Monday, 31 January 2011
Saturday, 29 January 2011
Today we were doing the Big Garden Birdwatch at the Edinburgh Botanics. We didn't see an amazing variety of birds, but we did see some long tailed tits (one of my favourites) and met a very friendly robin, who landed right in front of us and sang softly for five minutes. It also took some food from my hand. Crafty Green Boyfriend took some wonderful photos which I hope to share later (not now, it would take far too long to upload the photos with the current slow internet!).
So I won't be posting here or visiting other blogs for about a week, but after that things should be back to normal.
Friday, 28 January 2011
the sweet smell between
my rabbit's ears
Miss Rabbit looked through my toiletries bag and noted that I have very few cosmetics at all, but she particularly likes the following cruelty-free items:
Yaoh shampoo and conditioner - these are British made from organic, vegan ingredients with the minimum of artificial ingredients and not tested on animals
Thursday, 27 January 2011
Tuesday, 25 January 2011
Monday, 24 January 2011
Celebrations and awareness raising campaigns are happening across the world and in the blogosphere (including The Tree Year project, which I'm taking part in).
It is ironic and depressing therefore that the UK Government has chosen this year to sell off England's public forests. Only England's forests, forestry is a devolved area so Scotland and Wales forests are not included in the sale (though you can read here of some of the issues that have faced Scottish forests recently). However, everyone in the UK (and beyond) should be concerned about the sell off, different governments borrow each others' ideas, and what happens in England can happen in Scotland and Wales in the future, and we are still one country. In Scotland for example there may well be jobs lost at the Scottish branch of the Forestry Commission if the sales go ahead.
The Scottish land rights activist Andy Wightman wrote in the Observer last weekend with some excellent ideas about the future of forestry in the UK. It would be wonderful to see a future where forests are owned by communities and conservation organisations (and being generous, some people claim that is what the Government wants). However there are two problems with this 1) money, most communities and conservation organisations cannot afford to buy forests on a large enough scale 2) capacity, most conservation organisations and community groups need to make cuts in these financially difficult times and do not have the managerial capacity to take on more forests.
Save Our Woods is a new website, complete with a discussion forum and campaigning advice.
As ever, red text in this post contains hyperlinks that take you to other websites where you can find out more
Sunday, 23 January 2011
Saturday, 22 January 2011
Friday, 21 January 2011
Thursday, 20 January 2011
for A River of Stones
One of the perks of teaching evening classes with the Office of Lifelong Learning at the University of Edinburgh is having the opportunity to study evening classes myself for free! This year I have chosen to study The Geology of Scotland's Hills, which is a totally fascinating course. Scotland is one of the most geologically diverse places in the world and our tutor is both very knowledgeable and an excellent communicator (and brings boxes of rocks to the classes!).
And in other news
I had a ten minute reading slot last night at The Golden Hour at the Forest Cafe in Edinburgh. I read alongside Kirsty Logan, JL Williams, Lipsynch for a Lullaby and Zebra Eye. It was a very entertaining evening and I enjoyed my reading - the audience seemed to do so too!
Whole Earth Foods recently held a 'Good Life' competition and they have just announced their winner on their website here. I'm delighted and honoured to have been chosen! (For readers based outside the UK, The Good Life was a 1970s sitcom in which the characters Tom and Barbara Good tried to live a back to nature lifestyle. it was in the 1970s that Whole Earth Foods launched their peanut butter).
Wednesday, 19 January 2011
for a windy city, this is a strangely calm day, the air perfectly still, clouds floating lazily high in the sky
I've just discovered Windsite - a lovely new site that combines personal observations of the wind alongside the meterological data for the time and place of the observations. Have a read of it, and share your own observations!
As ever, the red text includes hyperlinks that take you to other websites to find out more!
Tuesday, 18 January 2011
Monday, 17 January 2011
Sunday, 16 January 2011
Saturday, 15 January 2011
Chris is a poet who is very observant and aware of nature 'a hover of crows / over mossy horizon' (from A Fall Moment) 'spider was wearing / the slate-butter-black of the spruce' (from Taken). A poet also who is able to make great imaginative leaps, as in Philosophy on LSD
we're all that big. the universe
bent a lot of time and we don't understand
but life happened: little galaxies
in bugs and skulls that act out hidden tantrums.
He is also able to make sharp political points 'aren't we the vampires // sucking / from the good Earth,' (from Reagan's Ghost) or offer disturbing social commentary as in Killing Guilt:
there was a war but now
he works in a grocery,
avoids the meat department.
