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Monday, April 30, 2012

How to Name Your Child

How to Name Your Child

Search through the name books.
Remember to avoid names of the kids you know and hate.
Avoid complicated spellings.
Don’t make up names; your child won’t be grateful.
Avoid names of great-greats who bloodied the family history.
Don’t name the child after old boyfriends or girlfriends.
Say the names out loud; say them softly.  Yell the names.
Try introducing.  “This is my son / daughter insert name here.
Say, “Insert name here, come here…right now.” 
Say, “And the award goes to insert name here. 
Say, “This is the RCMP.  We have insert name here.  Please come down to the station.”
Try nicknames.  Avoid nicknames.
Look at the initials.   Avoid combinations that will result in someone beating up your child on the playground.
Say, “I love you insert name here.
Make short lists of names.  Make the lists shorter.
What does the name mean?  Is that a good thing?
Put out suggestion boxes at family parties.
Don’t ask anyone what they think of the name.
Look at your child.
Who does he / she want to be?

This is a line poem I created at a Poetry Workshop given by Sue Goyette at the 2012 Frye Festival

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Gather to Praise

Gather to Praise     

This day give thanks
for life, for promise,
for hope in abundance.

Gather us in,
the old and the new.
Celebrate life,


regret hardened to bitterness,
views hardened to certainty,
fear and doubt,
loneliness and anxiety.

Gather us in.  Gather in us;
joy and life
rise anew.
This day give thanks,
give thanks.

This is a poem of omissions, created from something found, something already written.  Words are crossed out of the original to leave other words behind, which themselves create a poem, something old and new that captures an essence.  The original writing is an Easter Sunday bulletin from St. Paul’s United Church in Riverview, NB.  The original work is not mine; this is my word play, a search for the essence.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Driven by Poetry

Driven by Poetry

Poetry, my master,
demands unpaid service and
forces me—pay attention.

Words insist, images tumble,
persistent like dust balls on
hardwood floors, and sure as song.

Words wail, want, need, spill onto
the page from my black pencil,
rasping with rhythmic rumble.

Fingers cramp and dreams speak in
code,  clarity in my chest,
yet thinking in tongues.  My task,
to translate to the pale page
a vision, a truth, a tale
or some ordinary thing.

From it spin

Photo is mine.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Reflections on a Rejection of My Writing

Sadness is a lump
I can't swallow.
This ache of failure
flails my gut.
I falter.

I look to one side and refocus.
Is this who I am?
No, not at all...but naive.

I burn
this swollen leech of hope
and let go.

Look again, slantwise and clear,
look close at the truth,
then vomit the poison and ache.

Transform this failure
into a compost of lessons:
Do the work.
Learn the craft.

Apprenticeship needs a tough skin.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Spring Blues

Spring Blues

In the morning
when I rise
to the songs of Nina Simone
and the burr of beans grinding,
to the fragrance of magic,
as it drips in my cup,
I look outside and see
the spring blues. 

The blue squills are

Some are where I planted,
most are rearranged
by squirrels.

Ah, the mornings of spring,
the drifts of blue stars
and Nina's voice, an aching fire,
and darkness steaming in my cup.

Spring morning…
spring blues.

Words and photo are mine.  If you want to know more about Nina Simone, click here.  Squills in my yard are "scilla bifolia"; the squirrels change their locations where they will...always surprises.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Shediac River NB

We saw Common Mergansers and Bald Eagles at the Shediac River last Sunday. 

As we sat watching pairs of Common Mergansers swimming and diving on the river, we noticed an immature Bald Eagle land in a tree near the water’s edge.

The immature Bald Eagle sat and watched the ducks, and watched us watching the ducks.   Shortly after it landed, a mature Bald Eagle flew overhead, perhaps the parent.
The mature bird captivated us with an aerial display, swooping and diving and floating…the acrobatics on air looked effortless.

The eagles stayed for 15 minutes, then disappeared as quietly as they had arrived.   The ducks kept up their activities undisturbed.  
We continued watching, with nothing more exciting to view than ice melting...the last of it, we hope.

It was a peaceful Sunday afternoon at the river, breathing Spring.

Photos are mine.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Groundhogs, Free-Loaders and Friends

