Sunday 30 November 2008

Sugar Radif up at the Ghazal Page

You can see this sweet collection of ghazals about sugar here. The link to my ghazal comes under the Sugar Cubes heading in the sidebar.

As some people have asked, I have now written a post with links to my poetry published online. You can read it here. I'll update it as necessary and will link to it in the sidebar.

Saturday 29 November 2008

Dalkeith Country Park

frosted woodland -

the constant chatter
of jackdaws

We visited Dalkeith Country Park today, just a short bus ride out of Edinburgh. The trees near the entrance to the park were full of redwings, feeding and chattering. It was freezing cold.

We walked through to the ancient oak wood, which is full of the most magnificent trees, many of which are decaying and falling apart, offering wonderful homes for insects and food stores for birds. There were several wrens hopping around!

On the river
a dipper bobs on a rock
and flies upstream.

When we came back to the entrance, we saw a fieldfare with the redwing flock that was still in the same area. Then we walked into Dalkeith town centre for lunch.

leafless tree
alive with the bustle

Friday 28 November 2008

The Meadows

The Meadows is a lovely area of greenery in the middle of Edinburgh, it has few fences around it and feels like part of the city rather than a cordoned off park (though we have plenty of those too!). I wandered round the Meadows this morning, walking from the Shelter second hand shop (where I bought two books and 2 small picture frames for a total of £3) to the recently expanded New Leaf organic shop (where I had my Ecover washing up liquid refilled and bought some organic pears) to Real Foods (where I bought loads of food and some Sarakan toothpaste).

I was hoping to see redwings in the Meadows as they are often seen there at this time of the year. I didn't see any but that was more than made up for by the other birds. The whole Meadows was shimmering with a mist of low whispers from the trees. Looking up I saw that almost every tree was full of long tailed tits, busily eating and twittering. There were also a lot of blue tits and some goldcrests, one of which came really close and I got a wonderful view of its little yellow head crest.

Leaves for Weekend Wordsmith

the garden steps
hidden under fallen leaves -
a blackbird calls

Leaves for Weekend Wordsmith

Thursday 27 November 2008

A Night at Club Mak

Expats are living it up at Club Makakola
The diplomats wife sips gin
'God!' she says 'it's hell in that village!
How do they cope, knowing
this civilised place is so close?'
The researcher next to her stretches his legs
'my two week study here has shown
how this place works, what it lacks
I'll be able to change things,
get them on track, just you see!'

There's a murmur of approval
as a waiter brings another round.

Club Makakola was a popular ex-pat drinking place in Malawi, 1980s.

Wednesday 26 November 2008

New Website for Gorgie City Farm

Gorgie Farm launches its new-look website today, and it looks great! You can see it here. Some readers of this blog may feel there aren't enough rabbit photos in there, but otherwise I think it is definitely a success.

Tuesday 25 November 2008

Growing Communities in Scotland

Just a quick update about what I do at work! Although I'm based at Gorgie City Farm I don't work directly for them, but for the Federation of City Farms and Community Gardens. The Federation is a national organisation (hence my recent trip to Bristol!) "Growing Communities in Scotland" is a partnership between the Federation, the Scottish Therepeutic Gardening Network (Trellis) and the Allotments Regeneration Initiative (ARI). The partnership supports community growing projects - including community gardens, city farms and horticultural therapy projects, enabling them to offer better, more consistent and wider reaching services. The project is funded by the Big Lottery Fund. We've just appointed our new Fieldwork Co-ordinator for this project and are looking forward to seeing things really start to grow!

Monday 24 November 2008

The Mapmakers Opera by Bea Gonzalez

This is a wonderful book, set in early 20th century Mexico, combining history and biology, opera and a sense of justice. Sofia is a young woman fascinated by the natural world who manages to persuade her father to let her work with two scientists as they put together a bird book for the area. The scientists are also fascinated by the captive passenger pigeons held by the wealthiest man in the area. Meanwhile revolution is brewing around them all.....

It's a beautiful book and one that will make many people cry.

The Mapmaker's Opera by Bea Gonzalez

Thursday 20 November 2008

Away for a few days

I'm off to Bristol today, 7 hours on a train then hopefully a poetry event tonight before a work meeting tomorrow and Saturday. The train was cheap (£35) but why it has to take so long I don't know, surely there's a route that could be done in 5 hours or less? The flight plus the airport bus at both ends plus hanging around at the airport only takes a total of four hours so when there's three hours extra on the train you can see why people fly.....But the train does allow for appreciation of the scenery (and writing of haiku) and a comfortable seat in which to read and relax (and work too of course!) without all the rushing about. Then coming back by train stopping in Manchester to see my parents. Back in Edinburgh on Sunday evening.

