April 20th, 2007 | Uncategorized

eastern phoebe

Speaking of off topic, here’s a movie I made today–well, now it’s yesterday already, which sort of takes some of the pungency away–of the phoebes who return every year to nest at my house. They usually get here around April 9 or so, but it’s been so wintry, they weren’t showing up and I was growing quite anxious. They arrived at last on Wednesday. Today, Thursday, was a stunning bright blue spring day. You can’t actually see the phoebes in the video because I wasn’t patient enough. But you can hear them. You can also hear the brook rushing. I stole this photo off the Cornell bird site, which is normally really great but seems to have been under construction for a while now.

Today was such a nice day, in fact, that I couldn’t think about blogsistentialism at all.

97 Responses to “spring”

  1. leighisflying says:

    Hey, I’m glad I’m not the only one who likes to read field guides! I had the opportunity to fly a bird photographer around Cuba and the Cayman Islands one year after Hurricane Ivan wiped out Grand Cayman. It was very interesting to learn about species survival in hurricane zones. Hard to imagine where those poor birds go when a hurricane is upon them. Fly away? We watched as this one bird species arrived and rested on Little Cayman during their annual migration. They were so exhausted from the flight over from South America that they would just land in the middle of the road and be unable to get out of the way of passing cars. I was devasted, but you could walk right up to them and scoop them up in your hands and move them to safety. Never seen anything like it.

  2. Vicwa says:

    I love the rushing brook sound. Do you also get the wind in the trees sound? I still miss my old campus student housing complex. I lived in the last building, farthest from the road, and behind me was a creek and woods. The space between the woods and my bedroom window somehow perfectly caught and amplified the sound of the trees.

  3. meg says:

    yes for the phoebes! I saw a hawk sitting on my back fence he other day, and was quite pleased (remember, I’m in the teeming metropolis). And just as happy with the crocuses – there’s a tricolor species crocus that’s friggin’ gorgeous.

    Now if I could only get the wedding cake done…. how *do* you keep strawberries from bleeding all over the frosting? ‘Cause I’ll be damned if I’m going to wait to the last minute to put the little fuckers on. I know there’s a trick to it.

  4. Pam I says:

    Land. What we miss in the city. I want a stand of birch trees at the end of my garden too. But as it’s twenty feet long, and backs onto another 20-foot garden/back yard, they can’t be.

    Our birch trees are suffering in the drought. Many seem to be dying, they all are looking damaged as they grow back this year. I love them for their delicacy but maybe that’s why they are more vulnerable than eg the solid and ubiquitous London planes.

  5. MrAtoz says:

    I love phoebes; I also love the entry on them in Bent’s “Life Histories of North American Birds”. I love those old-fashioned naturalists, who are unafraid to write in a colorful and enthusiastic manner — to wit:

    “The phoebe has lived so long and so familiarly in our farmyards that we have come to look on it, not as a wild bird, but as a member of the happy community that makes up rural life — the pigs in their sty, the hens in their coops, the horses and cows in the barn, and the phoebe in the back shed. Busy all day catching insects, unobtrusive, never noisy, it is popular with the farmers … It has rather the nature of … a quiet reserve combined with a capacity for hard work, not unlike the New England farmer himself.”

    Or, as one of Bent’s correspondents says in her notes, “Phoebe is exceptionally correct in his behavior — without a fault.”

  6. DeLandDeLakes says:

    Hum. If those are phoebe calls, then that means that the birds in my neighborhood that I always thought were phoebes aren’t. Now I have a mystery to unravel.

  7. judybusy says:

    MrAtoz, what a lovely quote! A few days ago, I saw a grey heron flying in my south Minneapolis neighborhood. Thanks to Alison’s earlier post about juncos, I was able to recognize them when they showed up. The finches have been out in full force and their song is so pretty. Say, has anyone else noticed that there seem to be *a lot* of robins this year? Or am I just seeing more….

    Meg, have you tried blotting the strawberries really, really well? Putting them on whole instead of cut (if that’s possible) may also help. Otherwise, a last-minute task like that can add a certain frisson of excitement on the big day….I delegated the putting on of nasturtiums on our cake to a friend…

  8. jmc says:

    I also had a lovely bird experience this week. A little goldfinch sitting in the tree above the porch and he was just chattering away nonstop for several minutes.

  9. Andrew B says:

    Yeah, it’s a gorgeous day here, too. Now I think I’ll try to screw it up.

    Alison, don’t you understand what you’ve done with the comments section? People who tried to make positive suggestions were told they were asking for quarters from their cd drives. People who cursed, sulked, and made ridiculous accusations were given what they wanted. Do you really want to leave things like that? On top of that, you have cut yourself off from direct communication, so that a message like this one has to be posted publicly, where it may be seen as a provocation by some.

    “Quarters from my cd drive” was funny when you first posted it — when it appeared to reflect your determination to make your own decisions. It has only become unfunny in combination with recent developments.

    I don’t understand what you’ve been thinking, but here are a couple of random thoughts of my own.

    Threading wouldn’t have helped with this situation, because it depends on posters’ willingness to start a new thread when they want to change the subject, and that’s exactly what the defenders of “discursiveness” evidently can’t abide.

    Readers can’t just skip the irrelevant comments. In order to find out that they’re irrelevant, we have to read them. That’s the problem a system of categorization is supposed to solve.

    Again, I’m really confused as to what you’ve been trying to do here. I have a couple of speculative ideas, but I would be foolish to try to speak for you. Based on something that you did say, please remember that there are many ways to be grandiose, but asserting your legitimate rights and desires is not among them. I’m sorry to be so oracular, but your comment about grandiosity has stuck in the back of my mind and I can’t think of a way to be more specific about it without putting words in your mouth.

    One more point: there are many potential benefits to asking for input before making decisions. It doesn’t have to be open ended: you can ask for comments on specific proposals. You could get Katie involved with processing the results.

    So far as I’m concerned, this web site is your private property and you have a right to do whatever you like with it. Web sites are not like food or child care. But since you’re not willing to be a true autocrat about it, you need to implement some orderly way of finding out what people want. As things stand, you have made fun of those who tried to make polite, constructive suggestions and rewarded those who abused you. I don’t believe that was your intention. But if not, you need to do something about it.

  10. meg says:

    totally off topic – SORRY

    thanks Judybusy –
    I’ve tried blotting the little buggers, glazing them with sugar syrup, using gelatin… still they bleed and weep! So, last minute it is. In my poofy dress and all.

    don’t laugh. 😛

  11. NLC says:

    Ah yes, the joys of spring in Vermont…

    The pheobes are returning, the startling blue sky out my window, and the State Senate has just now passed the Resolution calling for the Impeachment of Bush and Cheney.

  12. meg says:

    Good News! 🙂

  13. mlk says:

    yes! let’s see what we can accomplish as a nation on April 28. there are grand plans for impeachment. one of Ohio’s own may even get the ball rolling in the House.

    hands in prayer position here . . .

  14. Aunt Soozie says:

    The sun is shining after nearly a week of dreariness. yay. My daughter’s softball game that had been postponed four times is happening this afternoon.

    I saw a red, white and blue bumper sticker yesterday that said:

    Cheney/Satan ’08

    I thought that was pretty funny.
    It is a joke, right?

  15. Alex the Bold says:

    Hurrah for spring!

    And I noticed yesterday in Princeton, N.J., that the trees were starting to green up. We have mourning doves. And deer. But the deer don’t fly very much.

  16. Pam I says:

    Why April 28th? Info not filtered down to me yet.

  17. Jeffster83 says:

    Aunt Soozie: it’s no joke. If we elect a ticket of Cheney and Satan, and then Cheney has a heart attack, Satan will move up to the Presidency and then maybe finally we will get a higher level of moral leadership in the White House. At least, that’s the plan.

  18. louise says:

    I read this, and went out and had lunch in Central Park for the first time all year. It was sunny and warm, people were basking on rock outcroppings, trees were budding in a haze of green and hyacinths were evident. There was this great smell… i think it was oxygen. The robins were out in force with sideways heads. It was lovely. Sightings: just robins, pigeons, sparrows and starlings, but several sundresses and wedge espadrilles, one Thom Browne suit, and at least eleven dog breeds.

    Shameless OT shill:
    Anyone reading in NYC (hi reed_maker), my gf just took sideshow lessons at Coney Island and can now breathe fire. yep. She will be showing off tonight along with a lot of other exciting people and bands at Trash Bar in Williamsburg, 256 Grand Street btw. Driggs & Roebling. 8 pm, $7. Open bar between 8 and 9. Consider yourself invited.

  19. --MC says:

    It is better to rule in Hell than serve in the White House, so don’t look for Satan on next year’s ballot.
    The spring birds are back in our area — from five in the morning until I get up to go to work I can lie in bed and hear the territorial songs of the robins, the grating craws of the young crows demanding food from their parents, and even a pigeon in the eaves once in a while. Wednesday night we saw a crowd of seagulls and crows wheeling around — somebody had thrown a pizza into the street and it was a feeding frenzy. Urban birds!

  20. ksbel6 says:

    Yes, hurray for spring. Most of my tulips actually survived the major freeze we had here last week…I don’t really know how, but they are blooming like crazy now.

    Aunt Soozie…
    Those of us in Missouri play softball in the summer/fall. The only rain out we had last year was the 3rd place game at the end of the state championship series…they pronounced us a tie, but I think we could have taken them 🙂

  21. judybusy says:

    meg, poofy dress, huh? The Wedge has some great retro-type aprons for sale. Perhaps you should buy it for the “something new” thing in your trousseau! (I am hoping you’re Amazon-meg. Otherwise, this will make absolutely no sense to you!)

  22. Jana C.H. says:

    “Cheney/Satan ‘08. I thought that was pretty funny. It is a joke, right?”

    Of course it’s a joke. The Republican ticket in ’00 and ’04 was Bush/Satan. Cheney is just a nickname.

    Jana C.H.
    Saith Bertolt Brecht: A man who does not know the truth is just an idiot, but a man who knows the truth and calls it a lie is a crook

  23. little gator says:

    DeLand-if you hear a birdsound like “FEEEbee”, that’s the mating call of the chickadee.

  24. DeenainOR says:

    (Grinning) My favorite lately is “Voldemort/Cheney in ’08”

  25. Ellen Orleans says:

    Is the gorgeous weather nationwide? It’s been a fabulous spring day here in Boulder. Out east at the Cottonwood Marsh, I saw four pelicans and two avocets, amongst others, as the redwinged blackbirds sounded in the branches.

