Honoring Wangari Maathai

On September 25th the world lost a true hero in the untimely death of Wangari Maathai.  Her story is one of unmatched courage in the face of oppression and of boundless optimism for the future.  A story where one single women stood up to political and social oppression and to environmental exploitation.  She fought for the reforestation of her homeland which she knew was closely linked with bringing economic justice to the women of her homeland.

Honoring Wangari Maathai.

Upon hearing of Wangari Maathai’s passing I felt a deep sense of loss, as if she had been personally dear to me.  But in truth I know that the loss I feel is not personal but rather that it stems from the realization that an incredible force for the common good has left us forever.

I will mourn her deeply.


Summer has gone and the Autumn is filled with harvesting the abundant fruit our young orchard has provided this year.  The peach trees suffered broken branches from the weight of the fruit and will need to be trimmed after the first frost.  The asian pear trees also were heavy with fruit but luckily the branches did not succumb to their heavy loads.

I have a neighbour who helped harvest the fruit in exchange of plenty of it for her own canning.  The surplus we distributed among friends, to everyone’s delight.

Sammy is enjoying the Asian pear harvest

The dogs happily participated in gathering the fallen fruit and all of them were eating their fill.  I was astounded to see how many pears each of them ate without any ill effect.  Even our Berner girl Sophia, who is famous for her touchy digestion, did not experience a stomach upset.

Sophia contemplating another pear while Lilly looks on

Now, all that is left to harvest are the Bartlet pears and the apple trees.  It will be a pleasure to accomplish that task in the coming week with mild weather and temperatures near 70 degrees.

Our own Hummingbirds left a few weeks ago, but there is still activity at the feeders as migrating Hummers stop to replenish their flight weight.  Only yesterday three more arrived from far North, settling in for a few days to enjoy the abundance offered by blooming prairie flowers and our freshly cooked sugar-water.

It is always bitter-sweet to watch these tiny travellers arrive in dire need of an abundant foodsource and see them settle in for a week or more until their flight weight is restored and they are able to continue the dangerous journey to South America where the lucky ones will spend the winter.

All to soon, the last of them will be gone, the feeders will be put away and winter will come.

Hummingbirds all a-flutter during courtship: How fluttering feathers can generate courtship sounds.

Hummingbirds catch flying bugs with the help of fast-closing beaks.

All is well at Sontheim.  The gardens have turned into a jungle, the fruit trees are heavy and the air is alive with the sound of summer.

Hummingbirds are playing at the feeders and sugar-water production is in high gear.  Some of our beloved Hummers are getting fat and soon they will be ready for their epic migration South.

The dogs are having fun in the fields nearby and it is awesome to watch their curiosity when they encounter the myriad of wildlife coming from the woods.

The only thing that is short in supply among all this abundance is TIME.  The time to sit and tend to my blog seems to have disappeared.  So, instead of sharing my own ‘pearls of wisdom’ I give you more food for thought.

Meet Eve Ensler in her newest presentation on TED:


Meet Nadia Al-Sakkaf who truly represents the Arab Spring through her courage and committment to human dignity and freedom.

Since her father’s assassination Nadia is the publisher of the http://www.YemenTimes.com, a publication that continues to speak truth to power in Yemen.

This is the most beautiful nebula I have ever seen:

A Green Ring Fit for a Superhero – NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

The picture confirms my yearning to travel into deep space.

I would, if only I could…

While I am still preoccupied with other matters I want to share Rebecca MacKinnon’s talk at the 2011 TED conference.  Her topic is not only timely but thought-provoking as we struggle to move forward as an open society that respects human dignity.  Enjoy!

The month of June has been busy here and a Sontheim update is long overdue.

The bird breeding season is in full swing and there are nests all around the house, in the bushes, in the trees, the meadows and in the prairie.  There even is a new swallows nest attached to the light fixture high above the front door.

Our hummingbird population has more that doubled with the first batch of fledglings that arrived at the feeders in mid June.  It is pure pleasure to watch these fat little jewels congregate for a drink of sugar-water.  At this stage in their development, the baby Hummers are very sociable.  Only later do they become protective of their turf.  I suppose there is a similarity to human behavior in that.  The Hummer moms are busy with their second set of eggs and will soon again have hungry chicks to feed.

Two days ago, before the big heat hit, we enjoyed a romp through the meadow.  Sammy and Lilly way ahead of Sophia and me.  My Berner girl and I could be considered slow-pokes when it comes to sprinting along the path.  And I watch with fascination when the dogs stop at their favorite places to chomp on tall leaves of grass.  And I wonder what Walt Whitman would have made of that.

Sam, the undisputed leader of the pack.

Now, that the tropical heat has us confined indoors there is ample time to sit at the computer and attend to our blog.

A big part of our recent silence is the effort it took to form a much-needed MS support group for our neck of the Wisconsin woods.  🙂 And I am happy to report that the group is well on its way to host monthly meetings that will commence in August.  Our website is up and the PR effort is in full swing.  But more of that later.

And speaking of Multiple Sclerosis, it is always good NOT to take NO for an answer.  Instead there is the YES I CAN as Janet Echelman demonstrates so beautifully through her art.