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Thursday, March 29, 2012



Striped squirrel scampering,
chipping over the ground,
gathering grains and nuts,
berries, worms and birds’ eggs,
to cache in your burrow,
beneath my yard.   Cheek pouches
full of harvest and hoard.

You shy secret-seedling
spreader, racing stripes
a blur, no wonder you
must sleep for half the day,
hidden in your tidy
tunnel, resting…from the
sowing of our future.

Notes:  Chipmunks fulfill essential functions in woodland ecosystems.  Their activities harvesting and hoarding tree seeds play an integral role in seedling establishment.  They consume fungi in symbiotic relationships with trees and are a means of dispersal for spores of subterranean truffles.

Photo is mine.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Sue Sinclair and Kerry-Lee Powell, A Poetry Reading

Sue Sinclair & Kerry-Lee Powell, A Poetry Reading

“It took six years to write this poem.”
That’s what Sue Sinclair said about one of her poems, at a recent Poetry Reading held at Folio Books.  The book store, located at the corner of Botsford Street and St. George Street in Moncton, NB, has become the setting for monthly readings in the Attic Owl Reading Series.  Last week’s reading featured two Canadian-born poets, Sue Sinclair and Kerry-Lee Powell.
Sue finished reading a poem (the six-year one) from her “Exercises in Beauty”, an unpublished series which had grown from her work in philosophy.  It was a poem about death, and yet it wasn’t.  After she read, I had goose bumps and a shivering sense of the truth of her words.

Sue Sinclair read other poems. 
From Breaker (Brick Books, 2008), a poem called In Spring, When the Earth:
                                                                                …The obstacles
to happiness, the things that weigh on us and demand
we lose a little of ourselves to them, are placed just so,
just in our way, so their hold might be greater.

From Mortal Arguments (Brick Books 2003), she read a poem called Dreams:
When you wake up, a slight
change inside you.  Your suitcase
was searched.  Everything’s still there
but shifts
when you pick it up.

After she finished reading Dreams, Sue said that a well-written poem should be like that; reading it should have shifted or changed something inside the reader.
Sue Sinclair’s work has been described as “of shattering intensity, the product of an extraordinary poetic intelligence.”   Her work has been nominated for awards including the Gerald Lampert and Pat Lowther awards and the Atlantic Book Prize for Poetry.  In 2005, Sue received the International Publisher’s Award for Poetry.  Mortal Arguments was a Globe & Mail Top 100 book.   In addition to Mortal Arguments, she has published three other books of poetry:  Secrets of Weather & Hope, The Drunken Lovely Bird and Breakers.    Sue has just completed being Writer-in-Residence at University of New Brunswick for 2011-2012 and is moving to Montreal, Quebec to work and write.

Kerry-Lee Powell read from her work, some of which you can find at http://www.kerryleepowell.ca   Among others, she read Family Jewel and Fandango.  I was touched by a poem she had written about her father, whose personality had changed completely after being shipwrecked and adrift in the North Atlantic for eleven days.   Her poetry was raw and energetic, pulling me along as she read.
Her poem Family Jewel was about being caught stealing an opal ring from a neighbour’s jewellery box.
...Sticky with candy and dirt, it lay tucked
All day in my shorts, cutting a ruby wedge
Into my private parts. Even buried
At home in a basement chest
It caused an itch…

Kerry-Lee’s work has been published in Malahat Review and CV2.  She is the 2011 first and second prize winner of the New Quarterly Magazine’s Occasional Verse contest.  She currently lives in New Brunswick.
The Folio Book Shop was a welcoming venue with walls of books, stacks of books, towers of books, books on shelves and under glass.  The aroma of books, old paper, glue and bindings permeated the shop.  Even the books themselves seemed to lean in with respectful recognition of the talent in the room, to enjoy the readings from Sue and Kerry-Lee and to share their love of words.
Following the readings there was a question period.  Someone asked how a poet knows when a poem is finished.  Sue said, “How do you know when you’re finished making love?”  Kerry-Lee said, “You sense a natural stopping place, like bumping up against something solid.  It feels complete.”   Both poets were gracious and warm with their responses to questions about the writing process.
After the formal part of the reading, the two dozen people in attendance had wine and nibbles and conversation.  As I left, I heard people speaking about writing, the length of time it takes and the discipline and solitude it requires.
And, I felt better knowing that sometimes it takes six years to write a poem that produces goose bumps.
The picture of the books is mine.  Words in red will take you to another site with additional information if you click on them.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Writing The Journey

