Jul 28, 2011

Nove Otto

The Nove Otto is an invented form, created by Scott J. Alcorn. I have very little to show for my research of this form, other than it consists of nine lines with eight syllables per line and a rhyme scheme of aacbbcddc. Even researching the creator of this form turned up very little. Mr. Alcorn also created the Tredici Sonnet and there is a website for an artist named Scott Alcorn who may, or may not, be the same person.


This was a little easier to write than I thought it would be, mainly because of the eight syllable lines.

The Poet’s Dream

If I’d a window into Dream
To gaze on things as yet unseen –
Infinite imagination.
To witness deeds as yet undone
And follow pathways yet unwon
No end to my exploration.
My words would capture things unknown,
Things only seen when I’m alone –
Poetry’s illumination.

Jul 27, 2011

Hump Day Hunk

Is it just me, or does today seem like a good day to just lie around? ;-)

Jul 26, 2011

Seven Wonders of the Industrial World - Part Two

Bell Rock Lighthouse

The Bell Rock Lighthouse, lying approximately 12 miles off the coast of Angus, Scotland, is the oldest existing sea-washed lighthouse in the world. It was also the last sea tower to be built in the days of sail. Bell Rock, also known as Inchcape Rock, is a long and treacherous sandstone reef lying in the North Sea, which, except at low tides, lies submerged just beneath the waves.

According to legend, the rock is called Bell Rock because of an attempt by the abbot from Arbroath, in the 14th century, to install a warning bell on it. The bell lasted only one year before it was stolen by pirates. This story is immortalized in The Inchcape Rock, a famous poem by 19th century poet Robert Southey.

By the turn of the 18th century, it was estimated that the rocks were responsible for the wrecking of up to six ships every winter. In one storm alone, 70 ships were lost off the east coast of Scotland.

Scottish engineer Robert Stevenson proposed the construction of a lighthouse on Bell Rock in 1799. To build a permanent beacon that would warn ships to keep away from this rock was both a challenge and an obsession for Stevenson.

He became an engineer for the Northern Lighthouse Board in 1797, inspecting the few warning lights for seafarers that then existed along the Scottish coastline. These were often no more than coal braziers, and the resulting spoil from wrecked ships was a lucrative business. Most of the coast was in darkness.

Stevenson was convinced he could improve on these primitive lights. It took a year to find anyone brave enough to risk taking him to Bell Rock, but when he finally surveyed the reef in the summer of 1800, he devised a plan for a substantial stone tower.

Cost concerns and the relatively radical nature of his proposal caused it to initially be shelved. However, the loss of the warship HMS York and all on board in 1804 resulted in an uproar in Parliament which eventually led to legislation being passed in 1806 enabling construction to begin.

Stevenson drew the inspiration for his lighthouse design from the Eddystone Lighthouse, off the coast of Cornwall. Built 50 years earlier by John Smeaton, this was a milestone in lighthouse design. Shaped with the now classic wide base, tapering to a narrow tower, it was the only off-shore structure that had until then managed to survive for any length of time against the constant battering of the seas.

Stevenson elaborated on this design. His lighthouse would have to be higher, over 30m (100ft), if it was to survive the waves of the North Sea. He also incorporated more efficient reflectors, using the latest oil lighting technology, which would make his beacon the brightest yet seen.

It was the challenges faced in the building of the lighthouse that led to it being described as one of the Seven Wonders of the Industrial World. Work could only be done during the calm summer months, and even then work was limited to the two hours at low tide. In between, the workers Stevenson recruited waited, living at first on a ship, then later in a temporary barracks built on stilts above the rock.

Work was slow and laborious. They used simple pickaxes, which needed constant re-sharpening by a smithy, who often worked up to his knees in freezing water. Stevenson could not afford to use gunpowder for fear of damaging the rock itself.

The foundations and beacon legs were raised during the first season. During the winter, stonemasons cut rocks for the lighthouse out of Aberdeen granite. During the spring of 1808, work resumed. The temporary barracks was completed and the first three courses of stone were laid. In the whole of the second season, there were only 80 hours of building work completed on the rock.

The masonry work on which the lighthouse rests was constructed to such a high standard that it has not been replaced or adapted in 200 years. Bell Rock Lighthouse stands 115 feet in height and 42 feet in diameter at the base, tapering to 15 feet in diameter at the top. It is of solid dovetailed masonry for the first 30 feet, half of which is below high water and above are five chambers and the light room. A total of about 2500 granite stones were used in its construction.

