Animated Poetry: Billy Collins

I try to read a poem every morning. Three weeks of lectures and then weeks of other often inscrutable and dull writing has made catching the rhythm of a poem on the page more difficult. Since readings and being read to are not my favorite thing, a little animated poetry often saves the day.

JWTNY animated poetry channel:

"Billy Collins, former US Poet Laureate and one of America's best-selling poets, reads his poem[s] with animation by Juan Delcan of Spontaneous.

Noted for their intelligent humor, accessibility and observations on daily life, Collins' popular poems come alive further in a series of animated poems produced by JWT New York."

These are best dished out slowly. Here is Billy Collins reading "Forgetfulness".


2011: Calendar 4: Sandra Juto

Sandra Juto Illustraton:

Three  laminated pocket calendars in a package to keep tempis from fugit-ing.
8$ USD plus 2$ USD shipping.



Sandra also has her prints on sale. If you buy one, you get one free. One for you, one for Santa...


Good Music: Sarah Harmer - Oh Little Fire

Sarah Harmer has a voice that seems almost effortless. Melodies fall from her lips the way the landscape flows past your windows on a prairie highway: rising and falling with the natural fluidity of weather-worn years, and warm like rays of sun through the windshield. It's an essence almost perfectly distilled in Oh, Little Fire.

Fire, like Harmer herself, is full of grace and charm. Songs like 'Captive' and 'The City' glisten with driving acoustics, chiming electrics and soaring melodies packed into two and a half minutes of pop perfection, while 'One Match' celebrates the first stirrings of new love with a breezy groove and tasteful strings. 'Silverado' calls back to Harmer's love of bluegrass (indulged on 1999's Songs For Clem, and 2005's I Am A Mountain), showcasing pedal steel and a dusky duet with Neko Case, and 'Late Bloomer' bends a deceptively cheerful melody to a story of self-deception in love. In counterpoint, 'Washington' is a darker, downtempo study in regret, and album highlight 'New Loneliness' uses spare acoustic guitar, ghost-like drums, and ethereal layers of pedal steel-like electric to create a haunting soundscape for Harmer's reflections on the empty space left in a broken pair.

Harmer recently appeared on NPR in New York City to play a few songs and talk about Oh, Little Fire and the years she's spent working to protect the Niagara Escarpment. You can have a listen here.


Our Daily Bird 51: Laurel Roth

Biodiversity Reclamation Suits for Urban Pigeons: Carolina Parakeet (detail) 2009 crocheted yarn, hand carved pigeon mannequin, walnut stand 8 x 9 x 13 inches 

Biodiversity Reclamation Suits for Urban Pigeons: Carolina Parakeet 2009 crocheted yarn, hand carved pigeon mannequin, walnut stand 8 x 9 x 13 inches

Laurel Roth has crocheted a series of Biodiversity Reclamation Suits for Urban Pigeons.  This is what she has to say about her work:

Fascinated with women’s traditional use of fiber-craft to provide safety and comfort, I have been crocheting small suits for urban pigeons that disguise them as extinct birds, thereby (visually) re-creating biodiversity and soothing environmental fears.
And now I insist that you go see the rest of this series, because I like you a lot.

Our Daily Bird 50: One Dead Chickadee

This little guy caught my eye as I was scooting across campus on my bike. You see a lot of chickadees around these parts - roosting in bare trees, darting past quickly, and, yes, gathering in hedges. This is the first one I've found dead. I feel like I should have something profound to say about mortality or fragility but I don't. So I'll let the picture stand on it's own - one dead chickadee on a winter day.


Picture Cook

For bodies & souls enduring chilly times & climes, something to warm you up:

from Picture Cook by Katie Shelly; found via the marvellous @brainpicker (Maria Popova) on Twitter.

Or perhaps you've a craving for sweet potato fries on the side, a snack of krispy kale, or a ginger tea break. You'll find the inspiration here. As Katie Shelly explains:




Our Daily Bird 49: The Ostrich

A little papery puppetry for you today:

The Ostrich from Lucas Zanotto on Vimeo.


Lucas Zanotto also has a Flickr set on the making of The Ostrich


Of kiwis & hope

This evening (Wednesday) my dining room is filled with plants from the balcony so they won't freeze outdoors in these record-low temperatures. To remind myself why I persevere about many things, not just gardening, I'm re-reading nutritionist, gardener & author Joan Dye Gussow's lovely essay, Kiwis and Hope wherein she describes the "immaculate conception" of kiwifruit in her garden.  I encourage you to read the entire piece (it's not long & she's a wonderful writer) to learn why Ms. Gussow believes cultivating hope is not a foolish or futile pursuit.

And they [kiwis] seem to me a happy metaphor for the importance of continuing to work toward our necessary future even though the prospects sometimes seem daunting. Even when things seem hopelessly unlikely; if you just keep trying, even nature is apparently willing to break some rules (from the PowellsBooks.Blog essay).


Photo credit: Kiwis by Luis Miguel Bugallo Sánchez (Lmbuga); copyright: GFDL (GNU Free Documentation License), via Wikimedia Commons


Our Daily Bird 48: The Jain Bird Hospital in Dehli


Founded in 1956, the Jain Bird Hospital is capable of taking in up to 10,000 fine feathered friends.  Located in Dehli, India, it is run as an offshoot of the Digambar Jain temple, treating nearly 30,000 birds every year and admitting up to 60 new patients a day. Brought in by area merchants and townspeople, birds are treated for free with the hospital being supported through private donations.  

The Jain Bird Hospital in Delhi

by William Meredith

Outside the hotel window, unenlightened pigeons
weave and dive like Stukas on their prey,
apparently some tiny insect brother.
(In India, the attainment of nonviolence
is considered a proper goal for human beings.)
If one of the pigeons should fly into the illusion

of my window and survive (the body is no illusion
when it’s hurt) he could be taken across town to the bird
hospital where Jains, skilled medical men,
repair the feathery sick and broken victims.
There, in reproof of violence
and of nothing else, live Mahavira’s brothers and sisters.

