asakiyume: (feathers on the line)
(With this job I'm likely to be mainly a Friday-Saturday-Sunday poster, but I'll try to be reading and commenting on people's blogs on other days.)

The crow and the dove
This morning was *warm* and although the hills are still waiting to spring alive again, there are hints of life all around--pussy willows, birdsong. On a morning run saw a magnificent crow up so close, close enough to admire his bill and exchange glances and hear the wind whistling in his wings as he flew off.

Later I heard a distant radio--but it wasn't so distant: it was on the other side of the road, and there was a woman sitting there on her stoop in her bathrobe, enjoying the sun slowly climbing above the trees on the hill across the road. I waved and she smiled and waved. Something like that is as good as sharing a whole meal with someone.

Then a little further on in the run a mourning dove flew up into a tree and the sun shone through its white tail feathers, glowing ... After the flood the dove and the crow became neighbors and told their kids stories about Noah's crazy habits.

And music. I have been listening to lots of cumbia and now want to learn to dance it, couples-style. Past me is looking at present me in frank amazement. There there, past self. It's all good. But what I'm sharing here are two songs that are not only nice to listen too but also have cool videos. The first I discovered through Afropop Worldwide: "Tenemos Voz"--very cool animation and a great song.

And "Zapata se Queda" is spectacular in a different way.

Gender of the Day
There's Twitter bot called @genderofthdday that comes up with different amusing combos each day. "The gender of the day is the smell of stale beer and the sound of a dial-up modem"; "The gender of the day is a dragon with a lute." (Actually, I'm realizing as I trawl the back pages that it gives several per day.)

A couple of days ago it gave "The gender of the day is a tired basilisk on a pegasus," and I thought that one needed an illustration, so:
asakiyume: (snow bunting)
A car, marigold-orange, with a black stripe on the hood, coming up the hill. It was low and sleek. "Must be some kind of fancy-pants car," I thought. "I wonder what it is."

As it came closer, I saw that it had "MUSTANG" written on its windshield in huge letters. So that's what it was. Thank you, car, for answering my question. If all cars would label themselves that way, it would be much easier for car-blind people like me to identify them.

A shadow of a bird, passing over me. I looked up but couldn't see anything. Then a couple of moments later, a crow. Its shadow was so far ahead of it! It landed in a tree and cawed. Good morning to you too, crow.

Another runner, an old man in bright green and blue, who runs like he's about to collapse but who manages great distances. I waved, he said "Good morning! How are you?" "Pretty good," I said. "How about you?" "I'll be good soon," he said, smiling.
asakiyume: (misty trees)
The starlings over the cornfields of Hadley, Massachusetts, sometimes achieve murmuration levels--I saw them do it Saturday, them moving together like a great whale at play. It was breathtaking. I went back yesterday with a camera but came too late in the day, and then again today, and was only a *little* too late, or they weren't in a mood to all rise (ALL RISE) and swoop, and then settle.

Also, maybe if I had turned the phone sideways it would have made a wider video? I am very new to the ways of the smartphone. (Video is 38 seconds)

Although I didn't catch the murmuration yesterday, I did get a photo of the sun like a pearl in the shell of the sky...

golden sunset

And then another of all the many colors sunset sky is heir to...

red sunset

a rescue

May. 12th, 2017 11:16 am
asakiyume: (bluebird)
I saw a pickup truck pulled up on the opposite side of the road from me as I was driving to do the recycling. As I neared the spot, I saw a catbird just sitting in the road ahead of me, not moving. The burly guy in the pickup truck said, "There's a bird in the road."

I stopped. The guy's lanky companion, who was outside the truck, approached the catbird with a jacket in his hands, to pick it up gently and without touching it. Just as he was about to, the bird fluttered off the road and into the long grass and dandelions. "He tricked me!" said the lanky guy. The guy in the truck shrugged his shoulders and laughed.

I drove on, really happy that those two guys--going in the opposite direction--were willing to stop and help out a catbird in need, even if in the end the catbird declined the offer. IRL goodness.
asakiyume: (cloud snow)

For some reason, birch trees like to drop their seeds in winter, and their seeds look like tiny sharp-winged birds.

Here's a birch-seed bird:

And here is a catkin, with the birds clinging to it in neat interleaved stacks--maybe fibonacci spirals; I'll have to look closer. Some of these get eaten by chickadees, but others take flight and then dive into the snow.

asakiyume: (dewdrop)
It's cold today; the heater is chugging along, making my living space warm, and I feel so grateful. Outside, in the nearby city, the sparrows by the bus station are fluffed up like little feathered pokéballs. They're very tame; people feed them crumbs and things, either by accident or on purpose.

Around here people say "on accident," to go with "on purpose." How about the other way? By accident or by purpose.

Safe from the cold are these loquat trees I grew from seeds that [ profile] 88greenthumb sent me. I've never eaten the fruit of the loquat--have any of you?

Their leaves are generously large and a rich green color, and apparently you can make a tea out of them, but I won't, because my trees are up against enough difficulties, growing in pots and kept indoors for half the year, without having their leaves plucked.

In China, and then by extension in Japan, the tree is called pipa (biwa in Japanese), like the instrument--maybe because the fruit look like it?

a pipa (source)

asakiyume: (snow bunting)

The other day I went on a long run in the late afternoon, and at the end, was passing a field, and the starlings were congregating there for the evening, and they did that thing--small groups joining one another, sinking, then lifting, and others joining them, and others, and the setting sun was shining through their wings so they looked golden, while the birds themselves were black, and my heart lifted right up with them.

I use my very old (used to be my daughter's) cellphone as a stopwatch, and it also has a photo function, so I tried to get some pictures, which then I tried to enhance so you could get some hint of what I saw:

It was a brief, wonderful gift, seeing that, being part of that.

asakiyume: (tea time)

I had an entry I'd planned to do, but I can't actually do it just yet, so have some pictures, instead. They're from a cafe a few towns over.

Here are the sacks of coffee and the roaster.

And here is a chest of drawers for putting (we think) Chinese medicines in--reminds me of the wall of drawers behind Kamaji in Spirited Away, that contained different healing bath additives. (Maybe now it's used to hold tea?)

(Here are Sen/Chihiro and Kamaji, with the wall of drawers--oh, and also Haku)

And here is the tin ceiling. So fancy!

... Surely exciting things happen here. Spies or lovers have meetings. Dissidents find under-the-radar employment. The sparrows that hang about are very intellectual--like in the Duolingo sentence I got today: "pájaros leen el diario"--they read the newspaper.

asakiyume: (bluebird)
I heard an unusual twittering outside yesterday, so went to see what bird it was making the odd noise, and it turned out to be hummingbirds. A male ruby-throated hummingbird (I can't remember when last I've seen a male before--not for ages), flashing that jewel throat, was swooping down in great parabolas on a bush with abundant, deep-throated pink flowers (weigela) in my neighbor's yard, where a female was feeding. I looked up this behavior and found out he was courting. Well--I was quite impressed! But I'm not the female he was after.

asakiyume: (Em reading)
I was thinking just yesterday that maybe this year we'd have no orioles, because I hadn't heard any, and then! I heard one. And then! I saw one. So I'm happy. And it wasn't only an oriole I saw today. I also saw this lovely warbler, which I discovered is called a magnolia warbler. (I have no magnolias. He was flitting between lilacs and apple blossoms.)

Photo by Gregory S. Dysart
Gregory S. Dysart .:. Photographs of Massachusetts: Massachusetts Wood Warblers &emdash;

Meanwhile, [ profile] amaebi told me that fritillary butterflies are called that because the Latin word for dice box is "fritillaria," and the butterflies' markings look like the pips on a die. So then it got me thinking that maybe fritillary butterflies are enthusiastic gamblers:

fritillaries play dice

The third thing is a postcard, but I need to explain. [ profile] sovay recently talked about the film The Moon-Spinners, in which a jewel thief gets away at the end. He apparently promises to send the protagonist "a picture postcard from the Kara Bugaz." This intrigued me. Where was Kara Bugaz? It turns out to be a lake in present-day Turkmenistan that at one point in the recent past dried up entirely, sending salt-storms across the nearby land, poisoning fields. Whoa to the whoath, right? (Now it has water in it again.)

Well, I wanted to create the postcard that jewel thief Tony sends to protagonist Nikky. So here it is! The image comes from the coastal city of Garabogaz. The message is written in a font called "Byron," created based on the handwriting of, yup, Lord Byron.**

**It's hard to read, though. It says, "Dear Nikky, I promised you a picture postcard from Kara Bugaz. Is this woman smelting something? If not the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, then maybe its knives and daggers. Alas, she's probably stoking the fires merely to bake bread. Love from your favorite jewel thief, Tony."

asakiyume: (Iowa Girl)
There's a weathervane perched on the tip of the steeple of the Congregational Church in town--I thought at first it was a skeletal fish, but maybe it's just a decorative arrow.... but maybe it is a fish, swimming in the sky ocean.

The birds are not sea birds. Maybe they perch on the fish-arrow the way savannah birds perch on elephants. Maybe they just like the view. So high. Now that I know they cluster there, I look for them every time I pass the church.

And here's a photo of a reflection of the setting sun. It's actually a reflection of a reflection. If you look at this blog post through a mirror, you'll have added some extra layers.

