Monday 25 September 2006

Haiku - windows and doorways

At One Deep Breath this week we're asked to write haiku about windows and doorways. First I wrote two haiku about looking out of the window, the first in Edinburgh yesterday, the second from our Bed and Breakfast hotel in Ventimiglia, Italy last November:

outside the window -
rain lashes down
from a dark leaden sky.

outside the window –
the Mediterranean
merges with blue sky.

Then finally:

the black cat
watches over the garden –
framed by the doorway.

There's yet another haiku on this theme on my Alter Ego blog here.

Sunday 24 September 2006

Currently Reading

I've just finished reading two wonderful novellas by Banana Yoshimoto. 'Hardboiled' follows a young woman after the break up of a relationship and Hard Luck follows another young woman after the death of her sister as she befriends the brother of her sister's fiance. Both are beautifully written and full of autumn, falling leaves, cold clear air. Very seasonal.

I'm now reading Einstein's Dreams by Alan Lightman, a physicist and writer. This small book is a collection of imaginary dreams dreamt by Einstein as he worked on his Theory of Relativity. Each short fable looks at the essence of time from a different angle, imagining how it would affect people's lives in Berne, where Einstein was living when he was working on the Theory of Relativity. It is a stunning book, that makes the reader really think about how we perceive time and also how we should use time. How in fact we should live.

At the same time I am very slowly reading Kafka's Das Schloß in German. To find out more about that book, visit my Alter Ego blog here. (Sorry, I'm having difficulties with permalinks at the moment, so you'll need to scroll down a wee bit!).

Alchemy for the 21st Century

Surrounded by discarded things
we’re too cynical to believe
in a Philosopher’s Stone
too lazy to see the scope

in our base materials
the stuff we throw away
cans and bottles, newspapers, rags
endless plastic bags.

Our Philosophers Stone
is found in thoughts, ideas
crafty skills and inspiration
patience and dedication

to transform waste into the new gold -
groundbreaking art
clothes beyond fashion
crafted with passion.

This poem is until 23 September currently part of the Waste Not Want Not exhibition at the Caledonian Hall at the Botanic Gardens in Edinburgh.

Friday 22 September 2006

Notelets Wallet

My Mum has always admired the notelets I've made from reclaimed materials, so I've made her a set to use! The designs of the notelets are similar to those I've posted before - Japanese text with pictures of birds, flowers and butterflies. I've put them in a wallet made from an old folder reclaimed from the office bin and decorated with coloured paper, more Japanese text and pictures of butterflies.

Monday 18 September 2006

Haiku - Delicious Autumn

The prompt at One Deep Breath this week is a deliciously seasonal one. As it is a bank holiday today in Edinburgh, we went for a walk around Arthur's Seat in Edinburgh. Many of the trees and bushes are magnificent at the minute, covered in berries. Hence these haiku:

Black elderberries
ripen by the roadside
- pick them to make wine.

Rowan berries
ripen, red, pink, yellow
- a feast for the birds.

Sunday 17 September 2006

High Tide in Tucson - Barbara Kingsolver

Barbara Kingsolver is one of my favourite novelists and I was excited to find this book of her essays in a second hand shop. They are inspiring and moving, probably the best articles I've read. In this collection, Kingsolver covers a range of topics, including environmentalism, travelling, parenting and being a part time rock star. Her writing is consistently compassionalte and thght provoking and sometimes amusing. I would definitely recommend this book, even if you don't generally read non-fiction.

Tuesday 12 September 2006


PARK(ing) is a wonderful concept - thought up in San Franciso, USA, it has already spread to Glasgow, Scotland! The idea is to claim a parking space in the city (remember to put money into the meter!!!) and to turn the space into a temporary park with turf, some plants and a couple of deckchairs. (Umbrellas might be useful too, if you're doing this in Scotland). The idea was thought up by the Rebar Group, environmental art activists in San Francisco. PARK(ing) aims to:
Call attention to the need for more urban parks and public spaces
Connect with ways to permanently reclaim streets for people
The next PARK(ing) day is 21 September, so get your parking space, stock up on large potted plants and hope for sunshine and friendly traffic wardens!

Monday 11 September 2006


On One Deep Breath this week we are asked to write a tanka. A tanka is a Japanese poetic form often written in the form of five lines with syllable counts of though as with haiku the syllable count doesn't need to be strictly followed, though short, long, short, long long is to be preferred. Tanka often link the natural world with personal emotional reflections. Here then is my first attempt at a tanka:
hot summer weather
still in mid September
I enjoy the heatwave
but worry what it means.
My second ever tanka appears at my Alter Ego blog here.

Friday 8 September 2006


They bob in the water
bask on rocks
elegant despite their blubber.

I look closer
see the misfit of their eyes
the someone living inside
not quite at home in ocean
the soul of the girl -
mythical selkie.

Given the choice
I too would hide
in a secret skin
escape to the freedom of sea
the forgetfulness of waves.

Monday 4 September 2006

Haiku - solitude

This week's prompt on One Deep Breath is Solitude. This is my environmental interpretation of the theme:

coloured leaves fall
across a cloudy sky –
one bird sings

I have a second haiku on this theme on my Alter Ego blog here.

Sunday 3 September 2006

Isle of Raasay

We've just come back from a holiday on Raasay. Wonderful island, with the best views anywhere of the Cuillin mountains on Skye. Raasay is reached by a 15 minute ferry trip operated by Caledonian MacBrayne, from Sconser on Skye. We stayed at the Isle of Raasay Hotel, which offers full board, lovely food but very fish orientated menus, so it may be difficult for the strict vegetarian. The bar serves a wide range of beer, including the wonderful Red Cuillin ale, brewed by the Isle of Skye Brewery. The hotel also has two resident cats, lovely for cat loving guests, but destructive on the local wildlife! The island is great for car free holidays, plenty of walks along the coast, through the Forestry Commission plantation (which almost feels like real woodland, with all the mosses, lichens and fungi). There is a wonderful walk across the moor by the old iron workings then along the coast to Hallaig, a village that was emptied by the Highland Clearances. There's a cairn with Sorley McLean's poem Hallaig in Gaelic and English. Look out also for the Pictish stones, the wildflower meadow full of butterflies and several species of dragonflies around all the ponds. The island is home to otters, dolphins and seals, though we didn't see any of these. We did see several buzzards and a hen harrier. The island is also the base for the Raasay Outdoor Centre, which has a lovely cafe that serves a range of local beers and some lovely snacks.