Friday, 26 August 2011

August Miscellany - Of Birds, Plays And The House of Virgo

Ciclo dei Mesi - Agosto

Having nearly missed the monthly round-up of small bites, I'd better get straight into it:

A baby siskin flew into the conservatory window and sat, dazed, just outside the door for at least fifteen minutes. This shot is taken through the glass of the door and therefore less clear than it might have been.
The red geranium leaf in the right-hand corner gives you an idea of the tiny size of the fledgling.

Siskins (Carduelis spinus), belong to the finch family; they depend heavily upon the seeds of pines and spruce for food in early summer. Last year we had hardly any in the garden, hard winters take a heavy toll on them; their numbers seem to have recovered a little this summer. This fledgling must have been from a second clutch; the first clutch of pale blue eggs is usually laid in April/May. They hatch within two weeks and stay in the nest for another two.

Siskins are delightful little birds, like flashes of the brightest goldleaf thrown up into the air. The male circles the treetops on slow, deliberate wing-beats, with plumage fluffed up and tail fanned. Both partners take part in a fast-moving display flight, in which the male rises to a considerable height with tail spread and wings quivering rapidly, and the female follows close behind.

Eduardo De Filippo is not a playwright I know much about. He is not performed very often in this country. My programme notes say that : "prior to his funeral in 1984, no fewer than 60.000 people filed past his coffin as it lay in state in Rome and the ceremony was screened live on Italian television."

He was obviously much loved and respected in Italy. "The bastard son of two actors ended his days as a senator of the Italian Republic, adored by audiences and revered by his fellow professionals."

"The Syndicate" is a play is about "Tough Love Mafia Style", with tremendous roles for the three main male characters. I was never quite sure if I was watching a morality play, a comedy with very dark undertones, or a straightforward thriller about  the Mafia underworld.

August has been a miserable month weather wise in  my corner of the world. Far too dry for the garden, with an almost permanent cloud cover which never kept what it promised, neither rain nor a break to let the sun through. This has been the third non-summer in a row for us. 

The Sun may have entered the House of Virgo but it must have missed Friko's Castle at Valley's End.

"The man born under Virgo shall be a good householder, ingenious and solicitous to his work, shamefast and of a great courage, but he will soon be angry. Scarcely shall he be a while with his first wife. He shall be in peril by water, he shall have a wound with iron, and shall live seventy years after nature."

"The woman shall be shamefast, ingenious and painstaking. She ought to be wed at twelve years, but she shall not be long with her first husband. Her life shall be sometime in peril; she shall have dolour at ten years, and if she scape shall live seventy years. She shall bring forth virtuous fruit, and everything shall favour her."

"Man and woman both shall suffer many temptations; they shall delight to live in charity, but they shall suffer much, wheresoever it be."

The Kalendar of Shepheardes 1604


  1. I'd never even heard of a siskin, not that this will surprise you. What a cute little thing it is.

  2. Hello Friko:
    As always your posts surprise. And this eclectic mix is a delight with some wonderful images, particularly that of the castle set againts a glowering sky.

    The summer here continues with days where the temperature is in excess of 40C. Too much - and no rain!

  3. I loved the passage about the Siskin-- every word and especially the image with the geranium leaf for scale.

    The way you describe the clouds sounds like July where I live. But August has been far more kind. Here's to your September.

    (I can't wait until you profile Pisces.)


  4. Marvelous miscellany, Friko.
    The harvest painting is beautiful, and the little siskin even more so.
    I get very upset when birds hit my window, especially young ones, because I feel helpless and, despite myself, guilty.
    — K

    Kay, Alberta, Canada
    An Unfittie's Guide to Adventurous Travel

  5. i've got to read the rest of that kalendar to see what's coming up for everyone i know!! the little siskin has beautiful colouring. steven

  6. That last photo is absolutely stunning!

  7. ack...sorry it missed your castle...its on its way out of here now...would love to see that play...

  8. I've heard of Ed & found him to be a scream. Very interesting character. ~Mary

  9. Gorgeous little bird! I hate it when we have birds knock themselves dizzy after flying into our windowpanes. I always worry in case they've suffered internal damage and feel so helpless.

  10. Lots to please the eye and feed the mind!!!!!

  11. Loved these wide-ranging bits and pieces. What I like best is your attention to details. While not lengthy, each bit is packed with tasty substance, like the male-female interaction of siskins and your thoughts about the play. You even manage to strike chords with weather words!

  12. Wel I am a Virgo and that sounds spot on. I am particularly shame fast, whatever that may be.

  13. I love siskins too, and it's fun for me to know that they grace your part of the world as well as mine. Glad that he survived the window-crash.

    The Syndicate sounds like a play I would very much like to see: a combination of humor, suspense, and drama can't be beat.

    Your castle has a different look to it in each picture that you show; I like the dramatic sky in this one.

