Showing posts from August, 2023

Bad Optics by Joseph Heywood: A review

This is the eleventh book in this series set in Michigan and featuring Conservation Officer Grady Service. I haven't read all of them, but I have read and enjoyed several. This one finds Service at loose ends, having been suspended from his job. His crime had been teaming up with a rather notorious lawbreaker (poacher Limpy Allerdyce) in order to stop poachers and other violators of the deer hunting laws. But Service is incapable of just sitting around and so he continues patrolling his territory, the Mosquito Wilderness Area, voluntarily and unofficially. Grady resents what he feels is the unfairness of his suspension and he begins to suspect that there is something rotten in Lansing that may be behind it all. He is a stubborn man and he is determined to get to the bottom of what he sees as political shenanigans.  Once again he enlists the aid of Limpy and his fellow Vietnam vet and game warden Luticious Treebone. ( You have to love these names! ) Their investigation determines th

Poetry Sunday: An August Cricket by Arthur Goodenough

So, I was sitting on my patio late Saturday afternoon enjoying the "coolness" that comes with that time of day. Well, in late August in Southeast Texas, it is not exactly what one could call coolness, but the sun had gone to its rest behind the trees and so the temperature had become bearable. All was quiet and then behind me near our little goldfish pond, the August crickets began their "healing melody." And yes, I did feel "renewed in frame and spirit" as Arthur Goodenough expressed it so well. 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, methin

This week in birds - #561

A roundup of the week's news of birds and the environment :  It's beautyberry season in my yard. The berries come in purple like these and in white. I have some of each and both colors are equally loved by the birds who will feast on them and strip them away pretty soon. *~*~*~* Summer's incredible heat continues to be the main news in Nature. All of the northern continents are basically broiling at the moment. *~*~*~* As Earth heats up, its birds, like this Willow Flycatcher , are adapting.  *~*~*~* In some good news for the planet, Ecuadorians have voted to halt drilling for oil in an Amazonian national park. *~*~*~* This is the  ‘akikiki, a critically endangered Hawaiian bird . Its caretakers are struggling to preserve and bring it back and now they face the new threat of the Maui wildfires. *~*~*~* In New Haven, Connecticut, an 82-year-old man is on a mission to convince his neighbors to plant more trees . *~*~*~* The oldest yet fossil of a dicraeosaurid (plant-eating

Two reviews

Once again I have fallen behind on my goal of completing a review of every book that I read. It seems that I read faster than I write. In an attempt to close the gap a bit, here are a couple of brief reviews of books that I have recently read. *~*~*~* Homecoming by Kate Morton My rating: 4 of 5 stars This historical fiction/mystery thriller is set in Australia and features a journalist named Jess who had lived in London for almost twenty years. In 2019, she finds herself laid off from her job and struggling to make ends meet. In the midst of this financial calamity, she is called home to Sydney because her grandmother who had raised her had suffered a fall and been hospitalized. Jess arrives at the hospital to find her grandmother confused and looking very frail. Moreover, her grandmother's housekeeper tells her that her grandmother had been confused for weeks and had fallen on the steps to her attic, a place where Jess had always been forbidden to go. Snooping later in her grandmo

Poetry Sunday: August by Ed Blair

Late August here in Southeast Texas is something to be endured rather than enjoyed. We are in a series of days with triple-digit degree Fahrenheit weather and we can't look for much relief until the calendar leaf turns over. Rain would be most welcome but does not appear to be in the offing anytime soon. When we go outside, we head for the shade of one of those oak trees that we were smart enough to plant when we moved here many years ago. They tower over the yard now and provide protection from the blasting rays of the sun. But all the vegetation is suffering from our long dry spell. September is coming and let us hope it brings rain but, in the meantime, August burns us. August by Ed Blair The August sun is pouring on the land, His scorching rays, and vegetation stands Beseeching to the skies for showers again And being answered like the prayers of men. Along the creeks the white rocks heat and glow, As it some one had built great fires below, And cattle stand in stagnant pools t

This week in birds - #560

  A roundup of the week's news of birds and the environment : Okay, it's not a bird but it is a representative of the most numerous of the "fliers" in my backyard at the moment. It is a Cloudless Sulphur butterfly sipping from the blossoms of Hamelia patens , aka Firebush.  *~*~*~* Of course, the main news of Nature for us on this continent this week was all related to wildfires. *~*~*~* Wildfires in British Columbia were forcing evacuations.  *~*~*~* The island of Maui in Hawaii was one of the latest places to suffer the destructive forces of wildfires. *~*~*~* It became clear that nonnative plants had fueled the Hawaiian wildfires. *~*~*~* In the historic town of Lahaina, a 150-year-old banyan tree was charred but still standing after the fires and has apparently survived them. *~*~*~* The staff of the Maui Bird Conservation Center fought the flames to save the endangered birds housed there.  *~*~*~* Back in the Canadian city of Yellowknife, residents were gi

Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day - August 2023

Here we are at the fifteenth of the month again, a day on which I used to regularly participate in Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day . I haven't done a Bloom Day post in recent months but I decided it was time to jump in once again. So here are some pictures of what is blooming in my hot - very hot! - Southeast Texas garden this Bloom Day. Full disclosure: These pictures were taken earlier because it is just too damned hot to be out there with a camera today. Our high today is expected to be 104 degrees Fahrenheit. It's not quite there yet, but it will be. The heat doesn't bother 'Pride of Barbados,' of course. In fact, it seems to relish it. The hotter it gets the more it blooms. Perhaps it is not a coincidence that in the hottest month of the year, many of my blooms are also in very hot colors, like this Justicia 'Orange Flame.' Nothing discourages this old crape myrtle. And, of course, neither heat nor our lack of rain is a problem for the water lilies. Tha

Poetry Sunday: August by Ed Blair

The August heat has been close to unbearable recently. My heart goes out to those who must work outside in this weather. Indeed, even the vegetation stands "beseeching to the skies for showers...," but there seems to be no relief in sight and so we and the vegetation must endure and hope that September comes soon. August by Ed Blair The August sun is pouring on the land, His scorching rays, and vegetation stands Beseeching to the skies for showers again And being answered like the prayers of men. Along the creeks the white rocks heat and glow, As it some one had built great fires below, And cattle stand in stagnant pools to fight The pestering flies that trouble day and night. In vain we look for those refreshing showers That come so oft in Spring at call of flowers, But clouds come to our view, then pass away, And leave us in despair at close of day.

This week in birds - #559

A roundup of the week's news of birds and the environment :  Perhaps the most popular of backyard birds in North America - the Northern Cardinal , in this case, the showy male. But for my money, the more delicately colored female may be even more attractive. *~*~*~* Southern Californians and Nevadans have had their hands more than full fighting wildfires recently .  *~*~*~* At one year old, the U.S. climate law is already having a major impact on encouraging the production of clean energy. *~*~*~* The world is moving toward deep-sea mining and so far there are no rules to regulate it. *~*~*~* Protecting krill will help to preserve the whole ecosystem of which they are a part. *~*~*~* August is a great month to be a sky-watcher. With the Perseid meteor shower and not one but two "blue moons," there's a lot going on up there. *~*~*~* Have the roles of women in the ancient world been misinterpreted? Since most of that interpretation has been done by men, I'd say

Weekend hiatus

 The Nature of Things is on hiatus this weekend so no "This Week in Birds" or "Poetry Sunday" posts. They will return next weekend. Thank you for looking or them.