Wednesday 31 October 2007

Two Poems about Mushrooms

Rich sweet earth smell of mushrooms
teases me from the garden
unrecognised feast or fatal temptation?
But wait, this stirs memories
I am old, death is anyway close
I will go where lead, butter fry
and eat with finest wine.

Yes this is exquisite, the same
as I ate years ago in joy
of survival, sensual reality
of food after death had threatened
after a boot had held my head
to the soil, a gun in my mouth
and my only comfort the
rich sweet earth smell of mushrooms.

(previously published in Envoi)

We went north for mushrooms –

boletes for frying gently in butter for omelettes,
elusive apricot scented chanterelles promising heavenly flavour,
common false chanterelles stubbornly unscented, unflavoured,
bright fly agaric dramatic for danger.

On the other side of the world
kamikaze pilots
sowed the seeds
for the next mushroom cloud.

previously published in Raindog

Monday 29 October 2007

haiku - change

leaves turn red -
a squirrel gathers


leaves fall -
geese fly south
in skeins.


robin sings
a different song -
bare branches

Change for One Deep Breath

Sunday 28 October 2007

Christmas Cards with Ribbons

This weeks challenge on Daring Card Makers is to use ribbons in Christmas card designs. These are my two designs. I've kept them simple, as ever. Both are made from scrap card and paper, the one on the right includes recycled ribbon from gift wrap and the one on the left includes a ribbon from a pot of Scottish jam.
This is such a good idea, I think there may be more ribbons in future Christmas cards!

Friday 26 October 2007

Weaving Words - The Art of Anna S King

I can't believe it took me until today to get along to this wonderful exhibition at the National Museum in Edinburgh. Anna S King is a multi-talented artist and craftperson, this small but perfectly formed exhibition features drawings, tapestries, baskets and assemblages. A lot of her work includes natural materials - such as a basket made from pine cones and others made from feathers or goat hair - or recycled materials - such as a tapestry woven from recycled shredded computer print outs. Words are an important part of King's work, whether shredded in tapestry or found in poetry books hidden away in the baskets. All her work is stunningly beautiful and the assemblages are totally fascinating.

The exhibition finishes on Sunday, so if you're in Edinburgh, make sure you put it on your must do list for this weekend!

Eve Green by Susan Fletcher

My Mum recommended this book to me and two days later I found a copy for £1 in the nearest second hand shop. It won the Whitbread First Novel Award a couple of years back and deservedly so. It's a coming of age story set amongst the landscape and nature of Wales. Against this backdrop is the story of Eve Green an orphan living with her grandparents and getting used to the countryside after having lived in the city of Birmingham. One of Eve's schoolmates goes missing and this is the source of suspense in the story, there is malice lurking under the beautiful flowers. Fletcher writes with an amazing eye for detail and her prose is rich but at the same time well controlled, very rarely does a word feel to be out of place or superfluous. She creates well rounded believable characters too.

Wednesday 24 October 2007

Green Toothpaste

In the previous post about toiletries I had forgotten to mention toothpaste. I currently use Kingfisher Flouride Free toothpaste. It is the only 'natural' toothpaste that is recommended by Dental Health organisations. It is also one of the more palatable natural toothpastes. However, it contains sodium lauryl sulphate which is implicated in health risks including cancer. SLS comes from palm oil which also has serious environmental consequences, including the destruction of rainforests across the world. If anyone can recommend a more natural toothpaste that is palatable, effective and available in the UK, please let me know in the comments. At the same time, if I discover one, I'll post about it!

Pink for October

Tuesday 23 October 2007

Energy Saving Week

It's Energy Saving Week in the UK. The Energy Saving Trust are asking people to commit to reduce their energy use, why not join in here?

Some ideas to save energy:

Only boil as much water as you need in the kettle
Use public transport, walk or ride a bike instead of driving
Don't leave appliances on standby
Fit energy saving lightbulbs and only have lights on when you're in the room
Put a jumper on rather than switch the heating on
Turn the thermostat down when you do have the heating on
Wash the laundry at 30 degrees Celsius
Fit loft insulation and cavity wall insulation
Fit double glazing

Monday 22 October 2007

tanka - closeness

two wagtails
chase each other
downstream -
hand in hand, we watch
from the green footbridge.

Closeness for One Deep Breath

Sunday 21 October 2007


Childhood Memory: Lying on my back in a yellow green field, staring at the red and yellow kite flying bright in the deep blue sky. Dark trees on the horizon, my cousins shouting around me.

Edinburgh Kite Festival: The fields below Salisbury Crags are crowded with familes, students, groups of youngsters, dogs. The blue air is full of multi-coloured kites of all types jostling against each other, swooping or gliding, climbing and falling. The sounds of laughter everywhere.

