Archive for the ‘Language and animals’ Category

More for the birds

September 5, 2020

Elizabeth Daingerfield Zwicky arrived this morning with a collection of astonishing bird-related birthday presents for me: a ground-hugging bird bath, a Water Wiggler for the bird bath, and a hanging metal mesh bird feeder in the shape of a penguin. (There’s always something penguin-related.)

None of these is a standard item for the yard or patio, but Elizabeth has been cultivating birds in her own backyard and now knows a lot about bird gear. (Oddly, though she lives only about six blocks from me, she has bird visitors I do not: hummingbirds, chickadees, and parakeets, in particular).


Little brown birds

August 26, 2020

It starts with a wonderful photo by Elizabeth Daingerfield Zwicky (on Facebook on the 23rd) of a local bird, pretty much the apotheosis of the Little Brown Bird, all brown and nondescript as it flutters around. Until you catch it in (very momentary) repose and get to examine the remarkable details of its plumage:

(#1) The California Towhee (Melozine crissalis)


Creature log in the smoke times

August 25, 2020

On the temperature front, we’re into a period of highs in the 80-85F range, which is merely hot, not drastically hot. The air quality index is down to 127, merely Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups (like me); it was noticeably worse in the morning. The lightning strikes that lit up the night sky seem to have stopped for the moment, at least here. There haven’t been power outages here, and no ash is falling from the sky. So all of this counts as locally, and possibly temporarily, improved, and I judge that to be a blessing, even though it still hurts for me to breathe.

Meanwhile, my creatures — the birds and squirrels — are back to merely feeding, instead of eating ravenously as if the world were coming to an end. I now have two transparent bird feeders attached to the big windows by my work table; the birds that eat from feeders quickly became familiar with the new one, and they now come to the two of them about equally.

Thanks to Kim Darnell and to Elizabeth Daingerfield Zwicky, I’m now stocked up on a large assortment of foods for wild creatures (details to come), and I’m increasingly intrigued by the complexities of squirrel behavior — also challenged by the task of keeping the squirrels happy (they provide me with a giant circus of activity to watch) but out of the way of the birds.


Moments of charm

August 21, 2020

I awoke exceptionally early today, sneezing, eyes and nose running from the smoke still in the air in these parts — this inside my house with the doors and windows closed, and with both an air filter and an air conditioner running. (Fortunately, my neighborhood has not yet suffered one of the power outages occasioned by the high temperatures and fires.)

But I woke to the music of Mozart at his most charming, in his variation pieces for the piano, played by Daniel Barenboim (with great warmth and delicacy). Sweet.

I then went to my computer, to find a tweet yesterday from marine biologist Gina Zwicky (in New Orleans) at her most charming:



August 17, 2020

A commentator on the Imperator Grabpussy at the State of the Union speech on 2/4/20:

he pumps his fist in the air, he peacocks

(Hard to believe that the man believes he is a resplendent, gorgeous creature, an object of aesthetic admiration and desirability to the females of his species — but then the power of self-deception would appear to be boundless.)


August flora and fauna

August 9, 2020

… mostly fauna, the birds and creatures, squirrels especially. From the little world that I see in my long confinement (now into its sixth month), on the narrow patio outside the big window by my work table. The view from that window on 6/27:

(#1) From the inside of the house: the bird feeder, attached to the outside of the window; in the foreground, succulents (notably a silver Echevaria); a planter with tall-standing calla plants; and an assortment of cymbidium orchid plants; with an ivy-covered wall in the background


The Chinese squeaky-pen dog

July 25, 2020

The One Big Happy from 7/2: yet another episode in which Ruthie copes with unfamiliar vocabulary by assimilating it to familiar (but usually not mundane) vocabulary:


Mom says Shar Pei, Ruthie says Sharpie:

/ šàrpé / vs / šárpi /

(different accentual patterns; segmentally identical except for the /e/ vs. /i/ in the final syllable, which are minimally different phonologically)



July 19, 2020

Two items, tenuously related by pigeons: an art exhibition of clay penguins (cf. clay pigeons); and the appearance of a cluster of birds on my patio this afternoon, including a pair of house finches (new to my place) and a mourning dove (the names dove and pigeon don’t correspond to any taxonomic distinction among the columbids), which methodically mined the patio territory for food for half an hour.


Navy flamingos and roseate spoonbills

July 7, 2020

An excellent line of dactylic tetrameter — Navy flamingos and roseate spoonbills — featuring two strikingly pink birds, and these birds on fancifully patterned men’s swimwear and shorts. Then a bonus item that’s not suitable for kids or the sexually modest.

We begin with yesterday’s Daily Jocks ad, for the Elia beachwear company:

(#1) A not entirely human apparition on the beach, a superreal PlasticMan hunk, staring down fixedly at his big (artificially enhanced) package and at the wonderfully playful pink flamingos on his navy-blue swim briefs (note the typo flip fops, which I’ll get to in the bonus section)


Suicidal cats

July 6, 2020

A brief cartoon cat note — I have been pressed with other things, and am just barely hanging on — starting from a FB re-posting of an old  (9/15/12) Bizarro, in French:

(#1) Do not derange yourself; the original English version is soon to come