Saving Easter

No, no ‘passover lamb’ was pardoned, nor were any eggs picked or left undisturbed. A life was brought back from certain death: my daughter saved a fledgling, not by accident, by precautions she took against such eventuality.

Fledgling saved by catch blankets

Chick saved by blankets and pillows circling the palm

How did this come about, you ask? It’s nothing short of a miracle in my mind.

We have a sparrow couple living up in the branches of the high palm tree in our backyard. It isn’t very common for sparrows to nest in palm tree branches – but this is an uncommon backyard. Food appears magically every morning at 7am on the wall. Birds of all sorts feast upon this daily bounty; they’ve come to depend on it. With such providence, what homely pair wouldn’t nest nearby?

My daughter called me, tearfully, yesterday, while I was in class mid-morning, tutoring a student on a complicated engineering subject. A chick had fallen down from the palm tree onto the hard ground beneath. I could not get back home right then – and promised to call back.

The baby bird died. She’d tried to save it, but the fall from such height had broken the flightless thing’s body. I came back to find the bird buried in one of my seedling patches with flowers lovingly placed nearby.

A grim, determined look assailed me…I knew she’d composed herself and done what needed doing. Her little cousin – whom she babysits often – followed her, lamb-like, and helped her with a strange spectacle.

My daughter was arranging all her blankets and pillows around the palm tree!

“What are you doing?!”

“Don’t want another chick to die like this, Dad!”

“But – but those pillows! We need those!”

“You don’t use them, DO YOU?!”

Humbled, I too helped her, lamb-like, and replaced the pillows with old ones I could find. And old sofa cushions. See them in the picture? Gave her any old blanket or bed cover I could find. The palm tree now wore a soft cloth skirt near its roots.

I hugged my daughter – twice – as she left to drop her cousin. Not a word from her.

Texted her later that night, thanking her for her care and love for our backyard beings, suggesting treats at a local movie theater or restaurant. No replies.

We worked in the backyard again this morning. My son helped pluck weeds and my daughter tended her peas and potato patch. She moved over to the palm tree, and I saw her gesticulating, shocked by something. Another bird on the ground? I wasn’t worried this instance – the skirt may well have helped, and being here together would be easier in a crisis.

A fledgling! It was on one of the blankets laid out, hiding from the sun in the shade of a pillow. And it was alive, and unhurt!

She picked it up carefully and brought it over. Its mouth was wide open. Dehydration, a need for food. We quenched its thirst immediately, and my son went to find a shoe box and a soft towel. Having taken care of chicks before, my daughter knew exactly what to do with this little thing. She fed it and settled in into the box.

“You saved a life – you thought of what may happen.”

She just smiled.


Posted in Literary, Nature, nonfiction, Parenting, Social, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , ,

Review: The Delight of Being Ordinary

The Delight of Being Ordinary
The Delight of Being Ordinary by Roland Merullo
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Intriguing, imaginative, and decidedly irreverent.

The book title intrigued me – how did Roland Merullo bring out the essence of simplicity, the joys of shedding pretensions and embracing humility in life – but, in my limited perception, no significant enlightenment in this aspect could be gleaned within. Instead, one finds costumes, a fancy machine, a road trip funded by unlimited Vatican wealth (that, in a handful, could almost pay the bill for said Maserati), Mussolini, and the decadence of Italian movie stars. Sure, ‘great men’ are taken out along Italian roads for a few days’ break from their exhausting royal duties – an adventure playing truants – which, if you’ll excuse me, is rather remote from anything ‘ordinary.’

Let’s move on. Spoilers ahead, but you’ll forgive me.

Imaginative? Certo. The author marries Orthodox Christianity to Buddhist reincarnation and rebirth, and manages to also spring an immaculate conception upon unsuspecting readers near the end. Predictable? Arguably, though he invents a new religion-less religion of a great mother and a great father enjoined in creation. Hmm.

Just what was he getting at? Let’s leave that aside – it is just a road trip, after all. Only, it isn’t! It’s also a good lot of musings on religion, on similarities and some differences, on doubt, self-doubt, restraint, and reconciliation…a hodge-podge of self-help reading material on Catholicism, Tibetan Buddhism, and various aspects one comes across in contemporary lives. He uses religion, and religious beliefs, in his attempt to get to non-religion. Seemed rather irreverent to me.

So – having explained the gist in a boring, linear fashion – a few thoughts on the writing. It is engaging and even enjoyable in places. It is a fun story with reasonably rounded characters and inconsequential ones thrown in for good measure. There is an unhealthy obsession with Il Duce within, but given that the adventure is set in Italy, he had to have something to bash – perhaps to make a powerful institution, that in part collaborated with German Nazis, look good in comparison – and a dictator summarily executed by the people he tormented was as good a choice as any. There are descriptions of national tragedies, the Italian countryside, and aspects of the culture that are interesting. There isn’t anything exceptional; for want of a better description, let’s just say the writing delights in being ordinary.