Start where you are.
This is good advice, practical, logical ... and difficult.
When I think about where I want to be as a writer, I know it is far from where I am now.  I want to be a poet, published and well-known.  I want to be a writer, published and respected.  These destinations seem as far as another world, a planet on the farthest side of a galaxy light-years away.
I worry.  What if I never get to my destination?  What if my writing is mediocre?  What if I never reach book publication?  Perhaps this is procrastination.  If I don’t try, I won’t fail.  I have excuses.  But still I write.  I write knowing that all I can do is start where I am and work.
It is practical.  Writing practise will improve my skills.  It is logical.  Writing from where I am and who I am and what I know is the only beginning possible.  It is difficult; but it is possible.  Surely it is possible.
Daily, I show up at my blank page and write.  Some days are flowing and fruitful.  Some days are flowing and flawed.  Some writing, upon second reading, objective reading, turns out to be crap, perhaps compost or fuel for another day.  Some days soar.  That’s the way it goes.
Reaching the planet of published poetry and prose is far off, but still I travel, dancing the light-years, pencil in hand.
Is it simply about the journey?  Perhaps.  And perhaps that alone is enough to justify the work.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Sunday Prayer

This is from: Prayers for a Thousand Years, edited by Elizabeth Roberts and Elias Amidon.  This prayer is written by Dawna Markova, author and editor from Utah.

May I, may you, may we
not die unlived lives.
May none of us live in fear
of falling or catching fire.
May we choose to inhabit our days,
to allow our living to open us,
to make us less afraid,
more accessible,
to loosen our hearts
until they become wings,
torches, promises.
May each of us choose to risk our significance;
to live so that which comes to us as seed
goes to the next as blossom
and that which comes to us as blossom,
goes on as fruit.

If you click on words in red, you will go to another website with additional information.  Photo is mine.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Etegami Bookplates

Dear Debbie,

I was thrilled to learn that I had won four etegami bookplates, from your February 22, 2012 contest.  They arrived quickly, packaged in an envelope re-purposed from a Japanese map--how interesting!

Before I discovered your blog, http://etegamibydosankodebbie.blogspot.com/,  I didn't know what etegami was.  Your explanation helped:

Etegami (e="picture"; tegami="letter / message") are simple drawings accompanied by a few apt words.  They are usually done on postcards so that they can be easily mailed off to one's friends.  They often depict some ordinary item from everyday life, especially items that bring a particular season to mind.

From the people who had won bookplates, you requested feedback.

Here is mine...I love the bookplates.  Let me tell you why.

The designs are delightful, simple, vibrant and whimsical.  I like the dark outlines and the hints and washes of colour.  I appreciate the artwork of ordinary things...birds, fish and insects.  Your creations of salmon, cicada, owl and stag beetle make me see each with new eyes.  I admire the bright shades in the stag beetle, especially, but that may be because those colours are favourites of mine.

The self-adhesive labels peel off easily, once I realized that I was supposed to peel from the dotted lines and not the corners.  Silly me.  The adhesive sticks to the books well.  It would have helped if I had been able to stick the bookplates on straight, but that's just me.  Obviously, I can't.  I appreciate the heaviness of the bookplate paper, feels substantial and adheres smoothly against the page with no ripples.

Thank you for these etegami bookplates.  I like their size.  Most bookplates don't provide enough space for a name and an address.  Yours do.

I hope that you decide to produce and sell these bookplates in your online shop http://www.etsy.com/shop/dosankodebbie

If you do, I'll purchase them, as I am pleased with the samples you sent to me.  I'm looking forward to seeing more of your creations... soon.



Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Feel the Sap Rising

Feel the Sap Rising

Men bend over bikes,
change the oil, with grins
glazed with saliva
and dreams of the road.
Butt-cracks to a breeze
that still whispers
of winter.

Men bend over bikes,
hear the calls rising,
“Come rumble and roar.
Be potent and young.
Ride under spring’s skies.
Come feel
the sap

Note:   With apologies to my daughter who rides and loves her motorcycle as much as any man could love his.  She too waits for spring with excitement and wonder; waits for the first day she can ride and enjoy the sap rising.

Photo is mine.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Persistent Spring ll

Persistent Spring    ll                                                       

Outside, mid-winter wraps
the world in ice.
Inside, on my window sill,
signs of Spring.

Buds sheathed in green
sipping the light
of longer days
to quench
their winter thirst.

Blooms bursting joy
ripe with sun dust
translucent flesh
and everywhere—

Spring throbs in the veins.

This is a version of a poem I wrote last year; see my blog entry of February 20, 2011.  And, I welcome feedback. 
Since today marks the beginning of Spring, the poem seems appropriate.

Photo is mine.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Collide, a Poem

Collide, a Poem

And you with eyes blue as August skies,
our imaginations ripe.

You began to decree,
to demand,
became lost in your plans.
Adrift in your head,
you floated far from your heart.

Our love went dark,
lost in the grasp
of your rolling-mill squeeze.

Like a stamping child,
you went home,
with your mill and your rules.

And lost in your grief,
your own mind
you destroyed.

