Showing posts from September, 2023

Poetry Sunday: September Song by Kurt Weill and Maxwell Anderson

And just like that, here we are in October. September, it seems we hardly knew ye! But as we view that departed month in our rearview mirror, let's give it one last wave goodbye. And what better way to give it that sendoff than with the lyrics of one of my favorite songs. September Song by Kurt Weill and Maxwell Anderson When I was a young man courting the girls I played me a waiting game If a maid refused me with tossing curls I'd let the old Earth make a couple of whirls While I plied her with tears in lieu of pearls And as time came around she came my way As time came around, she came. When you meet with the young girls early in the Spring You court them in song and rhyme They answer with words and a clover ring But if you could examine the goods they bring They have little to offer but the songs they sing And the plentiful waste of time of day A plentiful waste of time. Oh, it's a long, long while from May to December But the days grow short when you reach September Whe

This week in birds - not

"This week in birds" is taking a break this week. I apologize to my faithful readers who look for it each week. 

The Raging Storm by Ann Cleeves: A review

  This is the third entry in Ann Cleeves' latest series of mysteries, the one featuring Detective Matthew Venn. I must confess up front that Matthew Venn is not my favorite of Cleeves' creations. ( Are you ever going to give us another Vera Stanhope mystery, Ms. Cleeves? ) But I'll take what I can get. This tale is set in the little village of Greystone in Devon. It involves a former member of that community named Jem Rosco. Rosco has made a name for himself as a sailor and adventurer who has roamed the world. Now he has returned to rent a nearby cottage, but, within a month of returning, he disappears and soon his dead body is discovered in a dingy off Scully Cove. He had been murdered. The case is assigned to Matthew Venn and he and his sergeant Jen Rafferty along with another member of the team, Ross May, hurry to the scene. We learn that Greystone has troubling memories for Venn whose problematic family history is so much a part of his personal makeup. Many residents of

Rituals by Mary Anna Evans: A review

This is the eighth book in the Faye Longchamp mystery series. I was interested in reading the series in the first place because of its archeological connection. Faye is an archaeologist. But the series seems to be evolving into an archeological romance/mystery with an emphasis on the romance. While the series in general has been a fairly enjoyable read, I'm not sure I will continue with it after this entry as romance is not really my main reading interest. And there are so many other books on my "to-be-read" list that are demanding my attention. Rituals finds Faye and her adopted teenage daughter, Amande, in a rural New York town called Rosebower. Faye has been hired to organize her client's amateur museum. The client, Samuel Langley, has artifacts that he believes prove that aliens from outer space long ago landed in New York and that Scandinavians were the original settlers of the Americas. In evaluating her client's artifacts, Faye discovers documents that rel

Poetry Sunday: Late September by Amy Lowell

This poem by Amy Lowell was written more than a hundred years ago and yet it still seems fresh and fitting for this "late September." Late September by Amy Lowell Tang of fruitage in the air; Red boughs bursting everywhere; Shimmering of seeded grass; Hooded gentians all a'mass. Warmth of earth, and cloudless wind Tearing off the husky rind, Blowing feathered seeds to fall By the sun-baked, sheltering wall. Beech trees in a golden haze; Hardy sumachs all ablaze, Glowing through the silver birches. How that pine tree shouts and lurches! From the sunny door-jamb high, Swings the shell of a butterfly. Scrape of insect violins Through the stubble shrilly dins. Every blade's a minaret Where a small muezzin's set, Loudly calling us to pray At the miracle of day. Then the purple-lidded night Westering comes, her footsteps light Guided by the radiant boon Of a sickle-shaped new moon.

This week in birds - #565

  A roundup of the week's news of birds and the environment : The hummingbird wars continued this week with the Ruby-throated and Black-chinned Hummingbirds passing through. I haven't yet seen any Rufous Hummingbirds  like this baby from a previous year but they should be arriving soon. *~*~*~* The famous 150-year-old banyan tree that was burned in the recent fires on Maui is showing signs of recovery .  *~*~*~* Did you see the amazing sight of the fireball that slammed into Jupiter last month? Astronomers got pictures! *~*~*~* The financially struggling private ownership of a herd of 2,000 rhinos has sold the animals to a conservation group that will release them into the wild.  *~*~*~* The hottest August on record followed a similarly record-breaking June and July. I think I'm sensing a trend here. *~*~*~* Even though it is winter in South America, it is hot there , too. *~*~*~* ExxonMobil went to great lengths to try to undermine climate science . Recently revealed

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