Sunday, 28 February 2010


We obsess
over grand gesture keyholes into apocalypse -
planes smash into the centre of a city
atoms smash underground into black holes.

We obsess
over political games in the corridors of power
expenses and corruption scandals
bullying and harrassment scandals

We obsess
to tunnel vision,
the corners of our eyes blinded to

the quiet march to mass extinction
the quiet slide to global hunger
the tipping tilt to a new stone age.

our poems -
inarticulate scratchings
on crumbling cave walls.

Saturday, 27 February 2010

Arthur's Seat

We went on a lovely walk today around Arthur's Seat. it was very wet underfoot and icy in places, snow on all the hillsides and even more on the distant hills. Even so, spring was definitely in the air. The alder catkins were waving in the wind (see above) the jackdaws looked to be pairing up, the gulls were squabbling amorously and the tufted ducks (see the ducks behind the swan below) looked as though they'd spent all day preparing themselves to go to a formal event. We also found a shrew that dived into its hole as we passed on the way to the water then when we passed the same way again there was the shrew again! Plus Crafty Green Boyfriend rescued a caterpillar that was walking on the pavement.

(I took these photos last February on Arthur's Seat, it wasn't so sunny today and we forgot to take our cameras!).

Friday, 26 February 2010

At the Bus Stop

Edinburgh is a city with excellent public transport, though it is a shame that bus routes in some areas away from the centre are being cut back to pay for the trams that, one day, apparently, will run along what is a route already very well served by buses.
This photo is from the bus stop where I get my bus back home when I've walked along the Water of Leith. If you click on the image to see the bigger version, you can see the shadow of the tree on the wall in the reflection.

Thursday, 25 February 2010

Creative Blogger Award

I was delighted that Angie awarded me this a few days ago. The idea now is that I share seven secrets about myself. So here are seven, possibly not so secret, things about me:

1. I recently joined Twitter and am suprised by how much I'm enjoying it! If you're into that sort of thing you can follow me at:

2. Actually this one may be a secret - I've been offered an exciting new job. My current job is coming to an end at the end of March but straight after Easter I'll start a new one. I don't want to count my (organic) chickens before they're hatched so I won't say more than that until things have been finalised.

3. I have a poetry chapbook coming out soon! You can find a sneak preview of the front cover here. More details as I get them!

4. I was recently chosen as Blog of Note, which has meant a lot of new followers (hello there!) and a lot of extra spam (I'm hoping this is only temporary, otherwise I'll need to resort to comment moderation).
5. I'm no good at these kinds of lists so will stop here....

Then i need to pass on the award to seven other bloggers. There are a lot of very creative blogs out there and I’m reluctant to choose but I thought I’d highlight:

Two Creative Blogs that I’ve discovered since joining Twitter:

Nat Hall’s Nordic Blackbird – Nat shares words and photos of Shetland and makes me want to visit again that wonderful group of islands to the far north of Scotland.

Claire and her family blog at The Spider Tribe's Bardic blog – the family are dedicated nature lovers, and they share poetry, drawings and photos of their observations

Four Creative Bunny Bloggers

Diana Moll’s Qi Papers – lots of wonderful rabbit stories with lovely photos, oh and paintings too.

Glenna’s Eye of the Needle – bunnies and cross stitch!

Alice's Potentially Nervous – bunnies and lovely photos and a new bunny merchandise website to visit

Annette's Dragon House of Yuen - real live rabbits and wonderful fabric hares.

Three Other Creative Blogs

Jasmine's Natures Whispers - beautiful felt creations

Cathy's One Pink Goose – sharing her own beautiful artwork and that of so many other wonderful artists

Angie herself has a lovely blog of short poetry and photos.

Oh and thanks to Rachel for saying such nice things about this blog in her recent post here!

Wednesday, 24 February 2010

signs of Spring?

It seems strange to think today with the snow, the hail and the wild winds but there had been signs of Spring a few days ago. Even on Monday walking along the Water of Leith the early snow disappeared and the sun came out on dippers chasing each other along the river.

courting bullfinches -
the male pecks the female's cheek
then hops away.

Monday, 22 February 2010

Drought Resistant Strain by Mather Schneider

This excellent poetry collection is conversational in style, sometimes grim but often laced with humour and always with affection for the characters. The poems cast a glance at the difficulties of relationships between humans and of humans with animals and with the wider natural world and many of them are worth reading several times.