The original optical system used at the Bell Rock consisted of twenty four parabolic reflectors 25 inches in diameter with their inner surfaces silvered to better reflect the light. The reflectors were arranged in a rectangle with seven located on each of the major sides. The ten reflectors on the minor sides had red glass discs fitted to the outer rims. The whole apparatus revolved by the action of a clockwork arrangement powered by a weight descending through the tower. As the optical system revolved a distinctive pattern of alternating red and white light was seen. This was the first revolving light in Scotland. The 24 great lanterns were lit for the first time on 1 February 1811.

The lamps and reflectors were replaced in 1843, with the original equipment being used in the lighthouse at Cape Bonavista, Newfoundland where they are currently on display. The new mechanism in the Bell Rock had fully equalised light beams. About 1877, paraffin oil replaced the use of spermaceti oil. In 1964 a more efficient light mechanism was installed using electric light. On the 26th October 1988 a Dalen optic was installed, replacing the existing electric light of 1964 and the lighthouse was de-manned. This type of light, named after its Swedish inventor, flashes white - every 5 seconds - and has a nominal range of 18 miles. Remote electronic monitoring takes place from the Northern Lighthouse Board Headquarters in Edinburgh.

Jul 25, 2011

Meldometer Monday

meldometer ~ instrument for measuring melting points of substances

Hot enough for you? Someone on Facebook last week posted that the Devil’s new real estate ad campaign said something like: “Come down here where it’s cooler.” I can’t remember who, so I can’t give them the credit, but I know how they feel. Last week was so hot I finally had to abandon my office and move the lap top into the dining room where the air-conditioner was.

There seems to be a fine line between enough sun to energize me and too much heat that seems to suck the life out of me. And by heat I mean humidity. Living right on the edge of Lake Ontario, we tend to get more than our fair share of humidity in the summer. And when the humidex soars, my energy plummets. Which is my way of saying I didn’t get much done last week other than my blog posts.

Anyone else out there play MSN Patchworkz? Usually when I find a game I like on MSN Games I can only play so many levels before it tells you that’s all you get unless you download the game. Not so with Patchworkz. I started playing it and kept going just to see how far it would let me go. So far I’m up to level 190 – now it’s a matter of pride to see just how far it goes. :-D

I still managed to walk more days than not last week, and the only other time I ventured out of the house was Thursday night when I went to a poetry reading. The reading was awesome, the walk home was not. I could have got a ride home, but I missed my walk earlier that day and thought I’d make up for it by walking home. The heat wasn’t too bad (except when I had to leave the sidewalk to cross roads – waves of heat were coming up off the asphalt still) but the loose sandals I was wearing made my calves ache.

Among the other things I didn’t do much of last week is reading. I started a new fantasy on George, but didn’t get too far in it. I’m starting to wonder what I actually did do with all my time last week!

This Week’s Schedule:

Tuesday: Part two of The Seven Wonders of the Industrial World. This week’s wonder is the Bell Rock Lighthouse.

Wednesday: Another hump day hunk for your viewing pleasure.

Thursday: This week’s form is the Nove Otto.

Friday: Chapter 34 of Fire. I wonder what the infamous Dr. Arjun has in store for Rayne . . .

Random Thoughts

Today: Why Some People Shouldn’t Be Allowed to Have Kids.

Wednesday: Chapter 11 of my on-line serial Shades of Errol Flynn. Has Jessica gotten over her jitters about Howard’s magical experiment? Or is she going to back out?

Saturday: Grappling With Grammar – The Sentence

Elsewhere in my week:

More reading, less gaming and napping.

More writing, less gaming and napping.

More working, less gaming and napping.

Less gaming and napping.


Okay, while I admit that I played a few more games than I normally do, I didn’t really nap all that much. It wasn’t for lack of trying, I just wasn’t tired enough so I’d eventually give up trying.

I did finally make some time to visit (and comment on) some of the blogs of my fellow bloggers and I’d like to do that again. I’ve been reading them a lot, but I haven’t been commenting much and I really need to be a better blog friend.

I must get down off the fence and pick my next WIP to finish. Will it be contemporary? Will it be paranormal? Will it be buffing up and organizing my short stories into a single volume? Who knows. Maybe I’ll just write all the names down on scraps of paper and pull one out of a hat.