Wednesday 19 November 2008

Rabbit Haiga

thunderstorm -
the sweet smell between
my rabbit's ears

I couldn't resist the Arty Girlz Challenge this week - to illustrate a poem or quote. So here is a haiga, in memory of Anya. I'm making a lot of cards this size at the moment, to give out to people who express interest in my blog or poetry. The cards are all made from reused card. You can see another one (made from a reused train ticket) here. You can also see a haiga about my favourite bird, the swift, here.

Tuesday 18 November 2008

Late Autumn

geese gathering honking in the fields,
early morning mist low over the trees,
bright turning leaves
and the five glowing colours of rowan berries,
spider webs draped over hedgerows
where robins wistfully sing,
magical light glowing
transforming stone to gold,
deer alert in a herd under
a yellow frost-moon

the hedgehog's prickled ball

A List Poem for Miss Rumphius Monday Poetry Stretch

Monday 17 November 2008

Recycled Diary

I've just made myself a diary for 2009. It's made from cardboard and paper recycled from office waste and a patch of reused wrapping paper to brighten it up and a piece of recycled elastic that I can't remember where its come from, its been in my stash for so long! It's a practical way to reuse quite a lot of waste paper and it will certainly come in useful! This is my diary for writing my journal in. I also have a diary in my handbag, but for that purpose I find a ready made small diary from Oxfam is sturdier and more useful and supports charity into the bargain.

Sunday 16 November 2008

On Wings of Song - Poems about Birds

This is a wonderful little book, packed full of great poems about birds of all types. The book is divided into sections such as: The Backyard; The Hawk and Legendary and Emblematic Birds. Poems include classics such as Edgar Allan Poe's The Raven and Wallace Stevens' 13 Ways of Looking at a Blackbird along with less well known poems by a diverse array of poets including Walt Whitman, Lewis Carrol and Gertrude Stein. My favourite poems were often about my favourite birds, for example Ted Hughes' Swifts or resonated with my recent sightings, such as David Waggoner's Nuthatch. It's a wonderful book for anyone who loves birds and poetry!

As befits a book about birds, this is now flying across the ocean to a fellow Bookcrosser in the USA.

On Wings of Song - Everyman's Library Pocket Poets.

Saturday 15 November 2008

Friday 14 November 2008

Recycling Train tickets

high speed birdwatching that a peregrine?

Perth is one of the few larger train stations in the UK that doesn't have automatic ticket barriers that eat your ticket after your journey. I save my tickets and make then into haiku cards like this one, which is an illustrated version of one of the haiku I posted earlier this week. The photo is a detail of a larger photo from an RSPB magazine. The RSPB is the UK's major bird conservation charity.

And yes, I'm pretty sure it was a peregrine...

Thursday 13 November 2008

Gorgie City Farm - Louie

Louie is the most cuddly of the Gorgie City Farm rabbits, the most popular with the elderly people and children who the rabbits visit on Mondays. He also has quite magnificent ears as you can see in this photo (click on it to make it bigger!). The dark rabbit looking disapproving in the background is Lily, the grumpiest bunny on the farm.

Wednesday 12 November 2008

Birdwatching from the Train....

leaves flurry
from the turning trees
winter thrushes

a buzzard
swoops over the river -
markings fieldguide clear

a pheasant
in a stubbled field -
a swirl of beech leaves

high speed birdwatching
.............was that a peregrine?


You can read about other views from my recent train journeys here and on a handful of stones here.

Tuesday 11 November 2008

Friendship Round the World Award

I was delighted and honoured to receive the Friendship Round the World award from Geoffrey Philps. I want to pass this award to all of you who visit my blog, who comment here, who link to me and whose blogs i enjoy visiting. There really is a very international community of bloggers. If you want to get a taste of my international community, just visit some of the links in my sidebar...

Monday 10 November 2008

Crafty Green Boyfriend and the Venus Fly Trap 2

My partner experimented with making a new home for our Venus Fly Trap using a plastic bottle donated by his parents but it didn't work so we're back to last year's home - made out of two plastic punnets (again donated by his parents) and a plastic mailing bag (recycled from a magazine subscription). For a closer look at the venus flytrap itself, see this post.

