The oystercatcher is a 17.5-inch bird whose signature feature is a large, thick red bill. Its head is black as is the breast, which looks like a bib next to the white belly. The back is dark brown and the legs are a pale pink. Using its prominent bill with a rapid motion, the bird probes wet sand for shells and adeptly removes the meat. Until last winter I’d only seen oystercatchers a few times and at a distance.
Last March on a Florida beach, to my surprise, at the edge of a large group of gulls, terns and skimmers is an oystercatcher. Looking desultory, the bird lifts off over the Gulf flashing a bold white wing design. Based on past experience, I incorrectly assume that is the last I’ll see of it. A few mornings later an oystercatcher is feeding at the water’s edge. It has a shell in its bill from which it seems to be extracting the insides. This sturdy avian stands in the water with head submerged as incoming waves wash over it. Soaked, the head looks even blacker and some of the feathers standing up give it a touch of wildness. In comparison, smaller sanderlings feeding nearby, chase retreating waves and run from incoming ones. Lean willets, also smaller, go into the water but aren’t as heavy duty, braving the waves as this guy. This is interesting comparative birding.
We moderns who were recently captured by the Internet Revolution should easily empathize with the 1927 entrance of The Jazz Singer with Al Jolson, which led to Hollywood discarding silent films. Within a decade, the production of black and white, no-speech films ceased. The Artist is a story of the “silents.”
Many former film stars could not make the “talkies” that were being produced. The new silent film The Artist deals with this phenomenon. George Valentin (Jean Dujardin) is a superstar in silent movies. He is a singing, dancing actor with Gene Kelly and Douglas Fairbanks in mind. As he refuses role after role, his star descends and he is well on the way to oblivion.
I’m glad that a new “law” has renamed a bridge in honor of police officer Michael J. Califano, but a law that would honor him even more (by saving lives) and better “ensure that his legacy or service and heroism will always be remembered” would be one that guaranteed that anyone found guilty of being asleep at the wheel (as his “killer” probably will be), or driving drunk, or texting-while-driving, will lose their driver’s license for life.
While traveling, I have been surprised at the variety of experiences that have opened for Lorraine and me.
Last Saturday evening, after a babysitting job, we arrived at Penn Station at 9:48 p.m. We scooted to take the 9:51 p.m. to Hicksville on the LIRR. We caught the only seats available, a foursome – two seats facing forward, and two seats riding backwards. Not my favorite seats, but when you just make the train, you do not have your pick of seating.
Last spring, when the MTA threatened to eliminate more than half of the Long Island Bus routes, lay off hundreds of employees and hit our taxpayers with another $26 million in subsidy payments – I joined thousands of outraged taxpayers in saying, “Enough is enough!”
On January 1, 2012, Nassau County will make history when we take control of our own buses, turning Long Island Bus into the NICE Bus - Nassau Inter-County Express. This marks a new era of efficient bus service for riders and lower costs for taxpayers. Residents will save $32.4 million annually.
I was attending a lecture by Leon Uris at the 92nd Street YMHA years ago when he startled me. Uris, the author, was complaining that Otto Preminger, the director of the highly praised film Exodus, had ruined his image of the book.
I was completely shocked because I truly enjoyed the renowned movie with Paul Newman, Sal Mineo and Eva Marie Saint. Uris said that it did not represent his concept of what he was thinking when he penned the momentous novel.
In any debate, it’s said, each party is entitled to its own opinion. But not its own set of facts.
That’s why it’s so exciting that there’s been yet another important step in establishing a single set of facts about the contributions of immigrants to Long Island.
The Fiscal Policy Institute is out with a new study titled New Americans on Long Island, a Vital Sixth of the Economy. And while the whole thing is worth reading – it’s posted on the Long Island Wins website - we’ll skip to the good parts: the report finds that immigrants make up 16 percent of Long Island’s population and 17 percent of its economic output.
When I was a teenager I was positive that I would someday be a writer in Hollywood. I fantasized that I would write scripts that would be Oscar-nominees that the world would view on the silver screen. It never quite happened.
I went to City College of New York and in my coursework I did very well in German Studies. When I told my mother I intended to become a teacher of German, she was shocked. Her immediate answer was “No”, and that took care of that career.
On a mid-November morning long puddles line a curb on an uphill street in Woodbury. They are filled with red and yellow leaves looking like summer garlands. Woodbury Road is choked with leaves that my sneakers push out of the way with a whooshing sound. It’s as if a tickertape parade has gone by and autumn’s pageant is winding down.
High on one of the tall, bare trees that line the street is the unmistakable form of a hawk. As I get closer the raptor turns in my direction. It’s a red-tailed hawk and judging by the large size, probably a female. I’d like a closer look but have, as usual, forgotten to bring binoculars despite reminding myself to do so when I go for a walk.
I have just returned from a memorial celebration for my niece, Marla Silver. Marla died at age 48 after a yearlong bout with esophageal cancer. It was a tough fight, but at the end, the cancer was the victor.
The memorial celebration was held on Oct. 29 at the London Grove Friends Meeting House in Pennsylvania. I had never been to a Quaker Meeting House before. The benches were of unvarnished wood, but the service was direct and sincere. Actually, Marla herself planned the entire program, although she did not plan the weather: huge snowflakes covered the trees and the ground.
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