Saturday, June 30, 2012

Rain




Rain

Summer rain slanting,
blinds my eyes, slashes my skin.
and I bleed water.




Photos are mine.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Graduation Day 2012



Yes, there are more photos of my grand-daughter.  This is her high school graduation in a class of 419, the largest class to graduate from Halifax West High School.



We felt the excitement and the tension in the building. 
The High School did an excellent job of organizing the cermony. 
In 2.5 hours, it was complete.



The graduates turned and waved to family.



 
Nervous, waiting to go up on stage.


The graduate is pleased with herself.



And we're pleased for her too.

 

Thursday, June 28, 2012

The Night Before Graduation



My grand-daughter and her friends got together the night before graduation to have fun and take some photos.  These are a few of the many pictures taken.  They did indeed have fun with each other.  I'll post some of the grad pictures tomorrow.







Pretty pleased to be a graduate...can you tell?

What's in The Sink?




What’s in The Sink?

We love our cats, two Birman Cats and one Maine Coon Cat.  And they love us…so much so that they want to be wherever we are.  That’s not always convenient. 
They can’t come outside with us, because Birmans are scaredy cats and don’t run when they are frightened; they hunker down and make themselves small…not good, if something is chasing them.  The Maine Coon would chase something, even if...it was after him, but that’s not the point.  We don’t want them outside being exposed to ickiness that would require a visit to the Vet.  We don’t want them eating birds and bugs and other critters that are not good for them.  And, we love the birds too.  So the cats can’t go outside.
They can’t go to the basement, a dark and dusty place where all things off-season are stored, where cans of paint and oil lurk waiting to be spilled on furry coats, where harmful tools hang, lean and sit. 

Our cats are house cats.  They live within the confines of the main and the second floors.  They roam freely in those areas, their limited castle.

We find them in odd places.  They curl up and sleep by the back door, just inside the door so we can’t get in or out without moving them.  They climb the top of the cupboards and sleep in baskets that used to be market baskets, but are now cat baskets.  We find them on top of the dressers, under the comforters on the bed, inside any box or bag that’s been left unattended.  They’ll sleep in footwear belonging to guests or make themselves cozy in an open purse or suitcase.  They love to be near books, nestled in the bookcases or sleeping on top.  They're fond of trying to sleep on whatever I am reading, reaching paws around the edges to pull the book or paper down, to create a flat surface on which to rest.
They plant themselves on the chairs and couches in the living room, if we are there, or on either side of Gary on the sofa, if we are upstairs.  When I write or sit at the computer for long periods of time, they curl up on top of my feet on the floor, in order to be ready to go with me if I move.
It’s hard to be anywhere in the house without them piling on or coming near.  Yesterday when I had a shower, I forgot to shut the bathroom door tight.  When I finished my shower, Ollie was sitting on the edge of the sink watching.  As you can see, he hardly fits on the sink ledge.  And, the other two?  They were in the bathroom doorway, waiting to see what was happening next.
We love our cats.  And they love us.  That means togetherness, even in the bathroom.
And yes, I cleaned the sink, just like I’m constantly cleaning every place they can reach.  It’s a small price to pay for love and affection; though it would be great if there was less fur with all that love.
But then love isn’t always tidy and neat, is it?  It’s just love; love messy and wonderful…and often furry.


If you click on the words in red, you'll go to another site with additional information.  The photo is mine.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Robin





Robin

Only this robin
enjoys the rain, the sound of
a worm uprising.


Photo is mine.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

My First Grandchild


My first grandchild, my first grand-daughter is graduating this year.  It is an exciting milestone for her, for me and for the whole family. 

What will her future hold?  What is her next adventure? 

None of that matters much this week because it's prom night, then graduation...with all the dressed-up and going-out fanciness that the celebrations of finishing high school promise.




Her Mom is proud of her.  We are all proud of her.  She is an amazing young woman facing a future filled with opportunity and dreams.


All of us wish her joy and happiness,
and want only the best in life for her.

