Friday, February 28, 2014

Fireblossom Friday features W.T. Benda

The wonderful poet Fireblossom gave us a choice of prompts today for Fireblossom Friday at the Imaginary Garden with Real Toads. The first of these was the Rhyme Royal, which has a rhyme pattern of a-b-a-b-b-c-c.
I tried it. I actually composed a 14-line bit of versification which came out like a cross between Rudyard Kipling and A.A. Milne.
Then I took a closer look at the pictures by Polish-American artist W.T. Benda, which Fireblossom offered as prompt for the free verse option, and, because of a tragedy in my family this week, found myself drawn to this assortment of masks and faces.
The resulting poem is not art. It is only marginally better than my attempt at a Rhyme Royal, but it expresses how I feel right now. While certainly not an expression of my life's beliefs and principles, it does paint a portrait of today.

Władysław Benda

grief and pain
and helplessness
which, over time,
might yet be dulled,
will never go away.
we wait
we pray
we scream
we say
we can’t go on...
and yet we do,
with help
from one another.
in a year,
or maybe more,
dull grief and pain
and helplessness
might chill
the everyday,
but masks
will hide
us from the world
and let us carry on.

Also linking to ABC Wednesday, G is for Grief

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Opening up for Open Link Monday

I'm a little late for Monday at the Imaginary Garden with Real Toads, and I'm very late with the comments I meant to do today.
Things lie heavy on my heart just now, and this poem came to me tonight.

A Prayer for R

sadness seems my boon companion now
and I know it will become real sorrow soon
the old should not outlive the young
whose days of fatherhood aren’t done
who wants to fish
who wants to swim
who wants to cook
who wants to look
at his small daughter as she sleeps at night

sadness sits upon the families now
and grief will come too soon to all of us
but I still pray
for another day
another week
a month
pray for a last-minute cure to be found
pray for eleventh-hour reprieve

pray for the young man who
will never know old age
Kay Davies, February 25, 2014

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Margaret's "Play it Again, Toads" challenge

M. Bednar photo, Middleton Plantation, SC

Faced with a prompt that barely made it into my muddled mind today, I thought I'd give it a pass but first I'd look into it just a little further. I usually enjoy the challenges at the Imaginary Garden with Real Toads.
Margaret's photos of stately homes caught my eye, but didn't filter into my brain. Then she mentioned archived challenges. Well, you know what archives are, dim, dark and dusty boxes of old papers. Aaaachoo!
Or, said same old papers scanned in the days before scanners became trustworthy. Illegible!
Margaret gave us a choice of three archived challenges to use with our choice of her photos. Ah well, can't hurt to look at one of the archived challenges.
#1 — A word list. Oh, how I love word lists! I love using all the words and patting myself on the back until I look like a pretzel. This was a very long word list, however, but I thought I'd just scan it...
and there...
at the bottom of the list...
and just before the bonus word (chthonic, which also sounds like a sneeze)
I saw one of my mother's favourite exclamations:
M. Bednar, iPhone
Middleton Plantation, SC
Mom used it a lot when we were young. It usually meant "Don't try to pull the wool over my eyes with that feeble excuse," and we knew it.
And then...oh, then! On the list, just above "horsefeathers" I saw another of her favourite words: "snicklefritz"!
She seldom used the two words together, however, as "horsefeathers" meant BS in somewhat more ladylike language, and "snicklefritz" was a word of endearment.
So, I had to try the prompt, for Mom, or for memories of Mom.

"horsefeathers!" an old lady exclaimed
as she toured the plantation garden.

the peahen's head came up
and she stopped
right in the middle of her pecking path.

"horsefeathers?" she wondered,
"do horses have feathers?
  my mate says my feathers
  are singularly unattractive
  but I beg to differ with him,
  even I am feathered more attractively
  than a horse!"
Kay Davies, February, 2014

Pet pride for a much-loved dog

In my home province of BC, four members of my family are grieving this weekend, and all the other members of my family are saddened.
This is Lindy's dog-cousin, Jasper, who was 13 years old. He died two days ago, after a very brief illness.
He was a good, gentle dog, who occasionally managed to leave home and go for a walk to the stores a few streets away. Store owners and clerks, even staff at the pub, knew to phone the house to say, "Jasper is here. We'll keep him until you pick him up."