  14. My first astrology teacher was a stickler for the words of wisdom from the ancients. I still have all my original books and once in a while dust them off and crack them open. My friend, Marilyn just left and she's a Virgo. She organized my life before she left, as she always does. A Virgo is so good at that.

  15. Our summer made up for lost time this past week with temperatures in the 90s. I'm feeling a little depressed knowing that the best part of summer is gone and soon it will be cold and wet. I hope you get some glorious late summer days.

  16. Lovely photos! I'm intrigued by the castle, it looks like someplace I'd love to explore. Your picture of the little bird is so sweet!

  17. I always enjoy posts that are a bit of this and a bit of that. I've never seen a siskin - poor wee confused bird.

  18. My twin daughters are Virgos, but will not be twelve for a few more years, so I have time yet to plan their weddings, I guess. (Can you imagine? I guess back when people were old at 30....)

    The photo of the bird is lovely. And your door glass is impeccably clean! Bravo!

  19. Cute little bird ! Our weather in Belgium in August was awful too, cool, no sun, rain, thunderstorms etc ...

  20. Hi Friko .. great post - poor siskin .. but loved the info. I've noticed lots of bird singing down here, and lots of little tits fluttering around - so they're also probably 2nd hatchings. The jackdaws were accessing the pine seeds with gusto earlier in the year, when it was very dry.

    It hasn't been a great summer - fortunately we've had some rain recently - it often misses Eastbourne.

    That picture is just great, together with the Virgo information .. not in that category!

    Hope the weekend is kinder .. lovely and sunny (so far) today .. cheers Hilary

  21. Ja, heiliges Kanonenrohr: Not much has changed since 1604.

    That little fluffball (is it still up for adoption?) must have suffered a severe case of concussion. With a headache to match. I could cry: Your loving description of this particular branch of the finch family so reminds me of my grandfather and his love for birds.

    Good to have found your blog.


  22. Oh what an adorable little fluff! Glad he recovered!!
    The play sounds intriguing for sure!

  23. Little bird is so precious, all fat and fluffy. Bird fly into our windows all day long here lately. I don't know if it's the young ones who haven't mastered navigation or what.

    It must be difficult to find much tougher love than the mafia's style...

    Husband is a Virgo. As far as I know he's still on his first wife. But it's the exception that proves the rule.

  24. Message to Ursula and a very happy Heiliges Kanonenrohr to you too:

    Make yourself known, please. No-reply-comments are untraceable.

  25. I so enjoyed these bits and pieces of your life and the accompanying photographs. Siskins, plays, weather, castles, and a 1604 horoscope for Virgos.

    A weaving of the tapestry of a month.

    What a wonderfully inventive way to share your life with us. Thank you.

  26. Pine siskins are also fragile birds. I had so many of them last year, but this year, not so many. They are adorable, though. I hope that little one makes it.

    Good thing I'm not a Virgo. I didn't like that description of them at all. It's always nice to see you pop up in my Reader, though, even if you might be a Virgo! :-)

  27. We don't have siskins here.

    I'm always amused by the contradictions in the fortunes of the astrological signs. 'Everything shall favor her...but they shall suffer much.'

  28. Thank you, Friko, for showing my what a tiny young Siskin looks like. What a little cutie. I do hope it recovered from its landing and flew away again.

    This Virgo is now at home awaiting the arrival of Hurricane Irene. New York City is being shut down, and we are advised to stay home and wait out this storm today and tomorrow. Wow. Maybe this is an experience truly fit for a Virgo?


  29. It's remarkable how quickly birds recover from window hits. Lovely photo - your windows are much cleaner than mine!
    I haven't seen siskins in our garden for a couple of years now. In fact we see very few finches of any sort - I don't know why:-(

  30. Fascinating. I love tidbits.

    The baby Siskin is adorable, and the shot looks fine to me. We don't see them around here but we do see their cousins the house finches and Cardinals. They died back during the West Nile episode, but are returning to our area. The Cardinal is our Commonwealth bird. All have sky-blue eggs.

    I love Ian McIllan in almost anything. Great actor.

    Virgo. When this descriptioin was written, almost every man suffered from a wound from iron, also much grief over a lost child I fear. Thank you for the update. Although it is overcast in your end of the valley, we have had far too much hot sun here, although I cannot coplain about August this year.

  31. That castle looks familiar... Is it Clun?

  32. Lovely round up.

    And shows how well rounded you are in your interests and knowledge.

  33. "like flashes of the brightest goldleaf thrown up into the air"

    What a beautiful way to describe the siskin. We have a pine siskin here, though I've not ever seen one. I don't know if it's the same bird as yours.

    I love your miscellany--the harvest painting and quotation from the Kalendar of Shepheardes are gems.

  34. What a wonderful collection of miscellany. Love that sweet little bird capture!

  35. You write so lyrically about everyday things as well as things out of the ordinary. And such a sweet bird photo!

  36. I'm pleased your siskin survived. I am having similar trouble with birds banging into windows and wonder whether to buy cutouts to stick to the window to deter them.


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