Hello, May

May. 1st, 2017 06:12 pm
nightdog_barks: Illustration close-up of an owl's face (Owl Face)
Yesterday was my birthday. Just as I get the hang of being 58, I have to start working on 59.

Weather was beautiful today, and I saw a pair of scissor-tailed flycatchers perched on a telephone line while I was out. :D

Grey Jay

Apr. 13th, 2017 07:02 pm
nightdog_barks: Illustrated head of an Eastern Screech Owl (Eastern screech owl)
Saw this on Twitter today -- somewhere in Canada, a grey jay does what it does best. :D

BONUS: A woodpecker hitches a ride in Chicago. *g*

New Guest

Mar. 17th, 2017 04:14 pm
nightdog_barks: (Nancy D.)
... okay, so that tiny wren cave/nest I described on March 5th, and said that I didn't really know if they were using it?

They're using it. There's at least one teeny-tiny egg inside. (One of the wrens and I scared the hell out of each other while I was watering around the lemongrass pot, and so I got our little Fenix flashlight and peeked inside.)
nightdog_barks: (Oak Leaves)
The windows are open because it is 76 degrees here (24.4 Celsius). Just this afternoon I've seen chickadees, house finches, and bluebirds in our backyard. The bluebirds are especially pretty. I actually thought I might see Early Girl tomato plants for sale at Sprouts yesterday.

Finished reading Michael Chabon's Moonglow, and yes, I liked it a lot. But (is there always a but?) Chabon's narrative device kept me from being fully immersed in the story. What we have is something along the lines of Big Fish, where a father tells the story of his life to his son, except in Moonglow it's a grandfather telling the stories. And ... that, for all intents and purposes, is the character's name. He's my grandfather, and the other characters are my grandmother and my mother. Some of the secondary characters have names, but the main triad is nameless for 99% of the book (I think we learn the grandmother's name very late, but to me it wasn't clear if that was her or not). Anyway, this kept tripping me up. I mean, I guess I shouldn't have had a problem, but I did. Also there were a couple of points in the narration that seemed to be either bad editing or plot holes or Chabon indicating an unreliable narrator -- one of them was explained near the end, the other wasn't (a character who had two eyes, about 10 pages later, only had one). ANYWAY. It's a good read (some of the writing is just exquisite), but I think I liked Kavalier & Clay better.

Now I am reading Iron Towns, by Anthony Cartwright, and it is short and pretty good.

And because I am a Tom Hardy fan, I watched Taboo last night on FX. I like dark, gritty, and silly, so I thought it was great. :D

Birds

Nov. 17th, 2016 02:38 pm
nightdog_barks: Illustrated close-up of a bird's head grasping a red berry in its beak (Bird with Berry)
So here is a live bird-feeder cam from the Sabal Palm Sanctuary, which is near Brownsville, Texas, in the Rio Grande Valley. So far I've seen titmice, mourning doves, and green jays. The jays are really striking -- blue heads, a black "necklace," and long green bodies.

http://sabalpalmsanctuary.org/feedercam/
nightdog_barks: Drawing of a coyote (Coyote)
1) I take Layla for her nightly walk pretty late, and by late I mean around midnight. This time of year, it's cooler. So anyway, last night we're on our walk, and as usual the neighborhood is dark and quiet. However, on a side street (we go down it every night to make a loop) I notice there's a big box by the curb. In the street, up against the curb. So we go over to take a look, and at first I think it's a really big stereo speaker, but then I see that it's a piece of furniture. It's a wooden chest of drawers. (When I was a little kid I called them "chester drawers," heh.) Anyway, it's about five feet tall, and it's a ... chest of drawers.

With clothes in it.

I carry a little flashlight at night, and in every drawer, I could see clothing. (I didn't open any of the drawers.)

So there's a chest of drawers, in the street, with clothes in it.

IDK, chiclets. I just don't know.

2) There are hummingbirds coming to the new feeder! I am pleasantly astonished and delighted every time I see one. THEY ARE SO TINY. :D

3) Everyone pretend there is a #3 here.
nightdog_barks: (House Reading)
So there is a fic Career Day Challenge over at [livejournal.com profile] house_wilson, and it reminded me of a fic from back in the day -- a story where either House or Wilson (or both?) was a tailor. Does anyone else remember this? Or am I imagining things? All I have is a super-vague recollection of one of them ... being a tailor. In a tailor's shop.