We meet the old woman condemned to live in a slum by her daughter who owns the whole block, the former prostitute nervous about her first day’s work as a life model and a novice gardener who injures himself planting squash.

Schneider has a real eye for detail and an ability to link human life with the natural world in ways that perhaps a lot of people don’t find so easy these days. Here’s a selection of quotes to illustrate what I mean.

from Me and Josie Go to the Zoo
The lemurs have more words in common
than we do

from Monday
His face was like a tree knot

from Withdrawal
professors quick-walk
across brick commons dusted red
like old gray birds
that can’t fly.

from We Have Seen it for so Long
the night smashes like shame
against the earth and stars
war in a small boy’s heart

You can read three of Mather's poems on Bolts of Silk, here.

Drought Resistant Strain by Mather Schneider is available from Interior Noise Press.

Sunday, 21 February 2010

Friday, 19 February 2010

Cammo Reflections

Last weekend's trip to Cammo Estate was full of photographic inspiration! (see this post and this, both from earlier this week). This area of water in these photos is an odd one. It seems like a very short stretch of canal, so it is very slow moving and was still partly iced over last weekend even though it was quite a mild day. This combined with the very shallow edges thick with leaves gave us some very nice reflection shots! It was quite entertaining to watch a pair of mallards sliding on the ice, though they quickly gave up and flew away.

Skeleton Trees against the Sky

The skies were amazing when we visited Cammo last weekend, I thought I'd share a couple of views here for Skywatch Friday.

Thursday, 18 February 2010


I'm delighted to see Elizabeth's Luchair website go live! Even more delighted that I have a page of poetry there. You may have already read the poems on this blog, but you can now read them at: While you're there, have a look at the whole site, which is dedicated to creative responses to the environmental situation.

And while I'm sharing links, here's one to a thought provoking article about Poetry and extinctions over on Dave Bonta's Via Negative blog.

Wednesday, 17 February 2010

Repurposed Diary

I've talked before of how I make my own diary every year (you can see one in this post). However I also always buy a pocket diary from Oxfam to carry in my handbag and to use for work. This year I decided to repurpose last year's Oxfam diary to make a notebook. I ripped all the inside pages out then I wrapped the diary in reused wrapping paper (which is too shiny to photograph well!) and decorated it with a silhouette of a chough, based on a photo from the RSPB. I then lined the bookcover with some old blue paper that had been used on one side, clean side up of course. Then I made a booklet of white paper offcuts from reused work papers and sewed these together then glued them into the book. It's not perfect but its not bad for a first attempt!

Monday, 15 February 2010

Food Inc. the Industrialisation of what we eat

Food Inc is an excellent documentary exposing the industrialisation of the food we eat. It's a sobering look at how we have lost our connections with our food. We now live in a world where we poison the soil with pesticides, condemn millions of animals to existences of abject cruelty and pay people a pittance to do dangerous dirty jobs. And the result of this industrialisation is that we all become obese because we're producing the wrong types of food and ill from the chemicals used to produce those foods and allergic to antibiotics because too many of them are used in farming.

Big industry corn farmers in the US flooded the Mexican market which put loads of Mexican corn farmers out of business, these corn farmers are then enticed to illegally enter the US to work for beef concerns where t he cattle are fed on corn from big industry farmers.

Many farmers are effectively slaves to multinational food corporations.

Millions of animals are kept in inhumane conditions.

In some US states you can be sent to prison for criticising their agricultural practices, specifically the production of meat (the so called veggie libel laws).

I would have one criticism of the film - for a UK viewer the film is too much from a US perspective even to the extent that some of the Action Points at the end are only possible for US citizens.

See this film, but be warned - you may come out a vegetarian who will only buy food that has been locally and organically produced.

To find out more about organic food production visit the Soil Association website.
To find your local food producers in the UK visit Local Food Advisor.
To find out about vegetarian diets visit the Vegetarian Society.

Sunday, 14 February 2010

Year of the Tiger

Jade Emperor knew your value, all those years ago
choosing you as Heaven's Guardian
a plain, untested cat.

