“I am no bird; and no net ensnares me: I am a free human being with an independent will.”

-Charlotte Bronte, Jane Eyre

Thursday, November 20, 2014


     This week I finished The Riddle Master of Hed Trilogy by Patricia Mckillip.  It's been around for a while, but it was one of the books I picked up at the book sale, and it came highly recommended by my mom so I had a feeling I was going to like it, and I did.  My copy had all three books bound together in one edition which made it easy to plow through and they are each relatively short.  I liked the first one the best.  It seemed to have more of a plot line than the last one which was called Harpist in the Wind and was much more cerebral than the first two.  After a while that started to wear on my patience, but overall I liked the books.  Riddles seem to be a theme in my house right now.  The current book I am reading is also about riddles.  It's called Gabriel Finley and the Raven's Riddle by George Hagen.  It's a middle grade fantasy, my very favorite genre.  I'm not too far into it, but so far so good.  There are some very original ideas, though the orphaned child searching for a lost parent has definitely been done more than a few times.  In this one the boy Gabriel is linked to a young raven, also orphaned and both enjoy riddles.  People have enjoyed riddles for eons.  They certainly are popular in my house.  We've spent many a car ride taking turns trying to stump each other.  They tend to range all over the map with classic favorites repeated again and again, to ones that only make sense to my 4 year old, to some pretty tricky ones from my middle schooler.  The one I recently came up with that even stumped my husband was: When it starts getting warm I put more clothes on.  When it gets cold again I take them off.  What am I?  Well?  Wanna try your hand?  Or do you have a good one for me that I can use for the next car ride?

Sunday, November 9, 2014

When You Go With a Pro

     This has been far and away the best birding week of my life.  Wednesday I joined my mom and several other enthusiasts for a walk with Early Bird Nature Tours, which is run by her friend Larry.  We went hunting for loons.  Though we didn't see any, we did get several other really great birds, several of which were life birds for me, and even a Peregrine Falcon.  The next day I killed a lot of time out in the backyard and had my highest species tally for my yard to date, including a flock of blue birds, 5 different woodpeckers, ruby and golden crowned kinglets, and a yellow rumped warbler, apparently also known as a "butter butt".  The kids love that one.  After that day my back yard species count is up to 39.  Not bad for only 4 months.  Today though, today was the best day yet.  My oldest so joined my mom and I on another walk with Larry, this time at Longwood Gardens.  Our count for the walk wasn't as good as Wednesday's but we had a fabulous look at a Golden Eagle!  It circled about 40 feet over our heads for several minutes giving everyone a stellar view.  If I had been on my own I probably would have thought it was an immature Bald Eagle but the pros whipped out their books and confirmed it as a golden.  We were all pretty physched.  It was gorgeous.  Then at home I headed out back and it was a feeding frenzy.  The birds were going nuts over the fall berries.  The Red Belly was flying back and forth like mad, I got a great sighting of yet another sapsucker but then right before I was about to head in the Pileated swooped in to join the show.  It flew closer and closer, at one point only about 15 feet away.  I couldn't tear myself away.  Unfortunately it got dark, but you can bet I'll be back out there tomorrow. 
photo credit: <a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/jondavidnelson/14489162235/">Jon David Nelson</a> via <a href="http://photopin.com">photopin</a> <a href="http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nd/2.0/">cc</a>

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Double Vision

     So, the other day I was out in the yard trying to close in on my Red Bellied friend with my binoculars.  I aimed at the spot I thought I'd seen him and thought Wait a minute, that's not a Red Belly.  It was in fact another Yellow Bellied Sapsucker, this time a male, but the super cool thing was I also had the Red in my sights as well.  They were right next to each other.  I'd been having a crummy day up until that point but what a turn around.  That double sighting perked me right up.  My mom told me I had "the woodpeckeriest woods" she'd ever seen.  I'm not sure that's a word but I think she might be right.  Thankfully we don't live in a log cabin or we'd be in trouble. 
photo credit: <a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/manjithkaini/2510622604/">Manjith Kainickara *manjithkaini.net*</a> via <a href="http://photopin.com">photopin</a> <a href="http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/">cc</a>

Saturday, November 1, 2014

A Halloween Horror Story

     I was going to write this last night but collapsed on the couch instead.  It was a fun but exhausting Halloween.  And as I watched the kids run from house to house it got me thinking.  I recently read a book called Facing the Monster: How One Person Can Fight Child Slavery, by Carol Hart Metzker.  It was not my usual fare.  I rarely read non-fiction.  But it is a topic that has been on my mind a great deal lately.  It was written more as a memoir of the author's experiences with her work as a Rotarian and how she was first enlightened as to the plight of so many children around the world and what she did and is continuing to do to help end such a terrible atrocity.  Unlike some other books about various causes this one did not make the problem seem too big to tackle, though it is rampant and the shear magnitude of enslaved children world wide is staggering.  Instead the author sought to encourage hope and show the reader how making even a small difference matters.  But be warned once your eyes are opened to what is really happening, not just in distant countries but right in your own back yard, you will never see things the same way again.  Simple things like trick-or-treating will hide a darker secret.  Such as most of the chocolate candy we all consume this time of year was produced not just with slave labor but CHILD slave labor.  Children who likely will never even get a taste of said chocolate.  So what is the answer?  Boycott Halloween?  Never eat candy?  No.  But be aware of where your treats likely came from.  Learn about the problem.  Speak out.  Write to companies and ask them to be responsible.  Demand anti slavery legislation.  Support those in the trenches fighting to end slavery around the world.  Because it still exists whether we're aware of it or not.  For more information or to track your slavery footprint visit slaveryfootprint.org and like Walk Free or Made in a Free World on Facebook.  
photo credit: <a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/imagensevangelicas/8321844602/">Imagens Evangélicas</a> via <a href="http://photopin.com">photopin</a> <a href="http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/">cc</a>