Stay cool. This one is much easier said that done. It’s not supposed to be quite as hot this week as it was last, but you never know when that’ll change.

And there you have it – my week. How’s your summer going so far? What are you doing to stay cool?

Jul 21, 2011


A limerick is a five-line, often humorous and ribald poem with a strict meter. Even if you’ve never heard of the form before, you’re probably at least familiar with the most common first line of a limerick: "There once was a man from Nantucket."

The origin of the name limerick is debated. The name is generally taken to be a reference to the City or County of Limerick in Ireland sometimes particularly to the Maigue Poets, and may derive from an earlier form of nonsense verse parlour game that traditionally included a refrain that included "Will [or won't] you come up to Limerick?"

The limerick form was popularized by Edward Lear in his first Book of Nonsense (1845) and a later work (1872) on the same theme. Lear wrote 212 limericks, mostly nonsense verse. It was customary at the time for limericks to accompany an absurd illustration of the same subject, and for the final line of the limerick to be a kind of conclusion, usually a variant of the first line ending in the same word.

Gershon Legman, who compiled the largest and most scholarly anthology, held that the true limerick as a folk form is always obscene, and cites similar opinions by Arnold Bennett and George Bernard Shaw, describing the clean limerick as a periodic fad and object of magazine contests, rarely rising above mediocrity.

*in the following example, limerick is pronounced "lim'rick" to preserve meter

The limerick packs laughs anatomical
In space that is quite economical,
But the good ones I've seen
So seldom are clean,
And the clean ones so seldom are comical.

The first line traditionally introduces a person and a place, with the place appearing at the end of the first line and establishing the rhyme scheme for the second and fifth lines. In early limericks, the last line was often essentially a repeat of the first line, although this is no longer customary.

The most prized limericks incorporate a kind of twist, which may be revealed in the final line or lie in the way the rhymes are often intentionally tortured, or both. Verses in limerick form are sometimes combined with a refrain to form a limerick song, a traditional humorous drinking song often with obscene verses.

The structure of the limerick is as follows:

Lines 1, 2, and 5 have seven to ten syllables (three metrical feet) and rhyme with each other.
Lines 3 and 4 have five to seven syllables (two metrical feet) and also rhyme with each other.
The rhyme scheme is a a b b a

xXx xXx xXa
xXx xXx xXa
xXx xXb
xXx xXb
xXx xXx xXa

The capital X shows the stressed syllables

For my examples I chose to stick with strictly nonsense, rather than the obscene. :-D

There once was a lady from Spain
Who loved to sing out in the rain
Her voice was quite vile
Though she sang with great style
And I do wish that she would refrain!

The problem with Panda is that
She is a most curious cat
she sticks in her nose
where it oughtn’t to goes
and she gets into trouble with that.

There once was a young man from France
At whom all the ladies would glance
He asked them to wed
But the ladies all fled
Leaving him looking askance.

Jul 20, 2011

Jul 19, 2011

Seven Wonders of the Industrial World - Part I
The SS Great Eastern

SS Great Eastern (originally called Leviathan) was an iron sailing steam ship designed by Isambard Kingdom Brunel, and built by J Scott Russell & Co. at Millwall on the River Thames, London. She was by far the largest ship ever built at the time of her 1858 launch, and had the capacity to carry 4,000 passengers around the world without refuelling.

Great Eastern's keel was laid down on 1 May 1854. The hull was an all-iron construction, a double hull of wrought iron plates with ribs every 1.8 m (6 ft). Internally, the hull was divided by two 107 m (350 ft) long, 18 m (60 ft) high, longitudinal bulkheads and further transverse bulkheads dividing the ship into nineteen compartments. Great Eastern was the first ship to incorporate the double-skinned hull, a feature which would not be seen again in a ship for 100 years, but which is now compulsory for reasons of safety.

She had sail, paddle and screw propulsion. The paddle-wheels were 17 m (56 ft) in diameter and the four-bladed screw-propeller was 7.3 m (24 ft) across. The power came from four steam engines for the paddles and an additional engine for the propeller. Total power was estimated at 6 MW (8,000 hp).

She also had six masts providing space for 1,686 square metres (18,150 sq ft) of sails, rigged similar to a topsail schooner. Setting sails turned out to be unusable at the same time as the paddles and screw were under steam, because the hot exhaust from the five (later four) funnels would set them on fire.

