Friday 29 June 2007


Weekend in Peebles a small town in the Scottish Borders. Tonight we had a wonderful meal at the Prince of India - possibly the best Indian restaurant in Scotland with a wide range of vegetarian dishes. After the meal we went for a walk in the community woodland on Venlaw Hill. It was a wonderful still summer's evening, with blue skies and just a slight chill. Buzzards hovered in the sky, a group of crows were mobbing what we think was a merlin, and robins and blackbirds were singing. There were rabbits everywhere, big fat rabbits that obviously get more to eat than the rabbits that live near Edinburgh Castle!

Wednesday 27 June 2007

Crafts from Recycled Flip Flops

Elspeth Murray is a reasonably well known poet in Scotland, but she also has an interest in recycled crafts. Check out her website: to find out about a project that recycles flip flops washed up on Kenyan beaches to make a variety of craft items. It's old news by now in a way but interesting!

Monday 25 June 2007

haiku - bugs in Malawi

hippos grunt
in the dusk shrouded river -
fireflies flicker.

sausage flies
squeeze under the door -
one bare light bulb.

praying mantis
on the back of a chair -
gecko watches.

hunting spiders
scuttle across the floor -
red flip flops.

bugs for One Deep Breath

Sunday 24 June 2007


This 'Stay in Touch' card is made from Marimekko designs cut from a catalogue and photos from a review in an old issue of the List magazine.

Connection for Inspire Me Thursday

Saturday 23 June 2007

Wisteria the First Crafty Green Poet Give Away

Wisteria is a small, perfectly formed and beautifully produced booklet, as befits a publication devoted to haiku, senryu and tanka. Read reviews of the publication here and visit the Wisteria blog. I'm offering a copy of the latest issue of Wisteria as a giveaway. If you would like this publication, please leave a comment on this post! Names will be put in a hat in about two weeks and the winner will receive this copy of Wisteria. As a bonus, I'll add in a copy of my own miniscule haiku collection. The package will be quite small and I'm happy to post anywhere!

There's another giveaway on my Alter Ego blog!

Friday 22 June 2007

Gorgie City Farm

When our rabbit, Anya died, we had some hay, rabbit pellets, emergency foodstuff and alfalfa snacks left over. We dcided to donate all this to the Pet Lodge at Gorgie City Farm, just down the road from us. So today I took everything down and wandered round the farm. They've got horses and goats and chickens in the small fields. In the pet lodge they've got guinea pigs and finches. There is also a lovely little herb garden, organic produce for sale and a nice cafe. It's a lovely rural oasis in the middle of a built up area of town.

Tuesday 19 June 2007


I've been tagged by Na of Shadows and Clouds for the 'three things' meme.

Three jobs I’ve had:
1. Science Teacher
2. Charity fundraiser
3. Charity regional manager (it's a very small charity!)

Three places I’ve lived:
1. Manchester, UK
2. Malindi, Malawi
3. Edinburgh, UK

Three places I’d like to visit which I’ve never been:

1. Norway – got very close having booked a cruise round the fjords for this May but the tour company cancelled the trip!
2. Tuscany, Italy
3. Finland

Three most unforgettable places I’ve been on holiday:
1. Okovango Delta, Botswana
2. Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe / Zambia
3. Italy

Three things that bring me comfort:
1. My partner and friends
2. Nature
3. A good armchair

Three of the most memorable books I read last year:
1. The Last Report on the Miracles of Little No Horse - Louise Erdrich

2. Einstein's Dreams - Alan Lightman
3. Hardboiled Wonderland and the End of the World - Haruki Murakami

Three books that I started because I felt I ought to, but didn’t finish:
1. Demian by Herman Hesse (in German) – I took this to a conference in Italy, as there were Germans there & I wanted to practice German! I’ll try again as Hesse is my favourite writer in German.
2. The Feast of the Goat – Mario Vargas Llosa – don’t like his style.
3. The Redundancy of Courage – Timothy Mo – don’t like his style either

Three songs that give me goosebumps:
1. My Lady’s Story - Anthony and the Johnson’s. (I may have the wrong title here but it’s on the soundtrack of the Italian film The Family Friend)
2. Untitled #4 by Sigur Ros
3. La Voix du Sang - Transglobal Underground

Three loved films from my childhood. I actually very rarely went to the cinema as a child and the only memorable children’s film I saw was:
1. ET
So for number 2 we have the first film that made a huge impression on me which was
2. The Emerald Forest, which was the film that really made me start to take environmentalism seriously.

