Monday, January 30, 2012

The Gang of Five and More....

 Once more I find that I am playing catch-up.  Weekends get busy around here, and this past one was no exception. I did take some photographs, and write some mini-poems--but I also spent a lot of time getting re-acquainted with my camera, and digging out some of my favorite poetry books.  I finished reading Mary Oliver's "Why I Wake Early" and went back to reading the poetry of  Edna St. Vincent Millay.  I am also working on some illustrations for a small book a friend of mine puts together each year for his friends.  The pictures I'm including here were taken over the weekend--we had a lovely weekend weatherwise--a little windy, but sunny. 
All of these photos were taken around my home, Wit's End.  Above left is one of our cats:  Eddie, whose real name is Oedipuss.  Eddie follows me around the yard like a puppy!  He's a real hoot when I'm trying to work in the garden--he likes to climb on my lap, or curl up in front of me--makes yanking up weeds a little tricky, and there's nothing like having a furry cat on your lap in 90 degree temps!

The next picture, left, is our pond.  This view is near the dam.  Every spring we have baby ducks and geese on the pond, and a great blue heron stops by every now and then.  On the right is one of my favorite spots to sit and relax--the porch of our barn. From here I can see the pond, and a couple of my gardens, and both sunrise and sunset. A good place to sit and think, write, or sometimes even nap! (Cats and dogs enjoy it too!)
The last photo I took as sort of a visual for one of the mini-poems I wrote. I didn't have my telephoto lens, so it's a little hard to tell, but those little black dots are birds--I call them "The Gang of Five."  They hang out in that tree every day.
And here are the mini-poems:

Friday, January 27

High up in the oak
the gang of five--
survey their hood--
the empty feeders,
a moldy, cracked birdbath.

Not even the mockingbird scares them. 
They watch squirrels and chipmunks,
look the other way at a fly-by
slaying of a rabbit,
maintain stony silence
when the cat approaches,
then harass a red-tailed hawk
who ventures too close
to their crib.

Saturday, January 28:

I nearly missed it:
coyote on the run,
under the fence,
into the woods.

Safe now.
But who is more frightened?
Tonight, I walk faster,
carry a big stick.

Sunday, January 29

The stray cat, unhappy
to share his meal with the raccoon,
waits impatiently behind the holly,
frowns at me as I watch through the window.

Sorry, little kitty.
Tonight, it's first come,
first served.

Monday, January 30:

January tricks the daffodils
into waking early. Fools the tulips
and forsythia, too.

I warned them not to believe her,
even as I tossed aside my coat,
and turned my face to the sun.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012


I love cardinals. We have a lot of them hanging out in our yard.  Last year, a pair of them built a nest in the lilac tree right outside the porch window.  The nest was hidden from the outside, but I could clearly see the nest and, eventually, the babies, from inside.  I tried to photograph them, but Mama would get upset every time she saw me coming near the window, and since I didn't want to cause problems for the babies, I decided to leave them alone.  And then one day I peeked through the window:  the birds were gone, the nest abandoned.  Ah well...such is life.  So today's photo is of a mini-painting I did a few weeks ago.
And the poem for today: 

The red-tailed hawk dives from his perch
a kamikaze pilot on a mission.
I can't see his prey--only the rustle of weeds

near the pond's edge.  High in the oak
a group of sparrows huddle
their shoulders hunched against the rain
like bystanders who watch an assault and do

And now it's off to bed....


Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Why I Wake Early

That's the title of a book of poetry by Mary Oliver--one of my favorite poets.  So I decided to take that and see what I could come up with for today's mini-poem. I do like to wake early, sit on the back porch and watch the morning unfold.  I like staying up late for the same reason. There's a peacefulness in both. 

Today's photo was taken on my way home. I pulled off the road, but the little zoom lens on my camera is pretty limited, so the picture is slightly out of focus.  I like the way the three silos stood beside each other, in the same area as the lone tree I photographed last week.  I got a little creative too, and played with the color. To me it gives the photo an "old" feel.  Might make a decent painting too.

