Birds Diversions In the Great Outdoors Reading

Pigeons – part 1

So one of the books I took out is a little kids book so that was a quick read 😉 Still taught me something though – which wasn’t hard as I really didn’t know anything about pigeons – because I didn’t know that there is no real “breeding season” for pigeons, they can lay eggs at any time of the year.

Pigeon - City Safari
Yes, indeed, I read and I learned!

Q has a “common birds of the GTA” brochure and it says the pigeons in Toronto are mostly rock pigeons. He told me this fact while reading the Pigeons book pictured above – and then tried to argue that this counted as his “reading obligation” for the day. We’ll see about that!

Q calls pigeons “street chickens.” I think he must have heard that on youtube somewhere. Toby calls them flying rats. I mean, it’s not really their fault but I guess they have a bad rap.

This next book (also for ahem, middle schoolers) said they’re sometimes called feathered rats!


I learned that pigeons were once the symbol of Aphrodite – the Greek Goddess of Love.

But the shocking news to me was that pigeons are not native to North America! Although they can be found everywhere in the world (except Antarctica), they descended from the rock dove (columba livia) a species native to Europe, Asia and northern Africa. So really – the pigeon’s we see? They’re all feral (wiki: – have I mentioned lately how much I love wikipedia? I really should have just started there but I really didn’t want to just rehash the wiki entry I wanted to see what I could learn; and it has three citations for calling pigeons “rats with wings.” Sigh)


There are almost 300 different species of pigeons! And most live in the tropics – I mean, given the option, wouldn’t you?

How lovely do these birds look? The Nicobar Pigeon pic came from a blog I found:

The Spice Imperial Pigeon is from


There are some common features of most pigeons/doves (apparently doves = small, pigeon = big; I’m just gonna use pigeon from now on): short necks and small heads; straight, narrow beaks.

And most eat small seeds and fruit though they are very adaptable to whatever can be found in their area. The mostly eat off the ground so long grasses and high crops are not their friends.


The colours can certainly vary – even among the feral pigeons. Here in Canada they’re mostly grey with some white, black or reddish/brown thrown in. In Hawaii though feral pigeons are mostly white; in England, mostly black.

I can’t really tell the difference between a UK and a Canadian pigeon though the Hawaiian one is pretty nifty:

I had forgotten that squab was pigeon. White Kings and Giant Runts are two breeds that are bred for food – an adult Giant Runt can weigh more than a kilo! And up to 1.4kg for a “prime example” (uhm 2.5 to 3 pounds-ish) A regular city feral pigeon is usually less than half a kilo. Or less than a pound.

Other breeds were selected for speed, or acrobatics – no seriously –

Then there are the breeds selected for looks – show pigeons! Fantails, Jacobins, Frillbacks, Capuchines and more. Here’s a screen shot after I googled “show pigeons.”

And then there are the homing pigeons: Aristotle wrote about pigeons being used as messengers and, according to Patent, the news of Napoleon’s defeat at Waterloo arrived in England by carrier pigeon four days earlier than by horse and ship!

It turns out pigeons really are that smart. They actually do recognize the people who feed them – and some have even learned about impressionism!

Staying together in a flock is for protection – hard for a predator to target an individual. And when they’re all eating together, they’re picking their own stuff and leaving the rest for the others. So if you can picture a bag of bird seed: some will only eat the little dark round bits, another the long light coloured stuff, a third the huge seeds and so on. So they don’t compete against every other pigeon for their food. They kinda share it around. Equitable birds!

Okay, so the kid’s books taught me a whole bunch of nifty stuff. Now to see what I can get out of the other ones…

Book Diversions Reading Review

Bookish – May 2022

What I read in May 2022

I finished three books in May.

Celia’s Song by Lee Maracle

The StoryGraph key words: fiction fantasy emotional reflective slow-paced

I really enjoyed this book. Maracle has a terrific way with words – I find myself transported to another place.

A grandfather in the story said: It is about trust. Talking kept us trusting. Trusting one another secures our sense of hope in the future. Silence kills hope. We have to be vulnerable I think in order to build bonds with other people; to strengthen our relationships. This goes together with listening more too – actually paying attention to what someone is saying without already thinking about what you’re going to say in response.

Jameela Green Ruins Everything by Zarqa Nawaz

The StoryGraph key words: fiction contemporary adventurous challenging reflective medium-paced

Another book that I thought was terrific. It’s a good book for when you want a funny, touching story about accidentally going off to join a terrorist group called Dominion of the Islamic Caliphate and Kingdoms, you know, D.I.C.K. 🤣

Really well done I thought and a good read. And a Canadian author – the standard born in the UK, grew up in Toronto and now lives in Regina type Canadian!

