An alert friend recently drew my attention to a nationwide salmonella outbreak that public health officials are blaming on backyard poultry flocks.   Not just any flocks, mind you, but those that have been indiscriminately cuddled and kissed by their keepers. According to the federal Centers for Disease Control, 790 people in 48 states have […]

A gnat flew into my mouth while I was running this morning, and despite the customary courtesies — the coughing and hacking to set it free — it lingered at the back of my throat, then slipped inexorably into my gullet. I was sad for a moment, but then not, because how likely is it, […]

I’ve been reflecting lately on the power of our subconscious minds, which profoundly shape our experience in invisible and uncontrollable ways. The proximate prompt for this reflection was an online ScienceDaily article — headlined “How viewing cute animals can help rekindle marital spark” – which stated that photos of puppies and bunnies can help keep […]

  The Fourth of July is a quintessentially American holiday, composed of over-the-top visuals, deafening noise, national self-aggrandizement and victimization of vulnerables, especially dogs, thousands of which will run away, cower in terror, or simply wet themselves. I may well do the same, as each year, I find myself more averse to these cacophonous, polluting […]

As longtime readers of this blog know, I often post photos of furry and feathered visitors I encounter in and around my yard. Like Bambi:   And Thumper: And mischievous raccoons:   And beautiful birds:       And so forth.  Because I deeply appreciate wildlife and because I sometimes can’t write my way out […]

Every decade or so, when my plastic-covered address book — the old-fashioned kind with tabs for each letter of the alphabet — begins to fall apart, I buy a new one and begin transferring names.  Not just the names of the living who are still part of my life, but the names of the dead […]

My neighbor Edie, who has macular degeneration, recently hired a woman I know to be her driver for errands and appointments. Because this woman — let’s call her Paula — told Edie she and I are friends, Edie has been plying me for information. Edie is a great neighbor and wonderful woman, apart from an […]

Although summer is barely underway, I’ve already experienced the season’s highlight: fledging. The young finches left their nest box last week, each making its way to the lip, fluttering its wings and then launching itself into space. With varying degrees of loft and aim,  they landed in a large juniper shrub a few feet away, […]