I had some actual words-y content-y sorts of things to share, but pictures are good too. The other stuff comes and goes, and there's always something new. Oh, hey, but one other thing: at the laundromat the other day, I saw a woman, helped by her little son, empty the dollar changer of dollars and put in a whole tubful of quarters--presumably ones taken out of the washers and driers. What a happy closed system. There was a dollar jammed up, which they couldn't get out, and the mom said, "leave it for the spirits of the change machine." A cool thing for her to say. The boy was bumming about it, a little, but a torn dollar bill is no good, in any case.

Phone photos

asakiyume: (bluebird)

I saw a sparrow hopping around in the noonday sun. It had its mouth open--panting.

And then there's a young red-tailed hawk who lives nearby who cries like a seagull all the time. He cries in flight, he cries when he's sitting on a post or tree. Not that famous red-tailed hawk scream. No, this is less terrifying and more querelous, or maybe brooding, or slightly grumbly. Sometimes seagulls do pass this way. Maybe this hawk had a seagull as a babysitter. Anyway, I've seen this hawk in flight, with his mouth open, crying a seagull cry.

asakiyume: (glowing grass)

Behind this grand old mill building is the Mill River, which [ profile] teenybuffalo took me to several years ago.

Little Springtime, the healing angel, and I went down to the very spot she had shown me (and, actually, the healing angel was along on that trip too), but really what we wanted to get to was a sandy island a bit upstream. The problem was that there was a waterfall between us and upriver at this point.

The healing angel hopped quite nimbly across the river and signaled to us, after a time, that we would find a place to scramble down on our side if we walked back along the highway a bit.

We walked back up the highway, and sure enough, did find a place to scramble down to the water.

Here is the healing angel, already on the island we want to get to.

a few more photos )
asakiyume: (shaft of light)

Here is a road I walk every day. This photo is from yesterday, but this morning, when I passed this way, an oriole flew into an apple tree (not visible in this picture) and seemed to be sniffing the blossoms. Maybe it was sipping nectar. Maybe it was nibbling the petals. Maybe it was listening to whispered secrets--I don't know.

spring road

These are not the apple blossoms that the oriole was getting intimate with, but these are apple blossoms I especially love, because they're on a tree I grew from a seed.

apple blossom

Beautiful May ♥

green way

asakiyume: (feathers on the line)
I was driving to the high school yesterday, and anytime I passed a wet, low-lying area, the cheerful sound of spring peepers rose from it. Not only water, but also frog song, collects there. It was as if the scene were a giant coloring book, and someone had colored in the sounds, filling in the low spots with peepers. So then I got to thinking about how else the scene was colored, aurally. The roads are colored with the sounds of engines. If the picture is colored in the early morning, the roads are dark with that sound--people heading to work. At midday, there's only the hint of car sound--much paler. In the woods, the upper trees are colored with the calls of flickers, chickadees, and cardinals. The meadow is colored in with the sounds red-winged blackbirds and kildeer.

Have a picture of a wet, low-lying area.

asakiyume: (cloud snow)
The other day I made a small footpath to the snowmobile trail. I'm so grateful I did: today, by comparison, I struck out from the street toward another section of snowmobile trail, across open field. It was exhausting, each footstep an effort as it plunged through layers of snow, compacted to different degrees by wind and cold. I made very slow, lurching progress until at last I reached the snowmobile trail--and then I positively floated along.

(I did see these lovely, light foot- and wingprints as I staggered along, though)
two photos )

This got me thinking of our phrase "off the beaten track," and about how hard it is to go off the beaten track. Beaten tracks make things easier. Beaten tracks go where people want to go--that's how beaten tracks get made. But beaten tracks are restrictive, too. ... We know all this. We talk about taking the road less traveled, or striking out on our own--this being metaphor for any number of things in life--and although we acknowledge it can be hard, I think sometimes we fail to acknowledge that it can be killingly hard. Actually-literally, if we're talking about hiking, and devastatingly, if not lethally, when we're talking metaphorically. At least in life one's given the chance to recover.

I'm not saying one shouldn't strike out, off the beaten track--not at all. Not only do I like doing it on trails and things, but I've been thinking about it in terms of bigger things--changing my habits, changing how I think or what I do in situations. That's hard though--habits and patterns of thought are pretty firmly entrenched tracks. So how can I change them? So then I go back to the analogy.

If you're going off the beaten track and trekking across a field of snow, it helps if you have snowshoes--that makes it a lot easier. So: equip yourself. If you're in a snowmobile (snowmobiles make beaten tracks, but they can also go off them--funny!) and you're going off the beaten track (like these teen snowmobilers, who went missing near the hilariously named Devil's Den Road and Black Cat Road--thanks to Liz Hand for that story!) survival training definitely helps.

In other words, just flailing off on your own is going to predispose you to failure more than practice, planning, etc.

Sometimes I tell myself stories when I'm out walking, but sometimes I muse on things, and today I was musing, and behold: the above were my musings.

