Yesterday was lovely, as you can see. But this poor little bird hasn't had an easy time since I last wrote.
Last week on Tuesday, we had a major storm. As things seem to go lately, this major storm was more major than previous major storms. It was extremely major in the wind department. In fact, the news described it as
A "ONCE-IN-A-LIFETIME" STORM!
In San Francisco, There were winds up to
67 miles an hour!
This is a very windy city, but we NEVER have wind like that.
67 miles an hour!
Big trees blew down!
GAS STATIONS BLEW DOWN!
EMBARRASSINGLY BAD STATUES BLEW DOWN!
Someone had just put a giant statue on his roof on Telegraph Hill. It represented Fortuna, the Roman goddess of luck. The roof owner wanted to create a kind of giant weathervane visible all over the northeast corner of the city. Let us say it was a sincere effort to contribute to San Francisco's quirky delights. The statue got a lot of coverage in the Chronicle. Polite coverage. No one mentioned that the statue was ... ummm... shall we say esthetically challenged? Or shall we simply say ... dreadful! Anyhow, poor scrawny Fortuna seemed to be lacking not only beauty but luck and was blown over by the once-in-a-lifetime-storm almost immediately after being hoisted up.
Fortunately, the wind wasn't 67 miles an hour! in my backyard, which is somewhat protected. But as you can see from the photo at the top, my little Hummer Mummy is sitting on a very thin branch. My fuchsia tree is really not a tree at all but a tall weedy shrub. Mummy Hummer's tiny little cup was like a seat on some crazy cyclone ride in an amusement park! That branch was whipping around in the wind. Whipping whipping whipping! She just sat there, as if she was strapped in for the ride.
It was absolutely horrible to watch, and I was home the whole day watching her because who goes out in such a storm if they don't have to?
I cudgeled my brain to figure out how I could protect my little bird from the wind. I wandered around in my basement to see if there was something in there that I could possibly use.
Could I make some kind of tent with that giant piece of carpet padding? Was there a possibility of using some old flats from a play as a barrier?
But the truth is, I am a totally unhandy person. And even if I did figure something out, what if my jerry-rigged barrier blew over on her? Then I would have been the one responsible for doing her in. So I just sat there in my studio, trying to get my taxes done, while obsessively watching my little bird whipping around in the pouring rain and wondering how she could possibly stand it. I considered taking a video of Mummy Hummer's Wild Ride, but it was just too terrifying to want to share the experience.
Finally the darkness came, and the wind died down. I went to sleep, praying the wind was finished with us and I would see Mummy H when I awoke.
And I did.
But it seemed to me that her tail feathers looked askew. Oh no! Had she gotten injured when she left the nest for a sip of nectar?!? I took a photo and then scrutinized it compared to a photo from before the storm. It seemed to me her tail feathers DID look different. Was she now going to pathetically flop instead of zooming?
I worried about that for as long as I could, studying the two photos. By the end of the day, I had to admit that she was in fact leaving the nest, was not seen by me flopping on the ground, and was perhaps okay. Phew.
Then I decided the one thing I could do for my long-suffering tiny Mom was to buy a hummingbird feeder so she wouldn't have to fly too far for a snack. I had never put up a feeder before, because you have to clean it twice a week or it becomes a source of fungus that is harmful to the little beings you're trying to help. I never felt up for the responsibility. But now that I had an emotional relationship with a hummer, I did.
So I went down the hill to the hardware store and bought this lovely hummingbird feeder that you see to the right.
Fortunately, I mentioned to Carolyn that I had hung the feeder as close as I could to the nest. She immediately texted me back that that was the absolutely worst thing I could do. It might cause another hummingbird to discover the nest -- and that could lead to tiny bird violence! I don't think I could take that after everything I've been through. Apparently hummingbirds are not very nice to each other. Well, no species is perfect. Right? We humans have a few flaws too.
I moved the feeder to the other side of the yard.
And now, since I began writing this blog yesterday, Mummy Hummer has soldiered through ANOTHER storm! Not nearly as bad as the once-in-a-lifetime storm and with very little wind in the backyard. Phew! Mummy is still out there, hanging on. The amazingly well-built nest looks pretty damn good, considering. There are no big storms in the foreseeable future. Perhaps true Spring weather is on the horizon! I think everyone in the Bay Area, not only Mummy Hummer and me, would be thrilled if this damn rainy season was over.
All for now, Bloggellinis!
