On a cold note

Nonfiction stories dealing with surviving harsh rural winters appeal to me — a peculiar penchant.

I also have an affinity for the music of Russian composers, eg. Rachmaninoff, Scriabin, Mussorgsky, Prokofiev, Shostakovich.

A parallel?

Chopin, too, is a favorite, and he’s from Poland — right up there, along with Schumann, a German.

Starlings make an appearance

European starlings have been harvesting the trove of black olives that grow in batches on nearly every branch of the tree out back.

Normally, the olives merely fall to the ground and rot, so it’s nice to see the birds using them for sustenance. They take them and fly to the ground, where they shake them violently in their beaks until they split into bite-sized chunks.

The starlings’ plumage is iridescent and more or less echoes the color of the olives. Their dark feathers are offset by a caramel trim along their outer wings, with their bodies speckled in earth tones as if by an artist’s brush. Continue reading

Weather notes

At dusk, the clouds had the same pinkish hue as when the sun was coming up that day. Thus, the sky, to her, was indistinguishable.

The room was chilly, and her cat made her think of the two pigeons she saw earlier at the park. The pair rested on the ground near the gazebo, their feathers puffed up against the cold and damp. And now, her cat rested with its paws beneath its chest, a classic feline configuration.

Bird Man

The Bird Man is on the move. He’s wearing a sweat jacket and a ball cap because it’s cold. It’s 38 degrees this morning, and typically, such as during summer, the Bird Man will wear only an old white T-shirt that you and I might demote to rag status, as well as jeans that no longer can stay put around his pot belly.

Today the Bird Man looks more dressed up than usual due to his navy blue jacket. It seems to be in fine condition and looks warm.

The Bird Man is removing the rocks from the small plastic Tupperware lining his cement wall like battlements. He is emptying the backwash and refilling the vessels with a cheap plastic pitcher of water. Continue reading

The goings on at the ponds

Photo by Cassandra Keenan

The great egrets shunned the other waterfowl.

The egrets were staying in Vegas as part of their winter migrational route. Like an ivy league clique, they stuck up their bills while congregating in a lush, green riparian grove, which made their white plumage all the more stunning — like fresh-fallen snow.

And they knew it.

Meanwhile, the gambel’s quail were skittish, despite being on their year-round turf. They ran from the paparazzi as per usual, head plumes bobbing as they made for the clearings, taking cover in the bramble. Continue reading

Shark Shirt

He sat amid a sea of empty cafe tables and chairs — a lone island in perhaps the Pacific.

The shirt he wore bore illustrations of small sharks — a throng of them speckling the deep.

He himself wore a mohawk.

He had just demolished a slice of pizza: The flattened box sat lifeless on his table.

Hunched in his chair, he now cruised social media on his cellphone.

Sunday morning at Charlie Frias

Up ahead I see a man lounging on the pavement in shorts — no shoes, no socks, no shirt. Leaning up against a utility box, he is a white man tanned browner than a band aid. His feet nearly reach the curb, so I step off my bike and wheel it gingerly past him. We exchange good mornings, and I hop back on and head toward Tropicana Avenue to hang a left.

It’s warm out for my first trip to Charlie Frias Park in Las Vegas. Riding on sidewalks is legal here, so I take advantage of it sometimes when the streets have no bicycle lanes.
Continue reading

An uptick in butterflies

The butterfly was not a butterfly but two fallen leaves.

I had been seeing butterflies a lot lately, and so I thought this was yet another encounter.

Recently my local Cooperative Extension made an announcement on Facebook that there was an uptick in the insects’ numbers in the Las Vegas area. Now I wish I had read it.

I wondered if it had something to do with climate change, although the Extension had an optimistic tone in sharing the news. Continue reading

It wasn’t really meat

The woman behind the counter said “pork” when citing the “pork,” “chicken” when mentioning the chicken stand-in and shrimp in reference to the shrimp replacement, without flinching.

This was an Asian vegan eatery, and she acted as if she believed herself. O, there was “beef” in the rice dish I ordered, as well. Anyway, the woman reminded me of Mrs. Baylock from the original Omen. I wondered if she delighted in her ruse. She also reminded me of Klimt’s women, or a Picasso sketch — I’m talking about those 1940s lithograph studies.

Overall, she was friendly but had Mrs. Baylock teeth and an omnivorous grin.