    Avocets, if you haven’t had the pleasure of meeting one, are slender-legged shorebirds with russet breasts and long, upturned bills. A thing of beauty to watch one stir the waters for its dinner.

  26. Jo Z says:

    I hate to burst the spring weather bubbles, but northern Utah was overcast all day and temperatures never got out of the 40s this afternoon. For the bird crew: my day included time on an island in the Great Salt Lake where avocets, gray herons, sage grouse, black birds, meadowlarks, and gulls galore were cavorting. The non-avian specimens included mule deer, pronghorn, bison, coyote, jack rabbits (seriously huge ears), and humans.

  27. meg says:

    Judy busy, so not My wedding!

    thank Peep.

  28. Feminista says:

    Phoebes,huh? I learn so much from this blog,from the obscure to the completely unheard of.

  29. c.c. says:

    I have a field behind my apartment and a chainlink fence dividing the field from my lawn where 2 very fat squirles love to play and my cats love to watch. I have seen a few red birds this year along with a few others but mostly the squirles. The last apartment I lived in had a groundhog that would come into the back yard and was adorable!!!

  30. NLC says:

    little gator and DeLand:
    Speaking as someone who has both in my yard, DeLand is right; the songs of the pheobe and the chickadee are similar, both sounding like they’re saying feee-bee (one friend insists she hears “su-shi” in the call) with two tones, the second one lower.

    The difference is: if its a pure tone it’s a chickadee. If it’s raspy (and a little quicker) it’s a pheobe.

  31. Deena in OR says:


    There were birds when I was growing up in Laborador in the sixties that had a song like this.

    So,(rest) so, mi, do, la, so.

    I was a kid, I don’t know what it looked like. Any one want to take a stab at the species, based on the song?

  32. shadocat says:

    Not to put a damper on the lovely birdsong converation, but

    Just for the record:

    I am not off brooding in the forest somewhere; I have been waiting for the second half of Alison’s blog comment.

    Oh and although I’ve cursed a few times on this blog (nothing Alison hasn’t already said herself) I have NEVER cursed any person.

    Now, on with the discursiveness!!

  33. anothervoice says:

    Ok here’s a good example of being more self aware of the kind of stuff that makes this blog so hard to wade through – what exactly does Cheney / Satan ’08 have to do with birds or bird movies? Why does it need to be posted here? Tangents are ok, but let’s at least makes *some* effort to use this forum to respond to the original post, and not just a chat room.

  34. Aunt Soozie says:

    Oh, sorry Anothervoice.

    I meant to say earlier that
    if you play that phoebe movie that Alison made
    backwards, really slowly…
    you can hear Cheney and Satan
    discussing their ’08 platform.

  35. Aunt Soozie says:

    one more comment about the movie…
    Our local wildlife refuge says that if baby birds fall from their nests and they aren’t injured you can gently place them right back in the nest. The mother bird won’t reject them.

  36. Jana C.H. says:

    What does Cheney have to do with birds? Well, the guy IS a vulture, after all. And he loves to provide his feathery cousins with food.

    Anything can be connected with anything if you have a little imagination. Aunt Soozie has plenty; I have a bit myself; AB is loaded with it. There’s another connection for you. See, they’re all over the place.

    Open yourself up to the possibilities, AV. Sure, it’s inefficient, but efficiency (as fine a thing as it is), is not the be-all and end-all of the cosmos. Slow down, listen to the birdsong, and let your imagination soar.

    Jana C.H.
    Saith Conrad Hyers: Humor is not the opposite of seriousness, but the opposite of despair.

  37. Lizzie from London says:

    For all you out there engaging in marriages of one sort and another, in London it’s that time o year when the pink and white cherry blossom petals are floating down like an endless stream of confetti. Tey lie in pools on the pavements and the wind picks them up and dances them around. The robin in my garden (robins ? – which are smaller than your American ones) has picked up it’s old habit of putting in an appearance suddenly when I’m sitting there reading or eating. A whir of wings and he’s there looking at me, and gone as quickly.

    Can we look forward to a springtime theme in the next strip ?

    Like Pam, I envy you your land, and even your huge back yards over there.

  38. Pam I says:

    On dancing blossoms – one of my favourite movie clips is that in American Beauty, the video section with a dancing plastic bag caught in an eddy in a sleazy basement carpark. Whenever I see dancing litter now, I tell myself it’s performing just for me.

    This is nothing to do with birds, except by association. ‘Fraid that’s how my mind works, AV.

  39. little gator says:

    shado-me too.

    except I am brooding in my house with hte lights off, having the worst nigraine of my life, which is saying something. I’m trying a new doc for a second opinion but she can’t see me till July. My PCP is an allpurpose ednocrinologits and the new one is an endocrinologist specialising in female junk, especially meno.

    The neurologist ruled out lots of scary causes bu was otherwise useless.

    I’m still snarling at the daffodils for their lateness. Yesterdy one offeredme a flower bud. I had to avoid the childish temptation to manually open it.

    Sorry my typing is so bad. I’m gogin back to bed.

  40. Laura says:

    I always thought the birds were saying “feed-me.” I get a very demanding chorus – “feed-me, feed-me, cheap! cheap!” Sometimes I think that they are trying to tell me they are an inexpensive source of entertainment, sometimes I think they are calling me stingy.

