Stay Tuned -I’ll be back!

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I have really loved having my own photography website but, I didn’t find it a worthwhile financial investment.  I want to thank you Smugmug for the great service over the years.  My decision to end my term with them and look into my other options boiled down to the fact that most of my clients didn’t bother to order any prints.   I have a business page on Facebook , but I really don’t want to put my best work up there.   They are always changing their interface and they decide what gets changed – not me!  I am thinking that this WordPress site just may be the solution for me!  Stay tuned!  If it all works out, i’ll be back sharing more of my photography , stories and much much more!

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The Tragic Swan Song

The first time my husband Dave and I strolled through the picturesque gardens of Stanley Park we came across a spot called the Lost Lagoon, I was surprised and delighted to see a beautiful swan, his reflection shimmering in the water. I had seen swans before, but never one this close. While we were there, the lone swan spent his time gliding effortlessly back and forth in the little pond, pausing occasionally to greedily accept bits of bread  that people were aimlessly throwing into the water.
It turns out there are four swans left in the park and each time I walked by the lagoon I would stop to watch them and grab a few photos of course. I knew little about them, but I was in awe of their beauty and they are such willing photography subjects!
A few days ago, to my absolute delight the females were busy adding branches and grass to the nests that they had been built beside the paths on the trail. The males swam close by and occasionally busied themselves by helping to primp the nests and on one nest, even taking a turn on the eggs while their mate had a break and a bite to eat. I got excited over the possibility that very soon I may get to photograph a few cygnets (yes, I had to look that up!). Who doesn’t love baby birds?
I stood around watching long enough that I struck up a few conversations with others who had stopped to watch the nesting rituals. Soon, I met a lovely woman who is a volunteer in the park.  I’ll call  her The Swan Lady. She looks after the swans as lovingly as if they were her own children. She gave me a brief history about the swans and then introduced me to the two loving couples – the last of the fleet. Their names are Bijan, Marika and Tristan and Thea. The beautiful swan lady has several amazing posts and stories about the swans in Stanley Park on Flickr – I will track her down to confirm this, but I believe she is FernShade and if you love swans, lovely photography and amusing stories I urge you to check out her site.
My admiration for these beautiful creatures is growing along with my sadness. These lovely birds really are no more than captives of the park. Although they seem to be happy in their environment, they don’t know that they can’t fly. Their wings have been clipped (it’s called pinioning) because they are not native to this country. They don’t know that their eggs may not even hatch due to their inbreeding and if there is a cygnet, it will have little chance for survival. These eggs and the offspring of many of the birds here are easy prey for natural predators like the river otter and the raccoons.  Man is also a dangerous predator and continues to threaten the  existence of the swans in the park . Tourists who think it’s cute to feed them sugary snacks and other garbage have at times made these birds sick. They have also been seriously injured and even killed by ignorant people throwing rocks and by cyclists riding recklessly on the trails where they shouldn’t be riding at all. The most tragic loss of all has been the recent loss of little Isolde, Tristan’s former mate. She was captured and roasted over a makeshift firm by a group of destitute individuals camped out deep in the park. Her remains where found alongside charred wood and empty whiskey bottles.
Spending time talking to many people that live around here about the swans has been both rewarding and disheartening. The park has looked after their charges very well over the years, but I find it sad that they have had to face so many challenges.  I don’t get the sense that these swans will be replaced once they are gone.  I hope not – even though many people love them, it just doesn’t seem right to me.  There are many native species of birds that live near the waters of the lagoon that photographers and bird lovers like myself can enjoy.  Bottom line – we need to be careful about what kinds of gifts we accept into our parks – even if they do come from Royalty!

 

May 16th  – I ventured down to the lagoon to check on the swans.  I spotted three swimming in the lagoon immediately.  I knew something was wrong!  When I approached Tristan and Thea’s nest I let out a cry of despair!  I felt so sad.  I didn’t hold out any hope for Marika and Bijan’s nest either.  I want to know what happened to the eggs – there are no traces of the shells.  I really hope that the swans don’t feel grief!

 

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Returning to the Blog

This blog was originally created for my Creative Writing class last term.  I never returned to it after the term was over – I wasn’t sure if I wanted to continue with it.  Blogging had always intrigued me, but the whole experience of posting my assignments for the class and meeting the vigorous writing deadlines each week had worn me out.