Sunday 9 November 2008

First Christmas Cards 2008

These cards are made from scrap card and paper, with a little help from a second hand card making kit.

for Inspire Me Thursday

Saturday 8 November 2008

Dirty Hands

Dirty hands. Even though I prefer to wear gardening gloves whe digging. I plant bulbs, cover them with soil. A neighbour's inquisitive cat joins me, stares over the top of the pot. Meows her approval. She follows me around the gardens as I pick up the litter and prune overhanging branches. When I've finished, she walks alongside me. As I walk towards the door to our stair, she walks towards her cat flap, showing me her dirty paws.

Dirty Hands for Weekend Wordsmith

(I live in a tenement stair in Edinburgh. Our stair of flats shares a backgreen space with several other stairs. There are communal areas to the garden and also some fenced off gardens, some of which aren't well looked after, hence the litter. You can read more about the garden here.)

Friday 7 November 2008

Blogs of Poets in and Around Edinburgh

Here are links to blogs and websites by some of the poets associated with Edinburgh

Colin Will
Sally Evans
Rob MacKenzie
Andy Phillips
Claire Askew
Kevin Cadwallender
Rachel Fox

Christine de Luca

Who Owns this Land?

Who owns this landscape? -
The millionaire who bought it or....?
False question, for
this landscape is
and intractable in any terms
that are human

(Norman MacCaig from An Assynt Man)

The billionaire property developer Donald Trump has won permission to build "the world's greatest golf course", complete with high-rise timeshare flats and eight-storey hotel, on a rare and ecologically sensitive stretch of dunes overlooking the North Sea. The opinions of locals and environmentalists were both ignored. You can read more about this in the Guardian newspaper here. You can read the Scottish Government's decision here.

The Scottish National Party, who currently lead the Scottish Government believe in an independent Scotland. How does selling off our land to billionaire foreigners help to make us independent?

Thursday 6 November 2008

Scottish Poetry

Last night at the Poetry Association Scotland, Colin Nicholson, Professor of 18th Century and Modern Literature at Edinburgh University, spoke about visions of a new Scotland in Scottish poetry. He used as his starting point Donny O'Rourkes anthology 'Dream States' as a starting point but then worked backwards to look at how poets of the 1960s were already envisioning a new Scotland in their work.

He then looked at some specific poems from
Norman MacCaig, George Mackay Brown and Edwin Morgan. His close reading of their poems was more succinct, more revealing and more enlightening than the close readings Ruth Padel makes in her book 52 Ways of Looking at a Poem (which I reviewed over on Read Write Poem here). He read from MacCaig's long poem An Assynt Man, with its meditation on the Highland Clearances and the intimate relationship between people and landscape:

remembers with certainty that the tide will return
and thinks with hope, that that other ebb,
that sad withdrawal of people may, too
reverse itself and flood

Professor Nicholson also read George MacKay Brown's Building the Ship with its well observed descriptions of landscape -

Dunes were pale with strewment of boards

and ended with reading from
Edwin Morgan, who in my mind, and to many others, is consistently the most interesting and imaginative poet in Scotland and possibly in the whole English speaking poetry world. His Glasgow sonnets use the high craft of the Petrarchan sonnets to emphasise the poverty of certain scenes in Glasgow, Scotland's biggest city.

Tuesday 4 November 2008

Blogging Friends Forever

I was delighted to receive the Blogging Friends Forever Award from Bondbloke. The “BFF” award is passed on according to the following rules:

1. Only five people are allowed

2. Four have to be dedicated followers of your blog
3. One has to be someone new or recently new to your blog and live in another part of the world
4. You must link back to whoever gave you the award.

So I will pass the award to:

RabbitsGuy (and all the rabbits) at House of Rabbits
Scot at Be Not Inhospitable to Strangers
Selma of Selma in the City
Katherine of Chatiry World
kouji of a Haiku Poem Blog,

and to all of you really, for visitng and saying such nice things when you're here.

Oh and thanks to Melissa of Poet with a Day Job, for sending me a copy of her chapbook Impatiens, which she was giving out to people who commented on her two year anniversary post.

Sunday 2 November 2008

Autumn Leaves

The trees have been playing with paints again:
Birch waves yellow hands
against crisp blue sky.
Beech burnishes her copper tresses.
Rowan glows fruitfully red, yellow, pink.

I also posted a recent photo of autumn colour here.

Saturday 1 November 2008