The last three films I saw are:
1. Water (Deepa Mehta, India)
2. After the Wedding (Susanne Bier Denmark)
3. The Lives of Others (Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck, Germany)

Three things I didn’t do as a child that I wish I had, though I don’t do regrets as a rule:
1. had a pet
2. played outside more often and more adventurously
3. learned to knit

Three things I’d like to do that I haven’t done yet:
1. have a full poetry collection published
2. teach evening classes
3. review for a national newspaper or major magazine

If you want to join in, please feel free! Leave a comment here so I know where to find your answers!

Monday 18 June 2007

haiku - flowers

overcast sky -
dandelions flower
yellow in the grass.

on petals of red roses –
a rainbow.

grassy undergrowth
full of tiny flowers –
field guide bent open.

embroidered flowers
on my t-shirt –
wasp hovers.

Flowers for One Deep Breath

Saturday 16 June 2007

Environmental Refugees

The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies estimate that 25 million people could currently be classified as being environmental refugees. Climate change can lead to increased drought and desertification, raised sea levels and more extreme weather, all of which can reduce supplies of food and water and eventually force people to flee their homes. The inhabitants of the Carteret Islands became the first climate refugees due to sea level rise attributed to global climate change. Inhabitants of other low lying islands and coastal settlements are also at risk. The Citizen's Guide to Climate Refugees can be downloaded from Friends of the Earth Australia here.

My Alter Ego blog next week is carrying poetry and reviews for Refugee Week - 18 - 24 June 2007. Please check it out!

Friday 15 June 2007

Green Transport Week

Green Transport Week (16 - 24 June 2007) aims to:

raise awareness of transport impact on the environment
highlight transport alternatives
make people stop and think before they go somewhere

Green Transport Week is organised by the Environmental Transport Association, an environmentally friendly breakdown service. They are not anti car but want to encourage people and organisations to think about the impact of excessive car use and help them to make positive changes in their travel habits. Their website includes loads of information on transport and climate change and how we can reduce the environmental impact of our travel choices, including help in buying a greener car and help in reducing our reliance on cars.

Thursday 14 June 2007

The Spoken Word Revolution Redux - edited by Mark Eleveld

In true Poetry Slam style, this CD and book set starts out by putting Poet Laureate head to head with Slam Champion. Ted Kooser (former USA Poet Laureate) vs Anis Mojgani (twice National Poetry Slam Individual Champion); Andrew Motion (current UK Poet Laureate) vs Sonya Renee (former National Poetry Slam Individual Champion). I'm not a fan of Motion's poetry, but even if I were, his polite reading of Anne Frank Huis (one of his best poems) would still be totally blown out of the water by Renee's electrifying, music backed performance of Thick. The comparison is of course, unfair, Motion writes for the page, Renee is a performer. However any literary poet who is presenting their poetry in front of an audience could learn lessons from performance poets. Lessons about how to bring poetry alive and to engage an audience.

Questions, asked by Ted Kooser in his introduction to the book, about whether performance poetry will endure as literature, are in my mind irrelevant. Each performance is unique and will live on in the mind of the audience who may well memorise the words (as proven by the audience participation in the recording of David Lerner's Mein Kampf!). Dare I ask the question: is literary poetry in fact the sign of a failure in poetics? That it needs to be written down because no one can remember it otherwise? The first poets performed their work, they didn't write it down. Performance poetry today continues this tradition, Kevin Coval in his article Towards a hip hop poetica describes hip hop poets as 'modern griots, indigenous keepers and tellers of his/her/stories.' Hip Hop poetry revels in rhyme and rhythm, as demonstrated here by Invincible, in this excerpt from Detroit Winter:

The city streets are bitter sweet
I pound pavement
While I'm kicking litter at my feet
Under the snow, the ground's blanket
These heavy hitter beats.

