Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Bird Books, Birthed Book, and Some Others

A side benefit of letting the pile of books grow before sitting down and blogging about them is that I no longer remember what I had to say about most of them.  It makes catching up quicker, if considerably less meaningful.

I read a string of books in the fall that felt like absolutely the right book at the right time.  Stork by Wendy DeSol was chopped full of bird symbolism, included unexpectedly weird mythological fantasy, and was a fun read full of modern teenage angst and Starbucks marketing. The Mockingbirds by Daisy Whitney had me crying about the prevalence of sexual assault while longing to re-read To Kill a Mockingbird, which is directly references. Like those two, I think I picked up The Valley of the Moon by Melanie Gideon because it had a bird on the cover (and the moon, making it a glow year book) but I found the pro-botanical time travel book to be remarkable, if not as light as I anticipated.

I was reluctant to read A Book About Love by Jonah Lehrer that M sent me because somehow I couldn't see what there was left to say about love/was feeling pretty good about where I stand in loving relationships/have read a lot of well-written stuff concerning research into parenting, marriage, and happiness.  But then I started reading because I love my friends and I love receiving books and suddenly this one resonated.  I'm still unsure how to decode messages God and the Universe send through the books I read, but feel fairly certain I received a message there.

Speaking about books about love, Love and Gelato by Jenna Evans Welch was great fun, or at least as much fun as a reasonably sensitive book about being sixteen and raised by a single mother who just died can be.  The characters eat a lot in Italy, which made me like them (people go to Italy for many reasons, but there are two reasons they stay: love and gelato), and they did things that just made me feel old.  The teenage narrator reads through her mother's notebooks, and finds her mother's thoughts when she (the mother) received e-mails from admissions in study abroad programs long before the narrator was born.  I bristled at the author for such a blatant anachronism-- until I realized that the book was published this year so the dead mother was studying abroad in 1997 or so.  She certainly could have received an e-mail.  And I know she is fictional, but I still found it disturbing to be older than the now dead mother.

Speaking about gift books, Wonder by R.J. Palacio is great, if it captures 5th and 9th grade a bit too well.  I'm closing bird year out with great gifts  The Big Year and Chicken (with library books Goldfinch and The Nightingale also on the pile).

I should also shout out Birthed: Finding Grace through Infertility by Elizabeth Evans Hagan (more information here) and After the Crown by K.B. Wagers.  The books have the common trait of being very-well done and having been written by someone I know.  And not much else, but both are good.

I just remembered There Will Be Bears which I also read, despite being about bears and not birds.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

I thought I saw a pussy hat . .

"I did, I did.  I saw many hundred pussy hats."

I know that you can watch the news and see aerial photographs of the crowds today in D.C. and Chicago and L.A. and even the over 100,000 people who rallied in Denver.

Pussy hat made from old clothes during the ice storm
It's okay if it looks like unbalanced pig ears,
most of the others didn't really look like cats either.
You can't see the photos from Oklahoma City because the helicopters were not there.  But we were.  Apparently about 6,000* of us.  Enough of us that the we more than filled the entire loop route of the march-- the back of the line hadn't started moving when the front returned.  We were there. In Oklahoma City.

And on my facebook page alone, you will not only see my friends marching in D.C., NY, Chicago, and Denver, but also friends marching in Hartford, Pittsburgh, New Orleans, Charleston (the capital of West Virginia), Atlanta (where the marchers high-fived the police officers as they walked by), St. Louis, Oakland, Raleigh, Augusta, Maine, Omaha, and Topeka.

We are here.  We love our country.  And our rights are not up for grabs.

And since I'm apparently posting sign slogans rather than original writing, I'll close with:
Love, not hate, is what makes American great.

*ETA 1/22/2017  Better estimates are closer to 12,000 of us!

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Representing me and 25,000 other households in my demographic

In 2005, the Mister and I were a television family for a major viewership tracking rating system, but only for the Kansas City ratings, not the national numbers.  We were told that we were representing 25,000 other households in our demographic in the Kansas City area.
This floored us.
There were 25,000 other families like us?  In Kansas City?   Who knew?

When I've asked friend to join me marching on Saturday, the looks have been similarly quizzical.  "Here?  In Oklahoma?  There are feminists in Oklahoma?"

My list of why I will march is a hodgepodge of stock answers, from the importance of women's rights as human rights to the power of peaceful assembly, mixed with personal stories.

But mostly it comes down to wanting to proclaim to the world (including the officials elected to represent us) that we are here.  And to proclaim to my neighbors and students and colleagues down the hall that they are not alone.  That there are many of us here.  Yes, here.  In Oklahoma.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Poultry Fowl

Yep, "Poultry Fowl' is intended to be a pun on "party foul" but it doesn't really make sense.  It's the alternative title because I was afraid that the original, "Eating Birds" has some sexual connotation that I'm too naive to know about.

