Friday, May 25, 2018

A bird for Anna

Quick as a humming bird is my love,
Dipping into the hearts of flowers—
She darts so eagerly, swiftly, sweetly
Dipping into the flowers of my heart.
~James Oppenheim

I participated in More than Meets the Eye, Margaret Simon's photo poetry exchange. Thank you, Margaret! And thank you to Jone Rush MacCulloch, who sent me a photo from Oregon of an Anna's hummingbird. Once I looked up Anna's hummingbirds, I was sunk. It was too interesting! I had a hard time stopping my research.

An Anna's hummingbird
by Jone Rush MacCulloch

I found fascinating facts about the hummingbirds themselves, which are the fastest animals on the planet. During their mating rituals, the males will fly straight up over a hundred feet and swoop powerfully down, making a burst of noise at the bottom. Scientists found that when the hummingbird "pulls up at the end of the swoop it experiences forces 10 times the pull of gravity – more than even experienced jet pilots can endure without passing out." I should write a poem about that, or the fact that they are also the fastest shimmy-ers in the world (a slow motion camera "caught the birds performing a micro-shimmy that is 10 times faster than a dog shakes after a bath.") But I got side-tracked by the story of Anna, the Frenchwoman the hummingbird was named for by naturalist René Primevère Lesson. I couldn't help but explore that bit of history.

A bird for Anna

On a four-year voyage
   around the globe,
René catalogued land creatures
   like the kangaroo and boar,
but the ones that
   lingered in his mind
were the ones that soared--
   stunning birds-of-paradise
and the remarkable
   flying jewels--

Anna was a princess
   and the empress'
mistress of the robes,
   the foremost lady-in-waiting.
Anna's husband François studied birds,
   collected thousands.
Like his wife, they were captivating,
   bright, bejeweled,
catching the light,
   sharp and

Although Audubon
   described Anna as a
beautiful young woman,
   extremely graceful and polite,

René would be the one
   to name a shimmering
specimen for her.

New World bird,
   a hardy soul
who remains all year,
   named for an
Old World princess,
   who also stayed home,
beloved of traveling men.


Reflections on the Teche has the Poetry Friday round-up. Thanks, Margaret!

Thursday, May 24, 2018

Haruo Uchiyama

...My passion is to help people connect with wild birds through wood carvings and taking action to save their habitat.
~Haruo Uchiyama

I first heard about Haruo Uchiyama because he makes “Touch Carvings” for the blind. He also helps with preservation activities by making decoys of Short-tailed Albatross and other species, and he designs hand puppets for hand-raising chicks. He has been authorized by the Japanese government as a Modern Master Craftsman. I appreciate that Mr. Uchiyama gave me permission to share his artistry here.

by Haruo Uchiyama

Touch Carvings of Yardstick Birds
For the vision impaired, wild birds are hard to touch and understand. The wood carvings cannot convey the soft, fluffiness of real birds, but they can teach them the difference in shapes, sizes and beak forms, and the name of each feather.
by Haruo Uchiyama

Puppets for Hand Raising Chicks
Lappet-faced Vulture, White Stork, Siberian Crane, Whooping Crane
by Haruo Uchiyama

Family Tree by wood inlay, with bird carvings of the Darwin's Finches
by Haruo Uchiyama

Cranes (Whooping, Manchurian, Siberian white)
by Haruo Uchiyama

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Disability notes

As the years go by, fewer and fewer Americans will appreciate the fact that their forebears were quite happy to elect a handicapped person as president of the United States. We cannot allow the memory of FDR's disability to fade even more. A full picture of this extraordinary American political leader must be given.

We must grasp the fact that every day the president could not get out of bed, get dressed, reach the bathroom or get to his desk without the assistance of another person and a wheelchair. He was totally dependent upon both.
~Curtis Roosevelt, about his grandfather

I'm reading Introducing Disability Studies by Ronald J. Berger and I used a lot of wee sticky notes on the first couple chapters.

Quotes I marked while I was reading:
...impairment refers to a biological or physiological condition that entails the loss of physical, sensory, or cognitive function, and disability refers to an inability to perform a personal or socially necessary task because of that impairment or the societal reaction to it.


...For instance, people who use a wheelchair for mobility due to a physical impairment may only be socially disabled if the buildings to which they require access are architecturally inaccessible. Otherwise, there may be nothing about the impairment that would prevent them from participating fully in the educational, occupational, and other institutional activities of society. Or take the case of visual impairment. Nowadays people who wear eyeglasses or contacts don’t even think of themselves as having an impairment, because these corrective devices have become commonplace. But if it were not for these technological aids, which are now taken for granted, their visual impairments might also be disabilities.


Take the case of facial scarring or disfigurement, “which is a disability of appearance only, a disability constructed totally by stigma and cultural meanings."


All this is to say that it is important to understand “disability” as a social phenomenon, an experience that cannot be reduced to the nature of the physiological impairment. Rather, it is a product of societal attitudes and the social organization of society.


Indeed, most anyone who lives long enough can expect to have an experience with disability before they die. Joseph Shapiro adds that fewer than 15 percent of those who are disabled are actually born with their impairment, and therefore anyone at any time, “as a result of a sudden automobile accident, a fall down a flight of stairs,” or the acquisition of a serious illness, can join the ranks of people with disabilities.


Internationally, the World Health Organization (2011) reported that in 2010 there were more than one billion disabled people around the globe


And John Hockenberry wonders, “Why aren’t people with disabilities a source of reassurance to the general public that although life is unpredictable and circumstances may be unfavorable, versatility and adaptation are possible; they’re built into the coding of human beings.”


