Feed the Birds

Cardinal tilted head   Diane Porter

Diane Porter took this photo of a Northern Cardinal in her yard.

One of my favorite daily rituals is filling up the bird feeders on my windowsill. I live on the fourth story of a seven-wing brick institutional complex ( the convent wing!) A large maple tree stands outside my bedroom windows. I have three feeding stations on my two windowsills:  a plexiglass suction cup feeder,  a suet feeder, and a fruit and nut bird cylinder.  In the summer, I have a hummingbird feeder as well.

hummer at my window

Sorry it’s blurry.

I don’t have a camera good enough to get sharp closeup photos of the birds who visit my feeders. For example, this mockingbird, perching on the fruit and nut cylinder:


This mockingbird claims all the feeders as his own, and chases the other birds away. Eventually, though, they get theirs.

Here is a photo of a Northern Flicker, taken by Seabrooke Leckie:

Flicker  by seabrooke leckie

Four of these beauties come to my windowsill ( one at a time! I see the other three waiting their turn in the tree!) in the winter.  Here’s a poem I wrote about it:

Two Feet from a Flicker


Two feet from my seat at my desk

to the windowsill where

on the other side of the glass

a Flicker feasts on the seed and nut bar

I have provided for my entertainment

And his nourishment.

If he sees me, he doesn’t care.

I try not to move too much.

I can see his ears,

a slight bulge under his feathers.

I can see the sun shining off his black eyes that are all pupil.

His left hand clutches the seed bar.

His long beak, longer than a Red Belly’s,

pokes into the block of seed and nuts and raisins.

His tongue fine as a hairpin

touches it.

He wears a cherry red cap on the nape of his neck,

black raindrop shapes on his cheeks,

a black necklace on his throat and gold ermine on his chest,

and as he fends off an approaching Bluejay,

His gold shafts flare out on the inside of his wings.

Oh, fifteen whole minutes I’ve had with you,

My beautiful customer!


<a href=”https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/just-another-day/”>Just Another Day</a>


WPC Vibrant


This vibrant image is a quilt!  The artist, Caryl Bryer Fallert, designed it digitally and then turned her image into a quilt.  It won Best in Show at the American Quilters Society in 1995.

The way she designed it , and her process of making it, is fascinating.  Go to her website and read all the details:  http://www.bryerpatch.com/images/quiltrecords/Migration2/qrec_migration2.htm


But I have another story to tell about that vibrant art. I published a book of poetry in 2007 called  Scattered Showers in a Clear Sky. The title came from something I read about radar images.  Two decades or so ago, meteorologists were seeing something they couldn’t identify on their weather radar.  It wasn’t raining, but it looked like rain on the radar. They called what they were seeing  “scattered showers in a clear sky.” They discovered that they were seeing birds migrating!!!

I am both a poet and a birder, and I loved that anecdote and that name. So I used it as the title of my book.  I wanted the publisher, Susan Bright of Plain View Press, to use this image on the cover:

radar image of migrating birds 2

It’s an actual radar image of migrating birds, taken by Dr. Sidney Gauthreaux in 1999.

But my publisher said it was too bleak to use on the cover!

So I went to good old Google images and typed in “Migration   Birds” and arrived at Caryl’s artwork.  I loved it, and wrote to her and received her permission to use it on the cover.  ( I put the radar image on the inside cover). It turned out like this:

sscs cover 001

Now that is a vibrant cover!

<a href=”https://dailypost.wordpress.com/photo-challenges/vibrant/”>Vibrant</a&gt;


Favorite Quote


I have about ten favorite quotes, but the one I can quote from memory, and the one that immediately comes to mind is:

“We do not see things as they are. We see things as we are.”

— Rabbi Shemuel ben Nachmani, as quoted in the Talmudic tractate Berakhot (55b.)


Some have attributed this quote to Anais Nin, and she did use it, but I found an earlier source.



In any case, it can apply to those optical puzzles:

four no three


or this one:


but for me, it refers to my perception of people and of situations.


<a href=”https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/quote-me/”>Quote Me</a>

Optimism in the face of the blizzard

jan 23 2016

I took this from my window at 8AM today.  It is now 1PM, and much more snow has fallen.   The weather people predict two to three feet, and with the wind, the drifts are already that high.

I am by nature an optimistic person, assuming good will of everyone to the point of foolishness and gullibility.  I have lived with some suspicious, negative women ( yes, even in the convent they dwell!) and they have made me even more determined to be optimistic.

