Showing posts from September, 2023

The Ink Black Heart by Robert Galbraith: A review

Let me get my main complaint about this book off my chest up front: The book is quite long and the reason it's so long is that it spends so many pages transcribing online chat transcripts. I don't need that! Just describe and summarize for me, please. As for the story itself, it was engrossing. Robert Galbraith, aka J.K. Rowling, is quite adept at coming up with good ideas for a novel, developing a storyline, and peopling it with interesting characters.  The story here involves a popular cartoon called "The Ink Black Heart." One of the co-creators of that cartoon, Edie Ledwell, turns up at the offices of detectives Cormoran Strike and Robin Ellacott where she meets Robin and begs for her help in identifying a mysterious online figure who calls himself (herself?) Anomie.  Anomie has been persecuting Edie and making her life miserable. Robin, however, does not think the agency, which has a full load of cases, can help in this particular instance and she turns Edie down.

Poetry Sunday: Song for Autumn by Mary Oliver

The autumn described by Mary Oliver in this poem is certainly not the kind of autumn that we experience here in Southeast Texas. Our autumns are more like the summers in much of the country.  No, Oliver's autumn is the ideal picture-postcard autumn of the northeastern part of the country. It's the perfect autumn that we can only dream of as we swelter in our humid days.  Song for Autumn by Mary Oliver In the deep fall don’t you imagine the leaves think how comfortable it will be to touch the earth instead of the nothingness of air and the endless freshets of wind? And don’t you think the trees themselves, especially those with mossy, warm caves, begin to think of the birds that will come – six, a dozen – to sleep inside their bodies? And don’t you hear the goldenrod whispering goodbye, the everlasting being crowned with the first tuffets of snow? The pond vanishes, and the white field over which the fox runs so quickly brings out its blue shadows. And the wind pumps its bellows

This week in birds - #564

  A roundup of the week's news of birds and the environment : A Cooper's Hawk checks out my yard for a possible meal. *~*~*~* Let's start with some good news: A new court settlement will allow the Environmental Protection Agency to more tightly regulate pesticides . *~*~*~* But in much worse news, this has been Canada's worst wildfire season on record . *~*~*~* The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration calculates that 2023 is likely to become Earth's hottest year on record . *~*~*~* And it seems that the heating up of the planet may mean that so-called "Forever" glaciers are not forever after all . *~*~*~* Flamingos have recently turned up in some very unusual places across the continent. They were likely blown there by Hurricane Idalia. *~*~*~* And speaking of hurricanes, the old aphorism may be true: "It's an ill wind that blows no good." Hurricanes help to keep the planet's energy in balance . *~*~*~* This little bird is t

Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day - September 2023

 Just a few blossoms from my garden on this Bloom Day : Crape myrtle, of course.   Lantana, also of course. The unobtrusive but very sweet-smelling blooms of almond verbena.   The ever-reliable bloomer Hamelia patens , aka firebush. Duranta erecta , aka golden dewdrop. Inland sea oats "blooming" by my little goldfish pond. Beautyberry has, of course, finished blooming and is now full of its namesake. Sometimes called "devil's trumpet," the night-blooming datura. A single beautiful datura blossom. Thanks for visiting my garden and a happy Bloom Day to you!

Poetry Sunday: In Summer by Paul Laurence Dunbar

Paul Laurence Dunbar was born in 1872 and was one of the first African-American poets to earn national recognition. I've always felt an affinity for his poetry and here is one that speaks eloquently of our current season - a season that will soon be ending. In Summer by Paul Laurence Dunbar Oh, summer has clothed the earth In a cloak from the loom of the sun! And a mantle, too, of the skies' soft blue, And a belt where the rivers run. And now for the kiss of the wind, And the touch of the air's soft hands, With the rest from strife and the heat of life, With the freedom of lakes and lands. I envy the farmer's boy Who sings as he follows the plow; While the shining green of the young blades lean To the breezes that cool his brow. He sings to the dewy morn, No thought of another's ear; But the song he sings is a chant for kings And the whole wide world to hear. He sings of the joys of life, Of the pleasures of work and rest, From an o'erfull heart, without aim