Monday, May 21, 2018

This time, baby

Tick, tick, tick, tick on the watch
And life's too short for me to stop
~La Roux

A little dancing this Monday morning with Pomplamoose:

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Poem Your City

There's nothing people like better than being asked an easy question. For some reason, we're flattered when a stranger asks us where Maple Street is in our hometown and we can tell him.
~Andy Rooney

found this when I looked up "hometown"
photo by Hieu Viet Nguyen

A Twitter hashtag from this week -- #PoemYourCity -- resulted in a bunch of wee poems about hometowns. Here are a sampling (I was prone to noticing ones that mentioned writers):


Rev Spunky Blumpkin wrote:

This tag for some will be hard,
However, I'm from Dumfries,
Home of The Bard.
(he included a photo of Robert Burns)


Andy‏ @andymcphalanx 18:

Come and show me another city with lifted head /
singing so proud to be alive and coarse and / strong and cunning.
#poemyourcity has already been done pretty well by Carl Sandburg, I'd say


LisetteInBlue💫‏ @bookgirl8 7:

Here is all you need to know:
We don't have a Trader Joe's.


Jared M. Gordon‏ @JaredMGordon 4:

Consider my city if yours are all flops
I'll be your tipster
But when a city gets two olive oil and vinegar shops
It's reached peak hipster.


Garrett Moe‏ @Garrettmoe 4:

Other cities might be more fabulous
with just cause to walk with a strut
but out here in Indianapolis
at least we had Kurt Vonnegut


Carl Lamy‏ @carllamy 37:

Baltimore, Charm City
The City that Reads
If only the Orioles
Could hold onto a lead
Go O's!


Just Another Pretty Face:

I'd tell you my city,
but witness protection forbids me.


Sloth Reads has the Poetry Friday round-up. Thanks, Rebecca!

The Towering Green

When I go out into the countryside and see the sun and the green and everything flowering, I say to myself "Yes indeed, all that belongs to me!"
~Henri Rousseau

Just one today...

The Avenue in the Park at Saint Cloud
by Henri Rousseau

A Rousseau-inspired ekphrastic poem by me

Wednesday, May 16, 2018


“When you wake up in the morning, Pooh," said Piglet at last, "what's the first thing you say to yourself?"
"What's for breakfast?" said Pooh. "What do you say, Piglet?"
"I say, I wonder what's going to happen exciting today?" said Piglet.
Pooh nodded thoughtfully. "It's the same thing," he said.
― A.A. Milne

Was this a real cereal?

I am a huge fan of le petit dejeuner, so for Wellness Wednesday, I bring you...Breakfast!

In my family, my husband will eat most anything for breakfast, but my kids have definite preferences. For instance, other than cereal, my son likes eggs, sausage or bacon, and grits or oatmeal. My younger daughter likes toad-in-the-hole, waffles, popovers, or crepes. My older daughter likes pancakes, French toast, hash browns, and fruit. One thing that goes over well universally, and is a hit with guests, is quiche.

I started out with the recipe for Easy Broccoli Quiche from Food, Folks, and Fun and tweaked it to suit my needs. I feel like cooking the veg with the onion enhances the flavor (instead of adding the veg raw), but you can do it that way if you want.

Easy Custom Quiche

9-inch store-bought pie crust (I've used regular and gluten-free)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 small onion, diced
2 cups vegetables, diced or cut as small as I have time for (broccoli, spinach, zucchini, mushrooms, whatever you like)
1/2 cup cooked bacon or sausage, diced (optional)
6 oz. cheese, shredded (cheddar is standard, but don't let that stop you from using your favorite)
4 large eggs
2/3 cup half-and-half (or milk)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon garlic (or more, if you're like me)
1/4 teaspoon pepper

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Let pie crust sit at room temp for 10-30 minutes if frozen. Prick crust 25 times with fork. Bake for 9-11 minutes, or until light golden brown.
While pie crust bakes, heat oil in skillet over medium heat. Add onion and cook, stirring occasionally, five minutes or so and then add other vegetables. Cook maybe five or so minutes. Add veg to pie crust, top with meat (if including) and cheese.
In a medium bowl whisk together eggs, yolks, half-and-half, salt, garlic, and pepper until combined. Pour mixture over pie crust. Bake quiche on top of cookie sheet 35-40 minute or until set and a knife inserted in center comes out clean. Move quiche to wire rack and let cool 15 minutes before serving.

What to try next? Here are some I'd like to make. If you make one, let's compare notes.

* Mocha Coffee Cake (Diabetic Living)
* Maple Glazed Pears and Cereal (pretty!) (Also Diabetic Living) (I'm not diabetic, but maybe some of you are, and they look good regardless)
* Dark Chocolate Quinoa Breakfast Bowl (looks great! and they claim it's healthy!)
* Zucchini Bread Oatmeal (am I crazy? this sounds good)
* Banana Peanut Butter Chia Seed Pudding
* Golden Milk (Turmeric Ginger Milk) (an acquired taste?)
* Oatmeal Sconuts (a combo of scones and donuts)
* Egg and Cheese Hash Brown Waffles (I feel like these might not turn out for me, but I'd like to try once)
* Sweet Potato Breakfast Bowl
* Banana Pancake Dippers
* Open-Faced Broiled Egg, Spinach, Tomato Sandwich
* Chorizo, Egg and Potato Breakfast Quesadilla with Chipotle Sauce