EDITING TO ADD that perhaps the tailor shop was a cover? And everyone was really part of a spy organization? Which, I know, sounds kind of like Kingsman, but this was years and years ago, way before the movie.

OTHERWISE. Warm and sunny here after some much-needed rain. I have seen a couple of hummingbirds in the past week, so today I hung a hummingbird feeder in the backyard. Also on our nightly walks I have FINALLY started seeing wildlife again -- so far just armadillos and cottontails.

I am reading Christopher Buehlman's Those Across the River, which is about weird happenings and family secrets in the Depression-era American South. It is obvious the narrator is one of those people who Can Not Leave Well Enough Alone. :D

Music

Jul. 24th, 2016 12:11 am
nightdog_barks: Painting study of a sparrow in flight against an off-white background (Sparrow Flight)
Just because I never noticed before how the piano notes at the very end sound like a birdsong.

Easter Dog

Mar. 27th, 2016 03:43 pm
nightdog_barks: 1930s movie poster of Buster Crabbe and a lion (Movie Poster -- Jungle Man)
Three pics of Layla that I took this afternoon are under the cut.

Read more... )

OTHERWISE. One of the Early Girl tomatoes is turning red, and we have three or four baby peppers on the Santa Fe Grande plants. Also we had a Great Visitation of Birds yesterday -- cedar waxwings (a wrath of waxwings?), bright red cardinals, wrens, and sparrows.

Oh, and we made this granola recipe today and omg it smells SO GOOD. We cut the recipe in half (we DO NOT NEED nine cups of granola) and substituted chopped pecans for the pistachios. It only took about 30 minutes to bake in our oven. Really looking forward to trying it tomorrow morning. :D

ETA that we couldn't wait and tried a bit of the granola by itself, and OMG IT IS DELICIOUS. :D
nightdog_barks: Illustration close-up of an owl's face (Owl Face)
This is the fifth or sixth gloomy, dark day in a row. The dragon has swallowed the Sun and we will never see it again. :-P

Finished Joe Hill's Heart-Shaped Box and loved it. Now re-reading Mark Helprin's Winter's Tale -- I read it when it came out in 1983, but I caught some of the recent movie version last week and was appalled, so I wanted to make sure I wasn't mis-remembering the book. And I wasn't -- the book is still terrific; it's the movie that's awful. :D

Have been seeing Eastern bluebirds in our backyard -- they are gorgeous little birds.

Monday

Aug. 18th, 2014 01:52 pm
nightdog_barks: Illustrated close-up of a bird's head grasping a red berry in its beak (Bird with Berry)
RAIN yesterday, and lots of it! And to go along with the rain, an astounding burst of avian activity in the backyard. Robins, mourning doves, white-winged doves, house finches, chickadees, titmice, wrens, blue jays, and cardinals, in and out of the yard and at the feeder all day. You can almost see the seed level in the feeder dropping as you look at it. :D

Still have not read the last chapter of In the Light of What We Know. I'm a bit less than halfway through Thomas Keneally's The Daughters of Mars, which is about two Australian nurses with a Deep Family Secret, serving in WWI. So far it's pretty good, although it's one of those novels where the author doesn't use quotation marks for dialogue so that takes some getting used to.

Hm. I wonder if anyone's ever written a Housefic without dialogue marks? (And I don't mean a dialogue-only fic; I've seen plenty of those.) That could be interesting.

Saturday

Jun. 21st, 2014 03:22 pm
nightdog_barks: (Oak Leaves)
Ugh, edging into summer with temperatures creeping up.

Finally finished Gettysburg and it was terrific. I do think it is a bit too dense in parts, with Guelzo describing troop movements that are very hard to picture from words alone, but the vignettes of individual soldiers are just wonderful. Cases in point: The drunken quartermaster who said "Listen to the mockingbird!" during an artillery barrage. The Union gunners who ran circles around their cannons, waving their arms, to try and clear some of the smoke. Major General George Pickett (world-class nonentity) who cried out "My division! Where is my division?" after sending his men into the teeth of the Union defense. And the Confederate officer who sniffed, "If I'd known how few of you there were I never would've surrendered," and the Union officer snarling, "Come back and try again."