Congratulations
on a job well done.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Write a Little Every Day




Write a Little Every Day
“Write a little every day, without hope, without despair,” said Isak Dinesen.  The name Isak Dinesen is the pseudonym for Baroness Karen von Blixen-Finecke (1885-1962), a Danish author who wrote Out of Africa and Babette’s Feast.
I do write every day.  I write between five hundred and twenty-five hundred words.  That’s not too challenging.  The “without hope, without despair” part is difficult.  I don’t always accomplish that.
I think my writing is improving.  I learn and use new skills. I try fresh methods and practise without fail.  Yet, there are times when I feel…well, if not despair, then…disappointment because it can be a challenge to see any progress.
I look back through my first blog entries, those from last year.  There are differences.  Reviewing them shows me that I have learned to let go of using adjectives everywhere.  But, I’ve learned that a well-chosen adjective around a noun can be useful in limiting the number of associations which can arise in a reader’s mind.  I’ve learned to beat the bushes of any piece I write to flush out the adverbs and then to cull them.  I’ve learned that both adjectives and adverbs saturating the page make the reader tired and confused and limit the reader’s imagination.
The best posts I’ve written are those in which I’ve been honest, shared emotions and refrained from quoting others again and again, in attempts to shore up my insecurities.  My best posts connect with the reader in direct ways, show new ways of seeing, understanding and enjoying the world.  The best are written from my heart; then refined by my head through careful revisions.
Sometimes, most times, it is helpful for me to write a piece; to leave it alone long enough so that it begins to feel unfamiliar.  Not mine.  That helps me to be objective, to see my writing for what it is.  And this helps me to revise without remorse, to hack out the parts that need to go.
What else?  I read every day.  There are stacks of books on the kitchen table, beside my bed and on my desk.  I read poetry, short stories and novels.  I read my thesaurus and my dictionary.  I research about my writing and my topics, at the library, on the Internet and with other writers.  I listen to published (and hoping to be published) writers reading from and talking about their work.   I follow writing courses when I can afford to do so, which is not as often as I would like and not often enough.  All help me to expand what I know and what and how I am writing.  Still, it is slow going.
In my daily 500 to 2500 words, there are ups and downs.  Some days I’m tired, forget the guidelines, and just want to get something, anything down on paper.   Other days, the magic is there and words flow--not perfect, but better.  And, once in a while after studying and writing and revising and writing, again and again, a piece will yield a sentence so lovely that I wonder, is this mine?  Or an image so ethereal and strange that I wonder, where did this come from?  And I recognize intuitively that something unique and new has been created.
These luminous moments keep me going with hope, and for a time, keep me going without disappointment or despair.
And so, I write…
And so, I learn…



 Words in red will take you to another site with additional information, if you click on them.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Wet Beauties




Wet Beauties

Just as the peonies come into bloom, the weather turns to rain.  When the flower heads are full, the additional weight of rainwater makes the heads droop or makes the stems bend and break.



Yesterday, I went out in the downpour to capture photos.  I was afraid that following the days of rain, there might be nothing left but damp petals scattered on the ground. 

The photos with the raindrops are just as fine, perhaps more interesting than usual.



Our peonies are over sixty years old.  They were planted when the house was built.  When we moved here, we discovered them hidden under maples at the corner of the yard.  We transplanted them to a warmer spot behind the garage a couple years ago.



After a slow start, these peonies are healthy and thriving.  They are lush wet beauties in the summer rain.  We are lucky to have found them, a long lived gift from the first owner of our home.

Thank you...for the gift of wet beauties.




All photos are mine.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Iris




Years ago, we received a gift of Iris rhizomes from a relative who was dividing flowers in his own garden.  That gift keeps on giving.  The spear shaped leaves pop up and a long erect flowering stem follows.  Soon dense clumps of Iris bloom in our garden.



We have a variation of Bearded Iris, with golden beard, purple falls and mauve upright petals.  Some summers, the wind and rain bend and break the top heavy stalks.  Some summers, all the blooms die, ravaged by storms.



This June, we are fortunate to be able to look out and see a garden full of Iris flowers.  Lucky us.