The site of the launch is still visible on the Isle of Dogs. Part of the slipway has been preserved on the waterfront, while at low tide, more of the slipway can be seen on the Thames foreshore. The remains of the slipways, and other structures associated with the launch of the SS Great Eastern, have recently been surveyed by the Thames Discovery Programme, a community project recording the archaeology of the Thames intertidal zone in London.

With both paddlewheels and propellers she was fast, her maximum speed was 24 km/h (13 knots), and manoeuvrable as well as large. Watertight bulkheads were designed to make her unsinkable. When she sailed in 1859, she was all of these things. She was also too far ahead of her time. People were not travelling frequently enough to pay for her ongoing upkeep, and the American Civil War killed US traffic.

She bankrupted a series of owners and was unable to draw enough passengers to cover her massive running costs. Technical issues such as a boiler explosion on an early voyage did not help, and just as she began to turn a profit the captain struck an undersea rock, doing massive damage to the hull and incurring huge repair costs. Rumours began to surface that the ship was cursed.

In 1864, the Great Eastern was sold for a fraction of its cost to a cable laying company. The time that the ship spent laying cables for the new telegraph system was its most successful. It was used to lay the first telegraph cable to America.

With the transatlantic cable laid and specialist vessels taking over that role, the owners needed to find a new role for the Great Ship. The SS Great Eastern was for a time used as a floating exhibition, a passenger liner and other roles, and failed to turn a profit in any of them.

All attempts to find a purpose for Brunel's masterpiece failed and in 1889 she was sold for scrap, ironically the only time she was sold for a profit during her existence. She was so large, and of such sturdy construction, that it took three years to completely dismantle her. Sir Daniel Gooch wrote 'Poor old ship: you deserved a better fate'.

Jul 18, 2011

Machicolation Monday

machicolation ~ space between corbels in a parapet

Remember last week I was asking about the hot dry summer we were supposed to have? Well I should have kept my mouth shut. We’ve got heat in spades now, with no end in sight. It’s like someone turned up the thermostat about twenty degrees and now it’s stuck there.

The posting went well last week – my poetry muse even came back from vacation in time for me to come up with an original example for my weekly form. I was a little late with my instalment for Fire, but I got carried away writing a couple of extra journal entries so it was late when I started the chapter. When I caught myself starting to nod off I figured it’d be better to go to bed and get a fresh start in the morning.

I walked more days than not, but it still wasn’t every day. One day was just too humid (even at 7 a.m.!) and one day I was just too lazy. Yesterday I slept in and by 9 a.m. it was too hot. I might have to switch to the rowing machine this week if this heat wave keeps up.

I did some editing work this week but other than that (and my posts) I didn’t really get anything constructive done. It’s like my brain took a holiday.

This Week’s Schedule:

Tuesday: The first part in a new wonders series, The Seven Wonders of the Industrial World. This week’s wonder is the SS Great Eastern.

Wednesday: Another hump day hunk for your viewing pleasure.

Thursday: Time to have some fun with the poetry, and what could be more fun than the Limerick?

Friday: Chapter 33 of Fire. So . . . will Pyre go with Nakeisha to her ship? Or will we see what’s happening to Rayne?

Random Thoughts

Today: When Grey Makes You See Red – information with a rant.

Wednesday: Chapter 10 of my on-line serial Shades of Errol Flynn. Is Jessica really going to let Howard use her in a magical experiment?

Saturday: Grappling With Grammar – quotation marks.

Elsewhere in my week:

I almost feel like I should just copy my list from Elsewhere for last week – other than the reading (which I did not do out on the deck ‘cause it was too hot) and the walking, I didn’t do anything on my Elsewhere list.

I freely admit to being a slacker lately. So it’s time to crack down on myself ‘cause sadly, there’s no one else to do it. :-)

There will be new words written on The Perfect Man. I really want to see this one finished and due to it’s . . . um . . . subject matter, it will be under a pseudonym. Just as soon as I figure out what my pseudonym is.

The afternoons will find me working on the Living History project this week. I need to clean up the audio on the interviews before burning them to CDs and then I can transcribe them.

I’ll still be walking, but on the days it’s too hot to walk in the morning I’ll be walking in the early evening so I can have a dip in the pool afterwards.

And it should go without saying that I’ll be reading – some on George and some on hard copy. If I think about it, I might even update my Goodreads too. My goal for their challenge is 80 books for the year. So far I’ve read 54, although the challenge stats only show 23.