  41. Silvio Soprani says:

    Little Gator, Sorry to hear you are not feeling well, and I send some good energy your way.
    Shado–yes, me too.
    Pam I– I love that sequence in American Beauty.
    anothervoice: Q: What is the sound of one post-er conversing efficiently? A: Silence.

    Last night I went to a baseball game and had a perfectly lovely experience. Not as witty or creative as our conversations of yore, but benevolent and diverting.. That (and spring) is having a refreshing effect upon my psyche.

    Regarding birds: do you think the “A-WEE-MO-ETTE” song from the 60s (“In the jungle, the mighty jungle, the lion sleeps tonight…”)(Well maybe it is older than the 60s, whatever)–owes any of its origin to the song of the Whip-or-Will!! bird? If you have ever heard the latter, it launches upon a marathon song that goes on for about 20 minutes and then it takes a 5 second break and starts again.

    I have heard it in Virginia, and I forget where else..

  42. anothervoice says:

    Look I’m not trying to be anatagonistic. I think all the posters here are interesting and thoughtful people. But honestly I don’t think this is about imagination or humor or a new perspective on life. I just think Alison’s blog is not our personal chat room. As I said, I think tangents are nice, but when people just start posting whatever pops into their head it makes it seem like focus of the space is being taken away from Alison’s art, and placed on us – and honestly I don’t think this space should be focused on us.

  43. Pam I says:

    Mbube (aka – The Lion Sleeps Tonight /Whimaway /In the Jungle, etc.), yep it’s older than the 60’s. Written in 1939 by a south african, Solomon Linda. Royalties, over the years, maybe $15million. Paid to Mr Linda – ten shillings. Read the story here http://www.3rdearmusic.com/forum/mbube2.html . Eventually some money did come back to his family – but not quite $15m. If there are whip-por-wills in SA, maybe they should get a slice too.

  44. anothervoice says:

    (and a P.S….) Remember that shifting the focus of this forum away from AB and onto ourselves has consequences for her, as well as the readers. Many folks (including AB herself in her original post on this topic) have pointed out that becuase this is a blog, and not a messageboard, she feels a sense of obligation to read all the posts. We all know that her schedule is extremely hectic – I’m not sure that it’s fair to take up her time asking her to wade through the hundreds of posts that pile up when the comments section switches into chat room mode.

  45. Feminista says:

    Happy Earth Day to all! I’m off to take the non-curbside recyclable plastics to our neighborhood Sunnyside Environmental School. A neighborhood exchange of goods is also taking place there.

  46. Jeffa says:

    Oh, fer cryin’ out loud! This discussion has degenerated into the realm of ridiculousness. So, anothervoice, if “AB herself”, as you have dubbed her, posts about birds & birdsong & beautiful spring days, is it only ok to post in return about birdsong but not songs? What about songs about birds? About beautiful spring days but not beautiful summer days? What about dreary spring days? Have you noticed that AB created a format long ago for this space that by its very nature is “OFF TOPIC”? How many times has she posted about delayed flights, inclement weather, bugs and birds and assorted flora and fauna, foodstuffs available in airports, and any and all manner of day-to-day minutiae related to absolutely nothing other than the fascinating and/or mundane lives we all live? She loves to share these unrelated details with us, and we love to read them and respond to them. Do you really think that AB is so egocentric as to expect her readers to absorb any and all sundry and minor facts about her day-to-day life and thoughts on life in general, but not to respond with their own? What the hell is the point of this blog? AB has commented a number of times on what great conversations have grown up on this blog – she seemed to enjoy them as much as the readers participating. When a new strip appears, we comment on it ad infinitum, and the commenting related to the strip frequently wanders into many unusual and fascinating tangents, as is normal and to be expected in any conversation between interested and intelligent participants. If she doesn’t read all the posts, SO WHAT? Again, do you think she is that egocentric? If a brilliant professor is facilitating a spirited discussion among bright, eager students, and she has to leave the room to attend to some academic business, do you think she expects all the students to shut the hell up and sit on their hands until the professor returns to the room? The one relevant question that we all need an answer to is, WHAT IS THE PURPOSE OF THIS BLOG? The only one who can answer that question is AB (Herself), and if she plans to create guidelines we must adhere to in our posts, then she has the responsibility to make sure those guidelines are clearly stated and not open for dispute among the posters. She also has the responsibility, once she has established a definitive purpose for the blog and made it clear to all, to monitor her own posts for relevance so that she does not lead her humble readers astray from that higher purpose. Until AB addresses these issues, we should all just drop the subject of what’s “on-topic” or “off-topic” and post what we feel moved to post until further notification. I hope this doesn’t come across as AB-bashing; I have been a huge fan for years, and I love the intelligence, wit, and sensitivity that AB has continually expressed on this blog. I have high hopes that she may, in some small measure, feel the same way about us.

  47. Jana C.H. says:

    AV, it is not up to you or me to police the blog. AB has not told us to stay strictly on-topic. She’s told us that the discursiveness causes certain problems; she will solve those problems. Maybe she’ll tell us ramblers to shut up, maybe she’ll change the format of the blog, maybe she’ll give up her self-imposed obligation to read everything and just ignore us. Whatever her decision, I will go along with it. I think we should stop hammering the subject and let AB handle it in her own way.