Terry & Mummy Hummer (Mummy @ Night Below)
Lilith Women's Theater | 547 Douglass St., San Francisco, CA 94114 www.LilithTheater.com
The criminal prime minister and right-wing forces are working in concert to destroy the country's democracy. The centerpiece of this destruction is overhauling the Israeli Supreme Court so that it is no longer politically independent. Israelis have been gathering in huge protests that are growing and growing. Now they are calling on the world for support.
Of course you can make all kinds of criticisms of Israel and point out how flawed its democracy is NOW. Certainly the same thing can be said about the U.S.
THE MOST IMPORTANT THING WE CAN DO IS
STOP SOMETHING TERRIBLE FROM HAPPENING.
There will be protests in San Francisco and New York and Amsterdam and Barcelona and Cambridge and many more places.
The crucial votes in the Knesset, the Israeli Parliament, will be taken early next week, so....
THIS WEEKEND IS THE TIME.
If you are a feminist, come to protest against
the threat to women's equality from the ultra-religious.
If you support a two-state solution to the issue of the Palestinians,
WHAT IS HAPPENING IN ISRAEL, IN MORE DETAIL, AS EXPLAINED BY MY ISRAELI FRIEND:
Israel’s Judicial Overhaul Saga
Chapter 1. The Perfect Storm
The 25th Knesset (Israeli parliament) elections in November 2022, a fifth election within 3 years, resulted in a perfect storm for the BB – Israel’s returning Crime Minister - to escape jail. The left bloc lost 6 or 7 seats due to splintering into small parties that did not pass the threshold to enter. The right and far right voters were fully engaged while the left bloc voters were cynical, disenchanted, and suffered from elections fatigue. With lost seats and unequal participation the right bloc ended up with 64 seats out of 120. The BB was at the head of the biggest party – his new Likud, and was appointed by the President to form a government. He ganged up with the messianic settlers from the far right, and with the ultra-religious, to form a ruling coalition. Only weeks later, the plan for “a judicial overhaul” was revealed.
Note: Israel does not have three independent branches of government because the legislature and executive branches are combined (people vote only for the legislature and the government is derived from it). Only the judicial branch is independent, and it provides the only check-and-balance system in the State. Moreover, Israel does not have a constitution; efforts to write one were systematically thwarted by religious forces. Thus, no law is set in stone, but some Basic Laws are harder to change.
Chapter 2. A Three-Prong Attack
The current government is in the middle of a three-prong attack on the essence and the citizens of Israel.
First, the BB wants to choose his own judges - those who will not send him to jail for corruption. Therefore he assembled a demolition Crew to “overhaul” the Court. Mr. Levin (the minister of justice) and his mates will happily oblige, give the government total power to select justices, and legislate to dismantle all the power of the Supreme Court.
Second, Levin et al are happy to destroy the Court because of their own agenda, which the Court has continuously curtailed: they want to kill the two-state solution forever and to annex the entire west bank. Levin has been working on his plan for decades and now he finally has the power to implement it, so he is not stopping to listen, look, talk, or change course.
Third, BB’s coalition also depends on the Haredim (ultra religious) and other prophets for their votes, and their agenda is to turn Israel into a theocracy where all citizens are forced to live under 10th-century Jewish law and where women and non-Jews are not people.
If this attack succeeds and the proposed legislation passes, the BB will be safe on his dictator’s chair with absolute power, the Palestinians will “be dealt with” by hateful criminals, and Israeli’s freedom and human rights will be lost.
Chapter 3. First a Valium-Laced Salami, then the Cascade
There are 126 suggested laws out there and the Crew is advancing them in a well-choreographed sequence, mixing disastrous with trivial with just-annoying; they are creating a smokescreen, trying to sneak the critical moves in a devious way, and hope no one will notice. Once they control the Court, they will reveal more “changes” and legislate to control free speech, civil rights, elections, and Israeli history itself.
But we do notice.
Here is a small selection from the first batch:
A. “dictatorship laws”, e.g., composition of the justices appointment committee will give control to the coalition; Court’s ability to strike illegal laws will be curtailed; etc.
B. “corruption laws” e.g., nivtzarut (PM cannot be incapacitated for crimes, only for health issues); matanot (elected officials can receive gifts from anyone for legal/health expenses); “Der’i2” (convicted criminals can now serve as ministers); and many more.
C. “crawling religiosation laws”, e.g., hok ha’chametz (no levened bread into hospitals during Pesach [now “softened” to allow hospital managers to decide]); permanent and legal exemption of Haredim youth from military service; nationalization of municipal taxes to support poor Haredim cities; and more.
