the week's news of birds and the environment : Backyard favorites, a pair of White-winged Doves perch on the bars holding feeders full of seeds, preparatory to having their morning snack. Don't they have the most beautiful eyes? *~*~*~* The big environmental news this week has, of course, been the heat and the misery it has caused. The week before had seen the hottest day on record since those records have been kept, starting in 1979. *~*~*~* In Texas, in the city of Laredo alone, the extreme heat killed ten people . And here in the Houston area, I can verify that our air conditioning system has been severely taxed, basically running from sunrise to sunset. *~*~*~* We can only expect more of the same over the next several days as a coast-to-coast heat dome settles over much of the continent.  *~*~*~* An  El Niño climate system is brewing in the Pacific and threatens to turbocharge the already sweltering conditions around the globe . Scientists fear that even m

Thus Was Adonis Murdered by Sarah Caudwell: A review

I've made it a practice in recent years to write reviews of all the books that I read and post them on Goodreads and here on my blog. It's a way of firmly impressing the book into my memory and I get quite a bit of enjoyment out of doing it and of reading your comments when they come.  So, I sat down to do my review of Sarah Caudwell's Thus Was Adonis Murdered  and found that my memory of the book, which I finished more than a week ago, was blank. Was that a fault of the book or of my memory? Both, perhaps? I saw that I had given the book a two-star rating which I very rarely do, so obviously it had not made a great impression on me. Still...  In the end, I resorted to reading the synopsis and some of the reviews on Goodreads to jog my memory. Here, then, are my (restored) impressions of the book. The book is set in Venice and in England and the main characters are a young barrister named Julia Larwood and Professor Hilary Tamar, an esteemed Oxford don.  Julia had saved her

Poetry Sunday: Attack of the Squash People by Marge Piercy

Anyone who has ever raised zucchini squash should appreciate this poem. Once the zucchini starts producing, there's no stopping it! Moderation is no part of its makeup. The gardener foists the excess on neighbors and friends, relatives and perfect strangers who happen to wander too close. It is the "Attack of the Squash People"!  Attack of the Squash People by Marge Piercy And thus the people every year in the valley of humid July did sacrifice themselves to the long green phallic god and eat and eat and eat. They're coming, they're on us, the long striped gourds, the silky babies, the hairy adolescents, the lumpy vast adults like the trunks of green elephants. Recite fifty zucchini recipes! Zucchini tempura; creamed soup; sauté with olive oil and cumin, tomatoes, onion; frittata; casserole of lamb; baked topped with cheese; marinated; stuffed; stewed; driven through the heart like a stake. Get rid of old friends: they too have gardens and full trunks. Look for ne

Note to readers

The weekly feature "This Week in Birds"  will be delayed  will not appear this week as I will be entertaining guests. It will be back next week. Thank you to the readers who look for it each week.

A Dying Fall by Elly Griffiths: A review

I've been working my way through the series by Elly Griffiths that features forensic archaeologist Ruth Galloway. This is number five in the series.  The plot here is that an old friend of Ruth's has died in a house fire, but before he died he had written to her saying that he had made a ground-breaking archaeological discovery. He didn't explain what the discovery was. Could his discovery have had something to do with his death? And could the discovery have been related, as is hinted, in some way to King Arthur? Ruth, of course, is determined to find the answer to those questions and to find out what that mysterious discovery was.  She travels to Blackpoll which just happens to be the home territory of DCI Harry Nelson with whom Ruth had had a brief - very brief - fling (Harry is married.) which resulted in her getting pregnant, and that resulted in their daughter Kate. So off she goes with Kate and, of course, Cathbad the druid who is Kate's godfather, in tow.  Then o

Poetry Sunday: July by Susan Hartley Swett

There's not much doubt about what month it is here in Southeast Texas as the Fahrenheit thermometers reach toward the century mark - or pass it - every day. It can only be one of two and since this is the first one to feature those days when " heat like a mist veil floats ," we know. It must be July.  July by Susan Hartley Swett When the scarlet cardinal tells Her dream to the dragon fly, And the lazy breeze makes a nest in the trees, And murmurs a lullaby, It is July. When the tangled cobweb pulls The cornflower's cap awry, And the lilies tall lean over the wall To bow to the butterfly, It is July. When the heat like a mist veil floats, And poppies flame in the rye, And the silver note in the streamlet's throat Has softened almost to a sigh, It is July. When the hours are so still that time Forgets them, and lets them lie 'Neath petals pink till the night stars wink At the sunset in the sky, It is July. When each finger-post by the way Says that Slumbertown