Hello Shepherd University! Nice of you to visit.
Friday, August 28, 2009
Wednesday, August 26, 2009
Sunday, August 23, 2009
Saturday, August 22, 2009
Friday, August 21, 2009
Thursday, August 20, 2009
Wednesday, August 19, 2009
This morning, a pair of goldfinches attracted by thistles a resident of historic Shepherdstown failed to zap with Round Up, had a good nosh on the thistle seed bar. That happend near the little park soon to be the site of a series of sticky and sweet rock'n'roll concerts. So far the municipality has yet to issue a fatwa on thistles, but hey, everything is possible, n'est-ce pas? I mean, look at who calls the shots. Not a single greeny in the lot.
Momentous news--the municipal administration has installed parking metersnext to Rock'n'roll Park. Parking tickets will no doubt be dispensed, as usual, by the surly meter maid who patrols an area that is all of a four block square in an emormous gas guzzling SUV. The mayor is aware that not everyone in the village agrees with this, but since it is not election year, he feels no compulsion to make any PR gesture.
Monday, August 17, 2009
Sus scrofa domesticus, the homely pig, is not on my list of edibles. That makes me a member of a small minority. Pig farmers and pig butchers may disagree, but I doubt that I am missing much. As far as I know, eating pork does not make one particularly clever. In fact, there are a few Nobel Prize winners who have never partaken of pig flesh. That is not to say that there is a correlation between their diet and their intellectual ability. It is simply a matter of choice.
Saturday, August 15, 2009
It is not a pretty invertebrate to behold. Hugely fat, it oozes over sidewalks, leaving behind a trail of slime. When it finds something to damage--a fragile plant, for example--it begins to nibble at it with its little denticles. It should have a heck of a of a sex life, being hermaphrodite, but sometimes, it can only detach itself from its partner by chewing its genitalia.
Friday, August 14, 2009
Thursday, August 13, 2009
The concept of land stewardship is one elected officials in my village have yet to embrace. Take, for example, the little park in our historic district. It is small--something like an acre and half, at the most. It is the only remain green space within the village proper. As such, it is a haven for wildlife rarely sen in urban settings. Zebra swallowtail butterflies, Baltimore orioles, Carolina wrens, bluebirds, woodthrushes, blue herons, barred owls, pileated, redbellied, flicker and downy woodpeckers, ruby throated hummingbirds, nuthatches, chickadees, snapping and eastern turtles, the occasional black bear, all depend on its fragile ecology.
Through the years, there have been plans to disrupt the ecology of the park. The most pernicious was the proposal to pave over a large section of the park in order to attract skateboarders from Maryland, Pennsylvania and West Virginia. That the person who put forth this plan was a local merchant who made it clear that he intended to profit from an influx of skateboarders raised no eyebrows. Perhaps the fact that the member of the Park and Recreation Board--aka Park and Wreck--who put forth the official proposal was married to merchant should have. It did not and it was only the high cost of liability insurance that kept Town Hall from implementing the proposal.
- I have sent the mayor, town council, The Wildlife Federation and all local newspapers an e-mail about the possible consequences of rock concerts and all high impact activities for the park's fauna and flora.
- I sent the mayor an e-mail suggesting that Town Hall and the local university join with Cornell University to make the park a safe area for urban birds and to focus on educational activities that would not endanger the park's ecology.
- I e-mailed Cornell University for suggestions. Cornell's Urban Bird Project is prepared to contribute educational material to be used in local schools which might result in higher awareness of the park's unique role in local ecology.
- At the suggestion of the Urban Bird project I will be keeping a cyberjournal of events connected with the park's ecology.
- I plan to design a website dedicated to this issue. In that website I will publish my correspondence with Town Hall and I will add a map to the park, photos and information on fauna and flora.
THIS FROM THE DUCHESS RED BLOG,
Tuesday, August 11, 2009
There's a rock concert planned for the little park in our neighborhood. Forget planned! They've been actively promoting it. From what I've been told, the town sprang for electrical hookups in the park and this will allow any and all to use amplifiers for their music.
To say I hate music is absolutely incorrect. Once upon a time, there was a man who went up to the park to play his bagpipes. As it turned out, he was preparing to perform at a wedding. Then there was the elderly man who took his fiddle to the park one spring afternoon. There was also a classmate of mine who went up there to play his banjo, and I suppose there have been other people who have gone to take advantage of the quiet to practice penny whistles. None of them used amplifiers and none of the residents were bothered. So it's really not the music that bothers me, but the fact that if it's amplified, it's impossible to escape without actually fleeing town and/or buying earplugs.
