Showing posts from 2024

Poetry Sunday: Spring and All by William Carlos Williams

William Carlos Williams was an American poet who lived from 1883 until 1963. He was a practicing physician. That's how he made his living. But poetry was his second job and his joy. Here is one of his poems. Spring and All by William Carlos Williams By the road to the contagious hospital under the surge of the blue mottled clouds driven from the northeast-a cold wind. Beyond, the waste of broad, muddy fields brown with dried weeds, standing and fallen patches of standing water the scattering of tall trees All along the road the reddish purplish, forked, upstanding, twiggy stuff of bushes and small trees with dead, brown leaves under them leafless vines— Lifeless in appearance, sluggish dazed spring approaches— They enter the new world naked, cold, uncertain of all save that they enter. All about them the cold, familiar wind— Now the grass, tomorrow the stiff curl of wildcarrot leaf One by one objects are defined— It quickens: clarity, outline of leaf But now the stark dignity of en


My apologies to "This week in birds" readers. No post this week. I hope to get back to my regular schedule next week. Thank you for your patience.

Desert God by Wilbur Smith: A review

  I finished reading this one on January 30 so let me just think what I can remember of the plot. Hmm...not much. But I will try to at least give you a brief summary. Well, it's a novel of ancient Egypt. It says so right there on the cover. The main character is Taita, a slave. He is a eunuch because, apparently, that was a requirement for male slaves. He has in his care two princesses whom he always refers to as "my princesses." Taita, as he will readily tell you, is very, very good at everything he does, especially warfare, languages, and games. Moreover, he is much appreciated and admired for his many talents. (This assessment, again, is according to him.) The other characters in this tale are all essentially stick figures. We never get to know them very well. There was one character, in particular, who I found interesting and who seemed to have the potential to add depth to the story. Her name was Loxias. She was a Greek girl who became a tutor for the princesses. But

Poetry Sunday: The Sun by Mary Oliver

As a confirmed sun-watcher myself I understand very well the experience Mary Oliver describes in this poem. And I am quite sure there is no word "billowing enough" for the pleasure it affords me, but her words come close.   The Sun by Mary Oliver   Have you ever seen anything in your life more wonderful   than the way the sun, every evening, relaxed and easy, floats toward the horizon   and into the clouds or the hills, or the rumpled sea, and is gone-- and how it slides again   out of the blackness, every morning, on the other side of the world, like a red flower   streaming upward on its heavenly oils, say, on a morning in early summer, at its perfect imperial distance-- and have you ever felt for anything such wild love-- do you think there is anywhere, in any language, a word billowing enough for the pleasure   that fills you, as the sun reaches out, as it warms you   as you stand there, empty-handed-- or have you too turned from this world--   or have you too gone crazy

This week in birds - #581

  A roundup of the week's news of birds and the environmen t: A convention of doves of the White-winged variety, meeting on my bird feeder posts. *~*~*~* If you hurry outside, you can still see the Snow Moon tonight. *~*~*~* It looks likely that February will break an unprecedented number of heat records. *~*~*~* More evidence that trees are our friends: Reforestation of the eastern United States is helping to stall the effects of global heating.  *~*~*~* Recurring atmospheric rivers are bringing lots of rain and resultant flooding to California. *~*~*~* It took a massive effort but a 65-foot-long whale that washed up on a beach in China was rescued and towed back to sea .  *~*~*~* Did ADHD survive in the human race because it gave an evolutionary advantage to those who possessed it? *~*~*~* Monarch butterfly - a representative of a genome that may look fragile but is actually very resilient . *~*~*~* Corals are bleaching and dying along more than 1,000 kilometers of the Gre

Poetry Sunday: February by Margaret Atwood (Again!)

Yes, yes, I know I have featured this poem here before! Actually more than once if truth be told. But one can never have too much of Margaret Atwood, can one? And this poem about February is just so...perfect! February by Margaret Atwood Winter. Time to eat fat and watch hockey. In the pewter mornings, the cat, a black fur sausage with yellow Houdini eyes, jumps up on the bed and tries to get onto my head. It’s his way of telling whether or not I’m dead. If I’m not, he wants to be scratched; if I am He’ll think of something. He settles on my chest, breathing his breath of burped-up meat and musty sofas, purring like a washboard. Some other tomcat, not yet a capon, has been spraying our front door, declaring war. It’s all about sex and territory, which are what will finish us off in the long run. Some cat owners around here should snip a few testicles. If we wise hominids were sensible, we’d do that too, or eat our young, like sharks. But it’s love that does us in. Over and over again, 