Dana Gioia in his article The New Oral Poetry notes that "(t)he nearly universal critical bias against rhyme and meter as recently as ten years ago, especially in University writing programmes, indicates how distant the poets in a print culture have become from the orality of verse''.

Many literary poets also seem to be afraid of emotion and humour and often appear to be engaging with a select gathering of fellow literary poets, rather than reaching out to a wider audience. Performance poets however are not afraid of emotion, whether raw anger in Mayda del Valle's poem about Puerto Rican Spanish speakers Tongue Tactics or more controlled as in Patricia Smith's rambling poem of love for her father When the Burning Begins:

....... I'm telling you it's the first thing
I ever cooked, that my daddy was laughing
and breathing and no bullet in his head.

Nor are performance poets afraid to connect with the audience's points of reference, as in this line from Lebron James, by Nate Marshall one of the many young poets featured in this book:

I'll be the first spoken word brotha with a shoe

Performance poetry also is unafraid to engage with politics, which can seem confrontational, but it is hard not to at least see where Nikki Giovanni is coming from in his angry poem All Eyez on U:

if those who lived by the sword died by the sword there would be no
white men on earth.

There are some performance poets who I find too confrontational as much as there are some literary poets who bore me; at the same time there are literary poets who stun me with their distillations of powerful emotion and there are performance poets who move me with their subtlety. Both sides can learn from each other. This book is a perfect starting point for literary minded poets (or anyone else) to start learning from performance poets.

Spoken Word Revolution Redux can be ordered from
Source Books.

Wednesday 13 June 2007

Scented Art

GPP Street Team this month asks us to make scented art. The background to this piece is scented cardboard, containing flower petals, that I've recycled from packaging from some incense sticks! The collage suggests some of my favourite scents - fresh fruit, flower meadows (especially clover that smells of honey!) and chocolate (the brown and gold paper at the bottom right comes from a chocolate wrapper).

Tuesday 12 June 2007

haiku - moon

pale moon floats
in the daytime June sky –
swifts soar.


bright white moon hangs
in the blue velvet night –
bats fly from the eaves

Moonstruck for One Deep Breath - Happy First Birthday!

Monday 11 June 2007

How to Reduce Your Waste

We live in a very wasteful society, a society where many products are over packaged, where we are encouraged to buy more than we need. Business needs to change to become less wasteful but there are also things we can do ourselves. First we need to become more aware of how much rubbish we're producing and why. Today online at the Guardian newspaper, a columnist and a few readers look at their rubbish.

Sunday 10 June 2007

Favourite Souvenir

Inspire Me Thursday's art journal challenge this week is to journal our favourite holiday souvenir. This gave me an ideal opportunity to add this page to my still incomplete altered book holiday journal of our trip to Italy in November 2005. We bought the bottle in Ventimiglia, a lovely Italian town on the coast near the French border. It's a very beautiful bottle, but we were very disappointed by the quality of the amaretto that was in it! Never mind, it's still a lovely ornament!

Saturday 9 June 2007

Edinburgh Tree Festival 2007

It's the Tree Festival again and just as last year, its the first really nice weather we've had this Spring. This picture was taken at around 11.30am before the place got crowded. It shows a yurt and a couple of teepees and in the distance you can see Edinburgh Castle.

Edinburgh Tree Festival , organised by the Four Winds Inspiration Centre , takes place in Inverleith Park, next door the the Botanic Gardens and features woodcraft workshops and stalls, renewable energy games, mountain biking and axe throwing. A variety of musicians, including rap artists, drummers and rock bands play on a music stage. There's a varietry of stalls selling refreshments and a beer tent selling a range of traditional Scottish beers brewed by Heather Ale Company, including Fraoch (our favourite beer!) an ale made from heather and Kelpie, a lovely dark ale made from seaweed.

The Tree Festival continues tomorrow from 11.00am until 5.00pm and is free!

Thursday 7 June 2007

Drive your diesel vehicle on used chip fat!