For every Southern boy fourteen years old, not once but whenever he wants it, there is the instant when it's still not yet two o'clock on that July afternoon in 1863, the brigades are in position behind the rail fence, the guns are laid and ready in the woods and the furled flags are already loosened to break out and Pickett himself with his long oiled ringlets and his hat in one hand probably and his sword in the other looking up the hill waiting for Longstreet to give the word and it's all in the balance, it hasn't happened yet, it hasn't even begun yet, it not only hasn't begun yet but there is still time for it not to begin against that position and those circumstances which made more men than Garnett and Kemper and Armistead and Wilcox look grave yet it's going to begin, we all know that, we have come too far with too much at stake and that moment doesn't need even a fourteen-year-old boy to think This time. Maybe this time with all this much to lose than all this much to gain: Pennsylvania, Maryland, the world, the golden dome of Washington itself to crown with desperate and unbelievable victory the desperate gamble, the cast made two years ago.

-- William Faulkner, Intruder in the Dust, 1948

Started reading Stephen King's newest, Mr. Mercedes. I was very much on the fence about this one -- I didn't like Joyland at all and I thought Doctor Sleep fizzled like a wet squib, but then I was in Target and there it was, so I got it. :D

Saw a young white-winged dove in the backyard today, which surprised me. Usually they're just here for the spring. The chickadees and titmice have been voracious and I had to refill the feeder.

Blackmare and I have been working on more stories.
nightdog_barks: (Tomatoes)
So tired after a seemingly ENDLESS anxiety dream last night, in which I was trying to shut down my laptop by entering =x on the command lines, but every time I managed to close one tab, another would open. Maddening and annoying, and it didn't help that in the dream there were guys in our backyard digging huge holes. There was also something about using a cereal box as a nightlight and frying apple slices in butter and soy sauce (not making any of this up) so IDEK BRAIN.

Wildlife: I saw a ladybug this morning. Also the tiny baby spiny lizards are starting to appear, and I saw a Cooper's hawk on our neighbor's fencepost yesterday. :D

Gardening: There is a little baby tomato on one of the Early Girl plants, which, if it succeeds, will be one more than we got the whole of last year. Also the rest of the tomatoes (Black Prince, Caspian Pink, and Lemon Boy) all look good, as do the two pittypat squash plants.

Reading: I'm about three-quarters of the way through Peter Matthiessen's Shadow Country, which is his one-volume version of his novels Killing Mister Watson, Lost Man’s River, and Bone by Bone, and it is just terrific.

Eh, I think that's all I've got for now.

Friday

Jan. 31st, 2014 02:20 pm
nightdog_barks: (Red Bird)
NOT cold today; in fact it is ridiculously warm.

1) Yesterday our backyard was a veritable aviary! I saw cedar waxwings, eastern bluebirds, chipping sparrows (so tiny!), and juncos. Oh, and the big red-bellied woodpecker who visits the feeder sometimes when he's not hanging on a tree.

2) Last night I dreamed I was talking to a young woman who'd written a Housefic about House being an insurance agent. I was trying to tell her that I'd also written a story about House being an insurance agent, but she wasn't interested. Mmm-kay, brain.

3) Finished Tolkien's The Two Towers. You guys, Shelob the giant spider? Is like A HUNDRED TIMES SCARIER than in the movie. YIKES.

4) Started Richard Powers' Orfeo. Really good so far.

5) I printed off a paper address label for a package and was taping it to the package and now there's a long Chango hair under the tape. Oops. :D

There. Five things etc.

Sunday

Nov. 24th, 2013 04:23 pm
nightdog_barks: (Winter tree)
Cold and damp and very grey. Have already had some freezing drizzle, but the big round is supposed to come after midnight tonight and make for a terrifying commute tomorrow morning. Lots of birds out this morning, though -- cardinals, a mockingbird, a large woodpecker, wrens, mourning doves. Stubtail the Squirrel was also out, rooting around in the grass. AND! I forgot to mention that yesterday, while we were watching "Day of the Doctor," a HUGE RED-TAILED HAWK appeared out of nowhere and landed on our fence and was entirely disdainful of everything around him. "Well, now we know where all our rabbits went," I said to Mister Nightdog, and just as he was trying to take a picture, away the hawk flew with a majestic flapping of wings.

