Sunday, October 31, 2010

Ana Watches Hummingbirds Get Banded (part 2)

There are two kinds of bands visible in these photos: for larger birds, and for hummingbirds. When laid on their backs, the birds become inert. In one photo below, a hummingbird has been laid in a band for a larger bird. The bands used for hummers are barely big enough to fit around a pencil lead. The bottom photo shows a hummingbird sporting his (or her) new band.

(Ana Loves Hummingbirds, part 1)


Friday, October 29, 2010

Ana Visits a Hummingbird Banding Session

Ana loves hummingbirds. This fall, she and Matt visited a wildlife preserve where game managers were banding migrating southbound humminbirds. These tiny birds fly to the Texas coast, fatten up, and then cross the Gulf of Mexico headed for their winter homes. It seems impossible, but they fly down from Colorado and points north, thousands of miles...and then fly back in the spring.

Here are some pictures from their visit. These experts know what they are doing and the birds are not hurt! Ana's heart went out to them. (Each picture may be clicked for a larger version.)

We'll have pictures of the actual banding in the next post in a few days.

(Hummingbirds, part 2)

Friday, October 22, 2010

Ana's Favorite Puzzle Poem

Ana and Matt enjoy the occasional poem, though Ana, having grown up on another planet in a different culture speaking a different language, isn't quite as nimble as Matt, who has a BA in English, at picking up all the references.

She did beat him once, however. She figured out what was going on in one poem almost instantly, and had to explain it to her husband. She was so happy she actually clapped her hands and laughed.

It's a lovely poem, by Sylvia Plath. It turns up in many a college freshman anthology, in fact, and most college freshmen do not get it either.

The title is "Metaphors," and the first line is "I'm a riddle in nine syllables."

If you'd like to test yourself, the poem is here. Note & hint: Ana is far better at mathematics than her husband.

If you need more hints, we've hidden some here.

(See more of Ana's favorite poems at left, under the LOVE sculpture.)

Monday, October 18, 2010

Taking a Walk in the Universe

Sometimes Ana and Matt sit outside after dinner, sometimes in their little patio, other times under the trees around their house. Once a week or so, they take a walk. They don't live in a neighborhood proper, so they don't have neighbors to wave at and say hello to. Instead, they often cross the old highway in front of their house, through the fields on the other side, and walk along the banks of the Rio Grand, flowing slowly and silently to the south. They live on the eastern side of the river. The sun sets across the river. Often the sun setting into the clouds over the desert makes a gorgeous spectacle.

So it's no surprise Ana would like the poem "Scorcher," by George Bilgere, in which a couple take a walk in the evening. It's perfectly straightforward--there's nothing in it she had to ask Matt to help her understand. She knew about the sounds of crickets and katydids, and the little flashes of lightning bugs. The poem doesn't mention frogs plopping into the river or the puttering of a distant tractor which Ana enjoys, but it does mention greeting neighbors, which they almost never do. She misses that, from her childhood.

What she especially likes is the way the end of the poem sets the walkers' position in the context of the universe, on a "dark planet" on "one of the slender, gracefully swirling arms/of one of the smaller galaxies." She thinks about that often, more often than most of the rest of us. And why shouldn't she?

Another poem Ana likes that's set in the universe

There are many more poems Ana treasures in the table of contents on the right, about halfway down (under the Love sculpture).

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

A Kolache Recipe from a Czech Grandmother

Who would have expected a woman from another planet to experiment with the cuisines of Earth? As a Kindle Board member said, “It's always a pleasure to read a book where the character is so fleshed out that I feel I would know him/her if I met them on the street. Not only would I know them, I'd have invited them to lunch so we could chat!” Learn more!

Wheat was new to Ana when she came to Earth—needless to say. Thomans have many sources of carbohydrates (starches), some of which are similar to several of our grains, but wheat and corn, to name just two, are among Ana’s favorite grains on her new planet.

She loves baked goods, and baking. Here’s a recipe that came to her second or third hand from an honest-to-goodness Czech grandmother. It’s for kolaches, the traditional, much-loved Czech pastry. There’s nothing experimental about this recipe. It comes from the old Czecheslovakia to Texas, where it almost certainly has been used daily for over a hundred years.

True Czech Kolaches

1 cup of milk
1/2 cup of sugar
1/4 cup of butter
1/4 cup shortening or lard
1 teaspoon of salt
1 package of yeast
1/4 cup of warm water
2 eggs
4 to 5 cups of flour

Scald the milk. Dissolve sugar and salt, and melt butter in milk. Cool.

Proof yeast in water. Add milk mixture and eggs. Work in flour, keeping softer than for bread. Let rise one hour.

Shape into balls. Depress center. Fill with fruit of your choice. Place close together on greased pan. Let rise for 30 minutes.

Bake at 350 degrees, until light brown.

(Many more recipes in the right column, halfway down)

Wearable art Ana loves from Mexico, Ecuador, and Guatemala