A parallel attack has already begun, conducted by new government ministers appointed by the BB as his payment for their votes, and they have their own agendas. A convicted arsonist is now telling the police to trample demonstrators with horses, arrest them, and spray them with stench guns. A minister wants his minions to control the National Library at the Hebrew University, where the history of the State of Israel is safely archived; their agenda is to re-write history. I have given only two examples; this list is getting longer every day.
The protest movement is getting wider, bigger, and much more creative every day; Israel is now awake and the BB and his gangs will fail.
I sleep and work in my studio, which I reach by going out my back door and down a half of flight of stairs to the backyard. See the photo right.
As you can see, there is a small tree right across from my studio door. It's a fuchsia tree. There are some little fuchia flowers hanging down on the right.
For a couple of mornings, I would come out of my studio to go up to the kitchen to make tea, and a hummingbird would be flying around in front of me.
In my self-centered human way, I thought the tiny bird was trying to
communicate with me -- "Hello! You're special! I want to be your friend!"
Something like that. I see a lot of hummers in my garden. In fact, I have a special rule about them, which I call The Hummingbird Rule. When I see one of them darting around, I am required to stop whatever I'm doing and watch it until it flies out of sight.
Come to think of it, that might be the only rule I have that I actually consistently ADHERE TO!
I love hearing that amazing tiny helicopter sound when they're close.
So. For a couple of mornings, I began my day by having a ruby-throated humming bird dancing in front of my face and then flitting away.
Then I noticed THIS in the fuchsia tree:
THAT LITTLE BLOB
IN THE CENTER
Then I realized that this tiny being really WAS trying to tell me something when she stood six inches from my face and chittered at me:
"GET THE HELL AWAY FROM MY NEST, YOU CREEPY MONSTER!"
Having done some Googly research, I can tell you:
Hummingbirds build velvety, compact cups with spongy floors and elastic sides that stretch as the young grow. They weave together twigs, plant fibers, and bits of leaves, and use spider silk as threads to bind their nests together and anchor them to the foundation. It takes the mama up to seven days to build the nest.
A NEST THAT STRETCHES MADE WITH SPIDER SILK! Oh, if only I'd seen her building it!
(I am so greedy, aren't I? Not satisfied with having an actual hummingbird nest outside my door, I want More More More!)
How DID she build a nest in such a visible place without my noticing?
Here is the location of the nest in relation to my house:
And finally, a day after I discovered the nest, I actually saw Mama Hummer in it:
She's out there right now. I just checked. She doesn't seem to mind my standing and looking. I'm not trying to get REAL close. I'd have to get a ladder to look inside the nest. I'm not going to do that.
This is the photo I just took right now:
I know, this photo is almost the same as the last one. It's silly to include it. But she IS facing the other way!
Isn't evolution absolutely wonderful? What a world we live in! What an astounding multiplicity of species! And one of the more spectacular species has built a nest right outside my studio door! Really, you never can tell what gifts will be bestowed on you.
FUN FACTS BY JANAYA WECKERAND ANDREA BLUMENSTEIN (from the internet):
Most birds form monogamous pairs after mating. The male helps feed the young. Not the hummer! Males ditch the female after donating their sperm. Mom does ALL the work.
Once hatched, the female must provide food—a mixture of nectar, tiny insects, and pollen—for her young, which she regurgitates into their mouths. She can’t spend too much time away from the nest searching for food, however. For the first several days of life, hummingbird hatchlings cannot regulate their own body temperatures, and so depend on their mother to keep them warm.
Oy vey. I'm worried. What if we have another cold snap?
They have amazing memories. These smart birds can remember every flower and feeder they've visited, as well as how long it takes for a certain flower to refill.
They can fly thousands of miles every year. In terms of migratory feats, hummers go the farthest of any bird in proportion to body length. For a 2.5-inch hummingbird, the few thousand miles traveled between breeding grounds and winter habitats is positively huge.
There are over 350 species of hummingbirds, and they are all in North or South America.
They are attracted to the color red. However they will seek nectar in many colors of flowers.
They eat insects. Because of their quickness and the shape of their beaks — which act like spring-loaded sets of chopsticks — hummingbirds can snatch insects right out of the air.
They visit 1,000 flower each day. And they consume five to eight doses of nectar per hour.
Hummers can really sleep. Hummingbirds have an evolutionary adaptation that benefits them during cold nights. Torpor is a deep sleep similar to hibernation in which the metabolic rate drops as much as 95%. This lowers the body temperature so much that a torpid hummingbird maintains a hypothermic threshold that nears death. It takes them 20 minutes to an hour to wake up from this state.
Hummers beat their wings thousands of times a minute. Averaging about 50 times per second, hummers redefine the laws of flight. They hover over their food instead of landing. In fact, 25 to 30% of a hummingbird’s weight is in its pectoral muscles. Their near-invisible wings can propel them forward, backward, and upside down.
