16 Reasons Pigeons Need Celebrating n Kathleen Rooney’s New Novel!


Doves get loads of love.

Pigeons get nada. Make that less than nothing.

Why?

As an animal lover since birth, the kind who was severely bitten by a dog when I was six yet who still never feared them, pigeon haters have always mystified me.

Hmmm…

Doves: white

Pigeons: colored

Hmmm…

Doves: a little trimmer

Pigeons: a little stouter

Hmmm…

DO NOT TAKE A LOOK AT THIS LINK that elaborates on what I’m getting at if you’re offended by ribald humor with liberal use of the f-word. FOR EVERYONE, THERE’S THIS LINK.

What do a penguin and a pigeon have in common? Sure, they’re both birds, and one might consider what I mentioned about doves vs. pigeons. In their case, however, that’s not what I’m getting to.

Marvelously, Penguin Books is publishing Kathleen Rooney’s most recent novel, Cher Ami and Major Whittlesey, about a heroic pigeon!

Kathleen’s Lillian Boxfish Takes a Walk, sent me into such complete nirvana that I invited her to guest post on Happiness Between Tails—and she did!!—in this prior post.

Today she’s back to tell us about the inspiration behind Cher Ami and Major Whittlesey and 16 reasons pigeons need to be celebrated.

This is a link to buy Cher Ami and Major Whittlesey from your own favorite local bookstore.

Kathleen Rooney and a friend unbox her latest novel, Cher Ami and Major Whittlesey.
Kathleen Rooney and a friend unbox her latest novel, Cher Ami and Major Whittlesey.

On the Under-Appreciated Marvelousness of Pigeons by Kathleen Rooney

My novel Cher Ami and Major Whittlesey—a World War I story narrated in the first-person alternately by a homing pigeon and an American military officer, both of them real-life heroes—has just been released by Penguin. The fact that the publisher for this book is named after a bird delights me because penguins and pigeons seem like an auspicious pairing.

Of course, the story of World War I has been told often but never from the perspective of the courageous messenger pigeon who saved the Lost Battalion and helped to determine the war’s outcome. Cher Ami was so famous in her day that when she died as an indirect result of the injuries she sustained in the conflict, they had her taxidermied and put on display in the Smithsonian. You can still visit her there today in their Price of Freedom exhibit, where she sits in her glass case among other important communication equipment. My hope is that if you love pigeons and decide to give this book a read, then you’re in for a treat, and if you don’t, then you’re about to change your mind.

Cher Ami, WWI heroine, at the Smithsonian.
Cher Ami, WWI heroine, at the Smithsonian.

Penguin understands that not everyone shares my admiration for pigeons, so as part of their marketing campaign, they asked me to come up with a set of pigeon facts designed to endear the birds to other people as much as pigeons have endeared themselves to me. Thinking fondly of the pigeon couple, Coo d’Etat and Walter Pigeon (as my spouse and I named them) who moved in under the eaves while I was writing my book, I set to work compiling those facts.

Pigeon couple, Coo d’Etat and Walter Pigeon.
Pigeon couple, Coo d’Etat and Walter Pigeon.

Coo and Walter and their babies Feather Locklear and Molly Wingwald have long since moved on with their lives, but the pigeon facts remain, and I hope they’ll inspire you to look more closely at these remarkable birds and also to give my novel a read.