To this small, gentle order of monks and nuns
it is bright Vishnu and dark Shiva who are illusion.
They trust in faith, cognition, and nonviolence
to release them from rebirth. They think that birds
and animals—like us, some predators, some prey—
should be ministered to no less than men and women.

The Jains who deal with creatures (and with laymen)
wear white, while their more enterprising hermit brothers
walk naked and are called the sky-clad. Jains pray
to no deity, human kindness being their sole illusion.
Mahavira and those twenty-three other airy creatures
who turned to saints with him, preached the doctrine of ahimsa,

which in our belligerent tongue becomes nonviolence.
It’s not a doctrine congenial to snarers and poultrymen,
who every day bring to market maimed pheasants.
Numbers of these are brought in by the Jain brothers
and brought, to grow back wing-tips and illusions,
to one of the hospitals succoring such small quarry.

When strong and feathered again, the lucky victims
get reborn on Sunday mornings to the world’s violence,
released from the roofs of these temples to illusion.
It is hard for a westerner to speak about men and women
like these, who call the birds of the air brothers.
We recall the embarrassed fanfare for Francis and his flock.

We’re poor forked sky-clad things ourselves
and God knows prey to illusion—e.g., I claim these brothers
and sisters in India, stemming a little violence, among birds.
From Effort at Speech: New and Selected Poems.
Copyright © 1997 by William Meredith

Our Daily Smeagol

Birds and hobbits are both known to be tricksy/ But there's nothing but good in a bite of raw fishy.


Our Daily Kugel

Courtesy of Chan Friedman

As suggested by Elle_Ann.


Our Daily Eagle

What's that? Who? The one who plays with dolls? Beagle? Are you sure? Not eagle? No Daily Bird? Daily Dog? What?


Our Daily Bugle (scroll down for the whole story)


Our Daily Bird Followup: You Can't Always Get What You Want


Our Daily Beagle


Our Daily (angry) Birds: 47

I know that Our Daily Bird is one of the most popular parts of The Hedge Society but I just need to come out and say it, not all of us are fond of birds. Despite being 6'4" tall and large enough to play the defensive line in football, birds freak me out. They swoop, they have scales, they eat worms, they lay eggs... my dog is even bred to hunt them. Whatever the reason, I may or may not be afraid of them as well. Every time I think I am over it I end up jumping in my brother's lap because a bird came to close to our table.

It's not all my fault. The birds can't all be trusted. Look at the bird lobby and their special interest groups in Washington.  They even got a bird onto Sesame Street and look at the trouble him and his "imaginary" friend Mr. Snuffleupagus cause. Not all birds are nice. Like these ones below.

Genus Aves Iratus (Angry Birds)

Years ago while in Toronto to see the Barenaked Ladies in concert, I wandered into a Second Cup for a coffee when I made a near fatal mistake and ordered a crumbly muffin. As I stepped outside, I was immediately surrounded by sparrows. Keeping my cool, I told myself if this gets bad, I can probably take them and I casually kept eating my crumbly muffin. Then out of nowhere, a one-legged seagull came swooping down and landed awkwardly on one leg before falling over (like I said, he only had one leg). He gave out a call and then there were hundreds (it was more like millions) of seagulls landing all around me and all wanting a piece of my crumbly muffin.  

There are a lot of stories about what happened next but I did what any normal person who had a deathly fear of birds would do; I threw my crumbly muffin as far as I could in one direction, tossed my coffee on the one-legged seagull, and then ran as fast as I could the other way, ignoring the laughter of my wife and about 50 strangers.

I hate birds. Why can't this site celebrate something less evil like Beagles?


2011: Calendar 3: Night Owl Paper Goods

Here's my 2011 pick for a lifeboat to carry me through the wreck of time. It's made of eco-friendy wood by the fine folks at Night Owl Paper Goods:

Above images from the 2011 Botanical Calendar - this one's for my desk.

And I'm tempted to keep this owly one for my wall, though it's supposed to be a gift.

2011 Danish Owl Calendar



Our Daily Bird 46: Emily of Texas

Birds of Pretty and Nice

appx 13 1/2 x 5 1/2" acrylic on woodappx. 15" x 6 1/4" acrylic on woodEmily of Texas lives in Texas, naturally, with her collection of Mammoth Jackstock donkeys and other assorted animals.  

There's a great little interview with Emily about her donkeys, far west Texas, and artmaking here: 

You can follow Emily of Texas on Twitter:


Our Daily Bird 45: Dimitris Taxis

Cover illustration by Dimitris Taxis for Lifo Magazine, 09-09-10.


This Old House

I've been thinking a lot about why I don't like houses or furniture, or anything really, that's new but made to look old, furniture that's "distressed" to make it look weathered, wood floors banged up with a hammer so they look worn. 

There is something about this that strikes me as untrue, and I realized what it was when I came across this paragraph in Bayles and Orland's book, Art & Fear. They said,

Today, indeed, you can find urban white artists – people who could not reliably tell a coyote from a German shepherd at a hundred feet – casually incorporating the figure of Coyote the Trickster into their work. A premise common to all such efforts is that power can be borrowed across space and time. It cannot. There’s a difference between meaning that is embodied and meaning that is referenced. As someone once said, no one should wear a Greek fisherman’s hat except a Greek fisherman.

When what looks old really is old, its meaning is embodied, not referenced - and trying to borrow the power of 'old' across space and time can only be referential; it isn't what it is.

If you can't borrow power across space and time then, what's left but to discover your own and embody its meaning yourself?