    I’m just singing my own song here. I can’t change the tune, or stop singing. All I can do is fly to another tree, as others have done. My song is not vital to this concert and I’ll fly away if enough other birds keep pecking, but I’d rather not have to. The Queen of the Aviary can shut me up, but not another warbler.

    Jana C.H.
    Saith Floss Forbes: If you don’t know the tune, sing tenor.

  48. mlk says:

    some defensive postings here . . .

    seems to me that anothervoice was attempting to elaborate on the other point of view that has been introduced and that AB is considering. whether I agree with it or not, I can appreciate some people here wanting less of a chatroom atmosphere at this site. to be truthful, I can see both preferences have validity.

    not having been in any chatrooms, and having visited very few blogs on the ‘net, I found anothervoice’s comment more informative than provocative. did it create such a problem for him (or her) saying what he (or she) said? as many (if not all) of us have found, it’s hard for those in the minority to maintain the status quo when that, in effect, means that those in the majority get to have their way.

    I don’t have answers here, am just trying to calm troubled waters.

  49. --MC says:

    I was going to post, but now I’m not going to. Don’t want to go off topic and all.

  50. Aunt Soozie says:

    for a few of the folks that posted before I referenced cheney/satan ’08, Spring, Alison’s heading topic,
    meant not only the return of her phoebes to their nest
    but a residential change of another sort. we’re headed into an election year and this Spring brings much hope, trepidation and speculation about change in the white house. What was specifically mentioned above was a state senate resolution that just passed in vermont calling for the impeachment of Bush and Cheney.

    I added to that line of conversation…or thought that I did.

    I sure am tired of the topic you raised. It’s a difference of opinion. I didn’t see my post as “chat roomish” or highly tangential. But, I’m not of that culture. I don’t do chat rooms and I generally don’t read or post on any other blogs.

    Guilty of interpreting Alison’s concerns my own way and voicing the same right here, I feel hypocritical saying can’t we just shush and move along until further notice from Ms. Bechdel herself, but, it’s what I do want to say.

    At least with the Michigan debate we primarily stayed on that one entry and didn’t move the conversation along with each new posting. I don’t want to get too meta and start over-thinking but it does occur to me, av, that my post was less tangential than yours…

    Can’t we just talk about Spring, birds, their voices, how sweet Alison’s voice is to hear in that little movie, whatever else Spring evokes for folks…baseball, elections and wait for further notice from the author herself as to blog construct?

    I’m going on strike from this moment on with regard to posting on this topic, if you read Lesbian Connection you know they sometimes say it’s the last time they’ll print letters on such and such…I don’t know squat about LA llouise but, if I did, I’d post right, here right now as a way to repent my sin of bossiness.

  51. kate says:

    Actually I wish you were ALL on a message board somewhere else, and the blog was just Alison’s blog. I wade through the comments because once in a very rare while I learn something AB related that I didn’t know, or sometimes Alison comments in the comments.

    Having comments enabled on a personal blog is like putting out food for wild animals. Commentors instantly arrive, make drama, and clog up the airwaves. One wonders how all y’all have so much time.

    There are net groups, and community web sites, where hanging out and talking about mutual interests is the reason to be, and then there are individual people’s blogs. Daily I wish that this was just a blog, and that I didn’t have to look inside this zone to make sure I have the whole AB web site story.

    We might get more blog if there was less clog. If she didn’t have to at some level remain aware of all of your thoughts, quibbles, recipes, corrections, justifications, and asides… maybe she’d feel freer to just post when she felt like it.

  52. LM says:

    I personally find discussion of the niceities of blogosphere decorum to be boring not simply to death, but through several reincarnations. Any discursiveness is a profound relief.

  53. Elisablue says:

    Actually, I find phoebes much more essential than blogsistentialism.


  54. Deb says:

    I had to laugh………….firstly I always love it when Alison shares part of her life. I laughed because the running commentary was so “Mo-like” that I burst out laughing……..especially the last comment!

  55. anothervoice says:

    Whew! Thanks for the shout out, mlk – I was indeed trying to be more informative than provacative and I’m sorry for those who thought it was ridiculous – clearly it’s pretty loaded for people. I think the best thing for folks like me is to just stick reading the original posts. Anyway, I hope everything gets sorted out and that in the process everyone’s perspectives (including Alison’s) can be listened to and considered calmly.

  56. Alex K says:

    Hey, Jeffa. That metaphor – the professor leaving the classroom, throwing over her shoulder the parting words “Talk amongst yourselves” – well, I like it.

    And I like the buzz that comes from being in the classroom, even if I don’t pipe up all that often. Or if when I do it’s about, of all things, shoofly pie or Cair Paravel.

    If I were to read only AB’s postings, I’d feel like one of those students who subscribes to a note-taking service and doesn’t go to class herself.

    But then, deep down, I’m shallow like that.

  57. meg says:

    beautiful spring day still here and I’m out enjoying it!

  58. kate says:

    Neil Gaiman has a stellar example of a creative person’s web site. I am humbled by the amount of content and the sparsity of clog. He has links to the message boards that discuss him in his main menu, so that people can navigate to the sites from his site, and his journal is just that, the journal of a writer. It’s great, and it doesn’t make his fans feel disconnected from him at all. It’s very personal, in a way.