This is a small but very varied collection of poetry that is truly engaged with life, the human world and the natural, written with an eye for a startling image and guarenteed to make the reader think.
You can order copies of Man Watches January by contacting Chris here.
Friday, 14 January 2011
Thursday, 13 January 2011
Wednesday, 12 January 2011
Tuesday, 11 January 2011
for A River of Stones
I've also found another blogging project to take part in! This is The Tree Year. The idea is to pick a tree (or any number of trees) and to observe them through the year and to write about your observations, take photos, sketch the tree. Notice the lichens and mosses that grow on the tree, the insects that live on it and the birds that feed on it. Also notice how the tree changes through the year.
The trees I'm going to observe are the cherry trees across the road from where we live, which I can look at every day and a hornbeam along the Water of Leith, which I pass every week (though at the moment it is out of reach because part of the pathway along that part of the river is covered in sheet ice).
Monday, 10 January 2011
I promise to send something I make myself to the first 5 people who leave a comment on this post. In turn, you promise to make the same offer on your blog. The rules are that you need to make the items personally and send them to your 5 folks within 2011.
I'm likely to send you one of the following: pot pourri bag; miniature book of haiku or a framed poetry collage.
Sunday, 9 January 2011
Saturday, 8 January 2011
along the Water of Leith
(this is only the second time we've ever seen an otter! It played in front of us for several minutes!)
for A River of Stones
Friday, 7 January 2011
Thursday, 6 January 2011
"When I was a girl" said my grandmother, "I used to get lost in the trees when I was visiting friends. But never when I was grown up, there just weren't enough trees to get lost in".
When I was young there were still a few groups of trees on the island. Some were big enough that if you tried very hard you could imagine trees stretching out in all directions to meet the see. You did need to try very hard though.
I made a den in one of the trees. I liked to sit there quietly and listen to the birds. Yes there were birds here when I was very young.
The other children thought I was strange, sitting in the trees, watching birds. They all just wanted to fight each other or throw stones at the goats or daydream about escaping across the sea to strange new lands.
My mother loved the trees too but "some things just pass away" she said, "and trees are just one of those things".
My father sharpened his axe as she said this and kept quiet. He rarely met my eye.
It's years since I visited the part of the island where I had my treehouse. I can't bear to see the empty plain that it has become.
The island is so dusty these days. There's always a hot dry wind that catches up the red dust and throws it into our eyes.
Today everyone is gathered round the tree at the top of the highest hill. I tried to stop my brother going out to chop down this last tree, but he pushed me aside. I'm glad my mother and grandmother are no longer around to hear the steady chopping that seems to echo across the island.
There's a huge crash then silence before what sounds like a muffled cheer. I sit motionless on my chair and watch the sun set, red as blood into the sea.
Wednesday, 5 January 2011
Tuesday, 4 January 2011
I was delighted to win a review copy of this brilliant book! This is the best book I've read that offers general advice on writing (I've read some excellent books on how to write poetry, but most general writing advice books have left me feeling disappointed and underwhelmed.) The basic aim of this book is to help the reader (who is assumed to also be a writer!) to become more productive in their writing. It covers such topics as time management, identifying and developing your platform as a writer, thinking productive thoughts and developing your networks in real life and online. All the way through we are given practical advice and exercises to work through. I haven't done the exercises yet, I read the book straight through from cover to cover and could hardly put it down. I aim to read it again early in the New Year and work through it slowly, doing all the exercises. To help me with this I'll use the Free Productivity Power Tools that can be found in the middle column of Sage's website.
However already I feel as though my productivity has increased. In the week since starting to read this book, I've written two ghazals (both of which have been accepted for publication already!), a review (already published), half a short story and several haiku or similar short poems. I've also co-incidentally heard about a couple of successes for pieces of writing I'd already completed. Plus I've given a successful public reading! So I really do feel like a Productive Writer! I would recommend this book to any writer who feels that they could achieve more. Unless you have bad eyesight. Yes my one criticism is that the text is small, that used in the exercises and highlighted case studies is tiny. My eyesight is fine for reading but I know people who would struggle to read this book, which is a shame.
The Productive Writer by Sage Cohen, published by Writers' Digest
I have previously posted this review on Goodreads, here.
Monday, 3 January 2011
Sunday, 2 January 2011
Saturday, 1 January 2011
For River of Stones
(You can see the photos I took on today's walk here on this blog and here on Over Forty Shades, where I've started my series of photos of architectural photos, seeing as it seemed to be a popular idea when I mentioned it a few days ago!)