26 November 2007

Belfry Occupants

Chris commented that she adores my knitting bat, for which I thank her. I'm pretty fond of it too. I souped it up from some copyright-free clip art I found; the angle of the wings were just right for adding knitting needles and the vaguely annoyed expression on the bat's face amuses me every time I look at it. (Also, Chris, I'm looking forward to seeing what you put on that mediaeval knitting blog).

It's no great secret that I like bats. They're spectacularly weird little animals, and the fact that they're nocturnal and can fly isn't the half of it. I keep hoping that someone will write the chiropteran equivalent of Bernd Heinrich's Ravens in Winter -- some solid natural history of the bat, but written in such a way that someone like me, without a graduate degree in biology, can understand and enjoy it. From what I've found (and I have looked) there's not a lot of populist natural history on bats in print. Or out of print, for that matter. (Hmm. Dr Heinrich has written about bees and geese and trees in addition to ravens. I wonder how he feels about bats?)

Meanstwhile, the Maryland Department of Natural Resources, the University of California Museum of Paleontology at Berkely, and Bat Conservation International maintain interesting web sites.

Other notes, in random order:

The new Beowulf movie is actually pretty good. I was surprised (somewhat) and pleased (very) that the places where it varied from the epic were in all cases variances which (1) made sense and (2) benefitted the plot by tying it together more tightly rather than just being random changes someone made because the original was deemed to be insufficiently sexy or exciting (cf. the changes Peter Jackson made to the Arwen subplot in the LotR movies, which were mostly pointless fiddling that didn't add much to the material already there. You want a strong warrior-woman character? Play up Eowyn, fer crissakes. She's more interesting anyway).

Thanksgiving was good. The grocery shopping beforehand was not so fun; the crowds of people in Whole Foods were about as jovial as a Soviet breadline, and less orderly. I know Americans tend to get way too bent out of shape about the holidays, but this was really ridiculous.

There was, for no reason I can explain, a shortage of leeks in the grocery stores and supermarkets. Unexpected demand? Tragic failure of the leek crop? We finally tracked down a few at the local Safeway, but even they didn't have many. I needed double my usual amount this time; in addition to the leek and Camembert tart which is now a holiday staple (done this time as tartlet, for hors d'oeuvres) I made a butternut squash gratin which needed plenty of leeks too. As it was I wound up having to extend the leeks we did find with onions (I used cippolini).

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