Archive for the ‘Language and animals’ Category

Can I get you a vole or two?

October 30, 2020

On Facebook, Joelle Stepien Baillard posted an old cartoon (pubished 8/8/94) by New Yorker cartoonist Sam Gross:


A cartoon with a translation from one world to another. There’s the world of cats, in which they go outside to hunt small animals; and then, simultaneously, the world of (human) household relationships, in which someone going out on an errand will often ask if they can get something for the others while they’re out.

That gives us a talking cat.


Patio report 10/25/20

October 26, 2020

Four photos (by Kim Darnell) from yesterday showing the current state of my patio, including a bird feeder pole system and its four stations for feeding birds of different sorts: two more hanging feeders (to add to the three feeders installed previously), a hummingbird feeder, and an open pan, a few feet off the ground, filled with seeds and nuts.


Three comforting presents

October 21, 2020

In very difficult times — my list of physical afflictions has expanded considerably (you don’t really want to hear the details), leaving me little time in the day to write postings on my blog — friends and family have given me presents to comfort me. Three recently (with an advance notice of a fourth to come in the mail in a surprise package).


Unsettling still lifes

October 21, 2020

Caught on a Facebook site that posts reproductions of artworks, Chaïm Soutine’s Still Life with Rayfish (ca. 1924):


The accompanying note:

In this unsettling adaptation of Jean-Siméon Chardin’s The Rayfish (ca. 1725–26), Soutine paired the fish’s bloody entrails with a smiling, almost humanlike mouth. He reanimated the dead ray by concentrating on its vibrant underbelly and used thick, fluid brushstrokes to suggest slick flesh.


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