Jun 24, 2022

Gone Fishin'

I believe it was P.T. Barnum who said: “There’s a sucker born every minute.” That was definitely me yesterday when I fell victim to an internet scam that not only compromised the security of my computer, but also my bank accounts.

After a trip to the bank to close our current accounts and open new ones, our money is safe. My compromised lap top, the fairly new Lenovo, is at Staples for a security check up. I still have to get in touch with my other bank, my credit card company, my cell phone company, and PayPal, and then I have to figure out how to set up one of the automatic payments I get again.

Fun stuff. Not!

So I’m taking a mental health holiday for the next couple of weeks. I’ll still be checking my email and Facebook (the msi Apache wasn’t compromised), but I’m not going to be blogging. My heart just isn’t in it.

The only good news in all this mess is, because I stubbornly refused to sync my devices, the Lenovo is the only one that was affected.

Who knows, maybe I’ll finally get Magickal Mayhem finished while I’m on my break.

Jun 22, 2022


One of my favorite poetry forms is the Parody. This is where you take a familiar, or well-known poem or short piece of prose and change the wording to make it humorous. You get this comic effect by using exaggeration, or spoofing the piece, keeping to the original structure as much as possible.

The first Parody I ever wrote was in high school. To teach us about rhyme and rhythm, our English teacher had us picking a poem with a strong rhythm, I believe the example he used was “How They Brought the Good News From Ghent to Aix” by Robert Browning. We were to write a minimum of three verses using the rhythm of the poem we selected.

For my poem, I chose “The Cremation of Sam McGee” by Robert W. Service. Only I didn’t just write three verses, I rewrote the entire thing, turning it into a Parody and calling it “The Refrigeration of Sam McGee.” The actual assignment wasn’t to write a Parody, just to capture the rhyme and rhythm – what can I say? It was a lot of fun. And I’ve been writing Parodies ever since.

Now, I have a funny story for you. The second poetry reading I ever did took place at a retirement residence. I was so excited that I thought I should write a brand for the occasion. I decided to do a Parody of Shakespeare’s “To Be, Or Not To Be,” turning it into an anecdote about dying my hair. It wasn’t until years later that someone pointed out to me that it might not have been the best poem to read to an elderly audience. The title of my poem? “To Dye or Not To Dye.” Oops!

For my example, I chose Robert Frost’s “The Road Not Taken” and for those of you who may be unfamiliar with this classic poem, I’ve included it below.

The Road Not Taken
By Robert Frost

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

The Dessert Not Eaten
By Carol R. Ward

Two desserts lay on the yellow table
And sorry I could not eat them both
And not gain weight, I was unstable,
Staring at cake, dark as sable,
Chocolate, I could never loath.

The other, lemon, sweet cream filled,
Was like to make a dead man drool
Because it was so nicely chilled
And stacked in layers by one skilled;
Truly, each dessert a jewel

And both that morning equally lay
In splendor on that table bright
Oh, to keep one for another day
But no, indulgence starts that way –
my pants are already much too tight.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two desserts upon a table lay, and I—
Rejected both, with a heavy sigh,
And that rejection made all the difference.

Jun 20, 2022

Waiting For Summer

Everything good, everything magical happens between the months of June and August.
— Jenny Han

I love summertime more than anything else in the world. That is the only thing that gets me through the winter, knowing that summer is going to be there.
— Jack McBrayer

Let a man walk ten miles steadily on a hot summer’s day along a dusty English road, and he will soon discover why beer was invented.
— Gilbert K. Chesterton

Ah, summer – that long-anticipated stretch of lazy, lingering days, free of responsibility and rife with possibility. It’s a time to hunt for insects, master handstands, practice swimming strokes, conquer trees, explore nooks and crannies, and make new friends.
— Darrell Hammond

Even with the humidex to help amp up the temperature, we haven’t had many summery days yet. Wind and rain and cloudy skies, and temperatures around 18C (that’s mid-60s F). The last couple of days have been sunny, but the wind has been really sharp. I’m beginning to wonder if summer is ever going to get here.

I’ve had one day, so far, where I got to sit out on the deck for the day. There have only been a couple of days where the a/c has kicked in automatically (when the temperature inside the house reaches 75F), and we’ve only had to have the a/c once at night so we could sleep. As I type this, I’m sitting here wearing jeans, with socks on my feet.


But the thing is, it looks like summer. I went down to the waterfront early one morning last week, and this time I took my phone with me to take a few pictures.