Anyway. Finished Martin Cruz Smith's Tatiana, and I would recommend it as a good, short read. In this case I think its length works well for the story, keeping it tight and moving forward. So, yes. :D

Sunday

Aug. 18th, 2013 04:53 pm
nightdog_barks: (Ka-blam Calvin)
We can haz new refrigerator! Bought it today at Home Depot, supposed to be delivered Tuesday. YAY.

Sunny and warm. Marinating tandoori chicken to grill for dinner. More birds have been showing up in our backyard -- today there have been white-winged doves, wrens, chickadees, cardinals, and blue jays. Started reading Alistair Horne's The Fall of Paris: The Siege and the Commune, 1870-71.

Saturday

Jun. 29th, 2013 03:21 pm
nightdog_barks: (Burning Book)
So I finished Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie's Americanah and while I really liked 90% of it, I thought it got kind of soap-opera-ish in the middle (the main character's boyfriends are pretty much too perfect) and the ending felt tacked-on. Is it worth reading? Absolutely. Most of it is completely riveting, and it reminded me in a way of Chad Harbach's The Art of Fielding, in that Americanah is a story whose world a reader can get totally immersed in.

Also I am about three-quarters of the way through Karen Joy Fowler's We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves, which is essentially about a young woman trying to recover from the sudden loss (in her childhood) of a unique family member (her sister), and ... wow. So far this is one of the four or five best books I've read this year, and if it holds up all the way through, I can easily see it being on a shortlist for the National Book Award.

Otherwise it is hot and sunny. Need to fold and put away laundry, probably going to roast a chicken for dinner. And speaking of birds, we had one of these in our backyard the other day -- a roadrunner. We see them occasionally in the neighborhood. This one was chasing the blue jays who were trying to eat the dried corn I have scattered around, and making runs at an annoyed squirrel who also wanted to eat. Then it (the roadrunner) tried some of the corn itself and decided it didn't like it, but persisted in chasing the jays and squirrel. So generally it was being a dick. I thought perhaps it was a youngster wanting to establish territory, but who knows. *g*

So that's it.

Friday

Apr. 5th, 2013 02:51 pm
nightdog_barks: (Sun)
SUN YOU ARE A WELCOME SIGHT AFTER THESE DAYS OF GLOOM. Still damp and a little cool outside, but ye gods the sun is such a relief.

Discovered this morning that we have a mourning dove nest in a gutter under a sheltering eave over our front porch. There are at least two active chicks in it, stretching their little heads up, mouths open to be fed as mama watched me warily (I was probably just a moving shadow through the window glass by the door). Also, something sneaked onto our deck last night and made off with some lettuce from the pot. While we're willing to share, I hope it was something soft and cuddly like a bunny rabbit. ;-)
nightdog_barks: (Bird Crow)
So yesterday was pretty much blah and not worth remembering? NOT SO THIS MORNING, because I saw one of THESE:

Photobucket

YOU GUYS. THAT IS A GREAT HORNED OWL. OMG. I heard blue jays squawking, and then they were joined by an entire consortium of crows, both sets of birds shouting at the tops of their little avian lungs. So I got up to see what the hell was going on, and they were all in our neighbor's tree by our back yard, along with the owl. Who was just sitting there, being all dignified, swiveling his head every now and then to glare at the crows. I grabbed my binoculars and focused in, and the owl looked at me. He saw me, of this I am absolutely sure. Chango couldn't figure out why the crows were yelling -- she kept looking back and forth at them and at me, and finally decided it might be safer to stand behind me. *g* I stepped out onto the deck, and everyone took flight. The crows pursued the owl, still fussing and calling, until I couldn't hear them anymore.

It was so frickin' awesome.

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September 2017

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What I'm Reading Now

Fiction
The Magician King, by Lev Grossman

Nonfiction
Alligator Candy: A Memoir, by David Kushner

Jerusalem: The Biography, by Simon Sebag Montefiore

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