Sufficient time has passed now and as I look back over the work I did, I am feeling proud of myself. I embraced the changes and met the challenges for this class.  Will I keep writing? Maybe.  Right now, I’m exploring other avenues.  I’m drawing, painting and taking classes in digital media. My first love is still photography and I plan to use this blog to share images as well.   My husband and I have recently moved into the west end in Vancouver and there is so much exploring to do! How do you find time to embrace it all?

One thing I did do when we got to Vancouver was find a place to continue taking belly dance classes.  I’ve never been an outstanding dancer, but you don’t have to be “a star” to love it.   I was missing dancing last term and when one of our poetry assignments was to pattern a poem after another famous poem I decided to write about it.   My first draft was personal and did not quite meet the assignment requirements.  However, after several revisions it came out not too bad!  I am sharing this for my dance friends!

  Dance Class

Feel the undulations of your soul

as you learn the ancient art of the dance.

Unveil your sensual side.

Feel the galloping of your heart

that sends the blood rushing to your cheeks.

Don’t turn away. Feel the beat of the drum.

Feel the sweat that glistens on your forehead and then

slowly finds it’s way to your breasts. Feel the heat

that ripples from your belly to your head.

Feel the weight of the coins on your belt.

Feel the fringe at your feet. Feel the tingle on your skin.

Feel the beat of the drum.

Listen to the Oud. Listen to the flute

and to the zills that reflect the sparkle in your eyes.

Feel the beat of the drum.

Feel the buzz in the room lay down as heavy velvet curtains

part revealing a dancer, sparkling in a dream.

And you feel the beat of the drum.

(patterned from Let Evening Come by Jane Kenyon)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Week Eleven Blog Assignment – Revision

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Readings from Mooring Against the Tide this week helped me understand that revision is an integral part of our everyday life whether we are conscious of it or not. I often edit my photographs more than once by cropping, changing the contrast or saturation and experimenting with different filters. I always feel excited to see how tweaking and playing with a good photograph will make it even better. I have to approach my writing revisions the same way and without fear.

Our lecture material for the class, Revising a Poem: Tricks of the Trade and the advice from the text that discusses processes for revision is reference material that I will follow closely.  Rather than go through the revision of a poem line by line and then trying to decide what to fix, I will first look to see if my images are strong and fresh. Then I will go back through it and look for sound and internal rhyme and lastly I will do my best to add some gorgeous metaphors and similes. Gary Thompson’s contribution Moonsheen and Porchlight: Revision as Illumination was a very interesting read. He states, “Like all worthwhile knowledge, revision is an art we must teach ourselves, but we can learn this art more quickly if we are honestly open to the comments and observations of other poets, readers and editors. We must make our selves vulnerable.” I have felt very vulnerable at times during this class, but I have learned so much and I have really accomplished a lot. I will also continue blogging – something that I never thought I would ever do!

This week we were to pick out one poem from The Best Canadian Poetry assigned readings that stunned us. On the first read through, I really didn’t feel moved by many of them and I was worried I wasn’t going to find one that grabbed me. I was intrigued with Bear Room by Medrie Purdum. I have actually been the person caught off guard on more than one occasion entering a home where I was “stopped cold” by the frightful amount of taxidermy that lined the rumpus room walls. I liked the way the poem ended too. “ I know,” I said, and my voice wigged out/like any living thing’s caught by the scruff.”

Next, I took a closer look at Academic Liaison by Ingrid Ruthig. It caught my attention on the first glance through because of the racy edge it had to it. It is full of playful metaphors coupling the rules and terminology used in mathematics with sexual desire. During the writing of this blog, I was surfing the Internet for clips and quotes that I might use to wrap things up and was surprised to find an audio track for this poem. Listening to how and where Ingrid Ruthig places emphasis on the words and the tone she uses in the reading actually helped me to understand that the poem better.  It was really about a female student who falls for teacher whose methods are misplaced. “ When it becomes the way a young man bears weight/into the classroom and angles it on the desk before her, /it seems even youth can worship weathered physics/and desire is a test she might work her way through.” I thought this was clever piece of writing that touched on a subject that is very relevant and of a sensitive nature. Here is the link, if anyone would like to listen to it.  https://soundcloud.com/tightrope/academic-liaison-ingrid-ruthig

What’s on my agenda this winter?  I have many friends who are published poets and over the years I have shown my support to them  by purchasing their publications.  My bookshelf back in Saskatoon is lined with their colourful bindings — all untouched. I will be bringing them back with me after Christmas and diving into them with great enthusiasm.  Their hard work and creativity deserves to be celebrated.

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Week Ten Blog Assignment – Sound

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There was a wealth of information packed into this weeks reading assignments from Mooring Against the Tide, chapters 4 and 5. I really did enjoy learning about diction, tone, alliteration and assonance. I’m sure I knew about these writing elements back in the day, but high school English for me was in 1979. Chapter 4, Sound and the Poem refers to both alliteration and assonance as being the poetic elements that arise from the use of consonants and vowels. They don’t discourage us from using either of these elements in our writing and we learn how to find these elements in other poems as well. I want to make mention that included in the lectures in week 12 the first item on the list of rules for writing humour is “1. Avoid alliteration. Always.” I am very curious as to why this is when it’s such a common writing element.

Another element of sound that I revisited from my school days was onomatopoeia. This is when a word imitates a sound.  I had forgotten about this word and it’s definition. How often do you use the word onomatopoeia in everyday language? An English teacher I know, used to sing this little number,  “Onomatopoeia, gee it’s good to see ya!”  It’s such a fun word and a simple way of introducing sound into your writing.

Alberto Rios contribution of Degas In Vegas: Some Thoughts on Sound in Poetry was very helpful for me. “Sonic intensity refers to a condition in a poem in which the sound is everything. Sonic distance, on the other hand, occurs when sound is simply one more part of whatever makes the poem successful.” I now understand the definitions, but I am not sure I will ever consciously using these elements in my own writing.

Rios also covers an abundance of material about rhyme and rhyming patterns. Who doesn’t love rhyme? I agree with Rios, when he states that rhyme can be effective, but it has to have a valuable place in the poem. He discusses rhyme and the way it uses recognizable sounds to make it easier for us to engage in a poem and then apply it to memory. I feel excited about incorporating internal rhyme into my writing, as it’s something I would have never considered before. If I have done it, it was unaware that I was doing something that contributed to sound and enhanced the poem.

There were many poems assigned this week from The Best Canadian Poetry and I decided to use Moorings recommendations to enhance the sonic intensity and my experience by reading the poems aloud. It was an interesting exercise. I was trying so hard to pronounce words like “Eurydice” and “keloid” and to make the poem sound rhythmic in my own voice that I often lost track of the imagery and meaning at times. Learning to read aloud is another art form and I admire people that can do it well.I did keep up the challenge and after several attempts, I found some favorite lines and stanzas that I felt rolled off my tongue and were yet were still visually stimulating for me.

There were a lot of examples of internal rhyme in these pages and I started to feel excited when I spotted them. Such as this stanza from The Scarborough Bluffs. “I leave the zoo with the moon on the park,/The wolves asleep, the lions going down/(even the sun leaves Scarborough before it’s dark).”And, what is not to love about Hamlet? It reminded me of a Dr. Seuss book. “Hamlet in Heorot/goldfish on hooks/Hamlet in whoredens, /hookers with books.” This one was fun to read aloud because of the end rhyming pattern.

I found, What was that poem? to be a very touching piece of writing, but I didn’t find obvious examples of sound in this piece. I really liked Background Noise as well. The best example in this poem of internal rhyme are in these lines, “any hobbies that require scissors, shears, knitting needles, cheers, chopping blocks, drums, or power saws. It’s not enough.”  I realize that the poems I enjoy the most contain some element of internal rhyme or assonance.

My head was spinning after I had read all the materials for this blog and when I was finished ,these words just came screeching out . As cliché as they are, I had a chuckle over them and even though I can hear Zoe groaning I wanted  to share them!

My Ode to Poetry

Burnt out,
fried,
feelings collide,
I love you
I love you not.

index

http://youtu.be/f1b5kCvVBo8

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Week Nine Blog Assignment – Imagery

Eye of the beholder-Michelle LaneEye of the Beholder by Lane Imagery © 2010

I covered a lot of material from Mooring Against the Tide and Chapter 2 Imagery in my last blog. I found so much of the information extremely helpful, especially over the last few weeks as I worked on the poetry workshops and in my own writing. Topics of discussion included how to keep the language fresh and original and how we can avoid the clichés when we are constructing images in our own writing.  They demonstrate the use of clichés in metaphors and how easily we can end up writing something that has already been written before. They used a very obvious example her eyes were blue pools that clearly helped explain the topic. I find myself writing metaphors and similes that have been written before and I am starting to spot this effect in my own writing. The chapter also discusses dead metaphors and how even the most experienced writers can end up writing something that falls completely flat because it’s so close to another overused metaphor.

The discussion at the end of the chapter was about how beginner writers can make the mistake of leaving out images, thinking that their audience might relate better to a piece of writing if they just keep it simple. When I photograph a subject with my camera, I want to make sure that you feel some emotion from the image I have created. Like a photograph, a poem needs to tell a story through images. “ Images are the bones of the poem, a skeleton we must create so others can share our experience.”

The readings from The Best Canadian Poetry this week are full of images and images that I could see and feel. The poem by Anita Lahey, from Care Package for a Combat Engineer is a skillfully crafted piece of writing that uses fresh language and lots of concrete detail. In order to digest this poem, I decided to treat it as if it was written as ten different poems. 1. Items the Curiosity Cabinet at the Redpath Museum from the soldiers voice, made me feel like I was watching the soldier putting items into his pack the same way a child might thoughtfully collects feathers and seashells and then put them in little piles for consideration later on. This poem and the stanzas contained within this poem are full of bare nouns or I should say what I understand bare nouns to be. Here is an example. “Call these playthings or paperweights. Whistles, Lucky charms.” I do think they are very effective and are stand visually strong on their own. My favorite stanza in this poem was, 2. Anti-scurvy Rations Supplement Kit from the Montreal Botanical Gardens. I could visualize all of these plants and even taste what the soldier tasted in my mind. “Chicory, every soldier knows, aspires to coffee. / Day lily buds, crunchy, sweet, dump —trust me —in soup.”

My favorite poem from the next group of poems, from Cottonopolis, by Rachel Lebowitz that evoked the most imagery for me was Muslin Dress. I thought it was very clever that she gave us such a descriptive piece of writing about of the development of a cotton plantation, which included slavery life and the exporting of cotton. All of the imagery and the subjects throughout the poem were lines of something. “ Coffle line of Negroes, send to clear the land then fill it. Line of cotton in the field.” and “The line of children in the mines. The chimney lines.” When I started reading it I questioned the title, but of course it become clear in this last very powerful stanza. “The lines you’ve memorized, the lines of your white muslin dress, the way it falls in folds to the ground. All eyes are on you. For a moment, it’s as if all lines stop here.”

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Week Eight Blog Assignment – Metaphor

Week 8 Blog Assignment/CRWR 1100

Photo on 2013-11-19 at 18.54 #2

Metaphors

Although I’m behind in my blog writing, I have been keeping up on the readings and I have gone back and reviewed Chapter 2 of Mooring Against the Tide several times over the last few weeks. I am striving to understand metaphors and use them in my own writing. As for identifying metaphors in other writer’s poetry, just when I think I’ve got it the idea, they trick me and throw in metaphors that I don’t understand.

The best advice I took from these readings, are the teachings of Lisa D. Chavez, Laying Bare the Bones: A Meditation on Imagery. “Imagery is anything that evokes the senses. It includes simile and metaphor, the bread and butter of poetry.” And, “An image is anything we see, feel, hear —sensory detail that grounds us in the specific.” I understand this and I also like the way Lisa leads us through the workshops in this chapter. I see implied metaphors within a poem easier than I see a whole poem as a metaphor.

My favorite lines and poems this week in my search for metaphors would be the imagery in Solstice Night. “He pulls off her hat —a sudden stillness —then breathes into the gold waves of her hair. / And night opens before them like a dinner napkin.” I don’t see a metaphor in these lines, but I do see a simile and very beautiful imagery. X-Ray really made me think. The whole poem must be a metaphor for looking at ourselves. “basic pajamas:/I’ve been looking for you,” and “how I fit, moony/white, in the wetsuit of my body” were my favorites metaphors. I believe that the entire poem Aubade is a metaphor about a relationship where the poet wakes after his dream and realizes that the relationship is over. “a breaking wave, a flowering tree, /and all of one accord I seemed. /I woke, and you divided me.”

Lastly, I would like to say that I really liked the language and images in By Any Name. This must mean I like the metaphors. I believe that the author is talking about writing something important and that she has to prove she knows what she is talking about. I have met many people who have had to defend a body of work to a committee and if I visualize this as the scenario with this poem, it helps me see the images as metaphors. My favorite three stanzas — “shithawks flock/to mock us./Featherbrained,/we agree bullshit is the best decoy. The average vocabulary/is 10,000.00 words, and one easily stands in for another.”  I feel empathy with these lines. I wish I was good at pulling out extraordinary bullshit when I need to!

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