Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Three men where?

For some reason this evening, I remembered the phrase "Rub a dub dub," and I was able to come up with the next line, "Three men in a tub." But I couldn't remember what came next. I said the couplet a few times.

Rub a dub dub, 
Three men in a tub. 
.... ?

I did say to myself at one point, "Well, now, I wonder if they are the butcher, the baker, and the candlestick-maker." So I googled it, and, yes, that's exactly who they were.

Rub a dub dub,
Three men in a tub:
And who do you think they be?
The butcher, the baker,
The candlestick-maker;
Turn 'em out, knaves all three!

The Nursery Rhyme Book

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Affability and condescension

Read an article in the New Yorker, The First Church of Marilynne Robinson, by a Mark O'Connell. Admitting "borderline hostility" to religion, after quoting a luminous passage from her beautiful novel Gilead, he says,

This is not the kind of voice I normally associate with religious people, and it makes me wonder whether we might not be listening to the wrong voices. (A resolution: instead of clicking links to stories about the Westboro Baptist Church condemning, say, the Foo Fighters to the eternal flames of perdition, I’ll read a paragraph or two of an essay by Robinson instead.)

I don't know. As a Christian, an attitude that most religious people stink but Marilynne Robinson smells like a rose can't help but offend me. I don't know if I'd feel flattered by this article even if I were Marilynne Robinson. He basically says, "Usually I can't stand people like you, but I like you."

Then there's this:

Robinson is a Calvinist, but her spiritual sensibility is richly inclusive and non-dogmatic. There’s little talk about sin or damnation in her writing, but a lot about forgiveness and tolerance and kindness. Hers is the sort of Christianity, I suppose, that Christ could probably get behind.

I haven't seen such condescension since Lady Catherine de Bourgh invited the Collinses to tea, especially that last sentence. It reminds me of the story that there once was a contest to see who could write the most pretentious opening for an essay. The winner was: "As Jesus Christ once said (and rightly so) ..."

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Empty nest

Checked the nest yesterday in the evening, and it looked empty. I guess those birds have flown.

He that hath found some fledged bird’s nest, may know
At first sight, if the bird be flown;
But what fair well or grove he sings in now,
That is to him unknown.

Beyond the Veil, Henry Vaughan (1622-1695)

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Rainy June

Last night, I decided to give the poor little birds a rest from my camera flash.

It's a rainy, cool morning -- typical June weather in Lynden. I saw in an e-mail from a California friend that it may be 100 degrees in the San Jose region. Meanwhile, today we are predicted a high of 61 in Lynden. I prefer my weather, although I wouldn't mind a little sunshine. Maybe in July.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Wriggly and fuzzy

I checked on my dad's strawberries today. On a half-eaten leaf was a caterpillar! Caterpillars are almost cute, for bugs, but they are also creepy. Feeling no ill-will but wanting to spare the strawberry plant, I broke off the leaf cluster the caterpillar was on and dropped it off the upstairs deck out onto the lawn. I looked again, and there was another caterpillar on a stem! I broke off the stem below the caterpillar and again sent it wafting over the deck railing to the yard below. I hope they are willing to eat grass and don't come crawling over to the lower deck, where my flowers are.

Another day

Another baby robin picture. Its eyes are open, and a sibling's beak points up out of the nest on the right side.

I feel kind of guilty using my bright flash, but it's only for a second, then I go away again.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Baby picture

See its beak at the top left of the nest? And its closed eye? And some portion of its sibling on the right.

I did have to stick my camera up there and use my flash for this picture. Later, when I was giving Miracle-Gro to my plants nearby, the parent flew away leaving a wide-open beak waiting for food. The beak shut after a few minutes. No peeping. I guess they stay quiet so predators won't know they're there.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Eye-popping poppies

I went to visit my sister-in-law yesterday afternoon, and in her garden were the most enormous poppies I have ever seen. I had her stand in the picture for scale.

And here is a glimpse of the heart of a giant poppy.

A cluster of them. Many had multiple bees buzzing around in them.

Baby treats

I went outside yesterday afternoon to check on the robins. Still no baby beaks poking over the edge of the nest.

But still busy parent birds bringing treats -- such as worms! -- to the nest.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Are they there?

I have seen the robins flying around with what very well may be bugs and other protein sources in their mouth, so I wondered if the baby robins hatched. When I went outside and lurked near the nest I did not see or hear any babies. I googled for information, and didn't find any for sure, but it seems that maybe baby robins don't make noise, at least at first. And I can't actually see into the nest. I'm not willing to agitate the parents by getting my step ladder and climbing up to look.

Since I couldn't get any cute robin pictures, I took one of the saxifraga in bloom.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

For the county

Whoa. While I was trying to think of something to write, I nearly dozed off. So, for your viewing and listening pleasure, Glen Campbell, singing "Wichita Lineman."

For reasons I won't get into now, it was the line "I am a lineman for the county" that made me decide to hunt up this video tonight.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Deck and weather report

I managed to get a picture of Mother Robin sitting on the nest. I think they're getting used to me just lurking around, and as long as I don't get too close or make sudden moves, she doesn't fly away.

In other news, the leaves of the heliotrope are luxuriant. I think it was a good idea to scatter a lot of Sluggo around. In some years, these leaves just get chewed up like crazy. When I planted these, I pinched them back and now they have tiny buds for the sweet-smelling blooms heliotrope produce.

The portulaca, or moss rose, is getting a pretty bud--yellow with a stripe of red.

The red and purple calibrachoa are doing well.

Sadly, my sage looks like it may die. It was nearly dead early in the spring, and kind of leggy, so I bent it down to try to get it to take root along the length of the stem. It did, and for a while looked wonderful and thriving, but now it's wilting. Whatever is causing its malaise is simultaneously providing a wonderful environment for clover. I may have to pull up the sage and the clover together and put in a new sage.

The sun came out quite briefly and while it was there I took a picture of the yellow begonia reflected in the pond.

It's now the sixth day of June, and it has been pretty cool, cloudy, and sometimes rainy. I regret having to wear a sweater or jacket in June, but it's not that unusual for Northwest Washington.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012


I've been working again, a few days a week. With it comes the tiredness in the evenings. I was yawning enough to dislocate my jaw, just about, while I was walking my dog. In older novels, they call yawning "gaping." To me, gaping just means letting your mouth hang open, not yawning. I think it's in Heidi that the sickly rich girl, Klara, in Frankfurt, tells Heidi that whenever she "gapes" the adults make her take cod liver oil.

I saw a robin coming and going to the nest, so I went out and snuck a peek. I go to a point not too near the nest and pretend I'm just looking out at the yard, but then I quick glance from the corner of my eye at the nest. I don't think there are babies yet. Maybe the dad is bringing food to the mom.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Still brooding

Mrs. Robin is still sitting on her eggs. I tried to mosey out there with my camera and take a picture without getting close enough to disturb her, but the pictures turned out too blurry to see anything. Today was a very dark, overcast day, but the temperature was mild and rain gentle. I liked it.

I looked up online how long robins sit on their eggs before they hatch, and it seems to be around two weeks. Then another two weeks of the babies living in the nest.