Showing posts from February, 2024

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