Coo and Walter's babies, Feather Locklear and Molly Wingwald.
Coo and Walter’s babies, Feather Locklear and Molly Wingwald.
  1. The word “pigeon” is a French translation of the English word “dove.” There’s no scientific difference between the two; they’re the same.
  2. The common city pigeon (Columba livia) is a descendant of the rock dove and is one of the first birds ever domesticated by humans, probably dating back to about 4,500 BCE in Mesopotamia.
  3. Humans and pigeons have lived closely together for millennia, thanks in part to the birds’ phenomenal homing skills, which allow them to return to their nests from up to 1,300 miles away.
  4. In addition to being good navigators, pigeons are extremely strong with high endurance and have been known to fly as far as 1,500 miles on a single trip. They can fly as high as 6,000 feet and average a speed of almost 77 miles per hour, with top speeds of almost 93 miles per hour having been attained by some birds.
  5. Because of pigeons’ homing talent, humans have called upon pigeons to carry the news throughout history, ranging from messages on flood levels up and down the Nile in ancient Egypt, to the results of the Olympic Games in Greece in the 8th century. As early as 500 BCE, the emperor of China used pigeons to receive messages in Beijing from outer provinces because a bird could travel in as many hours as it took a horse and rider days. Hannibal used pigeons during his siege of Rome, and Julius Caesar sent them to relay messages from his military campaigns in Gaul. Genghis Khan and his grandson Kublai Khan created a pigeon post that spanned a sixth of the world. Besieged Parisians relied on pigeon post in the Franco-Prussian War in 1871, and, of course, pigeons served as messengers in both WWI and WWII.During World War I, over 100,000 pigeons were used on the battlefield.
  6. Pigeons are included in the Animals in War Memorial in Hyde Park London in honor—as the dedication says—of “all the animals that served and died alongside British and allied forces in wars and campaigns throughout time.” It was unveiled in 2004 on the 90th anniversary of the start of World War I.
  7. People didn’t start calling pigeons “rats with wings” until this false idea was popularized in the 1980 movie Stardust Memories; pigeons are actually quite clean and not at all disease-ridden.
  8. Pigeons do not migrate, but rather adapt to one environment and remain there year-round—a lot like humans.
  9. Pigeons are one of a relatively small number of species who pass the mirror test for self-recognition.
  10. Pigeons can distinguish different humans in photographs.
  11. According to a 2016 study published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, pigeons can be trained to recognize dozens of words, with the most accomplished pigeon being able to learn as many as 60.
  12. According to a 1994 study published in The Journal of the Experimental Analysis of Behavior, pigeons can successfully learn to discriminate between paintings by Monet and Picasso.
  13. When pigeons mate, they mate for life.
  14. Male and female pigeons share equal responsibility in raising their chicks. Both take turns sitting on the eggs and both feed the babies pigeon milk—a secretion that both male and female birds produce in their crops.
  15. Pigeons are still kept as pets, bred, and raced around the world; in 2019, a Belgian racing pigeon named Armando sold for $1.4 million. The auction house said that Armando’s athleticism made him, in soccer terms, the Lionel Messi of the avian world.
  16. The brilliant inventor Nikola Tesla fell in love with a white pigeon who visited him at the window of his room in the Hotel St. Regis in New York City: “I loved that pigeon as a man loves a woman and she loved me. As long as I had her, there was purpose to my life,” he wrote.

About Kathleen Rooney: she’s a founding editor of Rose Metal Press, a nonprofit publisher of literary work in hybrid genres, as well as a founding member of Poems While You Wait, a collective of poets and their typewriters who compose commissioned poems on demand. Her most recent books include the novel Lillian Boxfish Takes a Walk and The Listening Room: A Novel of Georgette and Loulou Magritte. Her reviews and criticism appear in the Chicago Tribune, the New York Times, the Los Angeles Review of Books, and Chicago magazine, and her World War I novel Cher Ami and Major Whittlesey is available now from Penguin.

Do you like pigeons? (It’s ok if you didn’t before this post.)

Flamenco Fusion by da-AL


“Flamenco & the Sitting Cat” is the title of the first of my soon-to-be self-published novels. The ‘Sitting Cat’ part of the title refers to the geographical shape of Iran…

Map of Iran out lined in shape of a Sitting Cat.
Map of Iran outlined in the shape of a Sitting Cat.

I grew up with only classical music — and flamenco music and dance. My father, who left Barcelona in his mid-20s, wanted it that way. Since I left home at 18, it’s a gift to watch any type of dance I like and to listen to every kind of music that comes my way.

Shahrokh Moshkin Ghalam respectfully and lovingly fuses dance cultures.
Shahrokh Moshkin Ghalam respectfully and lovingly fuses dance cultures.

I still love classical — and flamenco! Especially fascinating to me is when flamenco is fused with the dance of Iran, where my husband was raised. Shahrokh Moshkin Ghalam is an Iranian dancer now residing in France. Flamenco is as much about individuality as it is about technique — it accommodates all cultures, all forms of beauty.

If only politics were as intent on creating a climate of ‘we’ rather than an ‘us vs. them’!

The way Ghalam (click here for his Facebook page) fuses dance styles is respectful and hypnotic…

For more flamenco, check out Part 3: Marvelous Madrid — Flamenco

What fusion art do you enjoy?

Guest Blog Post: “A Little Bit of Something that I Love: Postcards and Handwritten Letters,” in Nadya Irsalina’s exact words


Photo of fronts of postcards

Getting letters and postcards in the mail is a joy! When I was a kid, I even loved getting junk mail! Years ago, a friend told me that only handwritten could suffice for thank you notes, never email. I try to follow her advice as often as I can.

How about you? Do you write and/or receive handwritten mail?

Fellow blogger Nadya Irsalina inspires me to take it to a new level…

Waking Up at 3 AM

I’ve always been interested to send letters since I was a kid. The curiousity grew from seeing rubik sabahat pena (penpals) on Bobo, a kid’s magazine that my mother bought for me. But I had to wait until I was in junior high school to actually start sending letters. I don’t know about you but finding a new letter on the mailbox is like a nice little surprise for me. Nothing beats the thrill of opening the mailbox and finding a letter, written and addressed just for me. I still remember when my dad’s friend sent a postcard from LA and I was so excited to read it and removed the stamp. I used to collect it, even though I wasn’t really a philately. To me, it’s quite saddening that years after that, letters carried by conventional postal service seemed to be left behind and replaced with modern technology like…

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Happy International Women’s Day by da-AL


Why isn’t this celebrated more in the U.S., the way it is in other countries?!

