Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Melissa's Studio Art Project

There was a young girl was arranging long-stem roses on the Hoopes Park footbridge. Joan and I came upon her as we were making our way on the foot path. She identified herself a Studio Art major at Cayuga Community College working on a project for her class with Tom Casella.

The floral arrangement projected a Valentine theme.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Birding - Cayuga College Trail

Second Pond

The 4 /2 inches of snow that fell last evening covered the trail. Foot traffic had made a path that was passable. While standing on the edge of the first pond a cross-country skier went by me. Further on I photographed her as she came out of the woods beyond the third pond.
Cross-country Skier

At this point I have seen no birds but several deer tracks. As I was approaching the Jan Graham feeding area there was John Scollan coming toward me on the trail. The clearing seeded by Jan was birdless.

Took the high trail and seven American Crows flew overhead. Rounding the top came upon the Wolf Tree.

Crossing the footbridge and coming into the clearing photographed the pine cones on the solitary fir tree.

Reaching the double bridges standing on the southern-most one noticed movement in the shrub. There I counted seven Robins. The cross-country skier too paused on the bridge noting "they're all puffy".
 American Robin

Walking to the car I chatted with a fellow who was walking his two dogs - a Husky-Lab mix and a large poodle. This gentleman said that he initially studied ornithology at Morrisville before completing his education as an engineer.

Although the birds were scarce it was good to see that some robins were still in residence.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Week Five - 47 to Go

In their second edition in the Jack Morgan series, the partnership of Patterson and Paetro put a new spin on the “evil twin” motif.  As I have previously predicted Jack Morgan may surpass Alex Cross and Lindsay Boxer.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Explosive Eighteen

In her latest Stephanie Plum novel Janet Evanovich returns her readers to the zany screwballness that they have come to expect. For the 122 Amazon buyers who gave this book a negative review, it is time to lighten up. Humor, action and mystery - still here. Evanovich's series is penned to be entertaining and to be read in a day. Lula and Grandma Mazur - worth the effort.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Birding - Montezuma & Sodus Bay

Martens Tract

A little over an inch of snow fell last evening. As I left the driveway the temperature on the car dashboard read 31˚.  Just before reaching the stop sign at Turnpike Road noticed 5 Mourning Doves on the telephone wire on the south side of North Division Street. Turning onto McDonald Road there were 15 American Crows in the cornfields.

The Mucklands were quiet. Heading west stopped in the village of Clyde to photograph George Washington in the village park.

Heading north on Rt. 414 a mural on the Clyde-Savannah Library caught my eye. Had to capture it. Drove into the parking lot. Snapped two quick photos.

Entering Sodus Bay from Alton came upon 2 Mute Swans and 5 Canada Geese in the open water by the some docks.

Pulling into the parking lot next to the Coast Guard station saw three fishermen attempting to launch their boat at the launch. The bay was too ice-filled so they ended up fishing off the lighthouse pier.

In the channel were 100+ Long-tailed Ducks and 50+ White-winged Scoters.

This video starts badly but it provides a feel for the number of ducks in the channel. The laughter and spoken words are complements of the fishermen.

Leaving the pier stopped along the bay. There were 120+ Ring-billed Gulls, 80 Mallards and 30 Redheads swimming in the open water. Making my way out of town there was a domestic Goose on the highway.

Stopped at the Montezuma Audubon Center. Visited with Dave Spier. Dave verified the White-winged Scoter. It is a life bird for me.

Before heading home went to Martens Tract. There I met Scott Lehtonen and his son, Jack. They were trapping muskrats.

Passing through the Mucklands a Red-tail Hawk was waiting for me on a telephone line.

Although I did not see some of the rare birds that others have observed recently. The sighting of the White-winged Scoter made my day.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

A Ball for Daisy

Read this children's book back in November of 2011. My review -  A wordless read. Calligraphic brush strokes. A simple plot. With repeated reading this book will grow on you.

Chris Raschka's story of resilience overcoming an everyday trouble was selected as the 2011 Randolph Caldecott winner for best illustration.

Raschka's wordless picture book recounts the saga of a white and grey terrier whose beloved red ball is stolen by a bigger, brown poodle. The ball bursts and Daisy's spirit seems to break with it, until the poodle returns with a blue ball that leaves everyone equally content. 

According to Raschka, the inspiration for this tale was his son, who at the age of 4 was devastated when his yellow ball broke during a scrape with a neighbor. Raschka says he began thinking of "those first feelings of losing something beloved" and knowing you cannot get it back. For the story, Raschka changed the main character from a boy to a dog.

