My mother, Barbara, is known for being skilled at many things. To name a few … she’s an incredible cook (her flan is perfection), an expert gardener (we affectionately call her the Garden-ator) and a fierce tennis player and bowler. Now we can add bird whisperer to the list. Here’s a guest post from my father about another of her impressive skills.
The Mourning Dove Whisperer by Paulino Lim Jr.
For five years now in Spring, Barbara has been running an Airbnb for doves. The bnb is a brown plastic pot filled with leaves and twigs, hanging from the west beam of the pergola. The dove “guests” come in pairs, the smaller dove about to lay eggs. Barbara watches them through the sliding glass doors while working on the computer on the desk facing the garden.
The doves flit about in the garden, the water fountain, and other hanging plants before trying on the nest. They may be called birth tourists, like pregnant foreigners giving birth to babies to gain U.S. citizenship. Each season the Airbnb averages three births, with twins each birth. In five years there have been only two failures: one with both babies dying because the male pigeon disappeared, and the other with only one egg hatching. The offspring become citizens of the garden.
Backyard oasis and a peaceful getaway.
Barbara would open the door and greet the doves in a falsetto voice, “Good morning. How are you?” She talks to them, and they no longer fly away from her. As soon as the doves vacate the nest, she removes the detritus and prepares it for the next pair. She recognizes some as returnees. This season two sets of doves had hatchlings; a couple more pairs might show up before Spring ends.
Something unusual happened this year. The backyard pot was occupied so resourceful doves made a home for themselves in the front hanging pot.
Clearly, the “guests” give Barbara’s accommodations five-star reviews. No wonder they are so eager to come stay.
Have you noticed that everyone on social media is obsessed by something? Whether it’s a raging enthusiasm for beauty products, the latest foodie trends, the Pantone color for 2018 (ultra violet, btw) or politics, the Internet is where we make our passions known. I am no different.
I am obsessed by Amor Towles critically-acclaimed novel A Gentleman in Moscow. While I am late to the party—the book was released in fall 2016—I’m so glad I finally showed up. Set right after the 1917 Russian Revolution, the story is about Count Alexander Rostov, who is sentenced to “house arrest” at the Metropol Hotel in Moscow, after writing an incendiary poem which challenges the new Bolshevik regime. What follows is a thirty-year span that skillfully weaves the courtly and intelligent Count’s adventures, and Russian history along with myriad, fully fleshed out supporting characters. All the threads are beautifully orchestrated and paced, creating an exhilarating literary experience. I was so enthralled and reluctant to leave this rich, detailed and thought-provoking world Towles created, I listened to the audiobook too.
If you’re in the mood for a captivating and brilliantly written novel, check out A Gentleman in Moscow. His first book, Rules of Civility, while entirely different in style and subject matter, is also delightful. More on that book later!
At last … one of my favorite sci-fi books has been adapted into a series. Altered Carbon by Richard Morgan arrived last Friday on Netflix. When I first read the novel, I was mesmerized by the world Morgan created: a world where consciousness could be downloaded into a type of chip located at the base of the neck called a cortical stack. It could then be placed in a body (known chillingly as a sleeve). That sleeve could be a real body, a clone or a synthetic.
The ramifications of this concept are dizzying. Say your body was injured or diseased, and you had the money to pay for a new sleeve—because in this world and like most sci-fi, the wealthy have all the options—you could essentially live forever. But if you’re not rich, this world is not your oyster; it’s grim, gritty, ultraviolent and rife with sexual exploitation.
The 10-episode series is also a future-noirish crime story lead by our hero Takeshi Kovacs. Played by Joel Kinnaman (The Killing, RoboCop), who buffed out uber hard to play our conflicted hero, Kovacs is a mercenary who’s stack has been imprisoned for 250 years for crimes against the state. And now’s he’s been re-sleeved by one of the Meths (as old and rich as Methuselah, get it?) to solve who murdered him. Yes, this rich dude (James Purefoy) is alive again! His consciousness was backed up to his personal cloud before his stack was blown to bits. You see, once your stack is kaput, you’re irretrievably dead.
While the series made some dramatic changes to the novel that weren’t entirely satisfying to me, the overall result was thrilling and very cool. Budget was rumored to be around $100 million. Whatever the budget, every cent is evident on-screen. If you’re a lover of Philip K. Dick’s novels and the polluted, ad-fueled and rainy world of Blade Runner—which turned those motifs into sci-fi visual canon—you must check it out!