And here's my mini-poem:

I wake early, step outside
eyes shrouded with sleep.
The Big Dipper hangs low
and another line of planes

head toward Cinci or St. Louis.
Three cows in silhouette
lumber toward the barn. A heron

screeches overhead, angry
at my intrusion.

Monday, January 23, 2012

A Mouse in the House

Today's photo is of another 4-legged member of our family:  Charlie.  Yep, I'm a sucker for those big brown eyes!  (Bet you thought I was gonna say a mouse--I'll get to that later....)

I spent the weekend painting, working on a portrait commission. It's not finished yet, but here's a pic of the work in progress.  Still need to make adjustments to the eyes, etc. But it's coming along....

And here's the min-poem for today:

There's a mouse on the porch.
He drops clues on the bar--
a trail that leads to his favorite spots.
I should set a trap.
Catch the little thief--
make him pay for his crime.
The death penalty:
harsh sentence for petty theft.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Into the mist...

Once again, I'm having to catch up with the photos and mini-poems. I guess that is a good thing, as it indicates that I'm busy, right? Or lazy. I have to admit, it's been a lazy weekend. Misty, cold, gloomy--good days to stay in bed or curl up with a good book. I have, however, been busy--painting, mostly, trying to finish a commissioned portrait.  Even though I haven't been posting them, I have taken a photo each day and managed to write a few lines that may or may not one day become a longer poem.  So the photo on the right is today's photo--my neighbor's barn, surrounded by the morning's mist.  And the poem for today: 
Mist slinks over the hill
wraps around the magnolia and pin oaks,
a thin shawl against the morning chill.


 The next photo on the left is a work-in-progress.  A mini painting of two little corgi pups.  Not the best photograph, and obviously the painting isn't finished.  I'm hoping to finish it today.  This is Saturday's photo and below is the poem for Saturday: 

Cows low in the distance
Chorus for the train whistle--
Midnight to Georgia
or Hank Williams' restless ghost.

Friday's photograph is of the latest addition to our family: Gracie.  Gracie was a little kitten born on the grounds of the correctional facility where I work.  Her mom disappeared, and Gracie started hanging out at the warehouse.  We fed her, as did the inmates that worked there. For a long time she wouldn't come near anyone, but we managed to coax her into a crate one day, and I brought her home.  She's now my studio cat, along with Eddie and another stray, Casper.  And here's Friday's poem:

She escaped from prison
an inside job
no one objected
no parole or probation
only freedom.

And finally, the photo for Thursday (below) is of my art student with her self-portrait.  It took awhile, but she finally finished it and I'm so proud of her!  And to shamelessly promote myself, the paintings on the wall behind her are mine. 

And here's the poem for Thursday: 

A mockingbird in the flower pot
gives me a nasty look,
as if I have intruded on a private moment--
or caught him up to no good.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Morning Commute

Today's photo is of something I see almost every day on my way to work--and more often than not, I am right behind it, plugging away at 45 mph, stopping at every stop until we reach the Shelby county line.  It's become a challenge to me: if I don't reach a certain intersection by 7:15 a.m., I end up behind that bus.  Sometimes I get to the intersection at the same time, and will the traffic light to stay green so I can get ahead.  Sometimes I'm lucky, sometimes not so much....

And today's poem:  Airplanes line dance across the sky,
                                an odd constellation whose stars break
                                east or west, a curtain of lights
                                parting to reveal the true
                                stars of the night.

Most of these mini-poems are not finished pieces. I plan to use them as starting points for longer pieces, or maybe they won't be used at all.  The main purpose is to get me writing and paying attention more to what's going on around me.  And hopefully, both endeavors will inspire my painting. One can always hope....


Tuesday, January 17, 2012

We're Not in Kansas anymore.....

Weird weather the last couple of days....cold, snow, rain, warm temps, and today: tornadoes!  Luckily no problems for us, but others in the area weren't so lucky, as you'll see in today's photo. Most of the roof was blown off this building--I pass it every day on my way to and from work.  I hope no one was injured.  There were several trees down in that area, too, as well as a kids' playset. The set was flattened, the slide tossed across the road between tree branches. It hasn't been confirmed whether it was a tornado that caused the damage or straight line winds, but at this point, does it matter? I'm sure to those families, the damage is done and hopefully everyone in those homes is safe and sound.