He was very sociable. Here, he takes a tennis ball to meet his family as they arrive.

Below, he is looking at me as if to say, "What would you like to do today, Auntie Kay? Would you like to walk up to the stores with me?" Whenever I visited overnight, he would spend the night spread out on the floor beside me, on guard even when asleep. I loved Jasper, and will miss him very much.
Posted for Bozo's Pet Pride and for Misty Dawn's Camera Critters
Kay Davies, photos

Lindy sleeps anywhere, too

Pet Pride is hosted by Lindy's friend Bozo who says he can fall asleep anywhere. Bozo lives in Mumbai, India, with his family, where they have a blog called Pets Forever.
Lindy says to tell Bozo she can do the same thing. Our little prairie town is usually much quieter than a big, huge city like Mumbai, but right now we have very crunchy roads. The snow melted, then the water froze, and when cars pass our house they almost sound like trains! But Lindy can sleep.
In this photo, she is sleeping in her favourite place. Yes, she has two beds, one in each bedroom, plus a window seat in the dining room, and an ottoman in the living room between the two recliners, but she really prefers to sleep on the kitchen floor, near the refrigerator, in case someone decides to drop a piece of food.

Photo by Kay Davies, February, 2014

Wet weekend reflections

Kay Davies photo, February 2014

Such a dreary sight to see, but it gets worse. Yes, the house across the street was reflected in the water the other day. But the water didn't go away. Our corner won't have storm drains until later this year. So, the water can't go away. Night comes, with temperatures below freezing, and the water becomes ice.
Then, large vehicles drive on the icy street, and the ice gets crushed into ridges and depressions. If it doesn't melt during the day, it re-freezes overnight, and the ridges become permanent. Smaller vehicles do not navigate it happily, but they navigate it with a crunching noise that always gets my attention.

Posted for Weekend Reflections hosted by James of Something Sighted.
Thanks, James!

Please note: you might see this before it shows up on Weekend Reflections because there seems to be a problem of some sort over there. I'll try their link again in the morning.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Answering Corey's tape challenge at Toads

Sam Cooke
As a poetry challenge to members and contributors at the Imaginary Garden with Real Toads, Corey (aka Herotomost) has asked us to "talk about the age old romantic art of arranging mix tapes for your mad crush" which, by its very definition, makes me reveal something about my age, or at least about my generation. Yes, I'm "one of those"... a baby boomer heading rapidly into old age but not quite there yet.
And yes, just ask my husband, I did make one of those tapes. I have no idea where it is now, and if I happened to find it, I couldn't play it without finding my good old ghetto-blaster which, with our most recent household renovation project, has disappeared into a box somewhere.
Brook Benton
So the tape is lost, either in the detritus, or in a box in the garage.
Sigh again.
However, through due diligence and a lot of luck, I managed to come up with something.

Dean Martin

time can do so much

are you still mine?
oh, the hours I spent
making that tape—
poor little fool
at first I thought it was
but after
one night
Bobby Darin
of unchained melody
by love’s light
I knew
a change was gonna come
it was just a matter of time
before you’d
come softly to me,
dream lover, and
bring it on home to me...
I’ve hungered for your touch
Bobby Hatfield and
Bill Medley,
The Righteous Brothers
a long lonely time
now I know
I won’t be afraid
as long as you stand by me.
what a wonderful world
this will be...
twistin’ the night away.

Kay Davies, February 21, 2014

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Kenia posts a list in the Garden

Today at the Imaginary Garden with Real Toads, we are challenged to write a poem using a list of words provided by Kenia, who chose the words at random while leafing through the book Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? written by Phillip K. Dick, published in 1968 and made into a movie in 1982. The novel is set in a post-apocalyptic near future, where life on Earth has been altered by nuclear war and most of its residents have been relocated to a new colony on Mars.
Interestingly enough, Kenia tells us that in the book, an electric toad teaches the main character, bounty hunter Rick Deckard, a true sense of empathy when he makes up his mind to love the fake toad as if it were real.

illegal stones collection

different humans
shared doubt
that their
future contained
any possibilities.

ever-present dust
made chance seem dismal.
hours under the fragile
cardboard roof
seemed like years.
                  Kay Davies, February, 2014

Kenia's List:
Semi-ruined, Shared, Collection, Doubt, Roof , Different, Illegal, Human, Cardboard, Chance, Dismal, Crestfallen, Fragile, Ever-present, Dust, Contained, Possibilities, Future, Stones, Hours.