Of course there were geese:

And the Ecology Garden was in full bloom. There were purple flowers:

Wild roses:

A water garden:

A nurse log (a tree that’s fallen and started to rot and provides nourishment for new plants):

And some really cool looking bird houses:

It wasn’t a bad way to start my day.

Jun 15, 2022


The Ghazal (pronounced "ghuzzle") originated in Arabia in the 7th century, evolving from the Qasida, another, much longer, Arabic form. It gained prominence in the 13th and 14th centuries thanks to the Persian poets Rumi and Hafiz. In the eighteenth-century, the ghazal was used by poets writing in Urdu, and was often sung by Iranian, Indian, and Pakistani musicians.

To truly understand the Ghazal, there are a few terms you need to know:
Sher is a rhyming couplet that can stand alone as a poem itself.
Matla’a is the first Sher.
Radif is a repeating word or phrase.
Qaafiyaa is the rhyme scheme.
Maqtaa is the final couplet.
Beher is the syllable count and length of each line.

A traditional Ghazal consists of a collection of Shers, usually seven but you can have anywhere between five and fifteen. The rhyme scheme, or Qaafiyaa is AA BA CA DA, EA, and so forth. The Matla’a sets the tone of the Ghazal, as well as the Radif and Qaafiyaa. The Radif must be included in both lines of the Matla’a. The Maqtaa may contain the poet’s name or signature, but this is left to their discretion. The Beher should be the same throughout.

I found it odd, and a little disappointing, that in the course of my research I found many well-known poets have written what they called Ghazals, but they did not follow the rules. I hope I’ve done a better job of it.

My example:

Wind whispers softly in the trees,
listen, hear the sighing trees.

Autumn changes all the leaves
a forest filled with crying trees.

A slender birch is bent to dance
a wood nymph glorifying trees.

A secret is not safe at all
when told beneath the spying trees.

I see a thousand shades of green
when I look upon the sighing trees.

A sunset paints the mountainside
liming rocks and dyeing trees.

The loggers come and cut their swath
and all around are dying trees.

Note: this Ghazal does not contain a signature in the Maqtaa. :-)

Jun 13, 2022

Life’s A Stitch

“Why are you so weird?”
“Because my weird has to be able to cancel out your weird, Lady Cross-stitch.”
“At least what I do is considered an art form.”
“Yes, in ye olde medieval Europe you would've been quite the catch.”

— Alexandra Bracken

A stitch in time saves uncontrollable blood loss.
— Simon Haynes

Take your needle, my child, and work at your pattern; it will come out a rose by and by. Life is like that - one stitch at a time taken patiently and the pattern will come out all right like the embroidery.
— Oliver Wendell Holmes Sr.

It took me almost as much time to do that tiny little, 2 ½ inch square cross stitch as it did all that embroidery work on my granddaughter’s Easter dress. Maybe more.

My sister, who does some pretty amazing cross stitch, and many ladies of the stitchery guild, all tell me that cross stitch is very relaxing.

It is not.

Okay, it may be for people with perfect vision who know what they’re doing, but that’s not me. I have three different pairs of glasses, and while my reading glasses work best for stitchery projects like cross stitch, I can still only use them for a couple of hours before my eyes need a break. Funny, they don’t need a break when I use them for reading.

Plus there’s the whole “know what they’re doing” thing, which I don’t. I’m not a big fan of cross stitch, so I haven’t done a whole lot of it. Embroidery is where my heart lies.

When I decided to do myself a needle book, I thought it would be a fun, easy project to do. And it might have been, but of course I ended up making it a bigger deal than it should be.

One of my stitchery magazines included a free needle book kit, but I didn’t like the little heart-shaped cross-stitch piece that was supposed to adorn the front. So I hunted around and came up with the pattern for the above piece. It originated online somewhere, and I’d printed it out in black and white so I got to pick my own colours.

The border was the easy part. Next came the pairs of pansies in the corners that had four different colours, not counting the French knots in the center. The hearts were next, followed by the spools of thread. So far so good, in an annoying sort of way.

When it came to the little thread making a decorative swirl through it, I thought I’d get fancy and use metallic thread. That was my first mistake. My second was not giving up on the idea. Metallic thread is not fun to work with. And it’s definitely NOT relaxing!

And it didn’t help that when doing the counting for the swirl I realized my stitches were off in a couple of places. A more conscientious stitcher would have corrected the mistakes. I, on the other hand, chose to work around it. And to be honest, though there are two places where my counting was off (because there were two places where the swirl didn’t align properly) I can only spot one.

