Racine, Wisconsin: First hummingbird at our feeder in 2024
May 16, 2024: First hummingbird at my feeder this year.

Another Week: Number 73

by | May 19, 2024

Birds are so strange. They’re little remnants of dinosaurs that can recognize Dick Cheney and find their way back to my feeder from Central America.

On Thursday, I noticed a bird across the street in my neighbor’s driveway. It looked like a starling, but it was hard to say for sure from that distance. I had seen it hop down from a fence and land on top of the rearview mirror on Gene’s passenger-side door.

Perched there, the bird craned his head down, looked directly into the mirror, and became furious upon spotting another bird staring right back at him. There was a flurry of wings as the bird attacked the mirror for a few seconds. Then he settled himself back atop it, and once composed, started the whole sequence over again — craning his neck, spotting the rival, etc. It was hilarious, but I had to move along after watching a few repetitions.

On Friday, I was sitting on my front step when likely the same bird flew to the rearview mirror of a different car — this one parked on the street in front of my house. The bird perched at the top of the driver’s door against the window glass and stared directly into the mirror.

This time, there was no apparent fury, but instead a tentative admiration as the bird slowly turned his head and regarded his reflection as anyone might do.

On Saturday, I saw the same admiring behavior focussed on a third car’s mirror. The bird almost seemed to be falling in love.

This week I walked 3.53 miles.


One Life (2023)

Sunday was Mother’s Day, and I joined my sister Karen and brother-in-law Kevin at mom’s apartment for dinner and a movie.

Karen rented One Life via Prime. It’s the true story of Nicholas Winton, a British stockbroker whose volunteer work in 1938 and 1939 saved the lives of 669 mostly Jewish children who were refugees in Czechoslovakia as Hitler began ravaging Europe.

Johnny Flynn plays Winton in those days, and Anthony Hopkins portrays Winton 50 years later, when his heroic accomplishments are finally recognized.

It’s an astounding story, but the movie tells it in fairly standard biopic fashion, alternating between the younger and older Wintons. There’s a lot of anxiety surrounding bureaucratic red tape, train departures, and menacing Nazis. My mom — a huge FDR fangirl — could not believe that Franklin Roosevelt was the unnamed U.S. president who ignored Winton’s plea to accept refugee children.

I might have preferred less of the logistics and more of the consequence of Winton’s astonishing project — more about the individual lives that he saved. Nevertheless, it was an inspiring story worth knowing about.


Apple Music Live: Kacey Musgraves

I’m not into much popular country music, but I have favored Kacey Musgraves for several years. She’s pretty, her pure voice spills out of her like silk, and she has an unorthodox streak in juxtaposition with her sweet presentation — take “(Burn One With) John Prine,” for example.

My subscription to Apple TV+ is ending soon, so to get some use out of it, I watched Apple Music Live: Kacey Musgraves on Friday. it’s a 50-minute set filmed at Electric Lady Studios in New York City to showcase her new album Deeper Well in front of a small group of admirers crammed against one wall.

The performance is pristine and Musgraves’s songs sometimes feel formulaic, like a math problem neatly solved in girlish handwriting. Other times, the lyrics have some twist and edge alluding to more complicated real-life emotions. It’s these glints that keep me interested as her songwriting matures.

Earlier that same day, I had been talking with Amy’s sister Donna about the common folklore of cardinals as incarnations of the dead. As it turns out, one of Musgraves’s new songs is called “Cardinal,” and it was inspired by John Prine.


WTF with Marc Maron: Billy Strings, Mark Ruffalo

Doing yard work on Friday and Saturday, I listened to a couple of episodes of WTF with Marc Maron.

On Friday, it was the May 16th episode, a talk with Billy Strings, the bluegrass and rock guitarist who has delighted me on YouTube for a couple of years now. Strings talked about his youth in Michigan, told a moving story about reuniting his dad with a pawned guitar, and shared his genuine love for music of various genres.

On Saturday, I mowed the lawn while listening to the February 19th episode with Mark Ruffalo, who shared some fond memories of Kenosha, Wisconsin — including Tenuta’s. Getting his bike stolen as a kid gave him the rage he needed to play the Hulk — and he tells the harrowing story of his brain tumor in 2001.



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