Sunday, March 29, 2020

Blackbirds ... Everywhere.

While some people mark the coming of Spring by the sighting of the first Robin, in our backyard it's the return of the flocks of Blackbirds and Red Wing Blackbirds.  They swoop in and empty our birdfeeders several times before moving on.

Blackbirds in and near the suet feeder.
While they are visiting, our backyard is full of the trill of birdsong.

A Red Wing Blackbird.

Saturday, March 28, 2020

Book: Margaret Atwood's "Testaments"

My one and only read so far this year was Margaret Atwood's sequel to "The Handmaid's Tail".  "Testaments" takes place a few years after the events of both the original book and the Hulu streaming series.

"Testaments" is a collections of recollections and ... testaments ... from various girls and women in the theocratic authoritarian nation of Gilead.  Many of the testaments are from characters in the streaming series as well as a few from the original book.

When I started reading this book I had a difficult time trying to put the story together.  The chapters, while interesting, seemed disjointed.  This changed as you progressed and the various stories began to weave together to a satisfying cohesive ending.

While the original Handmaid's Tale was a bit dark and dreary, Testaments tried to end the reader with some hope.  I read this before the Pandemic exploded but I would say the ending is a good one for the times we live in teaching us that all bad things, through the work of many, will come to an end someday.

I gave this book four stars out of five on Goodreads because it was interesting and had an uplifting message at its conclusion.

Friday, March 20, 2020

A Bird ...And Not A Bird

Here is another visitor to our backyard feeders.  A Downy Woodpecker at our suet feeder.

A Downy Woodpecker on our Suet feeder.
A new visitor to our backyard was not a bird.  It was a squirrel but not just any squirrel - a black squirrel.  I've seen them in other parts of Omaha and Council Bluffs but this was the first in our backyard.  It's not the best picture but it's the best I could do before he scurried off.

A black squirrel looking for fallen bird seed at the bottom of a fence.
If I get a better picture I'll share it.

Thursday, March 19, 2020

Happy First Day Of Spring?

As I sit in the basement watching movies during the Covid-19 social distancing, I would like to wish everyone a happy first day of spring.

I have to say that I was a bit disappointed in winter.  We had very little snow and unusually warm temperatures - not the type of winter I like.  I like the crisp air and the purity of a freshly fallen snow.  This winter was just drab and dreary.

Now winter is ending with a pandemic that is trying its best to mess up our lives.  The social distancing isn't really changing my life.  Since I returned from the Appalachian Trail I have been a hard core homebody social distancing before it was cool ... or necessary.  The Wife, though, is having a tougher time as all this staying at home is not normal for her.  For her sanity I hope this subsides sooner than later.

I can't wait for this already unending year to be over.  Maybe spring will bring an improvement.

Monday, March 16, 2020

Chilean Patagonia: Magnet Edition

Well, I have no excuse for the delay but finally, over two months after we returned from Chile, I finally photographed and posted the travel magnets from the trip.

You can find them all on the Travel Magnet tab at the top of the blog.  Here are a few favorites:

The local Selknam figure common in the Patagonia area.
A fury rhea.
Torres del Paine national Park hand painted embellished with sand and crystals.
From the protests in Santiago, the Cacerola.

Sunday, March 08, 2020

The Endless Jerking Around Of Time

If you haven't already, set your clocks ahead an hour for daylight savings time.  This has become less relevant in this world of cellphones and clocks that set themselves.

End the endless back and forth cycle - take back our time!
Frankly, I wish they would pick a time and just stick with it all year.  This switching back and forth twice a year seems silly.

While we are talking about time, how about eliminating two time zones in the US?  Merge the Pacific and Mountain time zones and merge the Central and Eastern Time zones.  This would simplify a lot frankly.  Heck, if China can have one time zone for the entire country surely we can reduce ours from four to two.

Now I just need to find that lost hour of sleep.

Friday, March 06, 2020

Photograph: "Sunbeam Flowers"

Silk flowers caught in a sunbeam.

"Sunbeam Flowers"
by Bruce H.

Saturday, February 29, 2020

Happy Leap Day And A Photograph: "Concrete Steps"

I hope everyone enjoyed/is enjoying the extra day this year.  It's a beautiful one here in Omaha with sunny skies and unusual warmth for February so the Wife and I went out for lunch followed by antiquing.

"Concrete Steps"
by Bruce H.
The person who left these prints should have leaped a little farther.

Saturday, February 22, 2020

Bird Nerdy

I have to admit that I am getting bird nerdy as I get older.  I feed the birds in our backyard and have accumulated quite a following of birds there.  Over the last year or so I have played around with the birdseed mixture as well as added new feeders with different foods.  I now have three feeders: a standard one with a mix of birdseed, a suet feeder, and a thistle seed feeder.

In the past year our usual sparrows and mourning doves have been joined by goldfinches (who like the thistle seed), downy woodpeckers(who like the suet), cardinals (who go for the Cardinal mix in my main feeder), and, more recently, robins and blue jays.  I'm excited about the Jays since I have seen them very rarely in our yard but I've seen one twice in the last three days so I'm hoping it/they stay.

A hawk squatting on a light pole behind our house.
Also attracted to our backyard, and the new street light poles the city has installed behind out house, is a hawk that, I expect, is hunting critters that feed off the seed that falls from the feeders.

I will have to try to get some pictures to post as I discover new birds checking out our yard.

Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Chilean Patagonia: Days Seven And Eight - The Way Home

Day Six:  On our last partial day in Patagonia we took a free shuttle into town for the last gasp of our sightseeing and shopping.  We visited the modest church and a few stores we'd stopped at a few days earlier to finish off our shopping list ... mostly.

After a lunch at our hotel we were taken to the airport for our mid afternoon flight to Santiago (the flight where I left my fleece).  We were picked up at the airport by the same guide who's helped us nearly a week earlier.

We ate dinner at our hotel's rooftop bar before walking to our favorite ice cream shop in Santiago.

Day Seven:  Our flight home didn't leave until the evening so we had a free day in the city.  The Wife had one task - buy Cuban cigars for her brother.  It now seems to be a custom since we've bought them in Cuba, Canada, and now Chile - all the 'C' countries.

The Wife had asked our guide about the easiest way to get to the Casa de Habano cigar store.  She suggested we take the subway.  She also suggested take the subway to a market connected to a church.  Her suggestions became our last day itinerary.

We walked a couple blocks to the subway and rode it to the end of the line.  A short, and hot, one block walk took us to the market.  We ate lunch in a restaurant connected to the market before we dropped some more money here buying some rather unique pieces for our collection.

There was a funeral going on in the church so we couldn't go in so we got back on the subway and headed to the Casa de Habano.  This was a longer walk from the station and I was sweating by the time we got there.  The Wife pulled out her brother's list and impressed everyone with her brother's taste in cigars.

After the cigar shop we stopped at an ice cream place.  It was good but not nearly as good as our favorite.  Our guide had suggested another ice cream place but we didn't see it until after we'd had our ice creams.

A subway ride took us back to the hotel's neighborhood.  On the walk back we browsed through the protest stickers and found some more treasures.  I'll have to share one or two in future posts.

Cat on a chill tin roof.
The rest was uneventful. They took us to the airport where we caught our red-eye flight back to the States.

A peacock displaying his finest at the church market.
It turned out to be a nice relaxing trip.  It is the southernmost the Wife and I have ever been.  The opposite of last year's trip to Iceland geography wise.  I think next Christmas we'll stay home.  I kinda miss being home during that time of the year.

Pictures can be found in my 2019-2020 Chilean Patagonia Google Photos album.