Red Kites: Going on holiday to the Black Isle, knowing that there might be a chance of seeing Red Kites. The birder's anticipation of a rare species. Nothing though can prepare for the thrill of a kite appearing on the wing in front of you, glowing vibrant in colours even the best field guides never prepared you for. Pure energy of a raptor, the joy of a bird now not so rare as it was.

Kites for Weekend Wordsmith

Friday 19 October 2007

More Christmas Cards

These are the latest - the one of the left is made from a business folder, a paper bag and a picture from a catalogue. The one on the right is belatedly for the Daring Card Makers Christmas Tree prompt and is made from a leftover piece of nice cardboard and patterns from wrapping paper and a magazine. I may add lettering to the one on the right.

Not only Fabulous but Nice Too

Ruby ReUsable from Olympia Dumpster Divers has awarded me the Nice Matters Blogging award. "This award is for those bloggers who are nice people; good blog friends and those who inspire good feelings and inspiration. Also for those who are a positive influence on our blogging world." I'm now supposed to pass it on, but really, you're all nice, so you can all consider yourself awarded....

Thursday 18 October 2007

Poems Published on Poetic Legacy

I've had two poems published on Michael Lee Johnson's online poetry magazine Poetic Legacy.
You can read them here (scroll down).

He's looking for poetry, flash fiction and short creative non-fiction. He prefers work to be previously unpublished but will accept work that has been previously published if credits are included. New writers and established are all welcome. Why not send him some work?

Wednesday 17 October 2007

A Poetic Collage

There's poetry in the shapes of the script;
music in the sound of an unknown
tongue drifting in the breeze

windchimes tinkle
leaves flutter
a river rushes by

a red book
on a wooden table -
its pages shiver.

inspired by:

On Hearing a Lute-Player by Liu' Chang-ch'ing
Your seven strings are like the voice
Of a cold wind in the pines,
Singing old beloved songs
Which no one cares for any more.

the only translated poem in a red book of Chinese poetry

for Totally Optional Prompts

Tuesday 16 October 2007

Fabulously Environmentally Friendly!

That's what I am apparently, as Abby of A G33k Tragedy gave me the 'I'm Fabulous Award'. I'm now supposed to pass it on to other bloggers who I think are fabulous. I'm tempted to say hey you're all fabulous, but hmm, who's green and fabulous, well it has to be Fabulously Green for her green fashions and interior design (though she's been quiet for a while, she's still the obvious choice for me)!

But in a general sense, you're all fabulous, for your comments and your blogs. Thank you all.

More Christmas Cards

More cards, bird photos on wrapping paper backgrounds. Robins and penguins this time.

Monday 15 October 2007


Ecological balance has been defined as "a state of dynamic equilibrium within a community of organisms in which genetic, species and ecosystem diversity remain relatively stable, subject to gradual changes through natural succession."

Modern society though is disturbing this natural balance by a whole variety of activities, including hunting some species to extinction, polluting industries, destroying natural habitats. Can we find ways to regain ecological balance?

walk gently -
we are part of the same world
as the animals

Balance for One Deep Breath

Blog Day of Action for the Environment

Sunday 14 October 2007

Green Toiletries

Many of the chemicals in beauty products have been linked to health problems, including cancers in some cases. How can we reduce the number of harmful chemicals we put on our skin?

Firstly, I think it is useful to cut down on the amount of toiletries we use. I don't wear make up or nail varnish and have relatively few toiletries compared to a lot of people.

I have never dyed or tinted my hair. I use
Yaoh shampoo and conditioner, which are made from 99% pure natural ingredients and the couple of artificial ingredients in there don't include such baddies as parabens and sodium lauryl sulphate. (You can read more about my haircare on this earlier post).

I buy soap, lip balm, exfoliant and moisturiser usually from Neals Yard Remedies. I don't need to use moisturiser much as my skin doesn't get dry too much (drinking lots of water probably helps with this). Neal's Yard Products use a high proportion of organic, natural ingredients and are packaged mostly without plastics.

I use a deodorant crystal from Neal's Yard Remedies. This deodorant contains no aluminium (which has been linked to Alzheimers and cancers) and comes packaged in a nice fabric bag.

More information on cosmetics and harmful chemicals from the Womens' Environment Network.

Pink for October.

Friday 12 October 2007

Victorian Lines

When I was in Manchester over the past few days, I went to this event at Manchester Art Gallery. Short Story Writer David Gaffney took us round the Art Treasures in Manchester exhibition, stopping at selected paintings and photos to read microfiction pieces and stories he had written inspired by the exhibition. David Gaffney can use few words to create a lot of impact and the stories were in turn, thought provoking, humourous and disturbing. The stories will be added to the Art Gallery's website at some point - I'll try to remember to post the direct link at some point. If you're in Manchester at any point, its worth seeing the exhibition, its on until 27 January 2008

A Family Heirloom Repurposed

My Mum gave me this family heirloom when I was in Manchester over the last few days. This was originally my great grandfather's watch chain and my grandmother made it into a bracelet. It is wonderfully beautiful and it shows that recycling and re-purposing must be in my blood!