I question the wisdom of the coordinators' choice of venue. A 1.5 acre park at the end of a dead-end street is hardly the right place to have a charity event for a number of reasons--parking, inability of emergency services to get through if needed, impact on residents who may not necessarily want to hear a garage band blasting at top volume, impact on the wildlife who may be terrified, not only of the noise, but also of the people tromping all over their habitat without any thought for what might be living there. The promoters had a number of other options: the university football stadium, the university concert hall, the university's new theatre building, the big park outside of town. All of those have electricity ample parking which would not only allow the tourists to fall out of their cars and into the venue without having to walk two or three blocks through August heat while perspiring and carrying picnic baskets, toddlers, and whatever impedimenta required to enjoy a concert. And yet, the promoters chose the park here. The only reason I can think of is that the venue, if you can call it that, is a mere stone's throw from the commercial district.
For about twenty years, dad's said that the town government's main aim is to further the interests of the two-block commercial district. None of the merchants will benefit from the concert because they're all closing in protest--which I say with heavy irony. Nor are they the ones who are affected by the problem since--surprise--most of them don't live locally, let alone in our neighborhood. Of course, if asked, most of them would probably say it's a wonderful idea to have a steady stream of people listening to a steady stream of amplified noise because it's for a good cause. I think there's a flaw there somewhere. Ahem.
The whole thing reminds me of a scene in As Time Goes By. Lionel has gone to Norwich to plug his book and is unaware that the publisher has presented it as a gritty, nonfiction adventure in which a coffee planter hacks his way through the Kenyan wilderness while slaughtering elephants. In response to the publicity, a number of students attend the lecture in the hope of protesting the apparentatrocities committed against the elephants of Kenya by Lionel-the-elephant-killer. One of the students stands up and says, "Because of you, my children may never see a wild elephant!"
There may not be any wild elephants here, but thanks to the thoughtful people downtown, there are generations yet unborn who might never see an oriole or a bluebird in an urban setting, or hear the foxes barking or the woodpecker knocking. Dramatic? Maybe, but definitely apropos.
Edit: 12:30 August 13- Found this article. Am in total sympathy with the citizens of Prague but doubt that Madonna will cancel her concert just because three thousand people are against it. I wish them luck in their attempt, though!
Tuesday, August 11, 2009
The sweltering summer heat slows down garden work. Writing is a cooler occupation. I am thrilled with the answers I got from Julian Goodwin--please see his interview on my book blog, www.richtexts.blogspot.com--and I am looking forward to hearing from Laura Joh Rowland and Louis de Bernieres. Fiction work is progressing and a nonfiction project in English and Portuguese is taking shape. Bear with me, Blotaniacs. I am working on a review of Wicked Plants, Amy Steward's wonderful treatise on flora that kills. I can tell you upfront that no serious gardening library should be without her scholarly books.
Thou mewling onion-eyed dogfish!
Thou distempered rug-headed snipe!
Thou surly pottle-deep whey-face!
Thou puking pox-marked skainsmate!
Thou gnarling earth-vexing hugger-mugger!
Thou rank sour-faced codpiece!
Thou bawdy tickle-brained coxcomb!
Thou knavish toad-spotted minimus!
Thou warped crook-pated apple-john!Thou dissembling folly-fallen gudgeon!
Thou weedy flap-mouthed rabbit-sucker!
Thou weedy pale-hearted gull-catcher!
Thou vacant hedge-born varlot!
Thou fitful fen-sucked measle!
Thou jarring rump-fed haggard!
Thou cockered dog-hearted crutch!
Thou spongy toad-spotted miscreant!
Alain de Botton lost it when lit crit Caleb Frain of The New York Times Book Review trashed The Pleasures and the Sorrows of Work earlier this year. The e-mail de Botton sent Frain ended with this,
Friday, August 7, 2009
I learnt to bake bread in self defense. That happened thirty some years ago when I was a green arrival to the frozen vastness of North Dakota. At first, the perishingly cold winter nearly did me in. Food tasted flat and unappetising to my Latin American taste buds came close to finishing the job. Most of all, I missed the crisp, warm baguette bakers delivered twice a day to my Brazilian home. In North Dakota, the pale, unnapetising loaves I bought at the supermarket had a mouth feel of ancient papier mache.
Sunday, August 2, 2009
Ever wonder what it is like to rub elbows, cybernatically speaking, with celebrities? I can tell you that it is not an unalloyed pleasure. The good thing is that pleasant or not, one never fails to learn a lesson whenever a very rich person whose much ballyhooed work got global attention treats every day folks disrespectfully. Uncouthness for the hell of it is a powerful tool as attention getter. No one uses it more effectively than a two year-old. In anyone above that age, gratuitous rudeness is less than enchanting. Some rich celebrities, however, seem to have trouble addressing ordinary people. They seem to need to remind those who do not breathe the same rarefied air they do that they are superior intellectually, morally, artistically, what have you.