During a telephone interview, Raschka said, "When you're a picture book illustrator, your readers are often 3 or 4 years old, and you don't want the drawing to be upsetting in itself."

Monday, January 23, 2012

Fear of Drowning

A police procedural that centers around an engaging plot.

Peter Turnbull introduces Chief Inspector George Hennessey of the City of York. Hennessey is an intriguing protagonist. Yellich, Hennessey's Sergeant, noted that "There's nowt so queer as folk." In this story the reader will encounter such folk.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Week Four - 48 to Go

Gratuitous boudoir scenes. Execrable plot. 

Next time someone calls lets hope the real Stone Barrington and Dino Bacchetti show up.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Acceptable Loss

Anne Perry knows her genre - the Victorian setting.  But this novel did not seem to reach a standard that an Anne Perry reader has come to expect. Too much contemplation not enough action.

Monday, January 16, 2012

A Christmas Wedding

The latest product from the James Patterson mill is a significant departure from his countless mysteries and thrillers. On Amazon most Patterson loyalists panned this work.

However, I found that if you can ride out the wild storyline, and if you can absorb the soppy romance, and if you can admit all families are dysfunctional, this novel can be a pleasant holiday read.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Week Three - 49 to Go

In this expansive new biography of Sojourner Truth, the charismatic preacher and activist, Margaret Washington is thorough and committed.

Thumbing through dozens of images of Truth and her contemporaries in and of itself makes picking up this volume worthwhile.

When in Akron, Ohio, we often drove pass the Sojourner Truth Building located at 37 North High Street. Each passage would bring to mind the May 1851 Women’s Rights Convention held in this city. For it was at this gathering, Sojourner Truth delivered her simple but powerful speech - “Ain’t I a Woman?”.

Truth also has kept my interest because like Harriet Tubman, Sojourner insisted that she talked with God, and He talked with her, every day of her life.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Syracuse vs. Providence


Thanks to Cousin Tom's thinking of me I was able to take in today's basketball game between the Syracuse Orange and the Providence Friars. Tom along with friends, John and Phil, picked me up at the Weedsport Thruway parking lot.

We put the car in the VA parking garage. Phil being a veteran had an ID to allow us admittance for $5.00. We parked on the second tier adjacent to the elevator.

Once on the street we walked over to The Varsity. Although the customer line stretched out into the sidewalk, their system allowed us to quickly get our pizza slices and drinks. Sitting at a long banquet table we enjoyed our New York style pizza. Leaving The Varsity we made our trek up the hill to the Dome. Using the computerized ticket system we were admitted quickly.

The usher at the head of our aisle was Bill Granato, an Auburn legend as well as Tom's neighbor in Niles. Just to the right of the aisle was a kiosk selling programs. When the seller hollered out at me I recognized him - Mike Lattimore. Had not seen Mike since Maud's retirement. Mike as always had that great smile.

After taking our seats I reintroduced myself to Paul, the season ticket holder, just to me right. We chatted as the teams were going through their warm-ups. Phil noted that the court floor looked like it had been moved. Paul said that indeed it had been moved six feet south in order to make room for the high-priced seats.

PC was in the game until Jimmy called out the press. Playing without Council PC folded. The coup de gras was Scoop hitting a three at the half-time buzzer.

At half-time the 1987 NCAA runner-up Syracuse team was honored. Howard Triche was a starter on that team. Also among the alumni honored during this half-time tribute were Derrick Coleman, Pearl Washington, and John Wallace.
Howard Triche
John Wallace & Derek Coleman
Dwayne "Pearl" Washington

Also at court side was SU alum Sean McDonough.

SU routed PC 78-55.

The return home was uneventful. Access to Rt. 690 from the VA thanks to the Syracuse police force was flawless. After saying my thanks and good-byes came the toughest journey of the day the blustery, snowy drive from Weedsport to Auburn.

Friday, January 13, 2012

The Last of the Mohicans

Borrowed this DVD from the Seymour Library.
The Last of the Mohicans is a 1992 historical epic film set in 1757 during the French and Indian War. It was based on James Fenimore Cooper novel of the same name.

The main cast included Daniel Day-Lewis, Madeleine Stowe and Russell Means. Costumes and props looked to be accurate recreations. Spectacular scenery made up for the matinee fantasy aura.