Here's a pretty scene to drive musings from my, and your, mind:

winter scene

asakiyume: (autumn source)
At the Cold Spring Orchard today, so many starlings, thick on the telephone wires across from the main building, and in a bare tree by it, and more and more kept coming and finding room on those wires ("slide over; can I squeeze in here?"), and they were chatting to one another in their squeaky voices, metallic parts in need of oil, but they were cheerful and comfortable squeaks--not strained or agonized. So many, against a sky that was a broad watercolor sweep of gray. They filled up that sky with their chatter and their black silhouettes. They were crowd sourcing themselves. Then I opened the trunk of my car to take out a bag, and then I let the trunk slam shut, and they all lifted up,

all of them,

And they all stopped speaking,

and they gathered into one cloud and flew away without saying a word, the only sound the whirring of all those wings,

and I wanted to call, Come back

don't leave the sky so empty.

But they wouldn't have heard me.


In other news, there is a UMass cranberry bog, and they were selling cranberries from it. However, I bought only apples: Baldwins and Roxbury Russets. But I took the card by the cash register, with the photo of cranberries ripening on the bush (they look like coffee berries), and the links to pages with recipes.
asakiyume: (black crow on a red ground)
On September 21–22 in Pen Pal, Kaya first started using her crow Sumi to carry messages. Although crows are messenger birds in many mythologies, they're not actually used as couriers in real life, not regularly anyway--pigeons are. People all over the world enjoy keeping homing pigeons (including in my town: I got a tour of a dovecote some years back--picture here); pigeons were used to deliver mail in India into the 2000s; and China still keeps military homing pigeons as a safeguard in the event that twenty-first-century communications are disabled for some reason (see Malcolm Moore, "China Trains Army of Messenger Pigeons," Telegraph, March 2, 2011.)

(Image source: Morgan Banaszek, "12 Facts about China You Probably Didn't Know,", Project Pengyou.)

On September 28 in Pen Pal, a bubble of carbon dioxide rises from a lake in Kaya's country, with disastrous consequences. In real life, this happened most dramatically in Cameroon's Lake Nyos in 1986. Lake Nyos is a crater lake, into which carbon dioxide slowly seeps from a pocket of magma. On August 21, the weight of water on top of the accumulating carbon dioxide was no longer enough to keep it down: it bubbled up and out, and because carbon dioxide is heavier than air, it settled on the surrounding land, suffocating approximately 1,700 people and 3,500 livestock. A similar, less devastating event had occurred two years earlier at another lake in Cameroon, Lake Monoun. The only other lake known to be at risk of this is in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, but all that's required for it to be possible is a lake above a volcanic fissure.

The eruption of carbon dioxide at Lake Nyos was accompanied by a rise in dissolved iron to the lake's surface, turning it rusty red:

[image no longer available]

Accumulations of carbon dioxide in mines are one of four sorts of killing "damps" (from the German dampf, meaning "vapor"--they're "choke damp" (also called "stythe damp"). The other sorts are "white damp" (carbon monoxide), "fire damp" (methane or other flammable gasses), and "stink damp" (hydrogen sulfide).

asakiyume: (far horizon)

On September 9, Em imagines sea hummingbirds for her sister Tammy:

Maybe you can start a whole new genealogy. The sea hummingbirds, who have scales instead of feathers, and both lungs and gills

Here is a sea hummingbird:

And--unrelated to this day in Pen Pal-- some time ago I also promised a picture of a bee shark for Benjanun Sriduangkaew, @bees_ja on Twitter:

asakiyume: (glowing grass)
On my walk this morning I was thinking how on a walk some days ago, I'd found a robin eggshell. I looked down and found a cardinal eggshell. Further along on the walk I found a luna moth wing: it was a morning for sweet finds.

cardinal egg, luna moth wing

In the evening, as the sun was setting and streetlamps were lighting up, a cardinal came and perched on one. From newly hatched to adult in one day.

Later in the evening, when it was quite dark, I went to pick some cilantro, and the first firefly of the season was in the cilantro patch, lighting up the underside of the cilantro leaves--and he paid my hand a visit, too.

Earlier in the day, some kids were playing soccer on the common, and one of them was wearing a Brazilian flag as a cloak. I had only my cell phone to take a picture with, but:

Viva Brasil!

I guess we know who he's rooting for in the World Cup!

I am writing a little something with bridges in it, and almost every day I walk along a bridge, and as I walk, I think about bridge folktales--mainly bridge battles: the three billy goats and the troll, Robin Hood and Little John, Benke and Yoshitsune. Can you think of any more bridge battles in folktales or legend?

Benke meets Yoshitsune on Gojô Bridge, by Utagawa Kuniyoshi (Source)


asakiyume: created by the ninja girl (Default)

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