Thursday, June 21, 2012

The Ideal World




Sometimes, the way I think the world should be, isn't the way it is.  This is true more often than not.  But, what of it?

Well, for a start, it's good that the world isn't the way I fancy it should be.  What a poor world it would be, if it was limited to what my imagination could conjure.  For another, different perspectives stretch my views and opinions, and kick-start my thinking to travel into expanded horizons.

I like it when ideas and opinions are constantly stretching and expanding, especially when it happens to me.  I like the challenge.



For example, if I didn't know buttercups as weeds, would I see their sunshine and welcome them into the corners of my lawn?  Would my perspective change?



What if I appreciate the white delicacy of the flower heads of goutweed as much as I do the blooms of Queen Anne's Lace?  They sway the same dance in the summer breezes, in different spots in the yard.  Why is one a blessing and one a curse?



Is the feathered horse tail peeking from behind the columbine any less endearing than the feathery leaves of coreopsis?  If I don't perceive buttercups, goutweed and horse tails as plagues in my garden, will I be able to allow myself to enjoy their beauty and to spend less time weeding?

Perhaps the way I think about the world and how it should be needs to be more flexible, to be more accepting of the way the world just is.

If weeds are perceived...well, yes, as weeds, though not without their own charms, could I spend less time on them and more time on writing?

And wouldn't that be better for me?  Wouldn't it be better to change what I can, to accept what I cannot change and to be wise enough to know the difference.  Wait, I think I've heard that before...

Perhaps it's time to pay attention.

And to start writing...

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Writing Poetry



Writing Poetry
I’m reading a book by Ted Kooser called The Poetry Home Repair Manual, in which he explains how metaphors work in writing poetry.  He explains how metaphors work in plain terms, with examples.  It's helpful.  

I know a metaphor sets up precise identities between the two halves of a comparison, but I have had limited success with writing poetry in which I make this flow go smoothly between the two halves.  My flow is usually lumpy like porridge that hasn't been stirred enough.  But, I am practising with metaphor, to gain competence and grace in my writing skills.  Practising every day.
About metaphor, Ted Kooser says (and he should know…he’s the Poet Laureate of the United States for 2004-2006):  “To make such a comparison have its strongest effect, the poet must work only with those aspects of each half that find some kind of reflection in the other half.”
There must be follow through.  Kooser says that this means that once the comparison is set up the poet must try to extract everything he or she can from it.  Press the porridge?
This is easy for me to comprehend but not so easy to re-create.

For a practise exercise, I have taken Ted Kooser’s poem “Etude” from Weather Central as a model and have played with his form and many of his words.  I changed the metaphor that runs through the poem. 

But darn it, while some of it works, it doesn’t all work.  The porridge still has lumps.
Learning to write poetry is inspiration and talent but it is also learning the craft, becoming an apprentice to the tools of the trade.  Metaphor is a tool I need to become skillful using.  I need to become smooth enough to create gourmet porridge or even something wonderful like cheesecake.
So, with apologies to the master of metaphor, Ted Kooser and to his poem “Etude”, I’ve written this version.

The Wound
I’ve been watching an injured fingernail
grow out for weeks, easing the damage
upward and out with the patience
of a detective pushing toward healing a mystery.

Let’s say he holds down an everyday job
in a station.  His dented face fits in.  Each one
alike.  Long days handling his files, clawing,
scratching the surface of truth.  At the edge
of each insight, some new thing appears.

No one has seen him there, fingering premonitions
about sly schemes.  His hand is poised
to pluck truth out of confusion.
He would regenerate the whole truth if he could,
complete, unscathed and renewed.

The metaphorical bridge between the nail healing and the detective searching has weakness, words that don’t quite capture the link and parallel as I would have liked.  Yes, lumps...but then, I am learning.
And maybe the next one will be better.
I’ll work at it and share how I’m doing…sometimes.
Thank you, Ted Kooser for this lesson.  And sorry for mucking about with your words and making lumpy porridge.  But I have to learn, don't I?