In Persuasion Nation: Stories

In his collection of stories, In Persuasion Nation, Saunders is unpredictable and imaginative.

George Saunders, the satirist, employs his wit to bedevil our consumer society. But is the inclusion of real products in these stories a marketing technique to gain favor with corporate America?

Thursday, January 12, 2012

A Certain Justice

Borrowed this DVD (3 one-hour episodes) from the Seymour Library.

A Certain Justice is P.D. James at her strongest. The story begins with a trial for murder. The distinguished criminal lawyer Venetia Aldridge (Penny Downie) is defending Garry Ashe on charges of having brutally killed his aunt. For Aldridge the trial is mainly a test of her courtroom skills, one more opportunity to succeed--and she does. But now murder is in the air. The next victim will be Aldridge herself, stabbed to death at her desk in her Chambers in the Middle Temple, a bloodstained wig on her head. Enter Commander Adam Dalgliesh of Scotland Yard (played, as always, by Roy Marsden) and his team (Detective Inspector Kate Miskin (Sarah Winman)), whose struggle to investigate and understand the shocking events cannot halt the spiral into more horrors, more murders, and more suspense.

Imperfections of a legal system allows a killer to go unpunished. The actors create an atmosphere where the sensitivity of P.D. James oozes out through the projection.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

NORTH - Nick Dowson

The Amazing Storyof Arctic Migration.
By Nick Dowson
Illustrated by Patrick Benson

This striking account of arctic migration offers a northerly, book-bound counterpart to “March of the Penguins.”
Dowson’s descriptions are both simple and poetic, as polar bears, gray whales, jaegers, snow geese and pregnant caribou make their way from points south toward the North Pole in Benson’s sumptuous, shimmery paintings. Appropriately oversize considering its vast majesty, this book will inspire in young readers an equally outsize sense of wonder. - NYT Review

Birding - Montezuma 1/11/12

South Spring Pool

Left the driveway a little before 8 AM. Turning onto McDonald Road moved 3 American Crows off the shoulder. As they took flight they were joined by 5 more crows.

Drove into the Potato House parking area around 8:15 AM. There just off to the northwest were 300+ Snow Geese. Watched them for a half an hour. During this time the flock went airborne and pirouetted over the mucklands before ascending again.

Reached Martens Tract about 9:15 AM. As I left the car an Eastern Bluebird flew in and perched on the Refuge's #29 telephone call sign. Saw this bird again as it was preening on a bush.

Before visiting the Montezuma Audubon Center (MAC) pulled into the Crusoe Creek canoe launch. There I flushed up a Great Blue Heron.

At the MAC chatted with Chris. Chris pointed out on the MAC refuge map where American Bald Eagle were sighted during a survey held this week. He mentioned that 2 Juvenile Bald Eagles were seen on Armitage Road and 1 at Mays Point. These two spots would be my next destinations.

Motoring to the eagle sightings I saw the Kestrel that is usually on the telephone wires on Messner Road. Took a photo of the bird though the windshield since a loud truck was approaching. Good thing because the rumble of the exhaust forced the kestrel off its perch.

Sadly to say that I did not see any eagles today.

Drove up to the gate at Tschache Pool. There was a large white bird far off in the fields. Could not identified it.

Last stop - South Spring Pool. It was frozen as were all the waterways today.

The weather may be abnormal but it does provide for pleasant birding conditions.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Utterly Otterly Night - Mary Casanova/Ard Hoyt

Few creatures can compete with the otter for unabashed cuteness. With exuberant pen-and-ink drawings (Ard Hoyt) and lively onomatopoeic text (Mary Casanova), this sequel of sorts to “Utterly Otterly Day”
shows the otter at its most appealing. The otters encounter a rabbit, a moose towers, and five wolves. But in the end, “all is right / on a friskily, whiskily, / whooshily, shooshily, / icily, ­dicily, / frightfully, delightfully, / utterly otterly night.”

This book will bring a smile to your face and warm your heart on a cold winter evening.

After the Thin Man (1936)

Almost as good as the first movie, After the Thin Man starts where the original left off. Nick and Nora arrive back on the West Coast by train from their exhausting holiday vacation in New York and become involved in another murder mystery with every hood in San Francisco a suspect.

The film features a juicy murder among Nora’s high-society relatives, Asta running off a competitor for Mrs. Asta’s attentions, and a very young Jimmy Stewart in a key role.
Borrowed the DVD from Seymour Library.