    Check him out:


  59. Deb says:

    “I meant to say earlier that
    if you play that phoebe movie that Alison made
    backwards, really slowly…
    you can hear Cheney and Satan
    discussing their ‘08 platform.”

    Aunt Soozie, that cracked me up and made my day!

  60. two cents says:

    “more blog … less clog.”

    I like it. Be realistic – comments here *are* used like a forum. No biggie, but not ideal. Alsion notices it. And then – all this wailing and gnashing of teeth and tearing of clothes because of … *an open thread*?!?!? Sorry, kids – that’s bizzare, it’s disproportionate, it’s why I’ll probably not post again. Alison was totally on to something, and whatever direction she goes from here, I appreciate so much that she noticed it.

  61. Jana C.H. says:

    I checked out Neil Gaiman’s site and I found the complexity and rigidity of the organization intimidating, not welcoming. I almost never post at websites like that. I’m not saying they’re innately bad, just that I don’t like them. It feels corporate to me.

    I, too, thought the folks who went into a tizzy (and they include some of my best friends on this blog) were over-reacting to AB’s small experiment. But a few of the “organization” folks are being distasteful in their air of triumph. I’m not about to give up on the blog yet, but for me the atmosphere of friendliness and welcome has weakened.

    Jana C.H.
    Saith James Lawrence: Don’t give up the ship!

  62. Jana C.H. says:

    On the other hand, “Spring” is a remarkably broad topic:

    It’s a beautiful day here in Seattle: sunshine with clouds here and there, a light breeze, temps in the high sixties (Farenheit), people out gardening, kids skateboarding in the new park, people hanging out in the new library.

    I walked down to the Ballard Sunday Market to get my weekly hit of organic apples (Fujis) and artisan cider (a jug of sweet, a bottle of hard). The line at the crepes booth was too long for my poor arthritic hips, but the booth next door had European pastries. Cherry strudel for me! I gave two bucks to a man playing jazz on a steel guitar; I’d have listened longer if there had been somewhere to sit. Oh, my aching hips!

    The final stop on my usual Sunday ritual was to drop in at the new library on the way home (I know all the places to sit down along my route). I returned a couple of books and read a graphic novel version of “Moby Dick” by Will Eisner. It was not as good as I expected, considering the creator. Hey, Eisner, no one goes whaling in a clipper ship! AB would have done the proper research.

    No birds to report except the usual seagulls, but otherwise it was a glorious Northwest spring day.

    Jana C.H.
    Saith WSG: When the buds are blossoming, smiling welcome to the spring, lovers choose a wedding day– life is love in merry May! (or April)

  63. Jessie says:

    I’ve been quiet until now, but for the record, I like the current format of the blog. I love the tangents and find myself able to stop reading if and when I want to. It’s been pretty simple so far.

    Thanks AB for an excellent blog!!!

  64. Elisablue says:

    This post will have nothing to do with existential questions about blogging, nor, to my regret, with phoebes. It has to do with french presidential elections : Sarkozy and Ségolène Royal have emerged after first round. Let’s hope that near extreme right Sarkozy will be defeated and that we elect the first présidente de la république. But it will be difficult, because it seems we live in a world that needs to elect people like Sarkozy. Or Bush.

  65. Deb in Minnesota says:

    I have stopped by in a while. Hmmmm, did I miss something important? 😉

    Enjoyed the phoebes heard but unseen video. Spring is finally here in Minnesota. I have Alison’s book, Fun House, on the couch next to me tonight.

  66. Deb in Minnesota says:

    Excuse me. I meant to type Fun “Home” of course.

  67. judybusy says:

    Jana, is your library really open on Sundays? All of our branches are closed Sundays and Mondays, the latter due to budget cuts. But it’s been closed Sundays for as long as I can remember–I don’t know if it’s a nod to our Christian community or not. (Liquor stores aren’t open on Sundays here for that reason.) I would love it if our libraries could be open 7 days a week!

  68. kate says:

    Jana, that’s kind of the idea about Neil’s site, you don’t get to post on it. You can easily go to any of the message boards that discuss him, though, and post there, which is really more appropriate than posting in his artist’s journal.

    How my comments could belong in his private musings I can’t imagine.

    His site is just.. his site. And I don’t find it “corporate” as much as I find it thorough. He isn’t a corporate kind of guy. He does a great job of pimping and supporting independent bookstores. You can imagine the kind of fan base he has- Alison could take heed from how he handles them.

  69. Dicentra formosa says:

    To each her own. When DTWOF moved from PlanetOut I didn’t expect to find anything her but the strip. I’ve thought of Alison’s added blog entries on other topics, and the lively conversations following her entries as an added bonus, one which I read or not as I choose and as time allows. I do read other artists’ and writers’ blogs and websites from time to time, and find this one by far the most intimate. I suppose it’s all a matter of taste. There are plenty of blogs out there with lots of people who post more-or-less on topic. Spring is a good season for reflection, renewal, and cleaning out old closets–a good time to think about where you’ve been and where you’re going. It’s also a good time to get outside and listen to the birds, see what’s made it through the winter, drink in the new bright greens and watch the clouds go by. Thanks, Alison, for reminding me of this with your pheobes.

  70. Andrew B says:

    Ok, I’ve calmed down some. Alison, if you’re still reading, I hope it was clear why I was upset. I don’t even have a very strong opinion about the outcome of the discursivity debates. I have a strong opinion about how they proceeded.

