Smuggling Finches, No Really

Fascinating NYTimes report on the illegal trade in finches. Yep, we’re talking about the small bird. Apparently, there’s a whole gambling subculture around the tiny birds, a subculture that I could totally get behind if the birds weren’t being brought in via hair curlers turned into bird tubes. People bet on the birds’ singing prowess, chirps, and other birdie behaviors. Probably not on how much they dance for you or flirt with the ladies, which are most of Constance’s, our green cheek conure, behaviors.


Meditations on Being Sick After the Fact

I was sick last week. Sick enough that I missed a whole week of work–cold that became an infection behind my ears and then some blood pressure issue with the cold medicine and me not doubling my water intake making it all so much worse. I’m definitely better now, but it got me thinking how privileged I am and thankful. I’m rarely sick or sick enough to miss work. I’ve definitely worked through sinus infections and with a cough that wouldn’t budge. But I also have a healthy constitution and don’t often get sick. I have over a semester of sick leave, and being out last week barely made a dent in it. I’m so grateful we can bank sick leave.

My department head never once asked when I was coming back, even if it was the last week of classes. She only cared that I was feeling better. My students were so kind about rolling with me being out and everything being discombobulated. They apparently asked friends and my department head how I was doing. They were genuinely concerned about my well being. One student’s husband wanted to make me soup. My friends here and elsewhere kept checking on me. I didn’t allow anyone to bring things because I didn’t want anyone else to get my cold; Jason and I got it at the same time, so I was definitely contagious at one point. Of course, long distance colding as a couple sucks but Jason kept face timing me so he could see I was okay. He knows I have a tendency to downplay how bad I feel. Well, until I can’t.

I’m thankful for my PerPo collaborators who were gracious as I was definitely not fully present on a phone call as we worked on finishing the introduction to a cluster of essays we’re writing.

I’m also thankful to live in a world where my health insurance paid for most of a doctor’s visit and the antibiotics, both together for less than $50.

Commonplace: Gerard Manley Hopkins, “Pied Beauty”

Glory be to God for dappled things—

For skies of couple-colour as a brinded cow;

For rose-moles all in stipple upon trout that swim;

Fresh-firecoal chestnut-falls; finches’ wings;

Landscape plotted and pieced—fold, fallow, and plough;

And all trades, their gear and tackle and trim.

All things counter, original, spare, strange;

Whatever is fickle, freckled (who knows how?)

With swift, slow; sweet, sour; adazzle, dim;

He fathers-forth whose beauty is past change:

Praise Him.

~ Gerard Manley Hopkins, “Pied Beauty”

Commonplace: Carol Ann Duffy, “The Wound in Time”

It is the wound in Time. The century’s tides, 
chanting their bitter psalms, cannot heal it. 
Not the war to end all wars; death’s birthing place; 
the earth nursing its ticking metal eggs, hatching 
new carnage. But how could you know, brave 
as belief as you boarded the boats, singing? 
The end of God in the poisonous, shrapneled air. 
Poetry gargling its own blood. We sense it was love 
you gave your world for; the town squares silent, 
awaiting their cenotaphs. What happened next? 
War. And after that? War. And now? War. War. 
History might as well be water, chastising this shore; 
for we learn nothing from your endless sacrifice. 
Your faces drowning in the pages of the sea. 

~ Carol Ann Duffey, “The Wound in Time,” 2018, commissioned to commemorate the end of the First World War. Duffey is the current poet laureate of the U.K.

Commonplace: Margaret Postgate Cole, “Afterwards”

Oh, my beloved, shall you and I
Ever be young again, be young again?
The people that were resigned said to me
—Peace will come and you will lie
Under the larches up in Sheer,
And eating strawberries and cream and cakes—
   O cakes, O cakes, O cakes, from Fuller’s!
And, quite forgetting there’s a train to town,
Plotting in an afternoon the new curves for the world.
And peace came. And lying in Sheer
I look round at the corpses of the larches
Whom they slew to make pit-props
For mining the coal for the great armies.
And think, a pit-prop cannot move in the wind,
Nor have red manes hanging in spring from its branches,
And sap making the warm air sweet.
Though you planted it out on the hill again it would be dead.
And if these years have made you into a pit-prop,
To carry the twisting galleries of the world’s reconstruction
(Where you may thank God, I suppose
That they set you the sole stay of a nasty corner)
What use is it to you? What use
To have your body lying here
In Sheer, underneath the larches?
~Margaret Postgate Cole, “Afterwards,” 1918