Meetings with Remarkable Trees by Thomas Pakenham

The StoryGraph key words: nonfiction nature informative slow-paced

I cannot remember where I heard about this book. Perhaps the Completely Arbortrary podcast? Or the nature drawing workshop put on by the Lahontan Audubon Society (from Nevada!)? Or maybe the facebook group for Completely Arbortrary fans? I just can’t remember. Sometimes I save notes on the library’s website when I put a book on hold but I didn’t this time – but I wanted to shout out this very nifty feature too.

Anyway, this is literally a book of tree portraits. A sort of world tour of trees that are all found in the UK. I learned that English people really really like yew trees. And there are a lot of really old trees there. And really really old trees can be really really big – like a girth of 10 metres or more! I would imagine that we have some fairly old trees here too but I cannot recall seeing any that are so large. Mind you, I’ve been limited to Toronto for the last couple of years.

As an example, though I found this oak on the BBC online :

The trunk is 13.4m around!

It’s a fun book if you are a little obsessed with trees – but also a huge reminder of the remarkable wealth held in the hands of a small number of people (lots of the trees are on “private” lands and so a bit of a nose-crinkling happened while I was reading.)

Around the house Diversions Health Politics Reading

June 2022

And what is so rare as a day in June? Then, if ever, come perfect days.

James Russell Lowell

I seem to always love the idea of planning but then, stress hits and my most well-worn response is avoidance. I plan to get things done and then they don’t and the next thing I know it’s bedtime and well, that’s about it really.

Yesterday (June 4) there was a “Daily Jay” on the Calm app about “time confetti“; about how little things add up to disrupt your plans and goals and break up your day and cause irritation. Prioritizing is definitely not something I am good at – but it’s comforting to know I am not alone and that there are so many external factors influencing this that I have no control over at all. Thankfully my work is one of those places that really is not there when it’s not supposed to be there. I don’t get messages on my personal phone etc. So that’s terrific. Work is also flexible enough that when I need to take breaks during the day, that’s fine, the work day doesn’t have to be precisely 9 to 5 but also understands that work is not all consuming.

white background with lots and lots of little coloured pieces of paper
confetti 😉

Okay – so back to trying to plan, think about what’s important, not necessarily going off on all sorts of new and fun directions. I mean, new and fun directions are great. But I don’t have to follow the path RIGHTNOWTHISVERYINSTANT. I can make a note, and follow up later.

One of the ways I thought I would do this would be to think of big themes for the month and if something pops up that fits into the theme – yippie! and if not, and it looks cool, I can make a note and maybe use that to come up with another month’s theme.


There are some easy ways for my brain to group things and also a few topics I want to learn more about which themselves have lots of subheadings so the big overall groups are:





SELF focus for June:

❶ schedule – a day

❷ mindfulness – being present

❸ health – menopause

Schedule: I’m trying to figure out what I would like “a day” to look like. Three different days actually: in-office work day, WFH work day, non-work day.

Mindfulness – just something I’m always working on; whether it’s a bit of reading about stoicism, the Calm app, yoga. Something.

Health – read the damn menopause book. That time is creeping up slowly but surely and I really want to be sure I have some sort of idea about what’s going on. We don’t talk about this stuff enough and I need to learn.

Also move more. I have an appointment with a specialist about weight management and stuff also.

OTHERS focus for June:

❶ reading – neurodiversity

❷ support – volunteering? politics?

The idea here is to not lose myself in my own little bubble. The Ontario election annoyed me to no end – the lowest turn out in years, maybe ever? WTAF?!? The cons killed people during the pandemic no less than if they had pulled a trigger on a gun and you will not be able to convince me otherwise. And they were rewarded with another majority? @#(P YPVDLI but rather than retreat to the safety of my world with only my people in it I want to do more.

Concrete tasks here:

① deliver egg cartons to the food bank

② bring black take out containers to the farmers’ market for re-use

③ chat with Laura about how to _do something_ about the politics stuff that’s frustrating me

④ read this: recommended by a friend:

Picture of book titled NeuroTribes

HOME focus for June:

❶ minimalism – organize/declutter

We live in a fairly large house. The problem with this of course is that we acquire enough stuff to fill the large house. And then some. This will really probably be the focus every month for HOME but key tasks for June:

① Lisa’s Stuff – organize jewellery; what do I want to keep; offer the rest to family / friends and then sell / donate what’s left

② Q’s Stuff – a big goal for the entire summer is to get everything out of Q’s rooms and really clean and maybe repaint them etc. So we’ve got to start whittling his stuff down too

③ Art – hang more of the art I love and offer up the stuff we no longer adore. This has already started which is great.

NATURE focus for June:

❶ birds – pigeons

❷ tree – northern red oak

Y’all know I’m weird right? I wanna learn more about birds and trees but I keep going off on all sorts of tangents and, while fun, it’s really not sinking in. So, thanks to a random chat with the wonderful Abby, I fixated on pigeons for June. I know nothing about pigeons but they’re everywhere. So I’m gonna learn about pigeons.

