Woodpeckers and, I hope, a hawk.


Annoyingly wet Spring morning, only two days into the season. The trees on the horizon look ever so slightly thicker in their bareness: the sap and the buds doing their stuff, just invisible to us yet, “us” being the largely untrained (okay, I’ve had some ornithology training by people who were just as happy to regard the plants around them if there were no birds to be had in our immediate area) passers-by or rather passers-through.

The red-bellied woodpecker is showing off across the gully in someone else’s presumably old and therefore wormy tree. It’s been working on this same tree for days now. I hope it moves soon. The local bird that I hope stays around more is the adult Red-tailed Hawk who took up residence in our neighborhood about four or five years ago as a brand-new adult. There is a distinct lack of annoying noise about him.

My ears are not good enough to make many more observations about the local birds until I actually get out of bed and start doing something and going somewhere.


Nettles in my garden

I have very recently looked at the back yard garden strip, which is just beyond our back driveway, hidden usually from our view by the wall holding up the back driveway. The strip of ground is full of nettles, the parts of it that aren’t inhabited by our neat row of ex-Christmas trees, which seem to be doing quite nicely for themselves.

This is where my inappropriate anthropomorphism of other species gets me into trouble: I now feel unable to yank out the nettles. How can I punish a bunch of plants for doing what they’re supposed to do? Namely, to grow. Nettles are high in vitamin C, I’m told, though I am unlikely to boil the plants in my kitchen. They photosynthesize and produce oxygen.

And I am not a gardener by any means, so even if it weren’t too late to plant something, I’d still not rush out and buy seeds. I also wouldn’t buy the fashionable gardening hats, kneepads, and complete set of hand-forged Japanese garden tools, especially not the kind that look as frightening as my pocket knife with the Teflon-coated blade.

I think, all in all, I would rather not look at the nettles (or try to figure out why I have such a scary pocket knife), and will try hard to ignore them and leave them to be.

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Powerlessness and power

I must start out this blog post by admitting a thing that might make me either very popular here in Cincinnati, or, possibly, unpopular: we have electrical power at our house.

Ever since Monday’s infamous “deluge” by the remnants of hurricane Ike, with huge windstorms and much power outage, the most common question around here is “Do you have power?”

We came home, slowly but surely, yesterday, to find out that we did have power at our house. We came home slowly because, on Sunday when the windstorm hit, we were in a plane in the region of Knoxville, flying home from Ft. Lauderdale. Thus, since the Cincinnati airport was closed, we were rerouted to Atlanta where, as you saw, we stayed the night.

Further slowness in our arrival was caused by a huge fallen tree totally blocking a street leading to our house. So we had to walk the last quarter mile, dragging suitcases behind us, suitcases whose wheels are now probably permanently embedded with twigs from said tree. Several people stopped their cars to say hi and to welcome us home. Our friend Steve and Peter’s friend Betsy arrived at our house as we did, to help check on things.

Amount of damage: many twigs in yard. Many still-green leaves. Two limbs from giant oak broke, one fallen on our roof, and one still hanging from the tree. Apparently no damage to the roof, not nasty damage anyway.

So here we sit, listening to the not-storm (i.e. quiet) out of our window, with the frequent addition of power saw sounds in the distance.

Day of Labor.

The sun has not yet cleared an eastern hill, so that it doesn’t yet light up every tree in the yard yet, so it feels as though I’m up terribly early, and am setting some sort of awakened record. The truth is, however, any number of people are already up and at their days.

Speaking of Labor Day, which I wasn’t, really, I am currently reading a book, Touchstone, which is written around the great labor (or “labour”) uprising in Britain in 1926, commonly referred to as the Great Strike. However, since Britain is not now, nor ever has been, under communist government (which was rather the aim of the whole thing), you can guess just how effective that all was.

Still and all, it provides an exciting background to an excellent book. Read that one if you can’t find a picnic to go to today. Or, even if you can. ‘Tis a good book.

The August change

The local trees, a few of them at any rate, like the buckeyes, which get leaves first and drop them first, are starting to change color a little bit. They are turning a paler green, in preparation for the yellows to come next month.

There is definitely not the uniform lushness of deep green that there was everywhere in June.

I make a point of spending hours outside, sometimes writing, usually not, in order to store up the feelings for winter, when I will only rush out to the porch long enough to get Sophie inside, or to pick up a few more logs for the fire. I want to remember summer as the natural state of things, not winter. With the long, cold spring we had this year, it’s going to be difficult, but I think I’m up to the task.

Blogging more later… must wake up the chihuahua now.

Twitter Updates for 2008-07-24

  • good morning while the trees are still in shadow #
  • @tradingnothing: they must be singularly without a sense of humor #
  • @andrewhyde: Morning back at ya #
  • More passive-aggressiveness oozing through the cracks of society…
    http://xrl.us/oknyc #
  • what to do?… when you can do anything. #
  • What more can you want than 4 pieces of tuna sushi for dinner? Nothing. Not even room for dessert. #

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sunny morning

Peter is sitting next to me. He says, in response to “What should I write about?”, “Write a screenplay.” I’m not sure that’s gonna work.

First of all, that would mean there’s a plot hanging about around here, and I sense none. Or there could be, and I haven’t looked for it. It’s hard to find a plot when people are simply hanging out or going to classes at the Chautauqua Institute.

Yesterday, I tried to listen, from across the street in our nice comfy porch, to Karen Armstrong give the 2:00 lecture that she will be giving every day through Friday. Unfortunately, we had a huge downpour, including hail, and her words got a little drowned in all that. The one bit I did get was that credo does not mean simply “I believe.” The true meaning involves more heartfelt devotion, according to the Sanskrit root. I hope to get more good lecture stuff today, but it’s as the weather goes.

Azalea questions

I’m afraid I’m a bit late answering Gail‘s question about my oncologist’s amazing azalea bonsai. The whole plant is about 18″ high. But the lower branch swoops below the roots, so I’d say the whole thing is about 2 feet tall.

I find it rather satisfying that my oncologist nurtures little lives as a hobby.

Saying goodbye to bronchitis

I am far enough into the second bottle of antibiotics that I can feel human and do normal things. I can eat breakfast, for instance, or write a blog piece. All this feels wondrous and new to me.

Spring is well underway here. It had barely started 10 days ago when we got back from Paris. Only a very few trees showed leaf buds, but buds are all around now, thickening out the trees around the house.

I think I might try and take a picture or two for y’all later.