Here I offer a tribute to Sister Rosetta Tharpe, an amazing lesbian woman of color who influenced even Chuck Berry.

First a brilliant performance…

Now more about her…

Which woman has influenced you most for the good?

How do you live? by da-AL


Nest of chicks
Thanks Ryan McGuire of Gratisography.com

“You only die once.

You live every day.”

Quote by John Feal

John Feal founded the FeelGood Foundation, which helps 9/11 responders as they continue to deal with the aftereffects of dealing with injuries and toxins.

We must, he reminds us, make the most of our lives. Every day we get out of bed offers us a new opportunity.

Good deeds, moreover, are infectious. In a recent radio interview Feal recounted how, when he’s in line to buy coffee, he often pays for the drink of whoever’s behind him.

His philosophy: when we’re kind, we can’t help but be kind to others.

The kindness of others has helped me to be a better person. How about you?

Guest Blog Post: “12 Beautiful Travel Quotes,” in A.M. Sanders’ exact words


"Adventure is Worthwhile in Itself" Amelia EhrhardtNothing connects us more thoroughly than the face-to-face connection of travel. What a super fun political action! …

Ōrphic Flux

Travel has always opened my mind to fresh ideas and opportunities, new friends and different places, all overflowing with life, love, and memories. There is so much wonder and beauty out there to discover.

I hope these quotes inspire a wanderlust inside you that will take a lifetime of adventures to satisfy.

  1. “I see my path, but I don’t know where it leads. Not knowing where I’m going is what inspires me to travel it.” – Rosalía de Castro

2. “Adventure is worthwhile in itself.” – Amelia Earhart

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3. “It is better to travel alone than with a bad companion.” – African Proverb

4. “Perhaps travel cannot prevent bigotry, but by demonstrating that all peoples cry, laugh, eat, worry, and die, it can introduce the idea that if we try and understand each other, we may even become friends.” – Maya Angelou

5. “Experience, travel – these are as education…

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Guest Blog Post: “#Smile,” in Ipuna Black’s exact words


A wonderfully inspiring blogger, Ipuna, made me smile with her heartwarming post — hope it does it the same for you 🙂 …

Ipuna Black

Have you ever had just a blah day?

smile Media Credit: Pixabay

What’s the cure?

Smile!

smile “Fake it ’til you make it.” Smiling puts you in a better mood. Media credit: Pinterest 

Smile!

Smile      Smiling decreases stress! Media credit: Pinterest 

Smile!

Smile Smiling is contagious. Media credit: Pinterest.

I hope eveyone smiles more today! Have a wonderful day!

Thanks, Jane for the smile challenge.

Ipuna-Black-sign-off

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Join my private positive FB group page. I’m hoping to connect with other positive/motivational/inspirational bloggers. We can collaborate and share our blog posts:Your Best Self.

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Guest Blog Post: “My Gender Creative Son’s First Pride,” in Lori Duron’s exact words


We’re never too young to be brave …

Raising My Rainbow

Just a boy and his two best girl friends marching at Pride.

“That was one of the best days of my life. Thank you so much for taking me,” C.J. said as Matt tucked him into bed for the night.

Most kids say that to their parents after a day at an amusement park. Not our kid. He said it after we took him to his first Pride.

On Wednesday, we told C.J. that we were taking him to the local Pride on Saturday. His level of excitement was unprecedented. He’d seen pictures of Pride and, with all the visual rainbow-ness, he’d been asking to go for the last year.

I told him that we needed to make signs. We did need signs, but mostly it was a project to keep him busy for a few summer hours.

C.J’s sign

Matt’s sign

My sign

The night before Pride, C.J. laid…

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Happiness Between Tails is Now Multilingual Thanks to Google Translate by da-AL


Picture of Google Translate button on Happiness Between Tails

Click the Translate Here dropdown menu at the top of the right-hand column of my blog — and voila! — Each post instantly translates into most 90+ languages!

About the only language it won’t translate into is dog language — but my furry loved ones speak mostly with their eyes and tails anyway.

Thank you, blogger Anita, for showing me how to do it with just three clicks!

For WordPress.com

  1. Go to Appearance
  2. Then Widgets
  3. Then add GoogleTranslate to your site.

Happy Earth Day everyone! by da-AL


Happy Earth Day!

Earth Day is celebrated worldwide to heighten awareness about our obligation to protect the environment.

It was founded and created in 1970 by Iowan John McConnell, a devout Christian who believed it is essential for each of us to work for the common good. He committed his life to working for the relief of human suffering, namely peace and helping the environment.

John McConnell - Earth Day Founder
Earth Day founder and flag designer John McConnell. By Charles Michael Murray, Courtesy Endangered Planet, Laguna Beach, CA

Read more about Earth Day here and about McConnell here.