Tuesday 9 October 2007

Salt Girl

The first prompt at Totally Optional Prompts made me think of selkies - creatures from Celtic mythology who can transfrom from seals to humans. This is the poem I wrote, I 'm not sure about the second stanza - it feels too explanatory or maybe it just needs more work, what do you think?

Salt Girl

I walk the beach -
a seal follows me in the sea close to shore
deep liquid eyes of the salt girl trapped
inside, selkie waiting for a chance
to creep onshore, find someone to love
for a while before being lured back by the salt
pull of the tide

We are all salt
water of tears, pulled to depths
we don’t understand, our skirts
clinging to damp legs, hair
in our eyes, sand in our shoes
as we dance along paths that choose us
towards the sea.

Monday 8 October 2007


Wherever I am in the city
I can feel the hills; see them on the horizon
when I stand on higher ground
away from tower blocks and tenements.
Mountains worn by age to gentleness, these friendly
guardians surround the town, draw eyes
beyond the urban, inspire minds with thoughts
of wilderness and freedom.

Mountains for Weekend Wordsmith

Friday 5 October 2007

Songs for Relinquishing the Earth by Jan Zwicky

This collection of poetry is infused with music, many of the poems being in homage to specific musical works, such as Bartok's Roumanian Dances. One of the things I most enjoyed was how music and the natural world entwine in several of the poems, these lines from K219, Adagio:

The fiddle is still maple tuned with starlight,
the bow, breath with a backbone,
sweet with sap.

That long trill
is a hand that lifts your hair
a final time, sunlight a last kiss.

The constant music running through the collection balances the sense of loss found in poems such as Brahms' Clarinet Quintet in B Minor, Op 115:

....though the earth is dying
and the names of its diseases
spread from the fencelines....

The music in these poems and in nature can help to give us hope in the face of seeming environmental catastrophe.

Songs for the Earth is published on recycled stock by Brick Books,
email brick DOT booksAT sympatico DOT ca

Thursday 4 October 2007

More Christmas Cards

More Christmas cards made from reused business folders, scrap wrapping paper and photos from magazines. The Robin is from Birds, the magazine for the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds. The polar bear is from a Greenpeace publication.


I have a poem in the latest issue of Orbis magazine. This is a small magazine packed with good poetry. Carole Baldock is an excellent editor who takes great care of her writers, communicating well and sending proofs. This is pretty unusual in the UK poetry world and is to be applauded!

Wednesday 3 October 2007


This alien machine, we are told
cures the worst diseases
with glowing magic dust.

We gather reverent, in awe
scoop up the shining powder
leaking from the metal,

rub it on our bodies
watch painful sores emerge,
but we are brave and know

this suffering is our healing.

In March 1984, in Juarez, Mexico a cancer X-ray machine was sold to a scrap merchant and ended up on a rubbish dump.

(Poem previously published in Spume Magazine)

Tuesday 2 October 2007

Pink in October - Environmental Factors in Breast Cancer

There are lots of factors in any disease. However, this is an environmental blog, so this post for Pink for October looks at the link between the environment and breast cancer. See this article from Breast Cancer Action for more information.

‘Known risk factors’ for breast cancer, like late menopause, having children late and family history are apparently present in only 30% of breast cancer cases.

More and more harmful chemicals are being produced and finding their way into the environment. Some chemicals, are known to act like the hormone estrogen in the body and stimulate cell growth. Many damaging chemicals are all pervasive and it would be impossible to avoid them. However you can reduce your exposure to harmful chemicals, for example:

* Eat organic food – organic food is produced without the use of pesticides, many of which have been linked with cancer

* Avoid cosmetics and toiletries that contain harmful chemicals. This
document from Women’s Environmental Network draws attention to some chemicals you should avoid. I will post later this month about green toiletries that are kinder to your health and to the environment.

It is of course also important to have regular health checks to catch the disease early enough to be treated.

Monday 1 October 2007

Pink for October

As some of you may already have noticed, Alter Ego and Bolts of Silk have gone Pink for October to raise awareness of breast cancer. Crafty Green Poet has to remain green as far as I'm concerned, but as Nia pointed out in a comment on Alter Ego, there are environmental factors in breast cancer so I thought I'd experiment with ways of incorporating pink into the overall green decor of this blog. I'll post on the topic sometime this month too.