F is for Fire, Flame, Bill of Fare

This week at ABC Wednesday, Troy is hosting the letter F. In these photos, taken on our 2011 trip in Russia with Viking River Cruises, we have the menu aka the Bill of Fare for the Captain's Dinner, and the ship's chef carrying the flaming dessert, a fabulous Baked Alaska which featured, for the first time in my experience, strawberry ice cream. Fantastic!

Photos by Richard Schear, 2011

Saturday, February 15, 2014

I know what you're doing up there

Photo by Richard Schear, February, 2014

"I might not be able to see you, but I know what you're doing. You're taking a picture of me instead of the scenery," Lindy says to her daddy. The two of them went for a walk at the coulee, where the red shale path isn't terribly wet with the melting snow. Roads and even sidewalks are wet, though, and by the time they got home, Lindy had rather muddy feet. Fortunately, Lindy's mom washed all the "dog towels" yesterday. A dog in melting weather needs to have her feet dried often.

Posted for Camera Critters, hosted by Misty Dawn,
and for Pet Pride, hosted by Lindy's friend Bozo and his family at their Pets Forever blog in Mumbai, India.
Lindy says, "Thanks, Misty, for keeping up with Camera Critters now that you have a new baby," and also "Hi, Bozo, I know you're having a lot of rain in Mumbai, so you probably need your feet dried often, too."
Then Lindy says, "Dried off often. Ha ha. That's a joke like my daddy makes all the time!"
Lindy is still a happy girl, even though she can't see as well as she used to. She knows she is loved very much by her mom and dad, and by her boy-and-girl cousins and their parents, too.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Margaret introduces Toril Fisher

Close-up of spun
case of caddisfly larva.
BC, Canada
Wikipedia photo
In the Imaginary Garden with Real Toads, anything can happen. If we can imagine it, it is apt to show up in the Garden. Actual toads, perhaps, might welcome the critter I have chosen for today's poem, although it is usually considered fish food.

I remember my father telling us about this creature when we were youngsters learning how to fish in the streams of British Columbia.

Kalidescope Creek (sic)
by Toril Fisher
a simple caddisfly am I
and in this stream
I live and die
but in between
my birth and death
I work to keep
the stream alive
if such as I
in streams are seen
you’ll know the stream
has water clean
for feeding fish
and catching fish
the fish think we're
a tasty dish

 Kay Davies, Feburary 14, 2014

At the Imaginary Garden today, Margaret's series Artistic Interpretations brings us artist Toril Fisher, who has done some amazing things. I loved learning that she uses repurposed beehive lids on which to paint, emphasizing the fact that bees are dying worldwide, leaving us without pollinators so necessary to food production.
Toril's work shown at the Imaginary Garden, and others she is currently working, on will be on display and for sale at the Driftless Cafe in Viroqua, WI in May, 2014.
I am also impressed that she is donating a share of the money she earns from her paintings to the Xerces Society. "From the world's rarest butterflies, (to) caddisflies that live solely in one stream, to declining bumble bee populations, the Xerces Society is dedicated to protecting invertebrates and the ecosystems that depend on them."
Last but not least, who could fail to love an artist exhibiting in a place named "Driftless Cafe"?

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Out of Standard challenges us again

For her Out of Standard challenge over at the Imaginary Garden with Real Toads, our tricky friend Izy has come up with her own twist on a style I never knew existed: erasure poetry.

Wikipedia says an erasure poem is created by erasing words from an existing text and framing the result on the page as a poem. The results can be allowed to stand in place, or they can be arranged into lines and/or stanzas.