A Goodreads Giveaway received and reviewed.

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Posted in Literary

The Light from Within: A Letter


A Southwest Sunset


“My friend, do not lose yourself in blinding faith. Find yourself through sparks of insight. You will then advance toward the soothing flame of enlightenment.

“Life, at all levels of abstraction, can be visualized as Chakras, or circles of energy. It involves stages of knowing, communicating, acting, and observing, leading to knowing again. Causation is circular, not linear as most religions would have you believe. Neither is it primal as Aristotle and others imagined and taught.

“At the highest levels of thought known to us is knowledge of the self or self-awareness. That leads to a realization of identity. And to a state of continual learning and refinement, and tranquility beyond par. When shorn of all ego, pretense, and material attachment, one is free from all ‘maya’ or illusion. Such a self attains…whatever you may want to call it!

“But one doesn’t get there by believing things, following others, and closing one’s mind! Fill your mind with blind faith and belief, and there will be little room for any light to enter within.

“Only the light that shines from within can be true enlightenment.”


Posted in Literary, Philosophy | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Review: The Moonstone

The Moonstone
The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Rewarding, engaging, and yet bewildering.

Wilkie Collins’s writing style is unique. At the start of this very long work of fiction and mystery, he addresses a reader so very often that it’s simply distracting. And, he does so to apologize for diversions, digressions, that he introduces into the story. Now isn’t that a mite facetious? Doesn’t that appear insincere? It gave me pause, enough of Mr. Collins’s creative writing techniques and this work thought I, but I’m glad to have persevered on through. The work is indeed engaging, with all sorts of twists and surprises, and ultimately rewarding to the diligent reader.

As the long story unfolds, he springs another novel technique, surprising (and distracting) even a seasoned veteran. He changes the voice – by moving the story forward through the very distinct perspectives of his interesting characters. He yanks a reader from one perspective, somewhat jarringly, into that of another…and the narration, the attention to detail, the musings and judgments all change. One feels much the same as his principal protagonist, who, having gained learning and experience in the German, Italian, French, and his native English cultures, displays a bewildering variety and transitions in his movements through the complex story. Yet, somehow, Mr. Collins makes all this seamless, more or less. It did not seem to help that the various narrators all seemed to know what others had conveyed.

And yes, Mr. Collins does tell a lot more than he shows. Perhaps this was one of his more contemplative works.

The story does take an incredulous turn, toward the end, bordering on metaphysical hocus-pocus, which he does introduce early in the work as well. It is hard to suspend disbelief in such matters, and this work is no exception.

One more curious instrument with which Mr. Collins shaped this work. He ages a voice, one that he employs to bring closure, having begun the story in the same. I thought he did that exceptionally well.

A very long, complex, convoluted work of mystery and fiction that may exhaust most contemporary readers, but will surely reward aspiring writers.

I enjoyed it!

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Posted in Literary

Review: The Dhammapada

The Dhammapada
The Dhammapada by Anonymous
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

An intriguing introduction.

Elements of patriarchy, a male-dominated philosophy, are evident. Abstract concepts such as rebirth, heaven, hell, and the various gods mentioned have no obvious synthesis within, and originate from ancient Hinduism, perhaps. An emphasis on letting go of desires, on a passionless life.

A poetic style, an easy read, appreciable by initiates into the eightfold path…

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Review: Journey to the Centre of the Earth

Journey to the Centre of the Earth
Journey to the Centre of the Earth by Jules Verne
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

“Where there is life, there is hope.”


Perhaps the only thing true about this highly imaginative, fantastical narrative. An engaging adventure, replete with marvelous descriptions of exotic places, and people, Jules Verne holds a reader’s attention and entertains the wandering, wondering mind. Deeper into the work, one encounters incredible scenes and adventures…

Yet exactly that is where I felt the work loosen its hold on me. The incredible lends disbelief, which the work, regrettably, does not suspend.

The center of the Earth? The CENTER? The adventurers barely penetrate…granted that is just a fanciful title, and this is a journey into the interior of the Earth. But a compass needle pointing upwards? The Earth would’ve to be smaller than the Moon for that to make sense. Light in the interior sometimes casting clear shadows, and sometimes not…

And what’s with the phlegmatic eider-down hunter? He seemed as flat a character as can be, while others are developed well, albeit not altogether rounded. The interesting bits of language foreign to most readers was catchy.

Boredom with over-dramatization and with an overactive imagination sped up my reading as well. Perhaps, as a writer myself, I am overly critical!

A good read, one that the very young or casual science-fiction aficionados may enjoy.

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Review: The Mysterious Island

The Mysterious Island
The Mysterious Island by Jules Verne
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Imaginative, and engaging, filled with engineering details, but not altogether convincing as science fiction. Jules Verne connects this work to his Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea through the inimitable character of Captain Nemo, and offers a version of judgment on his actions. Nevertheless, the story appears somewhat contrived.

Yet, science fiction lovers will surely enjoy a Jules Verne work!

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Posted in Literary