Saturday, June 26, 2021

Fighting Birds, Escaping Heat, Roasting Weiners, a Holocaust Survivor Passes

After painstakingly and with great trepidation while standing on a ladder, I recently installed metal spike strips across the base bar of our 35-foot patio awning. It was a tactic of last resort in a battle to prevent sparrows from making their homes behind the awning frame, a perch from which their hungry chicks chirped constantly and the whole family soiled whatever was stationed below. I thought that behavior inappropriate considering how often I supply all birds from starlings to cardinals to blue jays and finches with food and water. 

Repeatedly tearing down three half-finished nests hadn’t discouraged the sparrows from starting over again and again. Nor did placing rubber snakes in their desired domicile locations. Our landscaper erected a fenced off area along the bar—they simple went around it and used the screening as a foundation for a nest.

I reluctantly decided that stiletto spikes were my only recourse. I thought I had finally won the nesting war.

But like solitary Japanese soldiers on remote islands of the Pacific who maintained a state of combat for decades because they were not informed Imperial forces surrendered in 1945 to end World War II, at least one pair of sparrow has not given up the homesteading fight. 

For the last few days I have come across twigs on our patio. Today I saw twigs placed between spikes, not enough to make a nest but sufficient in mass to suggest the intrepid pair was eager to solve its housing crisis no matter how penetratingly uncomfortable the spikes would make their home. 

I hooked the twigs down and await their next move. Hopefully it is to a different address.

No Escaping Heat Wave: Three decades before global warming became a reality of everyone’s life, New York suffered through an extended heat wave—seven consecutive days in July 1991 of 90 degrees or more. Several days recorded three digit temperature readings.

With our kids away for seven weeks at Camp Laurelwood, Gilda and I were feeling quite smug about our plans to escape the heat. We had a two week vacation planned for the Pacific Northwest where ocean breezes, intermittent showers and the Cascade and Olympic Mountain ranges were said to keep the region cool. 

We left New York’s 95 degree weather only to arrive in Seattle to an almost unprecedented 95 degrees! Alas, the charming downtown hotel we were staying in was, like most picturesque hotels in the city, devoid of air conditioning. Groan. 

Lying in bed that night, unable to sleep because of the room’s stale air, a small night light illuminating the ceiling 10 feet above us, I saw the shadow of a stagnant ceiling fan. I turned it on. It wouldn’t chill the air but at least it would keep it circulating. 

I’ve thought about that “relief” whenever heat waves occurred during the past 30 years, never more so than the present, what with almost daily stories about another scorcher in the Northwest and the region’s residents finally recognizing the value, no, the need, to air condition their premises ( 

Weiner Roast: New York City has always supplied its fair share of, shall we say, interesting politicians. Some good, some bad, but lots of colorful characters. 

No, I am not currently referring to Rudy Giuliani, though one would be hard pressed to find a more deserving prototype of a politician who aspired to greatness, nearly achieved it but has fallen to almost certain disgrace. 

I am intrigued by the fact that not one but two pols with the same last name—Weiner—have been exposed for sexual peccadillos. Former congressman Anthony Weiner, you may recall, wound up serving time for exposing his wiener online to a minor. 

Zach Weiner, no relation to Anthony that I am aware of, had a fling with a dominatrix exposed by The New York Post a few days before running in the primary to represent the Upper West Side on the City Council. Zach owned up to the video of his private behavior ( 

Alas, among six candidates, Weiner finished last, with just 810 votes. Gale Brewer won, securing more than 50% of the vote to avoid a runoff. 

Passing of an Eyewitness: Nearly two weeks ago another witness to the cruelty humans can inflict on others passed. David Wisnia was 94. He survived the Warsaw ghetto and Auschwitz. Read his story: