Saturday, March 30, 2013

How could Chaucer be a mini anything?

Kerry has given the Imaginary Garden with Real Toads a choice of opposing poetic opinions for the Sunday mini-challenge this Easter weekend.

First, the opening lines from Chaucer's Canterbury Tales, here translated from the medieval to the modern.

When April with his showers sweet with fruit
The drought of March has pierced unto the root

and the second poet, none other than T.S. Eliot, who deplores March in these two lines
April is the cruelest month, breeding
Lilacs out of dead land...
Teodoro S. Gruhl
Kerry asks us to take on one of these two opposing opinions about the month of April, and write a poem about April as we see it, or as we choose to see it this weekend — we are free to present our own opinions or to side with one of these poets for today's poem.
For most of my life, I would have agreed with Chaucer. April on the west coast of British Columbia is a glorious time of year.
Now, however, I live on the Canadian prairie, where April is considered part of winter, and no planting is done until after mid-May, so I will have to go with T.S. Eliot this weekend.

April is the cruelest month indeed
with sunshine but no flowers, and no seed
can be planted out of doors, but only in
greenhouses, or heated rooms within
the tight controlled climates of our lives.
The beekeeper hears no stirring in his hives,
while kids and calves and others take a chance
leaving the warmth of mother's womb to dance
upon the freezing, frozen prairie ground.

Kay Davies, March 30, 2013          

Michael Stirling

It's a dog's life in Venice

Posted for
Camera Critters
hosted by Misty Dawn. Thanks, Misty!

and for Pet Pride
hosted by Lindy's friend Bozo and his family in Mumbai, India.
Lindy says, "Look, Bozo, when my mom and dad were in Venice, which is a very nice,  very old city with lots of places for swimming, they missed me so much they took pictures of lots and lots of dogs.
I'm glad they missed me, because I missed them a little bit, even though I was having lots of fun with my auntie and uncle here in Alberta. It isn't as cold in Venice as it is in Alberta, but lots of the dogs were wearing coats!"

Friday, March 29, 2013

Cinque Terre, an amazing reflection

Photo by Richard Schear, 2013

It's almost unbelievable, the reflection in this small double window in Italy's beautiful northwest coastal region of Cinque Terre, but it's real, as you can tell if you look for the small amount of imperfection in the center.

Posted for
Weekend Reflections
hosted by James. Thanks, James!

Hannah's savannah challenge for real toads

For her biome challenge today, Hannah has chose the savannah biome, and included photos of three savannah animals, one extinct and two extant: the giraffe, the ostrich, and the quagga.
The last quagga to be photographed was in a London zoo in 1870, and no one knows precisely when the species became extinct, because no one knew precisely that it was a species different from the zebra. Only when DNA science was applied in recent times did the difference become clear.
For my savannah biome poem I have created a conversation between an ostrich and a giraffe in an imaginary London wild animal park.

the ostrich reached her head up
the giraffe tilted his down
“have you heard about the quagga?
asked the ostrich with a frown
“an only-semi-stripey zebra,
 who lived the other side of town?”


“indeed,” the giraffe nodded,
 “so I have heard,
but why do you ask?
 she wasn’t a bird”

“no, but what happened to her could happen to us:
 she went quite extinct with nary a fuss,
 nobody noticed, and nobody cared,
 no one, not even Greenpeace was there!”

Posted for

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Early morning skies on the way into Venice

As the final voyage of the Carnival Destiny* approached its destination—the ancient city of Venice—my husband got up early to take some photos from the deck of the ship.
*(now being refitted to take on a new life as the Carnival Sunshine)

Photos by Richard Schear, February, 2013

Yes, there was a sprinkling of snow in Venice, and much more than that on the Italian Alps in the distance. The snow didn't last long, but our visit in Venice was rather chillier than we had expected.

Posted for

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Poe-et lurks outside my door, nevermore

making a lie
of the bright blue sky
the ice crept nearer and nearer
now in the street
now on the walk
approaching the house
it came stalking, stalking, stalk...
 By Kay L. Davies, March, 2013

Images from — Alejandro Lizardo (top), and Robert Kraft

Mama Zen has challenged us to become Poe-ets today, to look outside and write about what we see there, but to make our poem frightening in the style of Edgar Allan Poe.
With apologies to the ghost of Poe, which phantom, I'm sure, walks in the Imaginary Garden with Real Toads, I drifted into the narrative style of Alfred Noyes in my last line.
However, I did look out the window at the street in front of our house, and patches of ice still lurk there, despite the blue of the sky.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Jenn asks about snow in our world

Oh, yes, I cannot lie to my friend Jenn who is hosting Our World Tuesday this week. We do have snow here at home, but it is fast disappearing and not expected to return this week. Of course, this is Alberta, so the forecast can change at any moment.

We do have some photos of snow in Italy, however!

Photos by Richard Schear, 2013
Yes, these are the Italian Alps, as seen from the bus carrying the group I called "the healthy hikers" from Florence to Pisa. After a fast-paced trip around most of Florence, my husband was still more than ready to tackle climbing the Leaning Tower when he reached Pisa.

After wandering at a more leisurely pace around Florence by myself, I wasn't even thinking of climbing anything, and was happy to rest on my bus ride to Pisa. When I got there, I happened to see my husband, and he happened to see the golden Italian shown below. So a good day was had by all!

Posted for

It's all uphill around there: Siena, Italy

don’t go for a stroll in Siena:
you’ll just have to go for a hike.
everything is uphill in Siena,
so don’t even think of your bike.
arriving by train in Siena,
you can't see much of the town
because all’s uphill in Siena
with an escalator for “down”!

View from the "down" escalator.