That’s what I’ll be up to this week, how about you? How’s your summer going so far?

Jul 14, 2011


Kashmiri poetry is from the northwest of India, bordering Pakistan, is said to be influenced by its setting. Kashmir is a valley framed by the Himalaya Mountains which reflects grandeur, serenity and vivid color. The language is a descendant of Sanskrit and influenced by Urdu.

Lallashwari was a mystic of the Kashmiri Shaivite sect, and at the same time, a Sufi saint. She is a creator of the mystic poetry called vatsun or Vakhs, literally 'speech'. These Vakhs are the earliest compositions in the Kashmiri language and are an important part in history of Kashmiri literature.

The Vakhs record the moment when Kashmiri began to emerge, as a modern language, from the Sanskrit-descended Apabhramsaprakrit that had been the common language of the region through the first millennium CE. The word Vakh, applicable both as singular and plural, is cognate with the Sanskrit vac,'speech', and vakya,'sentence'. This has prompted previous translators to render it as 'saying','verse' and 'verse-teaching'.

A total of 258 Vakhs attributed to Lalla have circulated widely in Kashmiri popular culture between the mid-14th century and the present, variously assuming the form of songs, proverbs and prayers. They are comprised of four or sometimes more than four lines, and are full of mystic excellence with a spiritual depth and clarity. Generally they are kept short, with only one stanza, but the Vakh can have more than one stanza as well.

I’m not sure if my example captured the spirituality of a true Vakh, but I did manage more than one stanza.

A stirring of the spirit
The seed of faith newly found
Eyes are lifted to the sky
At the dawn of a new day

The cycle of life begins
New life unfurls, greets the sun
Rain quenching the thirsty earth
The time of growing has come

And then harvest time draws near
Growth is done, time now to reap
Souls unfettered from the earth
Set them free to fly away

The cycle of life goes on
Whether we will it or no
Ashes to ashes to the earth
The cycle is completed.

Jul 13, 2011

Hump Day Hunk

Today's hunk is for Trinity Marlow, author of the Working Stiffs series of erotic stories.

Here you go Trinity, he's all yours! ;-)

Jul 12, 2011

7 Wonders of the Medieval World - Part VII

Leaning Tower of Pisa

The Leaning Tower of Pisa (Torre pendente di Pisa) is the campanile, or freestanding bell tower, of the cathedral of the Italian city of Pisa. It stands behind the Cathedral and is the third structure in Pisa's Campo dei Miracoli (field of miracles).

The leaning tower of Pisa leans by accident, not by design—yet it was constructed in such a way that it has resisted the pull of gravity. There is an unusual beauty and elegance to the tower, too, so much so that even were it not a leaning tower, it would attract attention as a cultural artifact.

The tower is constructed of white marble and has eight stories, including the chamber for the bells. The bottom story consists of 15 marble arches. Each of the next six stories contains 30 arches that surround the tower. The final story, the bell chamber itself, has 16 arches. There is a 294 step spiral staircase inside the tower leading to the top.

Cylindrical in shape, it is supplied with six open galleries. A cornice separates these galleries one from the other and each presents a series of small arches fitted on the capitals of the slender columns. In the base there is a series of big blind arcades with geometrical decorations. In the belfry there is the same design of arcades as that of the base.

Work on the ground floor began on August 8, 1173, during a period of military success and prosperity. This first floor is a blind arcade surrounded by pillars with classical Corinthian capitals, leaning against blind arches.

The tower began to sink after construction had progressed to the second floor in 1178. This was due to a meagre three-metre foundation, set in weak, unstable subsoil, a design that was flawed from the beginning. Construction was subsequently halted for almost a century, because the Republic of Pisa was almost continually engaged in battles with Genoa, Lucca and Florence. This allowed time for the underlying soil to settle.

In 1272 construction resumed under Giovanni di Simone, architect of the Camposanto. In an effort to compensate for the tilt, the engineers built upper floors with one side taller than the other. Because of this, the tower is actually curved. Construction was halted again in 1284, when the Pisans were defeated by the Genoans in the Battle of Meloria.

The seventh floor was completed in 1319. The bell-chamber was not added until 1372. It was built by Tommaso di Andrea Pisano, who succeeded in harmonizing the Gothic elements of the bell-chamber with the Romanesque style of the tower. There are seven bells, one for each note of the musical major scale. The largest one was installed in 1655.