This week in birds - #563

A roundup of the week's news of birds and the environment :   The warblers are passing through on their way farther south for the winter. Today I had a visit from a Wilson's Warbler ( not this one - I didn't have my camera on me )   that spent time resting, preening, and feeding in a crape myrtle tree in the backyard. Pretty little bird! *~*~*~* The simple act of dimming nighttime lights in cities can help to save the lives of migrating birds, many of which do their migrating during the hours of night and can become confused by bright lights. *~*~*~* Scientists are trying some rather unconventional methods to try to save corals. *~*~*~* The tiny pearl darter which vanished from some southern rivers fifty years ago is being reintroduced to those rivers . *~*~*~* Why did early human ancestors turn stones into spheres ? Scientists can only speculate. *~*~*~* The Biden Administration plans to bar drilling for oil and natural gas in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. *~*~*~

The Librarianist by Patrick deWitt: A review

Bob Comet is an introvert. He is also a retired librarian who lives a solitary life surrounded by books in his mint-colored house in Portland, Oregon. Bob goes on a daily walk each morning and on one of those mornings, he encounters a confused elderly woman. He learns that she lives in a nearby senior center and he helps to return her to her home. Bob's life has existed at a bit of loose ends since his retirement and now he sees an opportunity to perhaps fill the void by volunteering at the center. At the center, he finds a community of his age peers and through his interaction with them, details of his life begin to be revealed. We learn that he had been an unhappy child and that during the final days of World War II, he had run away from home. As a runaway, he had met various characters whom we learn about. Some of them were interesting; others could have been better left out altogether in my opinion. The story is told in sections and my favorite section involved Bob's wife a

Tom Lake by Ann Patchett: A review

Ann Patchett's latest book, Tom Lake , is set during the current pandemic and the action takes place in a cherry orchard in Michigan. Similarities to Chekhov's play, The Cherry Orchard , are most definitely intentional. The story concerns former actress Lara Kenison and her husband Joe Nelson and their three grown-up daughters, Emily, Nell, and Maisie. The pandemic has brought all of the family together on the farm to shelter in place. Because of the pandemic, Joe has not been able to bring in the migrant workers who normally help to gather the cherries and so the family works to try to take up the slack and get the crop in. As they work, the daughters press their mother to entertain them by telling them of the time when she worked in a summer theater production of Thornton Wilder's Our Town in Tom Lake, Michigan. Also in the cast was an actor named Peter Duke who was an unknown at the time but later became quite famous. During their time in the play, Lara had a brief roma

Poetry Sunday: September Days by Helen L. Smith

Summer has not left us here in Southeast Texas and probably won't for at least a couple more months, but still we can look forward to those "fairer, rarer days" and hope for the coolness of autumn. Maybe in December! September Days by Helen L. Smith  O month of fairer, rarer days Than Summer's best have been; When skies at noon are burnished blue, And winds at evening keen; When tangled, tardy-blooming things From wild waste places peer, And drooping golden grain-heads tell That harvest-time is near. Though Autumn tints amid the green Are gleaming, here and there, And spicy Autumn odors float Like incense on the air, And sounds we mark as Autumn's own Her nearing steps betray, In gracious mood she seems to stand And bid the Summer stay. Though 'neath the trees, with fallen leaves The sward be lightly strown, And nests deserted tell the tale Of summer bird-folk flown; Though white with frost the lowlands lie When lifts the morning haze, Still there's a char

This week in birds - #562

A roundup of the week's news of birds and the environment :  I feel you, Bro! It's hot in Texas. My husband informed me earlier that the forecast is for continued high temperatures in the triple digits (Fahrenheit) at least through the middle of September. Perhaps we'll get some relief in October. *~*~*~* Profligate use of groundwater is damaging aquifers throughout the nation an investigation has found. *~*~*~* The global avian flu outbreak is devastating wild birds and poultry and is threatening to make the jump to humans . *~*~*~* "Blue Moon" photographed over Texas' Big Bend this week. Did you witness the "Blue Moon" this week ? If not, you won't have another chance until 2037. *~*~*~* Tracking songbirds on migration is a daunting task, but thank goodness there are dedicated scientists who do it. *~*~*~* The summer evenings of my childhood were lit by fireflies but now those fireflies are disappearing .  *~*~*~* Climate scientists continue