Wednesday, June 29, 2011

More Birds Fly!

Look what was huddled on the corner of the porch this morning: baby sparrow.  I thought it might be injured, but as I approached it flew off to a nearby bush. This bird comes from the 'tenement' birdhouse that is below the robins' nest (the robins left the nest two days ago.)

Here is what the sparrow looked like just a week ago, a tiny, scrawny thing:

See it there, on the right, emerging from the green house?  (You can also see the baby robins above in their nest.)

There is one more sparrow left to leave the tenement. I hope it goes today, so I can snap out of this bird-hypnosis!

Monday, June 27, 2011

Birds Take Off!

When I walked out onto the porch yesterday, swoosh, one of the baby robins flew out of the nest and landed bumpily in the bushes. One of the parent robins soon came to lead it to a more secluded spot.

As I returned to the house, a second babe fluttered over my head, skimming my hair and landed on the porch, plop:

It then hopped under a planter:

About an hour later, I went out onto the back porch--on the other side of the house--and was about to sit down in a deck chair, when I saw this beneath it:

Oops. It's baby number two.  Not sure how it found its way around the house to this spot.  I called for the mother or father to come lead the bird away.  Seriously.

Back to the front porch nest to worry over bird number three, still in the nest. All alone.  All day and all night long.

This morning, that third bird finally plopped out of the nest and onto a table.  I called for the mother or father to lead it away.  They probably did.

I hope so, because one hour later, we saw a cat and four kittens crawl out from under the deck! What?

It's a regular animal nursery around here.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Summer at the Pool

This pretty much says it all, doesn't it? Mm, mmm.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011


I am a sucker for fragrant tea roses and add a new bush to the yard each year. These (in pic above) are from our garden. I stick my face right in them every day. June is the best month for the roses here; they receive the best amount of rain and sun, and the Japanese beetles have not yet emerged to chew them up.

Also in the garden are cluster roses (that's what I call them; I don't know their proper name); they emerge as a ready-made bouquet:

I mean: really. Put your face right in there.  Nice, mm?

Do you have a favorite flower?

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Toddler Robins

I can't help it. More bird pics. This second brood of robins commands more or our attention because the nest is directly outside the kitchen window and the front door.  Truly: those mouths are open from dawn to dusk. Parents are busy snatching up every bug in sight and dropping it down their throats.

There is a third baby bird in the nest which seems to be stepped on and sat on a lot. Here it strains for position in the middle:

I was the second oldest of five and didn't get stepped on too much; neither did my older sister or three younger brothers because they were all too cute or too scrappy. We're a close bunch.

You? Were you stepped on or sat on?  Or too cute? Too scrappy?

Monday, June 20, 2011

Feed Me!

There are three baby robins, now four days old, in this nest.

"Feed me!"

They're not making any noise, but those mouths seem always open, and all day long, the parent birds fly to and fro delivering food: worms plucked from moist earth, and moths and other insects from plants and bushes.

Hard to get any work done with these sweet things so near . . . although maybe watching is part of my 'work.'

Saturday, June 18, 2011

New Books, New Birds

I keep a running list of books that I'd like to read, and if the titles still resonate a week or two or three later, I buy them. Above are the most recent purchases and it feels like Christmas--wow!

Along with the new books came three new baby robins–hatched yesterday–in a porch nest. Two are seen here:

They remain in that position all day, mouths perpetually open, waiting for the parents to bring them morsels.

New books, new birds: feasts for the eyes, the mind, the soul.

Ciao, bellas. . . .

Thursday, June 16, 2011


Students always seem interested in the look of foreign editions. For all the years we lived on boarding school campuses in England, Switzerland, and New Jersey, students could come to our house and see these editions spread out. They liked to choose their favorite covers and try to read the titles and my name in all the different languages. Since there were international students in all these schools, often students would find translations in their own languages.

Above and below are most of the translations of The Wanderer. In the photo above, the top book is from France. Second row, left to right: Italy, Germany, Taiwan. Bottom row: Slovakia, Latvia, Spain.

In this second picture directly above, the translations are (top, from L to R): Thailand, Netherlands, Germany; (bottom L to R) = China, Russia, Spain (Castilian), Korea.

I may have a few of these wrong. Feel free to correct me.

Below are the American (at left) and British (at right) editions:

I'm not sure if you can see the covers clearly enough (click to enlarge all photos) to choose a favorite, but if you have one, I'd love to hear what it is.

Monday, June 13, 2011


I would like to write a book as pure and beautiful as this single dogwood blossom. It is not too showy, nor is it drab. The colors are soft, muted. The symmetry is appealing. It is framed by its green leaves and offered up in a simple, elegant white vase.

Makes me marvel, makes me smile.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Birdhouse Wings

My husband's sense of humor . . .

My husband and I spent nearly twenty years working in boarding schools in England and Switzerland, and another eight years at one in the U.S.  When new buildings were built on these campuses, fundraising campaigns sometimes offered large donors (size of donation, not size of donors) a chance to have the building named after them.

For my birthday last year, my husband put up these signs (click to enlarge) on the birdhouse on the front porch.


For another view of this birdhouse/townhouse see last week's post below.

So: question for you today. If a building were named after you, what sort of building would you want it to be?

Friday, June 10, 2011

Porch Residents

This birdhouse hangs on our front porch and was first used by finches, who raised their young and then vacated. The chickadees then swooped in and pulled out all the nesting materials of the finches and 'redecorated,' raising this current flock. (Click to enlarge.*)

The nest on top is from a robin who moved in above the chickadees after already raising one brood over a nearby porch light. The robin apparently prefers this real estate for her next brood. The chickadees do not seem amused and occasionally there are squabbles between the chickadees and robins.

I've had to go out there a couple times and ask them to knock it off.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011


So much world in so small a space. Look at that amazing dandelion. Each of those little white threads ready to fly off, each carrying its own world.  Boggles the mind.  Well, my mind, at least.

I like seemingly simple things: clean close-ups, small impressions, single flowers, 'ordinary' people, though no person is ordinary if you zoom in for a close-up, just as no flower or stone or weed is simple if you lean in and focus.

I like this lettuce, grown right outside my door, so delicate and astounding:

I like this birch bark, with all its convoluted curls:

Many years ago, I read a slim book about an ordinary man, Marcovaldo, by Italo Calvino, and while I was reading I felt as if this book was a doorway with a sign saying, "Come on in," for this was the sort of story I knew I would write--stories about seemingly simple, ordinary people.

If you write, was there a book like that, that opened a door for you?  If you don't write, do you like the simple or the complex?