Words in red will link you to another site with more information, if you click on them. 

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Happy Father's Day



 Happy Father's Day to Gary.  You wanted lobster.



You got lobster.



You're a great Dad and Step-Dad.



So eat your fill
and feel the love.

Happy Father's Day.

Photos are mine, lobster is Gary's.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Peony




Peony


longest living



showiest



hardiest of all perennials.


These photos are not mine; they are my sister's.  These peonies are magnificent and bloom
each year in their garden by the back door.  They are worth a visit.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Baby Boy




Hold this baby close.  Smell his baby skin, fresh and new.  Touch his hair of gold and silk.  Watch his dark eyes widen, not yet focused and his pink mouth search, not quite smiling.  See milky tongue and tiny nose, a dimple in his right cheek like his big brother.  Touch his long fingers and toes, caress his translucent skin.  Hold this baby heartbeat to heartbeat. 

And love him.  Love him the way only a Grammy can love.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Visiting Your New Home



 
Visiting Your New Home

In your new home, I wake each morning to the murmur of leaves.  Dappled shade and rippled sunlight play, gifts from trees that stretch upward over 200 feet.  Black Locust, Black Oak, Cherry and Chestnut, these trees are centuries old.  I lie in bed and feel the cool morning breeze, hear the whisper of fresh leaves on ancient trees and I breathe in, breathe in summer.  I wake canopied and cradled in a tree house.




The songs of trees chorus throughout the day.  Steel-framed windows hug the light, invite the light into every corner, and shine the light onto every pale wall inside.  Outside each window, there are sturdy trunks clothed in every possible shade of green. Inside this home, the outside is made welcome.



Inside of me, the outside is welcome, too.  The quiet, verdant world fills me.  I see green, breathe green; I feel green expand inside me.



Green enters my ears as birdsong and bright breeze gossiping in the leaves.  Green enters my eyes when sunlight calls on the shadows to dance.  Green enters my heart, peels it wide open to trade anxiety for attention and awe, to trade responsibility for joy in the present moment, to trade cares for being astonished and carefree.  Green enters my lungs, as I inhale wind and rain, sunlight and rainbow, fog and dew.  I breathe anew, easy and deep.



Green cradles me and comforts me in this new home.  Green draws me to a place where boundaries don’t exist, where doorways out and doorways in are translucent pathways, where every living thing is part of the same breathing and growing earth.



The leaves whisper, “Peace, peace, peace,” morning and night.  Under this canopy of trees, all’s well with the world and I am fresh and whole.



So, I offer my blessings on your home and to you, who live under this great green canopy of ancient trees.



And remind you:

All shall be well,
and all shall be well,
and all manner of things shall be well. *



* Quote from Julian of Norwich (1342-1416) English Christian Mystic

All photos are mine.

To learn more about this wonderful property, click here and go to Super Granny, a blog site written by Sally Wendkos Olds.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Waiting for Supper



Waiting for Supper

The raccoon’s nails click
on the wooden stairs
as she climbs the darkness
to the deck.
She waddles across
to the round white table
and crumb-mines
for bits of dropped burger
and chunks of strawberry
from tonight’s alfresco meal.

I watch her front paws dig
at the cracks in the deck,
search for fallen food.
I watch her lick
under the barbecue,
hungry for grease drippings.

She looks at the house.
Does she see me?
Or does she see
her own reflection
in the patio door?
Does she see
her mask and dense fur
and city-fed bulk?

She feels no danger,
no threat as
I unlock the door
and slide it open.
Still, she searches
for stolen feast.
Not until I open
the screen does
she hiss and clatter off,
clicking down
the wooden stairs
and across
the flagstones below.

I sense she is there,
there hidden
in the night woods
at the edge of the ravine.
I can’t see her
but her wild eyes
can see me.
Intelligent and patient,
she will wait
until my light goes out
and I climb to my bed.
She will click-clack
up the wooden stairs,
return
to explore and feast.

I feel her
watching,
waiting and watching
in the night woods.


The photo of the table is mine.