Groundhogs, Free-Loaders and Friends

We have tenants, sort of...   They share our property, but pay no rent.   Still we are landlords for chickadees and crows, robins and ring-neck pheasants, blue jays and mallards, starlings and a family of groundhogs.
We live on a hillside in Riverview, in a house built and planted with trees six decades ago.  The slope of the yard provides drainage, important for animals that burrow.   A honeysuckle bush, on a three hundred square-foot mound beside the house, provides shelter and shade for the groundhogs' burrows and tunnels.
We could clear out the underbrush but we let it be.  This side yard, this tangle of honeysuckle, snow berry bushes, barberry bushes, lilac hedges, birches and maples provides home for the groundhogs and nesting areas for the birds.
But, there is a problem.  These free-loaders control our lives.  We’ve considered planting vegetables near that side yard.  It’s the only spot that receives enough sunlight to grow a vegetable garden.  The groundhogs would be pleased.  They’re vegetarians.  A garden would be their salad bar.  Yes, there are possibilities.  We could capture and re-locate them or we could bury protective wire beneath the garden plot and build wire fences.   But that's no guarantee that we would protect our garden from the short, powerful limbs and thick, curved claws of groundhogs or from the resourcefulness of the birds; also looking for lunch.
We’ve discussed a vegetable garden but...no....  My husband says that groundhogs and birds have a right to live here, that they’ve lived in this yard longer than we have.  It's true.  We've lived here seven years, seven years today.  However, I suspect my husband's motives.  I think his generosity might be based on a desire to avoid work, avoid weeding.  Anyway, we’ll relinquish claim to the side yard, leave it to the tenants and continue to buy produce from the Farmers' Markets.
A groundhog sighting is rare.  They are shy and spend most of their hours in the burrows.   Last week, we spotted one waddling across the lawn searching for food; it didn’t see us.  When it did notice us, it scurried off to hide in the honeysuckle bush.   It was huge; bigger than average.   At over 30 inches long, including a 6 inch tail, it must have weighed 30-35 pounds or more.  Urban areas like ours provide few natural predators and plentiful vegetation...and porky groundhogs.
In the evenings, we know when the groundhogs are out and where they are.  Our three cats are like motion sensors.  They sit in the windows, alert and watchful.  Three heads turn in unison.  Meowing and chirping to each other, their eyes and bodies turn to follow the waddling of the groundhogs.
We enjoy our trees and shrubs because they encourage and protect wildlife.   Though the birds and the groundhogs pay no rent, they have changed from free-loaders to friends.  The chance to see nature up-close is payment enough.

I think we'll renew their lease.

Photo is mine.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Cottage Dreams

Cottage Dreams

A cottage, yes, that’s what I want.

Every spring, I have the urge to drive the nearby coasts and rivers searching for a cottage to buy.  Every year, after weeks of searching, jotting down numbers, checking on the Internet and then driving back to look again, I decide I can’t afford this dream.

What I want costs too much; what I can afford needs so much work that it doubles the price.  Each year, I give up the search, return to my home, realize I love my home, and think, “Perhaps next year.”

During these annual spring excursions, I look beyond the frustrations and enjoy the travelling, the journey, the search.  The waterways and coastlines in New Brunswick, well, they’re breath-taking.  In spring, when the snow and ice are gone, before the leaves and grasses and gardens appear, nothing blurs or hides these water-views.

Searching has its frustrations.  For him any sort of house will do, but he wants a heated double garage.  I want a big kitchen and an open-concept winterized-cottage home.  I need a place to write.  Some things we agree on.  Two bathrooms are necessary, to keep us from murdering each other.  We both want privacy and lower maintenance.  We desire a water view; close enough to see, far enough to avoid being washed away in tidal surges.

Desires and dreams, it’s good to have both.  It’s better to know when they are possible and when they are not.  We won’t give up on the search, not yet.  There are many places in New Brunswick to explore and enjoy; each in itself is an adventure worth the drive.  An area that attracts me is the area near the Anglican Church in Brown’s Yard, NB.  There the Richibucto River is wild and wide.  There are acres of woodland.   Wildlife wanders the roads.

A year-round cottage home...maybe we’ll find our dream someday.  In the meantime, the search itself is a pleasure.

All photos are mine. 

Friday, April 13, 2012

Acadian Coastal Drive, NB

An afternoon drive along the Acadian Coast of New Brunswick
is an energizing experience, even if only part of it is covered. 
We travel from Shediac along Routes 134 and 530 to Cocagne, thrilling to the sight of the Northumberland Straight 
free of ice cakes, at last.

We notice ducks and gulls
floating or feeding in the waves.

We see fishermen doing boat maintenance
on this grey windy day at the wharf.

Further up the coast,
there are pleasure boats still wrapped for winter.

Roads are being repaired
and tons of grindstone
 dropped into vulnerable places,
where rogue waves and storm surges rip away the coast.

We stop for ice cream
at Melanson's Store in Cocagne
and savour this taste of summer
while watching the waters of the Cocagne Harbour.

It is a coastal drive we love.  There is something
in the salt air that soothes the mind and
sends the soul soaring.

It's a gorgeous coastline, a generous natural world.

All photos are mine.  If you click
on words in red,
you will go to another site
with additional information.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

What Can a Robin Hatch?

What Can a Robin Hatch?

A robin sits in the Rowan tree,
waits for snow to cease,
sings of spring warmth and resurrection.

Robin with breast the colour of blood,
morning’s first singer,
and evening’s last song,  final good night.

You’ll soon be a broody mama,
warm the pale blue eggs
a fortnight,  hatch a clutch of babies.

Next, you’ll be a broody mama,
to hatch death’s virus,
incubate disease and brain fever.

You beauty, and handmaid of illness,
breast the shade of blood,
the colour of mosquito belly,

because it kills you slowly, you live
longer, infection
spreads further.   You generous beauty,

bird of life and death.