Next was the saying, which should have been pretty easy to do, except it has all those curly cues on it and the “I”s were dotted with French knots. French knots are easy enough to do in embroidery, not so much in cross stitch. It took me a while (a long, frustrating while) to figure out how to do them and not have them slip through the holes in the aida cloth I was working with.

Finally, I added the beads to the swirl and I was done. All that was left was the simple matter of putting it all together. Which turned out to be not so simple after all. I’m going to have to check out some other patterns for a needle book.

But the bottom line is, tomorrow is the last meeting of the guild before we break for summer and not only do I not have my needle book finished, I never got to re-do my name tag (that’s to having to spend an entire day doing mending for my father-in-law). But I did borrow back the Easter dress I did for my granddaughter, so at least I’ll have that to show off.

Yes, life is indeed a stitch.

Jun 8, 2022

Linking Pin Sonnet

The Linking Pin Sonnet was created by Professor Joseph S. Spence, Goodwill Ambassador and creator of the Epulaeryu poetry form.

In the author’s own words: The concept is primarily based on the principles of leadership in accomplishing a mission or task in an organization. This comes by strengthening the organizational echelons at each level, by connecting each element with a linking pin of leadership for strength, thus obtaining maximum productivity in the completion of its goal. One should be able to visualize each linking pin connecting to the next to ensure strength and safety in moving every adjoining part to reach its maximum potential in mission accomplishment. Additionally, the linking pin sonnet, resonates as two lovers on the same sheet of music linking with each other, singing the same song, and moving in the same direction while strengthening each other, for betterment by overcoming obstacles and strengthening their goals with success and victory as one.

I have to admit, I not overly fond of sonnets in general, but I found this one to be both interesting and challenging. It consists of 14 lines, as all sonnets do, but the end of each line links with the beginning of the next line. Each line has eight to eleven syllables, but the rhyme scheme will depend on what kind of sonnet you’re writing: Petrarchan (or Italian) – abba, abba, cdecde; Shakespearean (or English) – abab, cdcd, efef, gg; or Spenserian – abab, bcbc, cdcd, ee.

I like the fact we’re given choices, both in the rhyme scheme and the number of syllables in the lines. I had more fun than I expected to with this form. I followed the Shakespearean style, and I even remembered to carry the link between the stanzas.

Storm Journey

I travelled beneath a lowered sky
Sky in which dark clouds begin to form
Form filled with the grey to quantify
Quantify the coming of the storm.

Storm is hesitating in the air
Air that has become heavy and chill
Chill with a promise, so have a care
Care that needs to be taken until

Until the storm has passed overhead
Overhead where the lightning flashes
Flashes as thunder fills us with dread
Dread that can burn brave souls to ashes

Ashes swept away by pounding rain
Rain that passes, but will come again.

To learn more about this amazing poet, try one of these links:
Atunis Poetry
African American Literature Book Club 

Jun 1, 2022

Chanso Poetry

The Chanso is a great form for anyone who wants to write poetry but doesn’t want to be tied down to one of the traditional forms. You get to choose the number of stanzas, the rhyme scheme, and the number of syllables per line. The only requirement is that all lines have the same number of syllables, all stanzas have the same number of lines, and the rhyme scheme stays the same throughout the poem. It ends with an envoy that should be half the length of a verse.

Also called the Canso, or the Chanson, this form originated in 12th century France and was popular with the European troubadours. You can use whatever you like as the theme for your poem, but traditionally it was written as a love song. The first stanza should introduce your theme, and the envoy should wrap everything up.

My example isn’t a love song, it was inspired by something a little different.

Geese at Dawn

Noble figures, gliding in a line,
Cutting through the water, clear as glass.
Silent sentinels, by my count nine,
Guarding the access, no one shall pass.

Patrol the breakwater, duty bound,
Keeping the others safe on the shore.
Herald the dawn with focus profound
And when the moment is right, you soar.

Take wing, noble guardians of the bay!
Ascend to the heights, where you belong.
Soar, majestic gatekeepers grey
In a vee your flock is ever strong.

You were here with the very first dawn
And will be here still when man is gone.

Usually poems just sort of come to me, but this one was inspired by something I saw a few days ago. It was early morning, and I was parked (alongside several others) down at the yacht basin beside our local harbor. I was looking out over the water as I enjoyed my take-out breakfast, and I happened to notice a line of Canada geese crossing from one side of the basin to the other. They looked so stately, so precise, as they glided one after another in a straight line. It’s to my regret I didn’t take a picture of them with my phone, but obviously it left an impression on me.