And, me?
Worn thin,

I wept
when I heard.

Yet the fold
you formed
A raised memory
on the flesh
of my life.

A forever tattoo

on my heart.

This is another (and perhaps better) version of a poem I wrote called Collide.  It’s a work in progress, like my poetry, like my life. 
My  relationships, brief or lasting, painful or loving, sometimes both, leave their marks on my life.  I grow and learn about myself through the people I touch and the people who touch me.
A piece of metal folded and unfolded becomes work-hardened and the fold remains as a raised line on the surface.  The fold lines, left on me from my relationships, bear witness to my journey.
A rolling mill is a machine designed to produce thinner gauges of metal and wire.
This photo is not mine.  It is from http://www.mostphotos.com  It is an iron statue on a beach, appropriate because of the colour of the August sky and the rigid struggle in the poem.
If you have a comment about my poetry, I welcome feedback.

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

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Wind Power Installations

Wind Power Installations and Questions
I am confused.
I am confused about the positive benefits and negative impacts of industrial scale wind power installations.
Since driving by the fifteen 90-metre tall wind turbines located near Amherst, Nova Scotia, a wind farm expected to be producing power by the end of this month, I’ve been searching for information on these benefits and impacts.   Accurate information based on science and study is a challenge to locate.  I am confused and have discovered that “induced confusion” in the general public seems to be encouraged by promoters of the wind industry itself.  They've got me there.

I have found information re: concerns from the general public about noise and health and environmental issues.  One example:  It is currently permissible to have a minimum set-back distance from the nearest dwelling of 500-700 metres, while in Scotland and some US states a minimum distance of 2 miles is standard.   The wind farm on the Tantramar marsh is in the backyards of farms and houses in Amherst.
There are concerns from the general public about property values and civil rights.  What happens to the values of residential properties affected by the installation of industrial scale wind farms?
I’ve read about concerns re: visual impact and loss of heritage landscape.   Visual impact, yes, the wind turbines look like aliens advancing across the marsh.  The only visual advantage of the wind turbines is that of taking one’s attention away from the sewage lagoons being dug beside the wind farm.  And, why choose to build in a location that is a busy bird migration route, an archaeological site, a potential flood zone and a heritage landscape, such as the Tantramar marshes?
There are those who claim that wind farms provide a clean, renewable source of energy that helps combat climate change, bring jobs (though many are short term, ending with the installation of the turbines), use local goods and services, provide royalties to the landowners and supplement farmers’ incomes.
Where is the balance point between alternative or renewable energy and scientific methodology with common sense scrutiny?    Where are the long range energy policies that are responsible, consultative and demonstrably effective?
Where is the accurate, accessible, unconfusing information, the truth about the positive benefits and the negative impacts of industrial scale wind power installations?
I can’t find it and I’ve been searching. 

And I’m still confused.

Helpful questions and information can be found at:  Brief from “Friends of the Tantramar Marsh” and from CBC news.    If you click on words in red, you will go to another site with additional information.
Photos are mine.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Winter Again

I opened the curtains this morning and it's winter again, or still.  Looks pretty but...

I think I'll stay inside and be cozy

with my cats.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Fort Gaspareaux, NB

I stood at the edge of the water, thankful that I had neither wig nor false teeth, as the wind would have ripped them from me and flung them to the waves and ice.  I was standing at Fort Gaspareaux, New Brunswick. 

The remains of the fort were located on Highway 960 near Port Elgin, facing Baie Verte and the Northumberland Straight.

Fort Gaspareaux was a National Historic Site of Canada.  The plaque on the fieldstone cairn read:

Built by French troops in 1751 to prevent the English from penetrating the Chignecto Isthmus, Fort Gaspareaux served particularly as a provisioning base for the forts of Acadia.  When on the 17th of June, 1755, Fort Beausejour capitulated to General Monckton's army, M. de Villeray, having only 19 soldiers at Gaspareaux was also forced to surrender.  Colonel John Winslow took possession of the fort in Monckton's name.  Its poor condition, together with its general strategic unimportance, led the English to burn it in September, 1756.

In addition to the cairn, there was a navigational beacon known as "Port Elgin lighthouse" and a small military graveyard for nine British soldiers.

At the end of winter, only the flag pole and Parks Canada sign kept company shuddering in the wind.  The snow had melted revealing the rises, swells, indentations and ditches recontructed to show where the fort had once stood.  In summer, there would have been picnic tables, expanses of lawn and salt-marsh to explore, perhaps a gentle breeze.

The views were 270 degrees of...well, I couldn't do them justice in words or photos.  The expanses of water, snow and ice stretched for miles and the sky was endless.  As I stood there in a wind that did its best to peel the hair from my skin, I was overwhelmed with the scale of the scene. I was gob-smacked.