As for today's poem, here it is:  Lightning slices the morning sky.
                                                   Leaves skitter across the walk and disappear.
                                                   A cardinal goes airborne.  He knows:
                                                   Danger! Danger!

Monday, January 16, 2012

Trees and Petticoats

Today's photo and poem are about trees. I didn't write the poem as a companion to the photo, it just worked out that way.  This tree is located on the bypass I drive every morning to work.  For some reason, it fascinates me--maybe because it's alone in the field, and though it's obviously taken a beating, it's still standing tall.  One morning when I drove by, the top branches jutted out from a fog bank that hid much of the trunk--and I just loved it.  I wish I could have taken a photo, but it was too dark, and I didn't have the right photo equipment with me. But ever since that day, I always look for that tree.

The poem for the day is also about a tree:  this one the magnolia in my grandchildren's garden.  Just a short observation that I might develop into something longer later on.  Enjoy!

January 16:  Wind flips up the magnolia's leaves
                       baring its silver underside like a caberet dancer
                       flashing her fancy petticoat.

Playing Catch-up

So...haven't posted in a few days, not because I wasn't taking photos and writing, but because I had a problem getting the photos to upload from my camera. Finally got it--whatever "it" was--working....I think. Anyway, I'm posting a couple of photos and the mini-poems I wrote--and then hopefully I will be back on schedule!  Above, left, is the picture for yesterday, and on the right is the pic for today.  The cat is a stray cat who's been showing up at our doorstep regularly for the past several months.  She, or he, won't let me get close enough to touch, but her timing is impeccable:  no matter when I open the door, he/she appears, seemingly out of nowhere.  The only way I was able to get a picture was to sneak up to the window beside the door and snap the picture as quickly as possible.

The next photo is Molly, my daughter's Scotty.  She was trying to sleep.  We call her "evil Molly"--she's very spoiled--but cute!
Here are the mini-poems written over the last three days.

January 12:  A black-capped chicadee sits
                      deep inside the forsythia
                      near an abandoned hummingbird's nest--
                      barely visible even without cover of leaves--
                      while the cat watches
                      and waits.

January 13:  Rain pelts the windows,
                      streaks down the glass,
                      puddles in mulch.
                      A chickadee seeks shelter
                      beneath the eaves, its feathers
                      wet, on end
                      like my hair after a shower.

January 14:  Snow skips on the wind
                      swirls and circles before landing.
                      The wind whips whitecaps on the pond
                      reminding me of bleak winter days on the lake
                      back home.

January 15:  I am startled to see
                      a young fox
                      poised to strike.
                      A beagle barks.
                      The fox retreats
                      and so do I,
                      relieved not to witness
                      a murder.

Hey, I never claimed to be Robert Frost!

Well, that's all for now, folks!  Tomorrow I'll be back on schedule and back in the studio.  The recent cold weather and snow made me want only to snuggle by the fire with a good book.  Or take a nap. 

Monday, January 9, 2012

Moonlight, Geese and Gnomes--Oh My!

Didn't get a chance to post yesterday, so tonight's a two-fer.  First, the photographs: the one on the left is my gnome door, in the back yard.  Some of us believe in "wee ones."  On the right is a great dane statue we bought several years ago, in memory of our great dane, Daisy.

And the back porch poems for yesterday and today:

January 8, 2012:  Frost on the ground this morning.
                              A lone goose stands watch over the pond--
                              perhaps in search of a place to nest,
                              or a quiet spot to rest.

January 9, 2012:  Moonlight masks the green pond scum
                               turns it into a shimmery lake
                               the geese a silent fleet of ships.

Back in the studio tomorrow--still working on the portrait commission!

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Introducing Ringo, and another Back Porch Poem

So this is Ringo, another member of my family.  Ringo was adopted from a shelter a couple of years ago and he is the sweetest dog!  He's not too happy right now, as he was trying to sleep and there I was shoving a camera in his face! But he got a treat for his trouble, so that made him a little less annoyed with me. This is photo #7 for the year, and here's the next Back Porch Poem:

January 7, 2012:  Moonlight colors the back yard now.
                              The church on the hill stands silent, constant
                              bathed in soft rose.  I close my eyes,
                              breathe deep
                              take in the night.

