Archive for April 13th, 2010

Mid-April Garden Notes

April 13, 2010 @ 7:56 pm | Filed under: , ,

It has been troubling me in a quiet way that I’ve not seen many bees in the garden this spring: an occasional lone native bee, one carpenter bee, and that’s it. But just now I checked my archives and I see I was worried about the same thing in late April last year. The carpenter bee appeared in early May, and it wasn’t until mid-May that the honeybees began to dominate my posts and pictures.

Whew, then.

I did have sunflowers blooming last April, but the birds had planted those in February: overspill from the feeder. This year the feeder is in a different spot, shadier, unwatered, and I had to plant the sunflowers myself. They’re coming up nicely, taller now than Wonderboy, not as tall as Beanie.

The Monarchs arrived in late May, not long after I planted my anniversary milkweed. The milkweed is blooming nicely now, despite hordes of yellow aphids, but we’ve seen no trace of caterpillar nor butterfly yet.

Also in bloom: pincushion flower (just barely), nasturtiums galore, enough sweet alyssum to supply Rilla with endless bridal bouquets for her daily weddings, geraniums in red and pink, cornflowers, bougainvillea, ice plants in red and white and magenta, snapdragons, brown-eyed susans, thyme (whoops), cilantro (whoops), the cooking sage (whoops), and the other kind of salvia, loads of it, waiting for the bees.

Goldfinches, bushtits, purple finches, sparrows, hummingbirds, a phoebe, and the marvelous crows: our April birds. We saw a scrub jay on the sidewalk today, a block from home. I love jays, the cheeky, arrogant things. I wish they’d visit our yard more often.

Three Things Bookish

April 13, 2010 @ 7:39 am | Filed under: ,

Word Play: Healing voices – Discussion of books containing characters with autism or Asperger’s, including Kathy Erskine’s excellent middle-grade novel, Mockingbird.

• Some time back I pondered to what degree my reaction to a book was influenced by reading it on an e-reader—a book I downloaded via the Kindle for iPhone app ended (for me) abruptly, jarringly, unsatisfyingly, and I wondered how much that had to do with the e-reader’s lack of physical cues to let me know, subtly, that the tale was drawing to a close. In yesterday’s LA Times, Carolyn Kellogg addresses that question and gives the iPad high marks in replicating certain aspects of a proper book-book reading experience:

Of course, e-books are not physical books. On a Kindle, they aren’t even calibrated in terms of pages; rather, each screen of text is called a “location,” and a 300-page novel will have thousands of them, which makes it hard to keep track of where you left off.

The iPad, on the other hand, sticks with the more traditional designation and also indicates how many pages remain in whatever chapter is on the screen.

What this acknowledges is that there is a rhythm to reading: The first page of a heavy Harry Potter book promises 600 more; the thinning final pages of an Agatha Christie novel clue us in to the mystery getting sorted out. The iPad builds that into the e-reading experience.

(And to answer your many queries, no, I don’t have one yet—what I do have are three sets of braces to pay for. If anyone around here is getting an iPad, it’s our orthodontist.)

• I thoroughly enjoyed the rest of that butterfly book. In case you missed the update, though, let me note here that I added a word of caution to my nonfiction for teens post; the chapter about convicted butterfly smuggler Yoshi Kojima contains a bit of mature content. Parents of younger readers may want to preview that part.