During bird year, I have eaten chicken, cornish game hens, quail, goose, duck, pheasant, and turkey at home.  Almost all of these have been roasted by The Mister, who is both a great cook and a great companion.

Cranberry walnut, pumpkin, chocolate pecan and mincemeat
Here's the turducken breast he roasted in New Mexico for our "we're going to be away so we should keep it simple" four-pie Thanksgiving meal (A traditional (??) turducken is a whole chicken stuffed inside a duck stuffed inside a turkey. We bought a product labeled as "turducken breast" which included lots of bacon in addition to meat from the three birds.
 Also pictured are the beer can duck being roasted (after having been dried for two days) on its way to becoming Peking Duck with little Mandarin pancakes and three new radishes I bought at the Asian grocer in Denver.

Peeking at the Peking Duck
Korean radish, Chinese daikon and Yuan radish, I believe.
The middle one was pithy but the other two types excellent

Monday, January 16, 2017

On Eagles

I need to get back to blogging-- we've had turducken, chicken lollipops, and Peking Duck; there are posts to be written about books concerning turkeys, infertility and love (yes M, I received the book and owe you many thanks and a bunch of correspondence); I've seen falcons, geese, hawks, and a flock of very little birds eating the seeds off my lawn during the current "icepacolypse"; and then there is a whole YA subgenre of books that reference "To Kill a Mockingbird" and I've read several.

I've been busy, bird wise and otherwise, but I've also avoided blogging because I simultaneously feel I must talk about politics and simultaneously I feel I don't have anything to say.  So maybe I'll talk about eagles.

Bald Eagles are a symbol of the country I live in and love.  They are magnificent birds and I have seen many in my adult life-- in and around waterways and forests in Colorado, California, Utah, Kansas, Oklahoma, British Columbia, and Alberta, and I'm pretty sure I saw one flapping against the wind as I drove past Mount Sunflower two weeks ago.  Eagles are scavengers.  Females are bigger than males.  Pairs return to the same nest year after year, adding sticks until a single nest can weigh over a ton.  And they normally don't kill their siblings*.  It takes them just a few months to go from fluff ball to awkward to soaring, yet several years to grow into their adult plumage.  They are fun birds to observe.

Most of the twenty-year-olds in my ecology class have seen a bald eagle in the wild, which wasn't the case when I was a college student back before they were born.  In the 1980s, eagle sighting were for serious bird-watchers or people who went to Alaska.  The recent abundance of eagles can be attributed to the banning of DDT and habitat protection following listing on the Endangered Species Act of 1973 (part of the Fish and Wildlife Service, which falls under the Department of the Interior, but much associated with the Environmental Protection Agency, which also came into being under the Nixon administration).  Based on information from the Raptor Center at the University of Minnesota, banning lead shot in waterfowl has not reduced the percentage of eagles suffering from lead poisoning as much as anticipated, perhaps because eagles also scavenge from injured rodents and deer who can still be shot with lead (science, as it happens is a never ending process).  Bald Eagle populations have recovered so well that they were de-listed in 2007.
Oklahoma City Zoo, MLK Day 2017***

The recovery of the eagle population, like the air quality in Denver, which is much better than when I was growing up, despite several hundred thousand more people in the area, is due to science and legislation.  I know nobody with polio.  I have friends in mixed race marriages with beautiful children and friends who I karaoked** with in the late '90s who can finally legally care for each other in the hospital as a spouse.  Among the many worries I have as a parent of a child who was born a stroke survivor, I have not worried about being tied to a particular job because under some rules my son was uninsurable.  Had he been born ten years earlier I would have been****.  These are all due to convergences of science, technology, policy and legislation, compassionate decision making and someone's hard work.  Great things can happen when we work together.

Just as I am not being "anti" anything when I do my work job and talk about the correlation between atmospheric carbon dioxide and global temperature (despite what my snowball wielding senator might think), I am not being a whiny loser (despite what my President Elect might Tweet) when I do my citizen job and remind those elected to represent me that what they do matters.

Obviously, (I hope) what you do matters as well.  The country we want is not just up to our elected officials, It never has been. Like it or not, we're all in it, too.  Let's give it our best.

The bald eagles and all they represent will be on my mind as I march Saturday.

*Successful herons apparently routinely kill their siblings.  MB, I did not choose them as a symbol for that reason.

**I watched.

***Aster asked why this Eagle did not fly away at the zoo today.  I mentioned that only hurt eagles are in captivity and we read that this eagle was shot in the wing.  "Why would anyone shoot an eagle?" asked Aster.  I do not know.

****And yes, am again now.  And no, that the president-elect has told me not to be worried is really not reassuring.