Right now we are having a crisis between the faculty and administration at my university which has spilled out in leaked emails to the national media, and some of my friends are sending me outraged emails and phone calls.  I think they’ve gone off the deep end in emotional reactions; I think everything will turn out alright in the end.  But as I look out the window at the blizzard provided by nature, I can’t help feeling inundated by the blizzard of rage and blame.  I’m only a bystander in this, but I feel the raging snowstorm.

It’s hard for me to be my optimistic self this afternoon.

So here’s a poem I wrote a long time ago, during the blizzard of 1979:




The deaf snow speaks

in sign

like a prophet.

His fingers remark the landscape

swiftly, stolidly.

They say

This time I am serious.

He cups his thick hand

on the birdsnest,

he levels the driveways,

leans on the trees,

pulls the sky down

to the earth –

nebulae swirl

by the second story windows.

This time I am serious.

This time

you will hear me.

blizzard 2010  night lights

<a href="https://dailypost.wordpress.com/photo-challenges/optimistic/">Optimistic</a>







Bored Queen

One of the best professors I had in college declared that “the true intellectual is never bored.”

I , therefore, am not a true intellectual!  However, I have developed a behavior to alleviate my boredom:    I zone out.  My body might be forced to remain in the boring situation, but my mind has left the building.


One regularly boring situation I experience is the poorly prepared homily in Church.

The homilist goes on and on, repeating himself, meandering around his topic, for much longer than necessary.  That’s another good saying:  “The mind can only absorb as much as the seat can endure.”

church bored


<a href=”https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/yawn/”>( YAWN )</a>



Reason to Believe

Tim Hardin   album



Bruce Springsteen isn’t the only one to write a song with that title.

Tim Hardin wrote this one in about 1965:

Reason to Believe
                                             by  Tim Hardin

If I listen long enough to you
I’d find a way to believe that it’s all true
Knowing, that you lied, straight-faced
While I cried
But still I’d look to find a reason to believe
Someone like you makes it hard to live
Without, somebody else
Someone like you, makes it easy to give
Never think of myself
If I gave you time to change my mind
I’d find a way to leave the past behind
Knowing that you lied, straight-faced
While I cried
But still I’d look to find a reason to believe
If I listen long enough to you
I’d find a way to believe it’s all true
Knowing that you lied, straight-faced
While I cried
Still I’d look to find a reason to believe.
Rod Stewart recorded it, but the recording I like best is by Ian & Sylvia:
Ian and Sylvia
To answer the original question,  I have many reasons to believe.
Here’s one:  a Daylily named “Reason to Believe”   !
the name of this daylily is reason to believe
I believe that God is present and active in my life and in the world.
To me, the evidence in favor of this belief outweighs all the evidence to the contrary.

From Breath to Air

Brain Pickings Weekly logo

Today I’m reading about a book in Brain Pickings Weekly – a wonderful blog by Maria Popova. Each week she posts this compendium of really thought-provoking excerpts .

When Breath Becomes Air   book

A book by Paul Kalanithi – He’s a very successful neurosurgeon and at 36 is diagnosed with terminal cancer.

Today, this, commenting on Kalanithi’s book:

“Like the book itself, the anecdote speaks to something larger and far more powerful than the particular story — in this case, our cultural attitude toward what we consider the failings of our bodies: pain and, in the ultimate extreme, death. We try to dictate the terms on which these perceived failings may occur; to make them conform to wished-for realities; to subvert them by will and witless denial. All this we do because, at bottom, we deem them impermissible — in ourselves and in each other. “

And this:


“Punctuating Kalanithi’s story are vignettes of those small yet enormous moments in which destinies pivot and the elaborate universe of priorities we’ve spent a lifetime constructing combusts into stardust. In those moments, there is a violent slamming shut of chapters we had naïvely thought would go on and on, leading to Happily Ever After and yet somehow not really ending there, for the endings we imagine for ourselves aren’t really endings. An ending is devastating and unsatisfying in its finitude, and the endings we imagine for ourselves are permanent states of ongoing, infinite satisfaction. “

That image – the violent slamming shut of chapters we had naively thought would go on and on –

That made me think of chapters in my life that shut but didn’t slam, but that shut nonetheless.

anne and flip - Copy (2)

Simple doors that shut: I have closed the door on riding a bicycle, on swimming, on eating nuts and fresh fruit. To quote Elizabeth Bishop, I’ll miss these things, but it isn’t a disaster. But it is a closing out of physical activities I took for granted.

I focus on the things I still can do: bake and garden and watch birds and read and teach and walk and sing and drive a car… so many things. So many doors still open to me.


Rooms by the Sea     by Hopper

Rooms by the Sea     by Edward Hopper