The animals were restless, down on earth below,
fighting humans and destroying
their lives and livelihoods.

Jade Emperor sent you down to quell the rioting
as humankind's defender -
a plain untested cat.

You defeated all the animals, drove them all away
to win your badge of honour -
a strip for every beast.

That is how you earned your stripes.
In return we claim to worship you.

Strange worship this, burning down your homes,
tearing you limb from limb,
grinding down your bones.

Thinking we can drink the essence of your strength,
steal your valour with your stripes,
become you by wearing you.

Is it not enough to see you, be inspired
by magnificence and grace, agility and strength,
evolution to perfection?

Your year dawns.
Inauspicious some say.
Perhaps that's your revenge.

The Year of the Tiger starts today. WWF are working on a concentrated tiger conservation programme for the Year of the Tiger and are aiming to double the number of tigers in the wild before 2022, the next Year of the Tiger. You can read about it here.

Saturday, 13 February 2010

Cammo Estate - snowdrops and birdsong

Every February we go to Cammo Estate to see the snowdrops, which offer a wonderful display, especially in the Walled Garden. We weren't disappointed today as shown by the new banner and Crafty Green Boyfriend's photo above.

It felt like the beginning of spring today with a great spotted woodpecker drumming on a tree trunk, blue tits, robins and song thrushes singing. Occasionally we heard a buzzard mewling above our head. We also saw a treecreeper and a flurry of redwings, which must be preparing to leave quite soon.
The snowdrops should be offerign a good display for another couple of weeks, so if you're in Edinburgh, Cammo is a very good place to visit.

Friday, 12 February 2010

Union Canal

I've been experimenting with cropping my photos, so here are a few examples - featuring boats and their reflections along the Union Canal in Edinburgh. You can see more photos of the Union Canal at their Flickr group here.
Lucy over at Box Elder posts a lot of cropped images amongst her always wonderful photos - her blog is always worth a visit.

Wednesday, 10 February 2010

The Windeater Keri Hulme

I'm reposting this review from a couple of years ago when no-one read this blog. It's a wonderful book and I wanted to recommend it to more people! This is a collection of experimental short stories from the New Zealand author of The Bone People. The stories are full of Keri Hulme's sense of the beauty of New Zealand, along with her awareness of human alienation from the environment. From the environmental point of view, the story that most stood out for me was:

One Whale Singing - a pregnant woman in a boat, a pregnant whale in the water. The woman argues with her pompous partner about whether humans are really superior to other creatures. She feels that our ability to make artifacts, rather than indicating superior intellectual abilities, in fact demonstrates our inferiority, our lack of a real ecological niche, our total alienation from nature. Meanwhile the whale is having a wonderful time, in total harmony with the waters around her.

All these stories are beautifully written, with real insight and awareness. They are also very thought provoking and refuse to give the reader the satisfaction of a real conclusion, which reflects life.

Tuesday, 9 February 2010

Witch hazel

on witch hazel flowers -
a robin sings

Crafty Green Boyfriend took this photo in the Royal Botanic Gardens on Saturday. Meanwhile the robin was flying around, feeding at our feet and then finding perches to sing from.

Monday, 8 February 2010

Monday Bunday - Driftwood

Yesterday I posted about a few of the Simple Things I enjoy in life. The Bunns from Houseful of Rabbits wondered why the Gorgie Farm rabbits didn't get a mention! Well, to make up for that here is a whole post dedicated to a Gorgie Farm rabbit.

As many readers of this blog will know, Crafty Green Boyfriend and I sponsor Driftwood one of the rabbits at Gorgie City Farm. We donate an annual amount to help feed him and keep him up to date with his health care. Recently we renewed our sponsorship and Driftwood kindly wrote a letter to us (we think that he may have had some help from the Gorgie Farm staff!) and here are the highlights:

Your sponsorship money will help me and my rabbit friends. We'll be well fed and watered and kept up to date with our myxamatosis jags. It's been an eventful year in all our lives. Over the autumn we were integrated. This meant that we went from living separately to living together. I didn't like it to begin with. And had a few fights, with Louie in particular. But over time I've come to realise its nicer having lots of friends. This winter I've also learned to love the snow. It scared me a bit at first. And made my feet cold. But by the end of the chill I was dancing around in it. And nibbling it here and there. Now I'm looking forward to the summer and doing Cuddle Corners at Community Events and Galas. This is such an important job, in that it promotes responsible pet ownership and also raises a few funds for the Farm.