From the ground on the lowest side the height of the tower is 55.86 meters (183.27 feet) and 56.70 meters (186.02 feet) on the highest side. The width of the walls at the base is 4.09 meters (13.42 feet) and at the top 2.48 meters (8.14 feet). Its weight is estimated at 14,500 tons.

Over the years various attempts have made to straighten the tower, including the injection of cement into the foundations and various types of bracing, but in the late 20th century the structure was still subsiding at the rate of 0.05 inches (1.2 mm) per year and in serious danger of collapse.

On January 7, 1990, after over two decades of stabilisation studies, the tower was closed to the public. The bells were removed to relieve some weight, and cables were cinched around the third level and anchored several hundred meters away. Apartments and houses in the path of the tower were vacated for safety.

The final solution to prevent the collapse of the tower was to slightly straighten the tower to a safer angle, by removing 38 cubic meters (50 cubic yards) of soil from underneath the raised end. The tower was straightened by 45 centimeters (18 inches), returning to its 1838 position. After a decade of corrective reconstruction and stabilization efforts, the tower was reopened to the public on December 15, 2001, and was declared stable for at least another 300 years.

Jul 11, 2011

Minutious Monday

minutious ~ paying undue attention to minutiae

So, where’s this hot, dry summer we were supposed to have? Granted it’s been warm, but not really any warmer than it usually gets in the summer. In fact, it might even be a little cooler than usual ‘cause our pool is only 74 degrees and that’s using the solar heater.

I didn’t miss any posts last week, but I wasn’t able to come up with an original example for my poetry post. I just was not in a poetical mood – perhaps my poetry muse was on vacation, I just hope she’s back this week. But to make up for it I updated my forms list on Passion For Poetry.

I got all the changes typed in to An Elemental Wind, adding a little over three thousand words to it. Then I did a little more editing on it before sending it off to a couple of friends who will read it and then tell me how much I suck and I should to stick to editing. LOL

Other than that I had a pretty lazy week last week. I didn’t do any new writing, other than blog posts, just pretty much worked on An Elemental Wind and, uh, I appear to have read a lot on George. Most of the books I read were pretty good, but with a couple of them the formatting left a lot to be desired. But I think I’ll save that for a rant another day.

I’m still walking every day and my recovery time is starting to improve. :-) And twice I even walked while listening to my iPod – a feat that resulted in mixed feelings. On the one hand, it enhanced the whole walking experience, but on the other hand the earbud jack didn’t plug into the iPod quite firmly enough and the pause button has a hair trigger so I couldn’t just stick it in my pocket. I had to hold it in such a way that the earbud jack stayed plugged in and I didn’t touch the pause button. And did I mention that the earbuds kept falling out of my ears?

This Week’s Schedule:

Tuesday: The final part of the Seven Wonders of the Medieval World - the Leaning Tower of Pisa.

Wednesday: The hump day hunk this week is for Trinity Marlow, who’s responsible for our electric bill this month ‘cause I have to jack up the A/C to edit her latest story. ;-)

Thursday: This week will feature the Kashmiri poetry form of Vakh.

Friday: Chapter 32 of Fire. So just where are they going to start searching for Rayne and the children?

Random Thoughts

Today: I’m sharing with you something I got in my e-mail recently comparing Whales to Mermaids.

Tuesday: I signed up for the Poetry Schmoetry Blogfest. It goes from today until the 14th so it’s not too late if you want to sign up too. I figured Tuesday would be a good day to post my offering (hopefully).

Wednesday: Chapter 9 of my on-line serial Shades of Errol Flynn. What does Howard have up his sleeve?

Saturday: Grappling With Grammar – Ellipsis

Elsewhere in my week:

Back to working on the Living History project this week. Some of the audio needs to be cleaned up a bit before I work on the transcriptions, so it’s double the fun.

As I mentioned, the fabulous Trinity Marlow has just sent me her latest story for editing. If you like a little sizzle in your reading, you can buy the first two stories in her Working Stiffs collection for the incredible price of 99 cents. Check them out HERE. Her latest, the Mechanic, will be out soon.

It seems to be a long time since I’ve worked on a project that isn’t blog related, so this week I need to make some time to do just that. Between editing AEW and working on Fire I’m getting kind of tired of space, so I think I’ll work on something a little more down to earth, like The Perfect Man.

