Birthdays Today

Brain Pickings BY MARIA POPOVA has another fine article about Edward Gorey’s work. He was born on this date (February 22, 1925–April 15, 2000). I’ve just ordered The Gashly Crumb Tinies from Amazon. It’s one of my all-time favorites and I can’t believe I don’t own it. It’s an alphabet book of manic and magical proportions, unbelievably anti-normal.

Pulitzer Prize-Winning Poet Edna St. Vincent Millay (BTD in 1892)

Sand Wash Basin Stallions

This is from a new site that I am following, even when depressed it seems. From Friends of Picasso—Grand Wild Stallion of Sand Wash Basin. SWB is in Colorado. Meg Frederick Photography is a frequent contributor and displays the best photos. She also has her own separate page.

Meg Frederick Photography· 4 hrs ·  Tango (above) is a gorgeous and much loved stallion in Sand Wash Basin. He is the son of Picasso and Mingo.


Above is our hero himself. A close watch is being held in the hope that he mades it through the treacherous winter, as in the end—like the rest of us—he winters alone.

Beautiful And Odd

Law Cheung
 I think it’s a “Red and Yellow Barbet” bird as shown in a stamp I found courtesy of the internet/google.* This indicates the bird is from Africa.

I don’t think that to be odd, or oddly different, means something will be beautiful. Of course not. It is too easy to think of exceptions and unnecessary to list. But, it does seem as if it is easier to be beautiful when rare, or odd in that sense.

The case in point is our Red and Yellow Barbet shown above. The first time it is seen it is almost a shock. I in fact thought at first that it was photoshopped, certainly not real. It takes a minute. Then it becomes amazing. Imagine seeing that gorgeous thing in flight, imagine the white splashed across the blue or black and then the yellow and red. I wonder what the wings look like from underneath, in flight. (In a cursory search I could find nothing shown .)

In absolute contrast, think of the lowly sparrow. More than once I have wondered how differently that little creature might be viewed were it not quite so plentiful. There are many varieties of sparrow—different species—to the point that they are difficult to distinguish from one another. Birders refer to them as LBJs, or little brown jobs. Quite sad, really, as some of these—when taken individually—can be quite beautiful. But that is the point. Perhaps we don’t see them, or notice their individual splendor, just because there are so very many of them. And they are seen everywhere about the midwest, and north and east of us. They are actually described as a dull brown, or mud-colored bird. That lets escape the splotches of red on their heads, those brightly colored with a soft gray, and the symmetry of their deep black on gray or brown. But there are many.

I don’t know how rare or plentiful the barbet is in Africa, but to my eyes it was a singular event and I am struck by the sheer beauty of the unique.

* The red-and-yellow barbet (Trachyphonus erythrocephalus) is a species of African barbet found in eastern Africa. Males have distinctive black (spotted white), red, and yellow plumage; females and juveniles are similar, but less brightly colored.

The Mysterious

“The finest thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the fundamental emotion which stands at the cradle of true art and true science. He who does not know it and can no longer wonder, no longer feel amazement, is as good as dead, a snuffed-out candle.” – Albert Einstein

Full Snow Moon ocurres today, February 9. And it was Kate, The Golden One, who died in my arms on Sunday night, just like this, those many years ago. That was when we lived in Shaker Heights. It strikes me that I am still a “we,” met with another large dog, this time black, and another small cat, this time gray and black. They are not the same, we are not the same, and still we are. This is not to be understood, cannot be understood. And it is.

History Lesson

Working-Class History· 3 February ·  On this day, 3 February 2006, Al Lewis, lifelong socialist and actor who portrayed Grandpa Munster in the popular TV show The Munsters died in New York aged 82.
Radicalized by his immigrant garment worker mother at a young age, he became a committed socialist by the time of the great depression.
When landlords evicted people, Lewis and his colleagues would break back into the properties and move the tenants’ furniture back in. And if unemployed workers were denied relief, Lewis would join others in storming relief centers and fight the police.
Despite living through the Reagan years of reaction, he kept his principles and remained realistic: “I’ve been in the struggle over 70 years. It doesn’t bother me I may not win. After doing X amount of time or years, don’t throw your hands up in the air because, you see, everybody wants ‘the win’. They want it today. It doesn’t happen. The struggle goes on. The victory is in the struggle, for me. And I accepted that a long time ago.”

It’s not easy to remain steadfast and calm, fluid and focused on your hopes for a society when those others, those of the elite and oligarchy receive applause and support. When the oppressed enable their oppressors. When the words that tumble so easily from a leader’s mouth have to be checked for truth. For reality.

When I was growing up I never thought the number of school children shot and killed, injured, maimed, would be a statistic in the United States. I never thought that children would be afraid to go to school in this country. It used to be only with people of color or the poorest of the poor where the struggle lived. Funny how equality is earned.

But then, I never thought I’d see our planet burning. Or our animals destroyed. I never thought that concentration camps would return, that women would still have to fight for equality.

America, where are you?

A New Month

February is when the Great Blue Herons return to Ohio to begin a new season of nesting. This photo was captured a couple of years ago at the Bath Road Heronry in the Cuyahoga Valley National Park. Rob Blair posted: Looking forward to the beginning of another great season to experience and photograph them again!

The word February comes from the Roman festival of purification called Februa, during which people were ritually washed. The god was named after the festival, not the other way around which was the most usual process of naming. Nonetheless, we Anglos found a way to connect to the Romans, and to the gods.

The native American Indians, the Sioux, called this moon period (month) The Moon of the Long Haired Pony. What a wonderful way to connect to nature, to the earth. It’s also not a bad thought to call it the month of the Return of the Great Blue Heron.

Blue Heron Moon. I like it.