This week in birds - #580

  A roundup of the week's news of birds and the environment : The female Red-winged Blackbird looks nothing like her flashy mate. One could even take her for a large sparrow until one sees her striding across the yard. That strut definitely gives her away. *~*~*~* One might think that climate change denialism has run its course but not with 15% of Americans it seems. *~*~*~* A warm Atlantic could be foretelling an active hurricane season . *~*~*~* Thriving plant life on the Greenland ice sheet where it really shouldn't be is causing climate scientists to be concerned. *~*~*~* The side of a frog may seem a strange place for a mushroom to grow, but Nature will find a way. *~*~*~* Parthenogenesis is yet another solution that Nature has found but it is one that isn't available to us mammals. *~*~*~* Paraquat, a toxic herbicide linked to Parkinson's Disease, has again been approved by the Environmental Protection Agency for use in this country. That seems like a seriou

Poetry Sunday: February Days by Ellwood Roberts

Not many "northern blasts" have reached us here in the deep South this winter, but we are predicted to have some more winter-like weather next week. We shall see what the "February days" bring us, but this we know for sure: "The Spring-time days will soon be here."   February Days by Ellwood Roberts The icy northern blast sweeps by, From wild wastes of the Arctic snow; Above us droops a wintry sky, A bleak white landscape lies below. But, 'neath the chilly Polar blast, A low, sweet undertone I hear: "The wintry storms will soon be past, And pleasant Spring-time days are near." In Winter's stern and icy grasp, Are river, pond, and rill, to-day; Like iron bonds his fetters' clasp, Like despot's rule his frosty sway. But only yesterday I heard— Though all the landscape was so drear— The sweet voice of a lonesome bird: "The Spring-time days will soon be here." The air is icy, keen and chill, All Nature lies in sleep profound

This week in birds - #579

A roundup of the week's news of birds and the environment : The male Northern Cardinals are singing their hearts out. It must be almost spring. *~*~*~* Climatologist Michael Mann is a hero of mine and I was happy to see him fight back in court against those who had defamed him. And I was even happier to see that he won ! *~*~*~* And speaking of Mann and his warnings about climate, scientists have announced that Earth has breached a critical temperature barrier over the last twelve months. *~*~*~* El Niño has helped to exacerbate the higher temperatures. It may be almost over now but  La Niña is waiting in the wings . *~*~*~* In more hot news, the Icelandic volcanic system erupted again this week. *~*~*~* The storms on the West Coast this week have filled up the Los Angeles River . Those storms were intensified by an atmospheric river . *~*~*~* We need to save the Mobile-Tensaw Delta , America's Amazon. *~*~*~* The beautiful Vermilion Flycatcher is the American Bird Conse

Poetry Sunday: February by John Updike

In " A Child's Calendar ," John Updike wrote a poem for each month of the year. This is the one he wrote for February. It doesn't paint a picture of my February - no snow here - but I'm sure residents of more northerly climes will recognize the scenes he describes. February by John Updike The sun rides higher Every trip. The sidewalk shows. Icicles drip. A snowstorm comes, And cars are stuck, And ashes fly From the old town truck. The chickadees Grow plump on seed That Mother pours Where they can feed, And snipping, snipping Scissors run To cut out hearts For everyone.

This week in birds - #578

A roundup of the week's news of birds and the environment :  This Northern Mockingbird doesn't look too happy about the shower he's getting! *~*~*~* The U.S. is getting a new global climate representative since John Kerry is stepping down. *~*~*~* The fossil fuel industry knew of the danger of climate change as early as 1954 but resisted doing anything about it. *~*~*~* Here is a depiction of Earth breathing for one year. *~*~*~* Drought is having a deleterious effect on the Panama Canal. *~*~*~* The first bird flu deaths have been reported in Gentoo Penguins in the Antarctic. *~*~*~* Trees are good for us . Is there really any doubt of that? *~*~*~* This is the American Bird Conservancy's Bird of the Week . It is a neotropical falcon, the Collared Forest-Falcon . *~*~*~* Patagonia, the outdoor apparel brand, is following its philosophy when making its charitable donations. *~*~*~* Remember Flaco, the Eurasian Eagle-Owl that escaped captivity (with a little hel

Two for the price of one

I recently read two of Joseph Heywood's Woods Cop Mysteries back-to-back. It's actually been a while since I read them so my memory may be a bit hazy but here are my thoughts on them. Buckular Dystrophy This was the tenth book in the series.  "Buckular dystrophy" is a term coined by conservation officers to describe a kind of addiction to killing deer, not for sport or food, but seemingly just because they are there and because they can.  The action takes place during Michigan's two-week firearm deer season when it seems that a lot of hunters go just a little bit crazy. During this time, game wardens are on duty all the time and have no personal life to call their own.  In this instance, Game Warden Grady Service inexplicably takes on longtime violator Limpy Allerdyce as his partner. But it is actually a genius move because nobody knows violators like another violator and Limpy leads him into a bizarre series of cases involving deer.  I particularly like these sto

Poetry Sunday: Wild Geese by Mary Oliver

I'm a little late with this post but here's your poem for the week and it's one of my personal favorites. I hope you enjoy it, too. Wild Geese by Mary Oliver You do not have to be good. You do not have to walk on your knees for a hundred miles through the desert repenting. You only have to let the soft animal of your body love what it loves. Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine. Meanwhile the world goes on. Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain are moving across the landscapes, over the prairies and the deep trees, the mountains and the rivers. Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air, are heading home again. Whoever you are, no matter how lonely, the world offers itself to your imagination, calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting - over and over announcing your place in the family of things.