Our dear Izy, however, specifies “Go to your local news source, be it a newspaper or website and write an erasure poem from a local news story which posted today.  Your erasure poem may be as long or short as you would like, but you must adhere to the following rules
  1. You cannot add text to your poem.  All lines must already exist within the news story.
  2. You cannot change the order of the words or lines.  They must appear in the same order which they appeared in the story.”
So, I added a title, but otherwise I adhered like glue to Rule #1 and Rule #2, although I have to say this isn’t from my present local news source, it is from the newspaper with which I grew up, the “Daily Courier” in Kelowna, British Columbia. It is (okay, was) local Kelowna news when it happened, but it did not appear in print today. I did find the story online today, however. It was written last fall by Don Plant. Thanks, Don Plant, whoever you are!

Oh, and the most interesting thing about the Kelowna Daily Courier...fellow Real Toads member Sherry and I both wrote for the Courier in the 1960s, and we're now online buddies, but we still haven't met one another. Yet.

If you see me, call the cops!
Kelowna Courier

Santa statue stolen
from a chocolate shop
12-kilogram figurine
to donate
“they stole from a charity
it was a lousy thing to do”

Selected by Kay Davies, February 12, 2014

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

E is for exhaustipated

I espied this word on Facebook recently and, although it isn't elegant, and I have no idea where it emerged from, I can especially relate to it. If I didn't know better, I might think I had invented it myself, but I didn't.
If you think you might find it egregiously offensive, please read no further.

Posted for the letter E on ABC Wednesday.

Our World Tuesday, sunset and moon

Kay Davies photo, February, 2014

It was a very cold day when I opened the door to take a picture this week, so I didn't keep it open long, but I loved seeing the sunset reflecting off our neighbor's back windows, plus the moon already high in the sky, peering down through the branches of our ornamental crabapple tree.
As you can see, there is very little fruit left on the bottom branches of the tree. We leave the fruit on there for the deer, who can't browse the prairie grass when it's covered in snow. They're beautiful to watch, the older ones standing on their hind legs to reach higher branches, while the smaller ones snuffle for fruit on the ground.
In a month or so, there will be birds after the higher fruit, and the birds will get high, too, because the fruit will ferment when warmer sunshine starts.

Posted for Our World Tuesday
with a special thank-you to Lady Fi for posting a heart full of love!

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Lindy loves her mom's furry blanket

Photo by Richard Schear, Lindy's daddy

Lindy's mom got a nice furry blanket for Christmas, and she left it on her recliner when she was busy somewhere else. Lindy decided it would make a soft place to rest her head so she pulled it over onto her ottoman and made herself comfortable.

Posted for
Pet Pride
hosted by Lindy's friend Bozo and his family at their Pets Forever blog in Mumbai, India.
Lindy says, "Hi, Bozo. I know you don't need anything furry to sleep on in India, where it is warm, but February on the Canadian prairie can be very cold. My mom says you're growing a beard. I'm sure you'll still be just as handsome with a beard, but you might find it itchy in the hot weather."

Lisa Graham's art in the Imaginary Garden

In the sunshine and warmth of The Imaginary Garden with Real Toads, far from the icy reality of a central Canadian winter, Grace has introduced us to the art of Lisa Graham.
Garden members and visiting poets are given a choice of Lisa's work to inspire today's poetry. I have chosen two of them.

fleeting thoughts
run through my brain
and hardly stop to visit,
seldom stop to stay.

if I don’t grab them
in a poem,
offer them
a brand new home,
they flee
from me.
Art by Lisa Graham
offered as prompts

but if the blessing-bringer
brings ideas here to me,
they stay
and share my life,
keep me from thought of strife,
helping me to write
some poetry.

Kay Davies, February 8, 2014

Friday, February 7, 2014

Several Egyptians, one Canadian

While we were in Paris a few years ago, my intrepid photographer visited the Louvre and found himself reflected two or three times in one of the glass cases containing ancient Egyptian art and artifacts, all of them much older than he is.

Posted for Weekend Reflections
hosted by James of Something Sighted

Photos by Richard Schear 

For Real Toads: Laurie Anderson

Over at the Imaginary Garden with Real Toads, my friend Marian introduced us to Laurie Anderson, the only person I've heard of (in my limited experience) who was ever artist-in-residence at NASA. 
According to the timeline in Wikipedia, Laurie dated the late Lou Reed for 16 years and then was married to him from 2008 until his death in 2013. Married late and widowed all too soon.