You can sponsor any of the animals at Gorgie City Farm, you can find out the sponsorship form here.

Saturday, 6 February 2010

Simple Things

This weekend, Chris at Enchanted Oak is celebrating the simple pleasures of life. For each person who participates with a list, a poem, or a prose piece about the joy of simple things, her family will donate $2.00 to a charity in Haiti, for their medical clinic and other programs. So here is a short list of some of my simple pleasures in life:

Feeding the birds (Crafty Green Boyfriend took this photo of a great tit in my hand, yesterday in the Royal Botanic Gardens in Edinburgh)

Reading a good book
Walking - especially along a river, in the woods or on a beach
Listening to music
If you want to join in, please pop over to Enchanted Oak!

More Photos from North Berwick

I took these photos last Saturday at North Berwick, near Edinburgh. You can read more about our trip here.

Thursday, 4 February 2010

Capercaillie Tree

This ancient wood is haunted
by a mythic forest spirit.
We walk in awe, alert for
champagne cork popping calls.

Behind each lichened tree
invisible birds lek* in silence
but flee as we approach.

In the heart of the forest
we find a strange Scot's pine
with flattened topmost branches.

"That's the capercaillie's perch"
we're told "and this is as close
as we'll ever get to the bird itself."

We strain our eyes
but shadows remain

just shadows.

a lek is the display area for capercaillie or other species of grouse; also the name for the display itself.

Wednesday, 3 February 2010

Repurposing Clothes

I've been mending a nightshirt recently and as I was sewing I remembered that I had bought this nightshirt (second hand of course!) originally to wear as a day time shirt. I never wore it much and decided it was better as a nightshirt. It has been a very succesful nightshirt to the extent that it was starting to fall apart. The mending project reminded me of the wisdom of the adage 'a stich in time saves nine'!

I've done this a few times, bought an item and then used it in a different way than I had originally intended. I've got a long sleeved V-necked t-shirt that I now more often wear as a thin jumper over a lacy blouse; a scarf that I use as a belt; a lacy sleeveless vest top that I never wear now by itself but always with a blouse underneath and a cheongsam that I wear over a long sleeved t-shirt and trousers.

Mixing and matching is fun and it makes me feel I have more clothes as well as helping to prevent waste (though as i always donate unwanted clothes to second hand shops then they wouldn't really be wasted!).

Have you given any items of clothing a new lease of life by redefining what they are?

Thinking Green

Tuesday, 2 February 2010

The Magic Apple Tree - A Country year by Susan Hill

This is a lovely stroll through a country year, written by novelist Susan Hill. She has (this is back in the early 80s) just moved to a village in Oxfordshire and this is her journal of a year there. She follows the seasons with a very keen eye for observation, noticing changes in the wildlife, describing village customs and rituals, drawing affectionate portraits of her fellow villagers, outlining the year in the garden and kitchen, including sharing recipes. It's a very vivid book, though in some parts it starts to feel a bit bogged down with garden details that seem however not quite useful enough to put to practical use. However this is a small complaint and anyone who loves the English countryside (and it is a very English book!) will enjoy reading this account. It is also worth pondering how much of the seasonal life will last in the form that Hill has described, as our climate changes (for a poem on this theme, why not pop over to Bolts of Silk here) and rural life changes too.

Monday, 1 February 2010

A Confusion of Seasons

This photo looks quite autumnal to me even though I took it today along the Water of Leith. There was quite a frost on the ground and lots of fungi. However against this backdrop the birds definitely think its spring. The blue tits and great tits were calling energetically, the dippers were hyperactive (though dippers tend to always be hyperactive!). I saw a magpie carrying sticks in its beak....
I was delighted to see a pair of bullfinches chasing each other and pecking each other gently. Bullfinches are beautiful birds, though pests to orchard owners and its so nice to see them recovering somewhat from the huge decline that hit them a few years ago. No photos of the birds - I'd rather enjoy watching them then faff around with the camera only to end up with a series of bad photos. The photo I took of the heron was too poor to share here and the heron is a big bird that stays still for ages so should be a good subject!