And I think it goes without saying that I’ll be reading – some on George and some on hard copy. Weather permitting, I’ll be doing this out on the deck so I can soak up some vitamin D.

I’ll also be continuing with my walking, rain or shine. I was talking with one of my neighbours and she was telling me there’s a walking track inside the new Community Centre. We’ve already made plans to go there in the winter when the weather gets inclement.

That’s what I’ll be up to this week, how about you? How’s your summer going so far?

Jul 7, 2011


The Dizain is a French poetry form dating back to the 14th and 15th century. The time frame seems to correspond to early sonnets, as poets sometimes chose between the two forms.

The Dizain is a complete poem containing only one verse of eight or ten lines and rhyming in a specific pattern. If it has ten lines, it may also be called a "decastich." It was initially made up of eight syllable lines, but later ten syllable lines were also used. The number of syllables should be the same for every line, either eight syllables or ten. There should be no variation from line to line.

A few examples of this form in England did prefer Iambic Pentameter, but that's purely up to the poet. The rhyming pattern should be "a - b - a - b - b - c - c - d - c - d" for the ten-line stanza, "a - b - a - b - c - d - c - d" for the octet, or eight-line version.

Though the form is not particularly difficult, I could not for the life of me come up with an original example. I think my poetry muse is on a vacation – hopefully she’ll be back next week.

Golden Lord

Listen again as the chorus calls out
At the transition from darkness to light
Hearing the Galahs as they loudly shout
Revelling in the freedom from last night,
And like other avians prepare for flight.
The wakened sun sends out its golden shoots
As scouts leading the way along its route
Heralding the passage of the lord of day
See each dawn the Angels make their salute
Welcoming the Golden One passing by.

By Ryter Reothicle

Jul 5, 2011

7 Wonders of the Medieval World - Part VI

Hagia Sophia

The Church of the Holy Wisdom, known as Hagia Sophia in Greek, Sancta Sophia in Latin, and Ayasofya or Aya Sofya in Turkish, is a former Byzantine church and former Ottoman mosque in Istanbul. Now a museum, Hagia Sophia is universally acknowledged as one of the great buildings of the world.

Famous in particular for its massive dome, it is considered the epitome of Byzantine architecture and is said to have changed the history of architecture. It was the largest cathedral in the world for nearly a thousand years, until Seville Cathedral was completed in 1520.

The architects of the church were Isidore of Miletus and Anthemius of Tralles, who were professors of geometry at the University of Constantinople. Their work was a technical triumph, even though the structure was severely damaged several times by earthquakes. The dome collapsed after an earthquake in 558 and was replaced in 562.There were additional partial collapses in 989 after which an Armenian architect named Trdat was commissioned to repair the damage.

For over 900 years the Hagia Sophia was the seat of the Orthodox Patriarch of Constantinople and a principal setting for church councils and imperial ceremonies. In 1204 the cathedral was ruthlessly attacked, desecrated and plundered by the Crusaders, who also ousted the Patriarch of Constantinople and replaced him with a Latin bishop.

Despite this violent setback, Hagia Sophia remained a functioning church until 1453 when Sultan Mehmet the Conqueror entered triumphantly into the city of Constantinople. He was amazed at the beauty of the Hagia Sophia and immediately converted it into his imperial mosque.

Hagia Sophia served as the principal mosque of Istanbul for almost 500 years. No major structural changes were made at first; the addition of a mihrab (prayer niche), minbar (pulpit) and a wooden minaret made a mosque out of the church. At some early point, all the faces depicted in the church's mosaics were covered in plaster due to the Islamic prohibition of figurative imagery. Various additions were made over the centuries by successive sultans.

The most famous restoration of the Hagia Sophia was completed between 1847-49 by Abdülmecid II, who invited Swiss architects Gaspare and Guiseppe Fossati to renovate the mosque. The brothers consolidated the dome and vaults, straightened columns, and revised the decoration of the exterior and the interior.

In 1934, under Turkish president Kemal Atatürk, Hagia Sofia was secularized and turned into the Ayasofya Museum. The prayer rugs were removed, revealing the marble beneath, but the mosaics remained largely plastered over and the building was allowed to decay for some time. Some of the calligraphic panels were moved to other mosques, but eight roundels were left and can still be seen today.

