Simple Pleasure #38

Un fait accompli.

I am my mother’s daughter. For years (and I mean YEARS) I have dutifully brought back soaps, shampoos, and conditioners from hotel stays. “Can’t let this go to waste.” “Won’t these be handy to have in the bathroom.” “These will be perfect for camping trips.” Honestly, I knew I had a problem, so for the last few years I really tried to only bring home the ones that we used (partially) and were going to be thrown away. (Back to “can’t let this go to waste.”)

Then, many moons ago, I cleaned out the bathroom cabinets and came up with a huge, overflowing basket of shampoos and conditioners. Then and there I vowed to use up every. last. one. At some point I moved the cache into a smaller basket. And then this week, this happened:

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Proving, once and for all, that if I set my mind to something, it can be accomplished. (True confession: I earlier put away two sets of shampoo/conditioner for that very valid handy-for-camping reason.)

Now about those soaps…

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H is for Hawk

hawkH is for Hawk by Helen Macdonald is the 22nd book I’ve read this year, towards my goal of 37. Goodreads tells me that this is 4 books behind schedule. (Thanks a lot, Goodreads) It also completes one of my Thoughts from the Back Reading Challenge tasks – read a book with a bird on the cover. Two down, five to go. Fortunately, I didn’t really set myself a schedule for the Reading Challenge.

I had heard a lot about this book before reading it. It is memoir, nature, history all rolled together and told by an excellent, descriptive writer. From childhood, Macdonald has been fascinated with the sport of falconry, both its history and the birds themselves, and in adulthood she becomes an experienced falconer. Grieving after the sudden, unexpected death of her father, she decides to throw herself into training the most difficult, fierce predator of them all, a goshawk.

H is for Hawk is the story of the training of the goshawk, Mabel. It is also the story of Macdonald working thru her grief, and finding her way again. It is also the story of the author T.H. White, best known for his books of the Arthurian Legend. White himself trained a goshawk and wrote a book about it. Macdonald entwines the two training experiences leaving the reader feeling that there was no way Macdonald’s story would be complete without White’s story as well.

I heard the author read an excerpt on a radio interview. I was left somewhat breathless. Actually reading the book never left me feeling quite that same way, but still I really enjoyed it. Macdonald herself is an introvert and somewhat of a loner, especially during this period in her life, and it feels like she is purposefully keeping the reader at arm’s length. Her writing is solid though perhaps too descriptive for some. I read it just before diving into an animal training adventure of my own, so I think it is speaking to me on that level as well as the fact that a nature and history combo is clearly a draw for me.

The history was about falconry and White, but it was also about the connection of humans to nature, and it is perhaps that aspect of the book that I loved the most.

When I trained my hawk I was having a quiet conversation, of sorts, with the deeds and works of a long-dead man (White) who was suspicious, morose, determined to despair. A man whose life disturbed me. But a man, too, who loved nature, who found it surprising, bewitching and endlessly novel. ‘A magpie flies like a frying pan!’ he could write, with the joy of discovering something new in the world. And it is that joy, that childish delight in the lives of creatures other than man, that I love most in White. He was a complicated man, and an unhappy one. But he knew also that the world was full of simple miracles.

White’s works are best known to most as the inspiration for Disney movies and Broadway musicals (Camelot). In The Sword in the Stone,  Merlin teaches young Wort to understand himself and his place in the world by understanding non-human animals and their places in nature. Macdonald learned some of those same lessons herself while training Mabel, and I’m pleased she wrote this book so she could teach me, as well.

Simple Pleasure #37

It’s my birthday.

Which is not actually a simple pleasure; it’s rather a big deal when any of us get to spend a whole ‘nother year doing this amazing thing called living.

But I don’t really DO birthdays, it’s just another day to enjoy some simple pleasures such as:

  1. Greetings from just the right number of special friends and family members. Thank you all for being part of my life!
  2. A gourmet dinner out with the husband. Also known as dollar hot dog night at the ballpark! Any  chance you could win one for me tonight, Astros?
  3. A dog. However this adventure comes out, we are giving it our best shot to give our cute pooch (with some unacceptable aggression issues) a chance at a forever home with us.

And my birthday wish? For all of you to enjoy some simple pleasure in  your own life today.

Simple Pleasure #36

Crossing things off the knitting to-do list.

I’m pretty happy to report that it is only the beginning of September and as of yesterday, I have completed TWO of my four planned knitted Christmas gifts for this year. That being said, the other two might not even get on the needles before Christmas because I have a new baby present, an older sibling gift, and a wedding afghan all queued up on the knitting to-do list.

Repeat after me: knitting is a joyful hobby and not a chore, knitting is a joyful hobby and not a chore, knitting is a joyful hobby and not a chore, knitting is a joyful hobby….

 

Simple Pleasure #35

Simple pleasures are for the birds this week.

I’ve been keeping the feeders minimally stocked of late because there is plenty of other food available right now for our feathered friends. Thanks to a friendly reminder from my neighborhood Wild Birds store, I did put up the hummingbird feeder and we’ve had a steady stream of migrating hummers visiting this week. I never get tired of seeing them.

I was wondering what the new dog was finding so interesting about the plant stand by the back door. I assumed he was cautiously watching a lizard, but then I saw a little bird hop away (scaring the dog, of course). When I stopped laughing, I heard cheeping still coming from the plant stand. Lo and behold there is a “nest” in one of the plants with at least one very hungry, wide-mouthed, noisy baby bird in it. Species still to be determined. Guess I won’t be watering that plant for a few weeks!

Some fun bird watching will definitely make another month of Houston summer a bit more palatable.

UPDATE: They are wrens, which I should have known based on the very messy nest. Also, two parents working to feed at least two babies.