A stack of four books about pigeons
Sometimes I wonder what the librarians might be thinking…

Same with trees. There are a bazillion trees out there. So overwhelming to know where to start. But we just planted Tom in the fall – Tom is the name we gave to our northern red oak (Quercus rubra) – so that seemed like a good place to start.

Tom – June 5 taken from the balcony
Diversions Reading Shopping

Being Disgruntled

Nothing like being annoyed by something to rekindle the desire to write and share my experiences!

As much as I try to support local shops (especially, as you may know, local bookshops) it can also be an easy decision sometimes to stop shopping somewhere as well.

Me: reads bookstore’s book review newsletter; sees glowing review of Robert Galbraith book

I e-mail the bookstore:

Ugh very disappointed to see any promotion of any of Rowlings’ work – she is an ardent transphobic voice and needs no further accolades of any sort. If any of your readers happen to be trans, or just like me are supportive of all people regardless of sex, orientation, gender etc, then it’s easy to see that you didn’t consider the effect on them of seeing her lauded, yet again.

I’m not sure what I was expecting to receive as a reply but it definitely wasn’t what I did get!

Hello Lisa,

Thank you for your note.

According to the Canadian Energy Centre, Canada imported over $26 billion worth of oil from Saudi Arabia between 2010 and 2020. So, since you have used some of that oil—in your car or taking public transit or your last winter holiday or maybe to heat your house—shall I reach for the same sweeping conclusion that you care not for journalists nor that they get dismembered and killed?

Keep safe.
[initials removed]

P.S. Perhaps you should unsubscribe from the newsletter and not risk being offended by some author who might offend your sensibilities.  

I included a link to the Wikipedia article on whataboutism in my brief reply:

Thank you for making my decision much much easier.
also you may wish to review:

But maybe it is just me? Am I the only one who thinks that the reply was way out of line? I shared the above on FB – because I really was so taken aback.

I got almost immediate responses back like:

“Which bookstore am I never to step foot in or order from”

“Holy crap!”

“How is that a proper professional response by the shop?”

“That’s quite a shocking and disappointing response”

“What a needlessly offensive retort.”

Two friends made the following points for which I am very grateful:

Promoting Rowling is a choice. Using Saudi oil is not.

So tired of people reducing responses like yours to “being offended” you were clearly trying to voice care and an opinion, not whining about being offended. Advocacy is not being offended.

To be clear – this exchange was not with any of my favourite bookshops: Book City, Queen Books or A Different Booklist (or even the Bookmark in Charlottetown) – all of which I have mentioned at one time or another and definitely do not want them tarnished by this brush.

First – it’s amazing to me that the shop doesn’t see the difference between selling the damn book – fine do that if you must – and promoting it!

Second – really? Saudi oil? I mean maybe they were expecting me to also include my voting record and charitable receipt printout when I write to a bookstore about a book review they wrote and distributed?!?

p.s. A friend is the Exec Director of Journalists for Human Rights and I cannot pass up this prime opportunity to share that work too.

p.p.s. A couple people who matter to me said that I should just name the bookstore – so it’s Sleuth of Baker Street in Toronto.


Piecing it together

I love puzzles – most especially word puzzles (oh gosh I was over-the-freaking-moon when wordle became a thing!) but also logic puzzles, sudoko, crosswords, and jigsaw puzzles.

I did a terrific jigsaw in January manufactured by Galison – a US company that started out by working with museums to make art more widely available for people to use like in note cards, posters and so on.

They have a wide variety of licenced art – from Adler to Wharhol; from 100 pieces to 2,000. For March they have a “Celebrating Women Collection” featuring female artists. They also have a BIPOC collection – there’s a Quilts of Gee’s Bend that looks lovely!

The one I did was a holiday gift from my in-laws – it’s almost as if they know me: A BOOK STORE!

the box

It’s actually called A Day at the Bookstore by Michael Storrings. I had a lot of fun putting it together – even all those bricks.

The pieces fit well together and although there was some dust in the box after I dumped all the pieces out from their bag, there wasn’t any noticeable while I worked on the puzzle. The pieces also felt sturdy and held up to being stolen by the cat and knocked around a bit. I liked the way they felt – like they had some substance and a bit of texture.

As you can see below, there was a bit of glare – but that’s also likely due to where I was working on the dining room table (Toby is so accommodating) but if glare is a concern for you – then know that it’s sort of semi-gloss (not matte).

Naturally, I went down a little rabbit hole of jigsaw manufacturer reviews – there is literally a reddit for everything isn’t there? The blogger behind My Jigsaw Journal cannot stand Galison whereas loads of people on that reddit page really enjoy them. I definitely would do more puzzles by Galison at this point.

all done!

The goal is a puzzle a month for 2022 so here’s the January post. I did another puzzle in February so I’m just behind on posting about them not the actual doing lol

Oh and you might note I tagged this with “mindfulness” as well as “jigsaw puzzles” because I think this is true. My goal for meditation is to try and stop regurgitating the past or fretting over the future for a bit. And I find that when I’m working on a puzzle that’s definitely the case!