You must see the place for yourself. 
(Hang on to your hair and teeth.)

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

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Petit-Cap, New Brunswick

The ice and snow were melting.  Spring was exhaling warmth at Petit-Cap, on Route 950 between Shemogue and Cap-Pele, New Brunswick.  The warmth was melting the frozen edges of the shore and offering chunks of blue, free from ice.

We drove down Chemin du Quai in Petit-Cap to see if we could get photos of the Northumberland Straight.  We found that we could, if we stood near the bouldered edge of the breakwater protecting the sides of the wharf.  It was, though warmer, still wintry cold with bitter winds...so, Gary took these photos.  He is less apt to freeze while photographing in a gale.

The water in the Northumberland Straight was navy, dark enough to be nearly black, a contrast against the snow cakes and ice floes.  The wharf itself was empty except for storage buildings and diesel fuel pumps unused since winter began.

While we were taking photos, there was a parade of sturdy trucks back and forth to the wharf, checking to see if the water had opened yet.  I wondered if they were the fisher-folk who made their living from these waters. 

The coast along Route 950 was full of boats on their cradles and fish processing plants.

As we drove the coast, we saw homes large enough to house a dozen people interspersed with the older homes of ordinary size.  We wondered if the fisher-folk were the builders of these mansions or if the houses were vacation homes for people with money and a yearning for the sea; perhaps some of each. 

The coastline was gorgeous and we envied those who lived on the Northumberland Straight, in houses large or small. 

It would have been exciting to live near the water, as the Straight changed from winter to spring, as the water swallowed the ice and snow into its deep dark belly. 

We were content to drive the shoreline and to have enjoyed the day and the views of melt and water.

Photos are Gary's.  Words in red will take you to another site with additional information, if you click on them.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Robins Sing of Spring

Robins are singing of spring. 
They sit in our staghorn sumacs and eat the scarlet fruit cones.   These cones are eaten from the top down and look like half-nibbled cobs of corn.  Enough fruit cones remain to see them through until spring arrives.

Robins flit through our yard, sit in the maples, warm themselves on top of the pergola and sing.  Robins are singing.
Robins are singing of spring and I feel happy.

All photos are mine.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Parrsboro, Nova Scotia

The town of Parrsboro, Nova Scotia claims to have the best view of the highest tides in the world.  The Guinness Book of World Records states that the maximum tidal range recorded in the Minas Basin is 16.8 meters (54.6 ft).  That's high! That's a lot of water flowing in and out!

This tidal range is easier to appreciate in summer, but even in winter, Parrsboro's scenery offers beauty and wonder.  The winds sweep over tidal flats that are 3.2 kilometers (2 miles) deep.  The seaport offers an expansive view.

When we visited a few days ago, the winter wind on the tidal flats made the air damp and bitter, made being outside uncomfortable.  We decided it was better to enjoy the scenes from somewhere warm, step outside to take a picture or two, then retreat.  That's what we did.

We drove the perimeter of the harbour, pausing to take photos where snow and ice permitted a space to park the car.  Each photo opportunity was hurried and wind-pummeled, but worth the venture.

Despite the weather and the wind, the tidal waters were intriguing; I loved them in their winter garb.  

Parrsboro offered ice-frostings, sunlight glinting on the edges of snow-melt, driftwood that was bleached and blown ashore, stark pilings, solid densities set in the neutrals of winter.  The toned-down spareness made it easier to observe the colours, or lack of colours, the textures and sheens or sombre shadings.

In addition to the high tides, Parrsboro, Nova Scotia has scenery worth the visit, in either summer or winter.  The seasons showcase the juxtaposition of the lovely and rugged, calm and wild, the ebb and flow of the tides. 

However, if you decide to go in winter, take a hat and a scarf...maybe thick mittens.  The wind sweeps over two miles of tidal flats before it touches you with its icy fingers.

All photos are mine. 
Words in a different colour will take you to another site, with additional information, if you click on them.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Spring Throbs in the Veins

Outside, winter wraps the world in ice.  Inside, there is a fireside and comfort.  I watch at the windows.  The red squirrel scampers across the snow-crust, to wait beneath the sunflower-seed feeder.  He gathers what falls and eats his fill.

Above him, flitting from feeder to branch is a Black-capped Chickadee.  Soon it will be spring and the wintering flocks will break into mating pairs.  Not yet, not yet, it is winter still. 

The chickadees, intense and argumentative, swoop and float, dart and fall to the feeders, scattering like wind-tossed leaves.

The goldfinches know that spring is near, is coming.  In the longer light of days, they dance the warming air. 

Their colours brighten with the stronger sun.  They banish the snow with song, with whistle and warble welcome spring.

I sit by the window, blanketed against the chill.  Yet, I too sense the whisper, the promise of spring that throbs in the veins.

All photos are mine.