They have incredible vision. Hummers see in ultraviolet light — and can see much further than humans.
THIS IS MY FAVORITE:
A group of hummers is called a "charm." They may also be referred to as a bouquet, shimmer, or glittering.
HERE'S HOPING FOR A SHIMMER OF HUMMERS OUTSIDE MY STUDIO DOOR!
And a final image: My own Mama Hummer in the rain. You can see a drop of water glistening at the end of her beak.
Dear Bloggellinis: I cannot help but feel honored that Mama Hummer has chosen to build her nest so close to me. She seems content to sit while I admire her. I will keep you apprised of future developments on the Hummingbird Front! Terry
Lilith Women's Theater | 547 Douglass St., San Francisco, CA 94114 www.LilithTheater.com
On the 20th anniversary of our country's invasion of Iraq, I'm reading lots of pundits cudgeling their brains about why the hell we committed this insane war crime. So far, I haven't read mentions of the millions of us ALL OVER THE WORLD who hit the streets again and again with our picket signs to peacefully demonstrate against this callous and absurd land grab for oil.
I intend to write in more detail to debunk the supposed "reasons" the mighty United States was provoked to war. But first I want to honor and celebrate all of us who tried to stop it. There was so much passion and outrage and creativity in the picket signs at the demonstrations in San Francisco. I made a small booklet of my photos. I printed 2,000 copies and sold or gave away them all except one. Sheila Kuehl, a dyke & very progressive state senator at the time, bought 40 copies for Christmas presents. I was very proud of that.
The photo above is the cover of my little book, THIS IS MY PEACE SIGN. When anyone contacted me who was in the book, I gave them 10 free copies. The family in the cover photo lived in Santa Rosa. The mother of the boy holding the sign saw the little book on the counter of her local bookstore. When she finally got in touch with me, I figured he was entitled to 25 copies, since he named the book.
Below is the first photo inside the book. The English translation is "Peace Builds, War Destroys." I was moved by this man using the lid of a pizza box for his message. He stands alone, with an expression of calm certainty.
More photos from THIS IS MY PEACE SIGN....
For those who don't remember or were too young or for other reasons weren't involved, the French refused to sign on to this wonderful opportunity to fuck up the world. They were roundly condemned by our leaders as cowards. I believe the favored phrase was "cheese-eating surrender monkeys." I kid you not. Then came a concerted effort to get rid of the adjective "French" if it was attached to anything pleasurable. So the Congressional cafeteria changed French fries to "Freedom Fries." Thus the sign below.
There was a group of giant woman puppets, each holding a body. I cannot tell you how powerful it was.
I'm crying a few tears now, remembering the anger and the JOY we felt, all being together, out in public, huge masses of us again and again. We truly believed if enough of us protested, we could stop the invasion of Iraq.
You see, this was a different occasion from the Black Lives Matter or Me Too protests. Those were bringing attention to entrenched, complex injustices. We were protesting a specific action that the President was threatening to take. We believed our protests could pressure Congress to cut off funding for it. That's how the Vietnam war was ended. People were marching all over the world protesting the looming invasion. WE WERE FILLED WITH ANGER AND HOPE!
Once the warships started steaming toward the Persian Gulf, we were told "It's too late, it's a done deal." But why? Warships can turn around! The whole thing was so tragic and stupid! WE KEPT MARCHING.
How deeply this woman must have felt to have those words painted over her child who was almost ready to enter the world. And then she marched for hours like this, her bare pregnant belly displaying her love and anguish for the children of Iraq.
My sister Nancy and I made the sign below. We thought of it as our all-purpose sign that we could use at all future peace demonstrations. The idea was mine, and we were supposed to make it together. But she got tired of waiting for me, so she just made it. Nancy died in 2009, and I miss her so much. We were a good team in so many ways. I was the dreamer and she was the one to actually make something happen.
And then we invaded Iraq and the whole nightmare really began.
I wish the whole world had boycotted us after we invaded, like they boycotted South Africa. All U.S. citizens should have been barred from all international cultural, sporting and intellectual gatherings. It would have served us right. But no one ever punishes the United States. We do whatever the hell we want, and others suffer the consequences. This time, the consequences shattered a whole region.
Bloggellinis: l will be writing more about the invasion of Iraq, because I'm not seeing the facts as I remember them reflected in the media. So: More to come. Plus it had a huge effect on my life. Terry
Lilith Women's Theater | 547 Douglass St., San Francisco, CA 94114 www.LilithTheater.com