So that's it folks! 'Night!

Friday, January 6, 2012

Photo a Day and Back Porch Poems

Today's photo is of the Clay Village Baptist church.  It sits on the hill overlooking our property.  I wish I had the patience to set up the tripod and photograph it at night, because there's something really peaceful and comforting about it then.  It seems to glow, catches the setting sun or the light from the full moon.  I've spent many a night staring at it from the back porch before I head to bed.

Meanwhile, here are the next two of my Back Porch Poems:

January 5, 2012:   They have names, but I know them only by number.
                                Friendly enough, they smile,
                                wish me a good day, or Merry Christmas.
                                Seems ironic to return the greeting
                                so I just say thanks, walk on
                                recite the training mantra:
                                Inmates are not your friends.

January 6, 2012:  Clouds dance beneath the moon
                              their billowy skirts shimmer starlight
                              while the wind hums Claire de Lune.

Six poems, six photographs, 360 to go!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Fire and Water

Had to build a fire tonight, as I was just too cold.  Freezing at work today, cold on the way home and just couldn't warm up, even inside with my heavy fleece shirt and sweats! So glad there's a little warm-up on the way!  Today's photo is the beautiful fire!

And the poem for today:

They bark at each other
across the pond 
beagle to beagle
dog code warning: Intruder!
deer, coyote, or maybe
the stray cat,
finally come to eat.

Day Four:  4 photos, 4 poems, 362 to go.  Stay tuned!

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Happy New Year--and Two New Projects!

Happy New Year, everyone!  I hope you all had a wonderful holiday and my wish for you is a happy and healthy 2012.  I have resolved not to make any new year resolutions, since they usually fall by the wayside by Valentine's Day--sometimes even sooner.  I am, however, going to undertake two major projects, which I hope will rekindle my photography interests as well as my writing, with the added benefit of keeping the creative juices flowing regarding my painting and jewelry making as well. 

The photo project is not very original:  a photo a day for the entire year. Not of me, because that, in my humble opinion, would get boring pretty quick.  I will be photographing something or someone in my life each day--could be anything, whatever appeals to me at the moment. The photo above, left, was taken January 1.  I think it's appropriate:  while cleaning out my desk, I found a blank poetry journal, which I intend to put to use.  The photo on the right was taken January 2.  That's one of my dogs:  Tony.  And for today, January 3, I took this: 

 It's the picnic table that overlooks our pond.  I spend a lot of time sitting there, watching and thinking.  In warmer weather, it's a great place to write.

The second project is to write a short poem, I guess you'd call it a micro -poem, every day, also for the entire year.  I'm thinking of calling these my Back Porch Poems.  I like to sit on the back porch and  watch what goes on outside the windows:  the neighbor's dogs, the various birds that nest around our yard, my gardens. The yard teems with action, and there should be plenty of triggers for a short poem, which may ultimately expand into a longer one or maybe a short story. Sometimes the poems may overlap with the photo of the day, but that isn't necessary for either project.  At the end of the year, I might combine the two.  We'll see.  So here are the mini-poems for the first three days of January: 

January 1Framed in glass, my daughters chase their dad
                    on a sandy beach, their smiles wide as the sea
                    behind them. Stark contrast
                    to this bitter, blustery day.

January 2:  First snow of the year. 
                    The stray cat's food sugared
                    with glittery flakes.
                    Not a pawprint in sight.

January 3:  Moonset in Clay Village. 5 a.m.
                    The church steeple pink and somber against a navy dawn.
                    White light bobbing past--a lone farmer up early to feed his cows.

Meanwhile, I am still painting, working on a portrait commission (humans, this time, not pets) and creating new jewelry, as I managed to sell nearly everything I'd made before Christmas. Yay!  Will post progress photos soon. 

So there you have it.  Three photos. Three mini-poems.  362 more to go. Oh wait, isn't this Leap Year???