Photos by Richard Schear, Italy, 2013
I still have my husband on my List of People to Forgive Some Day. This time he made the list along with his hero Rick Steves, the travel author.
We visited Florence, Italy, when the Carnival Destiny stopped at the port of Livorno enroute to Venice last month. To see more of Tuscany, we decided to visit another Tuscan town, Siena, during our train trip after the cruise, because Rick Steves had praised its beautiful piazza.
We left the Siena train station, pulling our luggage and looking at our map. "We don't need a taxi," said Dick, "it's just a few blocks to the right, then a left turn, and another few blocks to the hotel. We can walk."
More than an hour later, red-faced, exhausted, in pain and dripping with perspiration, I was still climbing the mountain on which the city is built. I was no longer muttering to myself, I was cussing right out loud.
When we finally arrived, Dick wasn't even out of breath. "Hey, I didn't know it would all be uphill."
The desk clerk, surprised, asked us why we hadn't used the escalator that climbs the hill from the train station to a point near the hotel.
the escalator
that climbs the hill
from the train station
to the blankety-blank hotel
"Rick Steves didn't mention an escalator," said Dick, who never did show me the part of the book where it isn't mentioned. After depositing me, listless and witless, in our hotel room, he went to explore the city, coming back to say the piazza lived up to its reputation. I wouldn't know. I didn't see it.

Posted for Open Link Monday at the
Imaginary Garden with Real Toads

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Lindy's new person-cousin and a cat-cousin

Lindy wants to tell her friend Bozo, whose family presents Pet Pride at their Pets Forever blog every weekend, that she has cat-cousins and, best of all, a new baby-person-cousin. His name is Malcolm. Isn't he cute? Lindy is looking forward to meeting him.

Malcolm Davies, March 3, 2013
Malcolm was born in October. His mom and dad have two cats, and he loves them almost as much as he loves his own toys.

Posted for
Pet Pride
hosted by Lindy's friend Bozo and his family in Mumbai, India.
Lindy says, "Hi, Bozo, I hope you're having a good holiday while your people are away. Tonight my mom and dad are having pizza with my Auntie Gayle and Uncle Larry. I stay with them when mom and dad are away. It's always fun."

Wild woman of the garden challenges us

Okanagan Valley
via internet search
Did I ever tell you about Sherry Blue Sky? She's a member of the online writers' group Imaginary Garden with Real Toads (my favorite online place) and now lives on Vancouver Island (my favorite place in the world).
Sherry and I were born in the same year, and were schoolgirls at the same time and in the same BC town. We swam in the same lake, on the same beaches, at the same Aquatic club, hiked the same hills, and probably sneaked into the same orchards for forbidden fruit.
We even worked for the same small daily paper at different times, but we never met because we had attended different schools.
Island map via internet search
Now Sherry is one of my favorite online friends I've never met. Having moved to the wild west coast of The Island (as we British Columbians call Vancouver Island) and lived with its crashing waves and wild salt smell, and having raised and lived with a wolf-dog for many years, Sherry feels a closeness with nature that I never reached, despite all my hiking and biking.
I moved to the coast, too, but to the "inside" coast, where the waves are subdued by The Island first and then by all the inner islands, reaching the mainland still smelling of ocean, but mixed with the smell of civilization, into the depths of which I commuted each day for work.
So, Sherry hopes that each of us can reach deep down into the primal areas of our souls to bring forth the wildness that still lurks there, despite the patina of the civilized world. This is her challenge to us at the Imaginary Garden this weekend.
Now, Sherry, from the days of our mutual but unshared youth, this song's for you.

Okanagan Valley
via internet search
on a whim we would ride
to the base of a hill
and race each other
on foot
to the top,
then back on our bikes
for one or more hikes
until all our mothers
called stop!
we had free reign
in golden summers
to hike
Okanagan Valley
via internet search
to ride
to swim
to hide
to lie beside
the lake and burn
our faces red.
dangers then
were sunburn
and rattlesnakes
(which we
 couldn't find)
or falls off a bike
or a hill.
moms didn't fret
they didn't know yet
that some day
would face
dangers which they
never thought of
a day
when "wild"
meant something else entirely

Friday, March 22, 2013

Assorted dogs in Cinque Terre, Italy

Lookit me, I'm on the beach by myself!
(Well, my owner can see me, but I can't see anything except this trail I'm following.)
Oh, good, I'm so glad we're on the beach!
First, I'll lie down here.
And then I'll roll around a bit. My back is itchy!
Hi, did you have a nice walk on the beach? Did you roll in the sand?
I wish I could go to the beach, but I have to guard this hotel door.

Posted for
Camera Critters
hosted by Misty Dawn. Thanks, Misty!
and for
Saturday Photo Hunting
hosted by our friend Gattina who asks "What makes you happy?" this week, and our answer is "Finding dogs to photograph" of course! (These photos were taken by my intrepid photographer, my husband Richard Schear, who can see far better than I can these days. Thanks, dear!)

A crack in everything...for FB Friday

For Fireblossom Friday at the Imaginary Garden with Real Toads, Shay offers us, as inspiration, these words from the great Leonard Cohen...

“There is a crack,
a crack,
in everything”
Leonard Cohen

Photos by Richard Schear
There is a crack
in everything,
there is a crack in my heart
where my words hurt you
and you forgot,
but I did not.
Our peace was shattered,
our love was splattered
across the painful street
where once it lived.
It fled through the gutters
and I closed the shutters
so I shouldn't see you
so I shouldn't hurt.
Did I save myself
at your expense?
I'll never know
because I can't see you
from within the ruins of my shuttered soul.  
Kay Davies, March 22, 2013