In 1935, the first Turkish President and founder of the Republic of Turkey, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, transformed the building into a museum. The carpets were removed and the marble floor decorations such as the Omphalion appeared for the first time in centuries, while the white plaster covering many of the mosaics was removed. Nevertheless, the condition of the structure deteriorated, and the World Monuments Fund placed Hagia Sophia on 1996 World Monuments Watch, and again in 1998.

The building's copper roof had cracked, causing water to leak down over the fragile frescoes and mosaics. Moisture entered from below as well. Rising ground water had raised the level of humidity within the monument, creating an unstable environment for stone and paint. With the help of financial services company American Express, WMF secured a series of grants from 1997 to 2002 for the restoration of the dome.

The first stage of work involved the structural stabilization and repair of the cracked roof, which was undertaken with the participation of the Turkish Ministry of Culture. The second phase, the preservation of the dome’s interior, afforded the opportunity to employ and train young Turkish conservators in the care of mosaics. By 2006, the WMF project was complete, though other areas of Hagia Sophia continue to require conservation.

Today, use of the complex as a place of worship (mosque or church) is strictly prohibited. However, in 2006, it was reported that the Turkish government allowed the allocation of a small room in the museum complex to be used as a prayer room for Christian and Muslim museum staff.

For an interactive floorplan, click HERE.

Jul 4, 2011

Metemptosis Monday

metemptosis ~ omission of day from calendar to correct lunar calendar

Happy Independence Day to all my American friends!

Wow, I didn’t have just a long weekend, it was a really long weekend! It felt like a week long, at least! Lots of celebrating, lots of relatives and let’s not forget the cleaning, the cooking, and the walking!

I finally figured out the secret to getting up early – I have to get right up and do something, like go for a walk. Of course a couple of those times I got home and had a nap, but it’s still progress. :-)

I got some blog reading/commenting in last week. Not as much as I’d have liked but I have a really long list of blogs in my favourites!

I almost forgot that I’d signed up for the Loving the Language Blogfest last week, but I got my post up just short of the deadline. You can read my offering HERE.

I’m happy to report that I walked six out of seven days last week and I walked twice one day and I walked for about 3 hours yesterday, so I figure that’s as good as walking all seven, maybe even eight. Of course it helped that the weather co-operated. The only rain we got was at night.

Be still my heart! I have got some of my own music on my iPod. I haven’t braved the iTunes store yet, but according to my iPod I have 157 songs so far. It’s another one of those cases where something looks harder than it is. :-)

I didn’t write down a schedule of stuff to do last week, but I mentally allotted certain times for certain tasks. I’m most productive in the morning, so I used my mornings for writing. After lunch I worked on transcriptions for the living history project. Late afternoon I worked on editing An Elemental Wind. And evenings I could play/socialize on the internet.

I did not get any chapters ahead in Fire, but I wasn’t up until the wee hours writing the instalment, so I consider that progress.

And even as busy as I was over the holiday weekend, I still managed to finish the first round of edits on An Elemental Wind. Woo hoo! I was dying to start making the changes on the computer on Sunday, but I’d promised a friend I’d walk to the waterfront festival at the harbour with her so that took up the better part of my day. (more walking!)

This Week’s Schedule:

Tuesday: Part VI of the Seven Wonders of the Medieval World is the Hagia Sophia.

Wednesday: A special treat for my U.S. friends.

Thursday: This week will feature the Dizain.

Friday: Chapter 31 of Fire. Who’s the woman questioning Pyre?

Random Thoughts

Today: Not really a rant. I’m discussing my editing process. With pictures!

Wednesday: Chapter 8 of my on-line serial Shades of Errol Flynn. What was the pendant doing in the box?

Saturday: Grappling With Grammar – the Apostrophe

Elsewhere in my week:

Start typing in the changes for An Elemental Wind.

Find something new to edit.

New words for the Perfect Man, I story I started quite a while back and then . . . well, nothing.

I’m not even going to bother suggesting I try and get ahead in Fire. If it happens, great, but I’ll be content if I just get the weekly instalment done the day before.

Oh, yeah, maybe it’s time to brush off my website and start thinking about working on it like I’ve been saying I’m going to. ;-)

I keep thinking today is a holiday too – well, I guess it is for you Americans, but not for us Canadians. So this being the first Monday of the month I’m pretty sure there’s a Scribes meeting tonight. Guess I’d better check into that. :-)

So how did you spend your holiday weekend? Was it busy? Relaxing? Did you do anything special? Inquiring minds want to know!