Now into our second consecutive day of sunshine but with more snow in the forecast, it doesn’t do any harm to point out the advantage of all that white stuff for those of us who watch and feed the birds. Nothing like a good snow to bring them in droves to the feeders.
The tree from which feeders hang looked as if it had been decorated by nature for Christmas when I turned into the drive as snow fell Sunday after church. After getting inside, I stood at the kitchen window as the congregation regrouped and counted three pair of cardinals, three red-bellied woodpeckers, four bluejays and a couple of white-breasted nuthatches in addition to the more numerous juncos, chickadees, goldfinches and assorted sparrows.
The seed feeder is not designed for those long and lean woodpeckers, so watching them adjust themselves into sidesaddle position with tail providing extra support before digging in is a good show, too.
I swiped the cardinal photo from elsewhere on the Web, by the way. My camera is not designed for wildlife photography.
In the Iowa goes to hell in a handbasket department, it now appears that our leading candidates for governor are a pair of losers. The most recent Iowa Poll (a Des Moines Register media event) shows Democrat incumbent Chet Culver with an approval rating of 34 percent --- lowest in polling history for a governor. Republican favorite and former Gov. Terry Branstad, while in office years ago, had the second-lowest rating (in far better economic times) --- 37 percent.
Granted, “approval rating” does not necessarily reflect competence, but you’ve got to wonder.
Wouldn’t it be interesting if all the declared candidates from both parties could be made to disappear and a fresh crop of candidates with less baggage found? Never happen.
It’s going to be a great day for Team USA Olympic junkies --- the highly-hyped Lindsey Vonn in the downhill, Shaun White in the halfpipe and Shani Davis in the men’s 1000-meter. A triple-gold day? We’ll see.
The fascinating thing about the Olympics is how true they are to life --- a slight slip, a moment of inattention, an unexpected flaw in the course can bring disaster after years of preparation and meticulous attention to training. Take Lindsey Jacobellis in yesterday’s women’s snowboard cross, for example, who fell short of redemption.
I’m a big fan of figure skating events. Surely the pairs must be the most challenging since partners have to focus both on their own performances and those of their partners. That must require incredible concentration and can result in wonderful displays of teamwork. On the other hand, this year’s short and long programs seemed to include an unusual number of slips and falls.
It was fun to see Team USA’s Evan Lysacek wow the crowd with a combination of artistry and technical precision to come within a fraction of a point of the favorite, that evil Russian Evgeni Plushenko, heavily reliant on athleticism in last night's short program.
Swiss Stephane Lambeil was the most fun to watch, I thought, even though difficulty with a jump cost him points. I’ve never seen anyone else come close to his level of perfection on footwork and spins.
An added bonus in the sporting end of figure skating for those of us who amuse easily is watching the subtle and not-so-subtle whiffs of homophobia emerge among commentators (the fact that male figure skaters wear costumes rather than uniforms and are expected to interpret the music they are skating to contribute to the underlying assumption that real men don’t dance on ice and so therefore all male figure skaters are queer). That of course is not true. Some are but most probably aren’t, as in all other sports.
Even macho-man Matt and sidekick Meredith had a “be-nice” and “aw-shucks” moment Wednesday morning on “Today” about the feathers on Lysacek’s costume (he was skating to Stravinsky’s “Firebird,” hence the feathers). Earlier, in a feature on Lysacek, an aging NBC News icon who should have known better dredged up the gay factor and made a special point of emphasizing the skater’s “carefully cultivated” masculine image. Golly, you know guys, he really could be straight.
And Tuesday night, as flamboyant and outspoken Johnny Weir skated a technically proficient although slightly uninspired program, the commentators spent most of their time discussing his flamboyance and outspokenness rather than his skill, which they finally acknowledged somewhat grudgingly was OK. Weir has a big mouth and can be remarkably offensive and carefully cultivates a gay image. Wouldn’t it be a hoot if he were straight, too?
And so it goes.
Here it is, Ash Wednesday. I’ve promised to bake bread, since we’ll be sharing soup after this evening’s service. I’ve cheated and bought frozen dough. Want to make something of it?
On a positive note, some of our snow is beginning to melt, which is good. Three of us arrived in separate vehicles at the museum this morning and without paying attention drove into the long circle drive around the Stevens House from opposite ends, resulting in an impasse. The lane is only one vehicle wide and with banked snow on either side, there's no place to pull off. Fortunately, the guy who drove in from the south is an experienced driver (and backer) of trucks, who cleared the way forward for those of who back less joyfully when lunch time came.