bits and pieces

A photo from the archives. This is Harry the Heron. He stands in our backyard in suburbia though he had a nobler job once. I had first set him out in the shallow waters of the pond at Roundrock. (We have a small pond and a small lake there.) The idea was that it would attract other waterfowl if they saw one hanging out there. I don’t know if that ever worked. For the most part, any wildlife ran away when we arrived at our woods, and waterfowl especially. (Though a goose once had a nest on a tussock in the pond!) Anyway, one time we arrived at Roundrock and Harry was gone. I feared he had run away with the other waterfowl. We got out of the truck at the pond and checked around, and there he was, lying in the water on his side. Significantly, there were two punctures in his chest. My guess is that he was stalked by a bobcat and attacked. Once the bobcat figured it out, I suppose he took off. So now Harry resides in the comparative safety of our backyard (where I have never seen waterfowl either).


We took out two ash trees from our backyard last fall. (Well, we hired someone.) Now that fall has returned, I revel in knowing that I won’t have to rake up all of those leaves this year. The cypress trees, however, have a bountiful crop of “cones” this year, which they mercifully hadn’t for the last two years. The cones themselves are spheres about an inch and a half in diameter and they’re not so offensive in themselves, but when they dry and break apart the pieces are sharp and sticky with sap. The dogs often bring them in the house stuck in their paws, causing them to limp.

This year our plan is to try herding them with a leaf blower. (I suspect it won’t work, spheres being good at ignoring outside forces.) I’ve been meaning to get a good leaf blower to use at the cabin; dry oak and hickory leaves against a wooden structure are not a good combination, especially with a neighbor to the west who practices prescribed burning on his land. So maybe we can have two uses for such a noisy machine. (I already have ear protection for when I use the weed whipper I have at the cabin.)


Books read in September:

Silence is a Sense by Layla Al Ammar – The story of a Syrian refuge in London who has become mute due to the trauma she has suffered. She writes accounts of her flight for a local paper but hides behind an anonymous byline. A racist incident in her neighborhood sparks her into a more active life, and a medical crisis in her apartment block forces her to find her voice. A searing, unsparing work that I strongly recommend.

The Keep by Jennifer Eagan – A well-written novel that is framed within a frame and within another. The story itself is weird and almost Gothic, and it is all capped with a sort of epilogue that many readers found unnecessary and even unhelpful. I’d never read Egan before, but I likely will again.

The Ghost Writer by John Harwood – No, not The Ghost Writer by Philip Roth, which I love, but an actual Victoria ghost story (sort of) about a family legacy, jealousy, revenge, and various machinations. I pretty much worked out the twist at the end (as I noted other readers had who reviewed it). About one-third too long, it was compelling if you’re into that kind of thing, but I’m not sure what about it had attracted me.

The Game is Afoot, edited by Marvin Kaye – I had been picking at this collection of parodies, pastiches, and scholarly works about the great detective for months and happened to finish it on the last day of the month. Every bit of it is good, but it became much of a muchness and I found I had to take it in small doses. I’ve added it to my burgeoning shelf of Holmesian works.


The world of podcasts continues to baffle me. I regularly listen to four of them now, alternating choices while on my treadmill (though often picking the one with the half-hour episodes because treadmill). For the most part I enjoy what I hear, and in a few cases I’ve pursued and read the works of the authors interviewed. (Though “interview” seems the wrong word for a podcast. I think “conversation” may be better. In one case I’ve learned at least as much about the host as about his guests.) I should probably up my podcast game and listen more and more widely. Maybe I even will.

Explore posts in the same categories: Ramblings Off Topic

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