This week in birds - #577

  A roundup of the week's news of birds and the environment : This little bird has recently been causing quite a stir in South Texas . It is a bird of South America called a Fan-tailed Warbler and birders are traveling from far and wide to enjoy its presence in this country. *~*~*~* The West is in the middle of experiencing a two-decade-long drought. Trees tell the story . *~*~*~* Even the Amazon rainforest is in drought. *~*~*~* And yet animals and plants do adapt to the changing conditions, as the Meadow Brown butterfly shows . *~*~*~* Archaeologists have discovered remnants of ancient cities in the Amazon. *~*~*~* In Scotland, hotter and wetter weather has led to declines in some of their iconic bird populations. *~*~*~* You might want to invest in some earplugs, especially if you live in the Midwest. We will have two broods of cicadas emerging this summer - a virtual cicadapocalypse! *~*~*~* Ten more species could soon be added to the Endangered Species List. Among them is

The Helsinki Affair by Anna Pitoniak: A review

Okay, let me be honest here: It has been close to a month since I finished reading this book and so much has passed through my brain since then that I am struggling to remember the plot and characters. But at the time that I finished it, I gave it four stars so I know that I enjoyed it! It's a spy novel as you might guess from the title and the cover. It features a CIA agent named Amanda Cole who is following in the footsteps of her father who was also a CIA agent. When we first meet her she is stationed in Rome and is pretty much bored out of her skull. Nothing's happening there to interest a CIA agent. Then, through the doors of the embassy walks a low-level Russian operative who is desperate to warn the Americans that a U.S. senator on a trip to Cairo is about to be assassinated. Unfortunately, Amanda's superiors do not believe the Russian. They decide to take no action. But Amanda does believe him and so does a brash legendary spy named Kath. Amanda and Kath team up to

Coming soon!

Thanks to all who have expressed their concern. We are doing well here and I hope to get back to my regular schedule of posting soon. Maybe even later today! So, stand by... 

Another update

Yes, no weekend update again. I apologize to my regular readers. My weekly schedule was severely disrupted. My husband spent a couple of days in the hospital. He's home now and he's fine, but that sort of reordered my priorities. Things are getting back to what passes for normal around here and I hope to get back to my normal routine in the coming week.     

Poetry Sunday: It sifts from leaden sieves by Emily Dickinson

(01/14: Oops! I thought I had already published this. Here ya go! ) No snow where I live here in Southeast Texas, but I remember the snows of my childhood and Emily Dickinson describes them perfectly. It sifts from leaden sieves by Emily Dickinson  It sifts from leaden sieves, It powders all the wood, It fills with alabaster wool The wrinkles of the road. It makes an even face Of mountain and of plain, — Unbroken forehead from the east Unto the east again. It reaches to the fence, It wraps it, rail by rail, Till it is lost in fleeces; It flings a crystal veil On stump and stack and stem, — The summer’s empty room, Acres of seams where harvests were, Recordless, but for them. It ruffles wrists of posts, As ankles of a queen, — Then stills its artisans like ghosts, Denying they have been.

This week in birds - #576

A roundup of the week's news of birds and the environment :  A Cooper's Hawk surveys my backyard, searching for a possible meal. *~*~*~* 2023 was the hottest year on record and 2024 may be even hotter. *~*~*~* At the other end of the spectrum, Beijing experienced its coldest December since 1951.  *~*~*~* Meanwhile, hotter, drier air in Europe is causing a greater wildfire risk and is affecting farmers' success in raising their crops. *~*~*~* We have live oaks and red oaks in our yard and I can confirm that it has been a bumper crop year for acorns in Texas . *~*~*~* Is this pyramid in Indonesia the world's oldest ? *~*~*~* Oil refineries on the Gulf Coast continue to pollute the air . *~*~*~* Californians have been excited by recent sightings of orcas off their southern coast. *~*~*~* This is the critically endangered Gorgeted Puffleg , a resident of the high Andes and it is the American Bird Conservancy's Bird of the Week . *~*~*~* There is finally some good n

Nope - update

Nope - still no weekend posts. I am still ill and this is getting quite boring. Hoping for a better week next week. Update - Thanks to those who have expressed concern about my health. I did test positive for Covid and I'm getting the care that I need. I suppose I am getting better - just not as fast as I would like. The only positive thing to say about this is that I'm getting a LOT of reading done so there will be plenty of reviews to write in the coming days.