Archive - 2006

January 28th

New visitors

Yesterday, redpoles showed up at the feeder for the first time.

The finches are more numerous, but generally it seems as though the redpoles are given equal access to the feeders. When the woodpecker shows up, however, everybody else leaves.

A heartening example of inter-species harmony at the bird feeder.

January 27th

Good article

This article in the Washington Post Magazine comes via my mother, who read about it at the website of James Lileks, who writes a blog called the "Daily Bleat." Lileks is a wonderful writer, so when he says a piece is "Pulitzerian," I believe it. But, as he said, you have to stick with this one. It probably takes half an hour to read, and it is worth it.


Whenever I imagined having a telephoto lens, I thought about how I would use it to make sense of the windbreaks in the Red River Valley. Today was my first chance. The results were mixed. I was frustrated by how restricted the view through the telephoto was, but that is inevitable.

January Color

As a kid, I remember squinting at the Christmas tree so it blurred and looked even more ethereal. This evening over at Mom and Dad's, I was sitting on the couch aiming the telephoto out onto their deck where there still are three potted spruce trees lit with Christmas lights. The telephoto did the squinting for me.

About time

A writer with the courage of his convictions at Christianity Today magazine argues in this article that torture should never be permitted. I have been waiting for somebody of his ilk to care. This article is dead on, especially its first point about the dignity of every human. Nobody is "human debris," I don't care what they think or do.

January 26th


Finally, after swearing for months before, during and after two moves that I was going to sort through all my things and fill a dumpster with junk, I did just that today. What a relief. However, the garbage man doesn't come until next Wednesday, so there is still a chance that some of that stuff will pop out of the dumpster and find its way back into my garage.


These scrubby oak adorn the cemetery where my grandparents are buried. Oak at sunset seem to cast a darker silhouette than other trees. Their mood is appropriate for cemeteries.


One year ago, I wrote a column on owning a snowblower. Neighbor Vernon owns one, so when things get a little thick in our driveways, Dad gives him a call. Here are Dad, left, and Vernon, in the red hat, discussing snowblowing issues yesterday afternoon.

January 25th

Spanish Flu

An eighty-four-year-old gentleman named Paul wrote me a nice letter concerning a column I wrote a while back about the 1918 flu. It included the following story:

Feeding finches

A busy morning for the finches. They are attacking the thistle feeder with a vengeance. Those at the top of the food chain go right up to the feeder, while those a ways down in the pecking order feed off the fallen thistle on the ground.