It's Green Transport Week from 16 - 24 June and at work I'm putting together a briefing paper on greening vehicles that includes information on using waste vegetable oil as a vehicle fuel. I thought some readers here might be interested:

Running Buses on Waste Vegetable Oil

This is perhaps a step only for the committed environmentalist! Before going ahead with any conversion please speak to a technical expert

Restaurants that fry a lot of food need to pay to get their waste cooking oil disposed of safely. Oil is difficult to dispose of and can cause environmental problems. However diesel engines can easily be adapted to run on used food oils. Waste vegetable oil (WVO) is the most environmentally friendly fuel and can be very inexpensive. It can be used straight or converted into bio-diesel.

Most bio-diesels require fuel plants to be grown on land that otherwise would be used for foods, or require rainforests to be cut down, neither of which are environmentally friendly solutions. Using WVO however solves both the problem of how to dispose of the waste oil and how to find an environmentally friendly vehicle fuel.

Converting your diesel vehicle to run on bio-diesel manufactured from WVO requires no modification to the engine and can be done in a few days. If done properly, it will not damage your car and shouldn’t significantly affect the resale value. However please consult a technical expert or a garage about the suitability of WVO for your vehicle.

There is some work involved in collecting used vegetable oil and filtering it – most users find that a few hours every few weeks is enough, and walking into a restaurant asking for used cooking oil can be an entertaining way to start a conversation!


Big Green Bus ‘change the world one veggie oil powered bus at a time’ (USA)

Grease Not Gas information on using used food oil in a bus.

Good Grease Online forum for discussing conversion of vehicles to waste vegetable oils. (USA)

VegOil Motoring UK site on converting your vehicle

Notes on converting to waste cooking oils (USA)

Service buses running on WVO in Maidenhead (UK)

Monday 4 June 2007

haiku - architecture

crumbling stone walls
of an abandoned house -
a gnarled olive tree.

Architecture for
One Deep Breath

Sunday 3 June 2007

RIP Anya

This morning we had to take our adorable rabbit, Anya, to the vet to be put down. She has never had the best of health and on Fridayt we discovered she had a huge tumour in her chest. We were then to take it on a week by week basis, as that day she was still lively and happy. Sadly by Saturday she was lethargic and could no longer eat or drink. She was a lovely house pet, sweet and affectionate, lively and funny. We'll miss her.

Saturday 2 June 2007

Town Mouse - Country Mouse

I love living in Edinburgh, it's a small city (though expanding steadily since the new Scottish Parliament was established). There are lots of local neighbourhoods, such as Stockbridge, Morningside, Marchmont, that have their own character and good numbers of small independent food stores and second hand shops. Also in the tradition of Scottish cities, people live in the city centre, we live a five minute walk from Princes Street, the main shopping street and only a minute away from Haymarket Railway Station. I love the cinemas (especially Filmhouse), theatres and galleries of Edinburgh which make it feel culturally a much bigger city than it is. There are lots of parks, such as the Meadows, Bruntsfield Links and Princes Street Gardens, so the city doesn't feel too built up. There are also wonderful walks to be had along the River Almond and The Water of Leith, it's not unusual to see kingfishers here, and herons, dippers, grey wagtails. Along the Firth of Forth, to the north of the city, there are areas where you can walk and see a variety of wading birds including oyster catchers and curlews. Within Edinburgh there are the wonderful open spaces of Corstorphine Hill and Arthur's Seat, with their wildlife and landscape. Then outside Edinburgh its not far to the Pentland Hills! So its an ideal place for someone like me who is both a town mouse and a bit of a country mouse at heart!

Town Mouse, Country Mouse for Sunday Scribblings

Friday 1 June 2007

From My Window

Inspire Me Thursday ask us this week to look out of our window for their art journalling prompt. The first photo here shows the beautiful old building across the road, it used to be until recently a day centre for older people but now has been converted to flats. It makes a nice contrast with the tenements surrounding it and the three cherry trees in front of it are gorgeous when they're in bloom. There's also a very convenient paper andpackaging recycling point there! My art journal page shows my favourite bird, the swift, which can be seen from our windows every day between May and August.
top floor flat window -
aerobatic swifts screech
across evening skies.