Showing posts from October, 2023

Poetry Sunday: The Raven by Edgar Allan Poe

It is one of Edgar Allan Poe's most famous poems and one that is always associated with Halloween because of its spooky subject. It was also one of the first poems that I learned to love when I was growing up and so I'm "evermore" glad for a chance to feature it here. The Raven by Edgar Allan Poe   Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary, Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore—     While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping, As of some one gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door. “’Tis some visitor,” I muttered, “tapping at my chamber door—             Only this and nothing more.”     Ah, distinctly I remember it was in the bleak December; And each separate dying ember wrought its ghost upon the floor.     Eagerly I wished the morrow;—vainly I had sought to borrow     From my books surcease of sorrow—sorrow for the lost Lenore— For the rare and radiant maiden whom the angels name Lenore—             Nameless

This week in birds - #569

A roundup of the week's news of birds and the environment : Dark-eyed Junco - a favorite winter visitor to my yard. They generally arrive here in late November/early December. *~*~*~* The junco is one of the birds that might be appearing on my FeederWatch reports. Project FeederWatch begins on November 1. You can sign up here . *~*~*~* So, the country gained a new Speaker of the House this week. A champion of fossil fuels and a doubter of human-caused climate change , he is not good news for anyone who cares about the environment. *~*~*~* And in other sad news of and for the environment, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service this week declared twenty-one species extinct . *~*~*~* Unfortunately, protecting the land and environment is not always popular in some of the places that most need protecting. *~*~*~* Yellowstone National Park represents one of this country's early efforts to protect the environment and one of its best-known attractions is home to an amazing diversity of

The Bee Sting by Paul Murray: A review

This book has been highly acclaimed by just about everyone who has reviewed it and now it has been shortlisted for the Booker Prize, so obviously it must have a lot that's good going for it. So why did it leave me dissatisfied?  The Bee Sting is the story of the Barnes family, a family that is in trouble and struggling to maintain its station in life as the husband/father's car business hits the skids and he seems incapable of doing anything to save it. Instead, he spends his time out in the woods preparing for the actual end of the world while his wife, Imelda, sells off her jewelry on eBay. Meanwhile, their teenage daughter, Cass, who has always been a top student in her class, has started drinking as a way of coping with the situation at home, and twelve-year-old PJ is obsessed with video game forums. On one of those forums, he has met someone named Ethan who is encouraging him to run away from home. So, we have a family about to fly apart and the question is, "Can thi

Poetry Sunday: In Autumn by Bliss Carman

Where I presently live, autumn is not much different from summer. In fact, summer often lingers here into November or even December. But I haven't always lived here and I do remember autumns when I was growing up that were very like the ones that Bliss Carman describes in this poem.  In Autumn by Bliss Carman Now come the rosy dogwoods, The golden tulip-tree, And the scarlet yellow maple, To make a day for me. The ash-trees on the ridges, The alders in the swamp, Put on their red and purple To join the autumn pomp. The woodbine hangs her crimson Along the pasture wall, And all the bannered sumacs Have heard the frosty call. Who then so dead to valor As not to raise a cheer, When all the woods are marching In triumph of the year?

This week in birds - #568

A roundup of the week's news of birds and the environment :  A Great Blue Heron stands atop a nesting box intended for the use of Wood Ducks at Brazos Bend State Park in Southeast Texas. *~*~*~* In the waters of that park, a Common Gallinule takes a swim. *~*~*~* And here comes  El Niño once again . It is expected to bring a warmer-than-usual winter to parts of the country, and around where I live here in Southeast Texas it is likely to be a wet winter.  *~*~*~* In the Amazon rainforest, they could definitely use some of El  Niño's rainfall. The area is experiencing a severe and prolonged drought . *~*~*~* High-rise buildings are notorious bird killers and some areas are looking for ways to fix that problem . *~*~*~* Fallen leaves are a treasure of Nature; let them lie! *~*~*~* Hurricanes in the Atlantic are getting stronger and faster . Meanwhile, hurricanes in the Gulf of Mexico have been nonexistent for quite a while, at least as far as our coast is concerned. *~*~*~*

Poetry Sunday: September Tomatoes by Karina Borowicz

For the first time in my memory, we didn't plant a vegetable garden this year so we didn't have any September tomatoes. Or October tomatoes. I miss them. I miss their special sweetness. I even miss the fruit flies and the "whisky stink of rot." Next year... September Tomatoes by Karina Borowicz The whiskey stink of rot has settled in the garden, and a burst of fruit flies rises when I touch the dying tomato plants. Still, the claws of tiny yellow blossoms flail in the air as I pull the vines up by the roots and toss them in the compost. It feels cruel. Something in me isn’t ready to let go of summer so easily. To destroy what I’ve carefully cultivated all these months. Those pale flowers might still have time to fruit. My great-grandmother sang with the girls of her village as they pulled the flax. Songs so old and so tied to the season that the very sound seemed to turn the weather.

This week in birds - #567

  A roundup of the week's news of birds and the environment : The Ruby-throated Hummingbirds continued passing through my yard this week on their migration south. Until the last couple of days, I had only seen females and immatures, but on Friday afternoon there was an adult male at one of the feeders. *~*~*~* It's that time of year again; it's Fat Bear Week ! The winner of the competition this year was a female grizzly named Grazer. *~*~*~* And speaking of grizzlies, you might not think the big bears would be interested in moths as food but apparently they find them to be quite tasty . *~*~*~* And continuing with news of bears, black bears have become much more widespread in recent years until it is not altogether uncommon to see them in backyards. *~*~*~* Northern Spotted Owls are an endangered species and in order to protect them biologists are sometimes faced with the choice of having to kill Barred Owls , a much more aggressive and successful species. *~*~*~* Birds

Middle East conflict explained

I stole this from Daily Kos . It explains the Middle East conflict as well as anything I have seen.    

Poetry Sunday: My Cats by Charles Bukowski

Anyone who loves and lives with cats will certainly recognize the truth in Charles Bukowski's poem. Yes, "they are limited," but then so are we. Perhaps together we make a whole. My Cats by Charles Bukowski I know. I know. they are limited, have different needs and concerns. but I watch and learn from them. I like the little they know, which is so much. they complain but never worry, they walk with a surprising dignity. they sleep with a direct simplicity that humans just can't understand. their eyes are more beautiful than our eyes. and they can sleep 20 hours a day without hesitation or remorse. when I am feeling low all I have to do is watch my cats and my courage returns. I study these creatures. they are my teachers.

This week in birds - #566

  A roundup of the week's news of birds and the environment : A flotilla of Canada Geese enjoying an early autumn swim. *~*~*~* Some places on this continent have already experienced their first freeze of the season but not us! We're still in the mid-80s to 90s here in Southeast Texas and don't expect our first freeze until about December. *~*~*~* Speaking of freezing, Antarctica has just recorded its sixth-lowest record of sea ice. And the annual peak was the lowest ever recorded .  *~*~*~* Looking into the future - way into the future - scientists say Earth could become uninhabitable in 250 million years after the formation of a supercontinent. *~*~*~* In our own time, a heat dome has roasted much of the continent this summer leaving a wide swath of it feeling almost uninhabitable . *~*~*~* Climate change presents challenges to many species and some, including many amphibians, may not be able to adapt . *~*~*~* The angel shark is one of the world's most elusive s