    We all know you’ve had a crazy year, with high highs and low lows. If you need to take some time to sit in your back yard and listen to the birds sing, please take some time, sit in your back yard, and listen to the birds. Just skip the home movies, ok? When you have time to spare for the blog, there are issues that need to be addressed.

    Discursively, a wonderful poem that gives a central place to phoebes is Robert Frost, “The Need of Being Versed in Country Things”.

  71. Deb says:

    I enjoy this format quite a bit. This blog started small and has grown to huge proportions……but it feels grass roots to me. It feels small and I like that. I will go with whatever Alison feels she needs to do to manage the large volume of mail she obviously receives.

  72. Jana C.H. says:

    Not all Seattle’s libraries are open Sundays, but some branches (including my neighborhood, Ballard) are open Sunday afternoons. A lot of people go walking around downtown Ballard on Sundays, so it gets plenty of use. It’s brand new, and was designed to be environmentally friendly, including an ecosystem on the roof. My only real complaints are that the chairs are too low for the tables (you notice this when you’re 4’10”), and I had hoped it would have considerably more books than the old branch. It doesn’t. Here’s a link:


    Those who have heard bad things about the new Seattle library are probably thinking of the new main library downtown. It is flashy outside, but inside it is both confusing and hideous. It could be a set for one of those science fiction movies about an inhuman industrial future. I can just see Harrison Ford creeping around the corners and by-ways with a ray-gun, blasting at mutants.

    Jana C.H.
    Saith JcH: Having enough books is like the speed of light– you can only approach it, never achieve it.

  73. --MC says:

    I’ve only been in the downtown Seattle library once, and it scared the whiz out of me. That escalator that goes up through those glowing green panel, and there’s that art installation with the distorted head chattering at you as you pass! Nightmare fodder for years.
    I kinda like the Capitol Hill branch best. There are wire frameworks on the side which they’re training vines and plants to creep up the side of. In ten years it’ll look like jungle.

  74. louise says:

    Aunt Soozie, I would expect nothing less from a proper aunt than to enforce politeness and consideration, and I know your comments were borne out of those. Don’t worry, I’m not bossed around so easily… 😉

  75. louise says:

    (Alison– Don’t skip the home movies!!!)

  76. Aunt Soozie says:

    Thanks Louise.
    I vote for home movies, too.
    Until Cat Pimp lures Alison into a new feline relationship I’m content to view the interesting/heartfelt movies (or sketches)about Alison’s current pets;earwigs, phoebes, lil’ spideys…

  77. meg says:

    “Skip the home movies”?!? Whyever for?

    Tell me again, whose blog is it anyway?

  78. geogeek says:

    On Spring: I drove from Seattle to Spokane round-trip last week, and wow, it’s a great spring. The western side of the mountains is further along because of the marine effect, but both are a delight of birds and tress. The eastern side is a semi-arid grassland, with just budding yellow-green willos, alders, etc. along the creeks and rivers.

    Saw 1 turkey vulture, numerous unidentifiable hawks (at least by me, at least while driving), 3 or 4 magpies, and some LGBs at a rest stop. Here in Seattle I’ve been keeping an eye on some chickadees, kinglets, a bunch of different warblers, and I think a rose-breasted grossbeak. Oh, and two weeks ago there were four adult and one immature bald eagle slowly wheeling S along Phinney ridge, who passed over my house. Wow!

    Re: blogging and lesbian culture: Whenever Alison decides what she’ll do, I’ll co-operate. If we want to get all community-processing about it, perhaps she would consider setting up a topic _only_ for blog variation discussion. In this topic, people could have, say, 2 weeks to propose all of the variations they want. Someone, perhaps Katie, could select the easiest for Alison, and easiest technologically, and put them up for a vote.

    This might cause more trouble that it’s worth, but I thought I’d toss it out as an idea…

  79. aimes says:

    the sound of morning doves, the smell of hot coffee, and reading a new installment of DTWOF.

    that would make my day tomorrow. . .

  80. Dicentra formosa says:

    Are they morning doves or mourning doves? I’ve never been sure. In my head they are simultaneously creatures of morning and mourning. Spelled out they seem to need to be one or the other, but both fit. I would like to hear some. Nightingales, too.

  81. Leshka says:

    They’re mourning doves. And it is possible to hear them int he afternoon. Thanks to that Cornell site, I found out that the birds I hear by my NYC apartment are mourning doves. Hey, we get all the nature we can get round here.

    My mother thought I was daft for not knowing that already, but then, not everyone is as cool (or as condescending) as my mom…

  82. Andrew B says:

    I had no intention of giving Alison orders; the odds of Alison taking orders from me are about the same as the odds of Dick Cheney embracing pacificism. What I was trying to say to her was: please don’t spend your time posting home movies when there is a serious question about the blog that needs your attention. The serious question is how to balance out different contributors’ ideas about how to manage the blog in a way that is tolerably fair to everybody, subject to Alison’s particular goals and values.

    At one time it looked like this wouldn’t be an issue. It looked like Alison would do what she wanted and readers would live with it. For better or worse, that approach didn’t work out.

    Again, it’s Alison’s blog. The phrase I used above was “private property”. I think that’s pretty unambiguous.

