Tuesday, June 23, 2009

We Have Something For Everyone

drawing by W.S. Gilbert

Early evening.
A couple looking to be in their late twenties approached the desk. The man asked if we had westerns. "Yes we do," I said, and walked them both back to those shelves. As the man started looking at the books, the woman turned to me and whispered, "Can I ask you a question?"
"Sure," I said.
"Do you have pornography, like?"
As it happens, the short-story anthologies are shelved right next to the westerns, and several collections of erotic short stories are right there, at eye level. I pulled them out for her, and as she browsed the covers, turned some pages, and murmured "Oh, this looks nice," her companion looked up from the westerns with a big smile on his face and said, "Take your time, hon, this is gonna take me a while."
I walked back and cut two more "happy customer" notches in my desk.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

The Rest Of The Vacation Slides

Okay! No more twee stories about insensate objects; let's just breeze through a few last photos from our weekend in Niagara. Leaving out pictures of the people we were with (they're shy,) wineries that pretty much look like wineries anywhere else, and more pictures of Big Water, here's what we're left with: We visited the butterfly conservatory in Niagara Park's botanical garden:

Did I mention that Olivia came with us? She had a blast:

And look! everywhere we go: baby birds!
The Niagara River is a major nesting area, especially for gulls, and we were there in the middle of chicky-time! Above is a common herring gull and chick. There were hundreds of thousands of gulls around the falls and in the islets on the Niagara River.

In the Dufferin Island nature area we saw red-winged blackbirds, including one who opened a can of Hitchcockian whoop-ass on Ken for trying to take her picture. (She must have had a nest nearby.) There is no photograph of her for that reason.
Flowers were more cooperative:
A wooden walkway crossing part of the river had wide spaces between its slats, and you could look through them and see thousands of little fish in the turquoise water.
And finally:
This! The misty, shady area around the "Cave of the Winds" at the base of Bridal Veil Falls encourages some mighty fine tree fungus.
And that's it! For some moving images of the Big Water, visit my YouTube channel, where there's a clip of the view from our hotel window, as well as a brief moment from the Journey Behind The Falls. Almost like being there! Except you're not wearing a poncho.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Hometown Couple

Couples from all over the globe come to visit Niagara Falls. What about the ones who live and work on the river's edge?
Theirs is a poignant story. She (or is it he?) stands immobile on the esplanade, around the clock. During the day, surrounded by throngs of footloose folk, she looks where they look, and she envies their freedom of movement. Through the small hours of the night, she gazes at the falls (or the restaurant, or the hotel, or in whichever direction the last tourist has left her pointing...)

She waits, she lives, for the dawn, when her True Love arrives, driven by that nice man in the raincoat, who always finds a reason to park, thus giving this local couple a few tender moments alone in the early morning mist. (sigh) It really is the most romantic place.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Falling For Niagara

We spent the weekend past in Niagara Falls with a couple of friends. All of us but Ken had vacationed here before, but in our pre-pubescent years. It was harder to see over the railing then, and I for one was distracted from the scenery by the pain of the vise-like grip kept on my hand at all times. It's hard to enjoy the grandeur of it all when you're a little kid distracted by trivial things, balking at the "strange" food, being nagged about not climbing the fence - oh, who am I kidding? I can't remember a thing because it was forty-two years ago. So it amounted to a first-time visit for all of us. Hoping for an image that was a little different from so many others, I rose at five-thirty the first morning to catch the sunrise. It was worth it.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Babies Everywhere

Aside from the birds, about whom I can't shut up, late spring is alive with lots of other little forms of life. Above, you see the cutest little pest ever. Look at that shell, it's transparent! And so exquisitely small, for a sense of scale, consider those huge grooves he's crawling over: those are my fingerprints. Go on, look at your own fingerprints; that's how tiny he is. Ah, but he wants to destroy my vegetation, and so he, along with his many older relatives, was handpicked off the creeping phlox and daylily leaves and sidearmed into the street, where the birds are waiting to make breakfast out of him.
Below, hoping the birds don't make breakfast out of him, is a very young lizard, poking his head out from under the house shingles, where I believe he enjoys the warmth of the sun heating up the shingle. Also, it's very easy to skedaddle up and under and out of harm's way.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Flight Time

As it turns out, that last post on May 30th wasn't the end of the story; the juvenile robins are being raised in the surrounding trees. Every day since the last one left, I've seen one and sometimes two together. Usually I'm tipped off to the location by now-familiar calls-and-responses. For the first couple of days, the young'uns were not very high up in the old bent pine tree, where I took the photo above. See the black-and-white speckling on the red breast? That, and the overall "fluffy" quality, let you know it's a juvenile. (Oh, also the insane cheeping when it's time to eat.) Most interesting is the way the mom encourages them to fly: I saw her tugging worms out of the tomato patch, loading up her beak, then she flew to a branch next to the kids, sat there a few seconds while they raised a racket about the lunch she was holding, then she flew away, higher up into the next tree, and they followed! I guess they'll be trained to find their own worms once they're stronger, swifter flyers, and it's safer for them to be on the ground. Songbirds are much different from baby goslings and ducks, who walk right out of the shell and commence swimming and feeding themselves more or less immediately.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

In Which I Disappoint A Customer

College Student: "Do you have Cliffs Notes for the Republic, by Plato?"
Me: "Sure, right here."
College Student: (frowning) "Oh. You haven't got the skinny one?"
Me: "The skinny one?"
College Student: "There's a Cliffs Note for this that's skinnier..."
Me: (gently) "I'm sorry, that's the least substantial one available."