Laurie and Lou in the year before he died

Laurie Anderson performing "Homeland" in Milan

It’s Not the Bullet that Kills You, It’s the Hole

think of all the horses
whose hair she saved
by inventing a
violin bow

and her turn-of-the-century
six-foot-long talking stick
MIDI controller*

a performance artist
and comic book artist
a children’s book artist
a spoken-word artist
and a singer

a musician
an innovator
and a Lou Reed-dater
she married him
and made his last years warm

*The Talking Stick is (an) instrument that (Laurie Anderson) designed in collaboration with a team from Interval Research and Bob Bielecki. It is a wireless instrument that can access and replicate any sound. It works on the principle of granular synthesis. This is the technique of breaking sound into tiny segments, called grains, and then playing them back in different ways. The computer rearranges the sound fragments into continuous strings or random clusters that are played back in overlapping sequences to create new textures. The grains are very short, a few hundredths of a second. Granular synthesis can sound smooth or choppy depending on the size of the grain and the rate at which they’re played. The grains are like film frames. If you slow them down enough, you begin to hear them separately.

Russian sky for Skywatch Friday

First, congratulations to Yogi for one year of holding down the responsibilities inherent in a host position at Skywatch Friday. Way to go, Yogi.
And speaking of hosting, there are mixed feelings everywhere about Russia hosting the Winter Olympics, with the opening ceremonies today.
When we were in Russia in 2011, there was a feeling of optimism and lightness in the air. Pleasantly surprised, we relaxed and enjoyed the atmosphere, the sights, and the people.
Unfortunately, the leader of the Russian government has become somewhat belligerent in his outlook since then, so optimism and lightness are waning.
Nevertheless, it seems right that this week I should feature Russian skies here on Skywatch Friday, in the hope that all goes well for athletes, audiences, and the foreign media people who are there to keep us informed here in North America.

 Photos copyright Kay Davies and Richard Schear, 2011

D is for doctor

Photo by Richard Schear, Feb. 2014
Better late than never at ABC Wednesday. As it happens, this week I had to get my husband to drive me to Lethbridge, Alberta, to keep an appointment with a specialist at the hospital.
Yes, I'm fine, no worries, just the latest in a long line of non-fatal problems.
What was unusual about it was the nurse going to the waiting room to fetch my husband with our jackets before I'd even had the test I was there for. And said husband had his cell phone/camera with him.
This photo has already appeared on Facebook, so it might as well be here on my blog, for the letter D at ABC Wednesday.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Creative spaces in the garden

Over at the Imaginary Garden with Real Toads, our boss toad Kerry has asked us to consider our creative spaces, and to be creative in our approaches to the idea.

“Whether your approach to the theme is literal, figurative, symbolic or zen is entirely up to you,” she says.

Here, then, is mine, approached, as usual, sideways instead of straight on. I started writing more than 60 years ago, and haven't made much progress, but I've had a lot of fun with it.

it started with a pencil
now I need a board of keys
so I can let my thoughts be-
come my bits of poetry...
my poetry is often bad
but it is very seldom sad,
for playing
like a wordsmith
is the best fun to be had.
words are my tools
and they’re my toys
unlike the toys
of girls and boys
that must be sought
and then be bought...
my words
are in my head!
words wake me up
sometimes at night
and if I love
them, then I might
get up and turn
my iMac on
and play with words
until the dawn,
or write them down
and then
go back to sleep...
I never know
what words will do
when in my head
they show—
they often might
a poem make
or else they might
be a mistake
I never know
what words will do
to me.