NOTE:  Robins can be carriers of West Nile Virus.  The virus kills robins more slowly than blue jays or crows, so robins can spread the virus more widely.  The virus is transferred from robin to mosquito to human.  West Nile Virus can cause fatal inflammation of the brain (encephalitis) or the membranes that cover the brain or spinal cord (meningitis).  Milder reactions to West Nile Virus are not fatal but cause fever, headache, body aches, skin rash and swollen lymph glands.

It seems hard to believe that something as lovely as a robin sitting in a snowstorm has the potential to become a link in a chain of disease, doesn't it?

Monday, April 9, 2012

Easter Weekend

My yard was full of bunnies,

bunny boys and

and bunny girls,

all playing Easter games.

Then Easter Sunday brought a surprise of snow.

The only creature outside was a robin
snuggled for shelter in a barberry bush.

Photos are mine.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Easter and Springtime

Easter and Springtime

Mud heaves back blankets
of worn snow, stretches,
then belly-belches
the tang of dog turds.

Then Spring rises, pulls on
a fresh shirt
of buds and blue sky,
yawns, and sends the sap
swelling, hearts searching.

Rituals of love:
Trill or squawk
          Look at me
pheasants chase
          Hey, choose me
mallards hiss
          She is mine
starlings wear
their very best
mating feathers
          Hey, baby,
          ain't I fine?

The fuse ignites
creating life.
From Love's promise,
dead forests green.

And we feel it too,
this rising Easter,
fresh hope in our veins.

Photo is mine.

Thursday, April 5, 2012


Here are shots of starlings sporting their mating plumage.  The single bird photos are the female. 

It's the time of year for love so there's preening and courting, in our yard.

Photos and words are mine.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Tree Moss Magic

Tree Moss Magic

Fairies weave tree moss at night.
I knew that when I was six.  I knew that fairy-folk knit threads of green felt into webs of tree moss, while I slept.  The fairies made lace and nests and cradle-swings and fastened them to trees.   Glittering, dew-covered, delicate, pale green…obviously these were created by the fairies, these were magic.
Some say that tree moss results from the damp and shady conditions found in coastal forests like those on the eastern shore of New Brunswick.  They claim moss requires dampness, a high level of moisture for the vascular system to survive and requires liquid to complete fertilisation.  Tree moss shows appreciation for wetness by growing best on the north side of tree trunks, the upper parts of branches and in the shadier crotches of trees.  That is what we think when we lose imagination. 
But when the sight of wobbly green draping from trees draws me back to childhood, I remember that this is where I found magic.  There is magic in maple blossoms, in the curve of an acorn, in the new green at the tips of conifers, in the mushroomed decay of stumps and in the spongy clumps of ground moss sprouting spring violets.  Children know what adults have forgotten.
Cross the driveway, jump over the ditch, scramble through the alders that clutch like witches’ fingers and escape deep into the forest of birch and maple and evergreens.   Search for the place of winter deadfall, a clearing, an open space.  Here it is.  Leaves become dishes.  Twigs and branches become utensils and brooms.  Rocks and logs are seats and tables.  And moss, moss can be anything—cushions, decorations, food, stuffing for cracks in tables; moss can be fairy magic.
To play in a secluded wood, with sunlight slanting through the canopy of trees, to hear birdsong and the burbling ditch, to breathe balsam and damp earth, to gaze in wonder at pale moss dangling from trees, that is mystery, full of possibility and magic. 
A child of six no more, at ten times six, l still smile when I discover tree moss. 

I smile and a thought flickers, “Ah, the fairy-folk were weaving cradles and nests, while I slept.”

Photos and words are mine.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Tree Moss

Tree Moss

At night
under the mossy trees,
when the thin green felt
is held by darkness,
I see the silhouettes of lace.
My grandmother used to make,
Heirloom lace, Broomstick lace,
delicate and fine.
Slow work.

Morning comes.
The sea air kisses the trees
and wraps them in fog-wool
and damp desire.
And lace, pale green,
nourished by mist
blooms from tree crotch and branches.

slow nests of moss
(knit from whisper and shadow and dream)
begin as all life begins,
in the embrace
of dampness.

Photos and words are mine.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Moky, Three Years

Though I’ve never met her, sometimes I feel I knew her. 

Moky died three years ago on April 1st.  I never met her, but I have met her children, two daughters and a son.  Through them, I’ve learned about Moky.

Moky was brilliant, creative, thrifty, witty and occasionally acerbic.  She loved her garden and being outdoors, had a keen sense of justice and a wicked sense of humour, intolerance for bad art, a taste for good sherry and cheap wine. 

Moky was generous, recognized potential in discarded furniture, loved the colour blue, appreciated ballet and treasured adventure…whether within her neighbourhood or travelling afar.  She revered and supported libraries, loved old movies and great musical classics.

Moky was a strong woman, given to strong opinions easily shared. 

She welcomed the neighbourhood into her home every Christmas for a party.  What a party it was!   Food and wine, plentiful and delicious, vibrant music and shared song. 

Moky loved her children above all else, as in turn her daughters and son love theirs.   Moky will always be in the hearts and lives of her three children and their spouses, and her five grandchildren, soon to become six.

I never met Moky. 

Oh, how I wish I had.


This is an update of a blog I wrote last year about Moky.   May memories comfort and hold you Maggie, Sarah and Tim.