  83. Leda says:

    Err, I don’t think Alison “needs” to balance out contributors and manage the blog in a way that is tolerably fair to anyone but her. But I bet she’ll try…

    We are not really contributors we are audience, the fact that things have worked out that contributions can be made is a lovely unlooked for bonus, not something to be considered a right. The fact that such ownership is felt is a beautiful thing and reflective of the generous nature behind this blog, but is a clear indication that a different format is needed. This is one person’s blog, about their work, it is unfair to use their comments section as a messageboard, (as I am doing right now admittedly) it places too big a burden regarding content and management. This is not a statement about the content of what has been posted, (i personaly love the randomness) just where it is posted.

    How horrible is it that what was supposed to be Alison’s outlet might have turned into something painful for her because of the quarrel we are having amongst ourselves. The fact that we are having conversations amongst ourselves means that we should be using a message board. We have outgrown this space, (which was never really ours was it?) and instead of celebrating what has grown up and looking towards ways to sustain it as it grows by finding a new and better home, we are turning on each other and even Alison herself. Personally I thought the Neil Gaiman site was good, the separation of areas works I think, yes it feels different but all new and good things do at first. Surely the diverse and imaginative minds abounding here can stretch to embrace a change?

    Spring, by the way, is definately sprung here in England and indeed the other weekend got so excited it thought it might be Summer.

  84. meg says:

    hoorah for global warming! I guess – though it’s a bit odd (to say the least) to suddenly have readings in the 80s here in Vermont in April. Didn’t we just have snow?

    My poor crocuses melted all away in the heat…

  85. Agnes says:

    To react to the original post: it just confirms that lesbians are keen birdwatchers; if you want to find out more about that (and other typical lesbian habits), visit the site http://www.lesbischemensen.net – it’s in Dutch, but there is an English translation available. Or go to the ‘couple game’ directly: http://www.lesbischemensen.net/dialogues.html
    Have fun!

  86. Jaibe says:

    Is it because we’ve been bad there’s no new strip?

  87. Jaibe says:

    Ah, sorry, the last one was “really” 4/18 — 8 more days to go!

  88. Aunt Soozie says:

    blah…Jaibe…you got me all excited…
    Can’t wait to see if there are any contemporary dtwof backsides revealed. Is that sick?

    We’re still having fabulous Spring weather.
    Wildlife emerging, cherry trees blooming.
    Folks still finding water in their basements, long after the rain, the water keeps making it’s way into places where we don’t want it.

    I haven’t looked in my crawlspace. Don’t wanna. Meg? That’s not as bad as the carbon monoxide evasion is it?
    “I figure until the water comes through the floor boards…”
    Scarlet O’Hara

  89. Doctor E says:

    Andrew B:

    “…there is a serious question about the blog that needs your attention.”

    I disagree. It’s not serious at all.

    Bird movies are much more important.

  90. louise says:

    yes Doctor E and everyone
    the serious questions that truly need addressing have to do with… how best to enjoy spring?
    while it lasts this year, and as we know it before climate change musses it up.
    and it means getting out from in front of the computer and our heads out of this blog, now and then, I suppose… ::sigh::
    my previous post- oops borne = born
    Cherry blossoms came out here in NYC like bam.
    I can’t wait to go to the Botanical Gardens’ Cherry Blossom Festival and sit on a blanket and drink Asahi and sake and get silly drunk and take lots of blurry pink photographs.

  91. Ellen Orleans says:


    Yes to blurry pink photos of cherry blossoms!
    Yes to bird movies, and earwig movies, and shoveling puzzles, and, here, closer to home, yes to the Pasque flowers blooming in the Boulder foothills.

    Yes to huge magpies alighting in trees and the small red-flushed house wrens hopping from branch to branch, and even yes to the wet, misty mountains outside my window today.

  92. Greg Delisle says:

    Hi, I’m the webmaster for the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. Glad to hear you enjoy our site, I’m a big fan of your work as well. The “Bird of the Week” site is quite old and has been replaced with the much more extensive “All About Birds” site, which has much more info on the various birds, better photos and sounds and video, lots of material on birding topics. The URL is http://www.birds.cornell.edu/AllAboutBirds and you can see the much-more-impressive Eastern Phoebe account here: http://www.birds.cornell.edu/AllAboutBirds/BirdGuide/Eastern_Phoebe.html

  93. louise says:

    hey, did you notice that innocuous “support this site” link up there? where it says that as of 4/07 dtwof will only run once a month?

  94. meg says:

    Good on Alison – we all need a break from time to time, and Peep knows she deserves one. Stiff upper lip, boys and girls, we’ll struggle through…


    And Aunt Soozie? No worries on the crawlspace – I don’t even know what’s holding up the extension on my house yet! It’s gonna be one of my summer projects, while I’m working on getting the skirting on the west side of the house in better shape, find out what lies beneath…

    worse things happen at sea.

  95. Ellen Orleans says:

    Also check out the Oddments section. I hadn’t seen that.


  96. Aunt Soozie says:

    thanks Ellen,
    I hadn’t noticed the oddments and your note reminded me to do my paypal part to help support the site.

  97. Josiah says:

    Jana, I’m surprised that a good Savoyard like you missed the opportunity to quote Yeomen:

    Saith WSG:

    “What, little Phoebe?
    (Who the deuce may she be?)