Archive for August, 2016

In Rosalind Ziccardi’s debut novel, Sealed and Delivered, we never meet Rey. Or Paul. Or Steve. Or Annah. At least we do not meet them in any conventional narrative sense.

Yet this book of letters—for this is what Ziccardi has given us, from front to back—takes us inside the lives of each of its protagonists as we read the sealed and delivered lines that map their lives through tragedy, love, folly, wisdom, and the loss and rediscovery of a kind of moral sanity that makes sense of life when present. And leaves even well-meaning souls bereft and wandering by its absence. (more…)

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This bird house is sized to attract, in my Midwestern American region at least, House Finches, Sparrows, and Chickadees.

91lrHPub0rL._SL1500_It’s made of a lightweight wood, as befits the modest price point. The front panel swings out at the bottom in order to give access for cleaning out the abandoned nest after the chicks have fledged. There are two holes for attaching the house to a post. One, at the top center of the rear panel, can be seen in the product photography. The other is in the center of the rear panel and can be accessed with a screwdriver when the front panel has been swung into its open position. (more…)

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We have a dog. Little Rhea is a mutt, a canine of uncertain provenance, a largely unremarkable and persistently shedding presence in the home.

Our newspaper appears every morning (well, Monday through Saturday) sheathed in a thin, blue, plastic wrapper that makes a marvelous, repurposed poop bag when we walk Rhea in the park across the street. When I ‘taught’ Rhea to ‘fetch’ the newspaper every morning (Monday through Saturday), I imagined the entertainment value of training this largely underperforming household companion to do something useful. But I also anticipated saving a few steps in my daily (Monday through Saturday) journey down the long driveway to the side of the road whence the newspaper in its thin, blue, plastic sheath gets hurled from a passing car onto endlessly creative subsections of our driveway and its vicinity. (more…)

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Is it just me, or do Blues and Jazz festivals go best with big water? The wind and the waves improvise in a way that naturally frames the indefatigable improvisation at the core of these most American of musical genres.

Think the Chicago, on the edge of Lake Michigan. The Newport, on the Harbor. Now mix in Duluth, on the Lake Superior Bay that it shares with its Wisconsonian neighbor, Superior. (more…)

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It may be that Esther’s mental state at a crucial moment in her mediated dialogue with her Uncle Mordecai is signaled by one small Hebrew word.

And they told Mordecai what Esther had said. Then Mordecai told them to reply to Esther, ‘Do not think to yourself that in the king’s palace you will escape any more than all the other Jews. For if you keep silent at this time, relief and deliverance will rise for the Jews from another place, but you and your father’s house will perish. And who knows whether you have not come to the kingdom for such a time as this?’ (Esther 4:12–14 ESV)


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Sometimes the tears must flow. To stop them would be to tell the lie that things are not so bad.

The Bible’s masterfully told story of Esther has the unlikely queen’s uncle leading the mournful charge as the Jewish community in exile faces extermination. In that way of cloistered royalty, Queen Esther seems the last to know, the last to come to terms with the imminent extinction of her people. Palaces can be oblivious places. (more…)

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After a positive experience and subsequent review of a different Gardirect insect hotel, the good folks at Gardirect contacted me and asked if I’d be willing to review a second product. With this full disclosure, I launch upon this review of the most recently arrived product.

I’m impressed. (more…)

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