Kay L. Davies, February, 2014

Author photo by Richard Schear.
Famous poets photos from Getty Images via

Sunday, February 2, 2014

"A" women born in February

At the Imaginary Garden with Real Toads this weekend, Kerry spoke of three women, all class A writers, with birthdays in February. As it happens, all their names begin with A: Ayn Rand, Anaïs Nin, and Alice Walker.
For whatever reason, my reading life pretty much bypassed Anaïs Nin, but I remember reading Ayn Rand's "The Fountainhead" and "Atlas Shrugged" when I was young and being very impressed. Since then, though, I have realized her philosophy doesn't match mine.
Alice Walker, however, is another story. She's about my age, but has accomplished marvellous things as a women's advocate, civil rights advocate, poet and author. If I grow up, I want to be just like her.
Photo from
She won the National Book Award and the Pulitzer Prize for her novel The Color Purple, of course, and the movie based on the novel was nominated for 11 Academy Awards. But winning is not what Alice Walker is about. She is about writing, yes. However, she also about working to help make the world a better place.
I like that. In my own small way, I have tried to do that, but, according to her official biography "Walker has been an activist all of her adult life, and believes that learning to extend the range of our compassion is activity and work available to all. She is a staunch defender not only of human rights, but of the rights of all living beings. She is one of the world’s most prolific writers, yet tirelessly continues to travel the world to literally stand on the side of the poor, and the economically, spiritually and politically oppressed. She also stands, however, on the side of the revolutionaries, teachers and leaders who seek change and transformation of the world."
That is a philosophy I can understand.

the color purple
broke my heart
and made me proud of women.
the pulitzer prize
made me proud of Alice Walker.
a nobel prize for literature
might make the world
proud of her,
but she has much more
than prizes
and she is much more than those

Kay Davies, February 2, 2014                                                                         

It's 'love month' at Shadow Shot Sunday

I'm starting off February (the love month) with a photo of someone my husband and I love very, very much. Of course, it's our dog, Lindy, and it just so happens that the last photo he took of her includes, yes, shadows!
This was taken on one of our rare semi-snowless days recently. Since then, everything has been covered with snow again.
Lindy and her daddy both cast shadows in this sunset shot, and even the fence beside them casts a bigger-than-life shadow.

Posted for Shadow Shot Sunday 2

Photo by Richard Schear, January, 2014

Succinctly yours: the best buns in town

Prompt photo provided
Each week at Grandma's Goulash, Grandma posts a photo for Succinctly Yours, while her daughter, without seeing the photo, suggests the word of the week. This week's word is "fragrant".

Participants are invited to use the photo as a prompt for a short story of 140 words or less, or a short-short story of a mere 140 characters or less, including punctuation and spaces.

Here is my short short story of 133 characters, including spaces and punctuation:
With her favorite fragrant ink, the queen signed a new law: none but young men could wear tights, because they had the tightest buns.

Interesting News: this marks 150 weeks of Succinctly Yours! Congratulations to Grandma and Calico and the core of regular participants (of which I haven't been one for some time, unfortunately).

Saturday, February 1, 2014

I'm sorry, I just don't like it

Hi everyone (especially Bozo), this is Lindy. I want to tell you how mean my people are to me. When my dad takes me for a walk now, I have to wear my harness so he can clip the leash to it, so he has "better control" just because I can't see as well as I used to. And I have to wear my collar all the time (yes, all the time!) because it has my ID (I think that stands for I'm Dog) and my dog licence on it.
And usually, when there's snow, I have to wear my new boots. I didn't mind the old boots, but there's something I just don't like about the new ones. The smell, maybe? But the old ones got holes in them, after only four years, and I think they might have been thrown away.
In this picture, I'm not wearing boots at all, because I made a big fuss about them, and my dad was in a hurry. Today, though, I ran to my mom for help and you know what she did? She helped my dad put my boots on me, instead of helping me escape from them.
Isn't that mean? I just thought I'd tell you, in case you meet us, so you'll know who the mean ones are, and it's not me.

Posted for Pet Pride
hosted by Lindy's friend Bozo and his family on their Pets Forever blog from Mumbai, India. Lindy says I know you would help me if you could, Bozo!

Reflections on the Main aren't mine

Our river cruise in November of 2012 included the Rhine and Danube Rivers and, in between them, the River Main (rhymes with Rhine).
These photos in the Main valley city of Wurzburg were taken by my husband on a shore excursion which I missed because I was coughing instead of breathing properly.
The photos reflect a great many things about the city as citizens and tourists prepare for Christmas. I think my favorite is the last one, with points of light reflecting off two polished stone cats on the street.
Richard Schear photos
Posted for
Weekend Reflections
hosted by James. Thanks, James, wherever you are!