Aug 31, 2022

Cascade Poem

This form was invented by Udit Bhatia in 2007. I found this form interesting and wanted to learn more about its creator, but unfortunately although a Google search brought up many Udit Bhatias, none of them was the one I was looking for. So I guess the inventor will just have to remain a mystery.

This is an elegant little poem. It has no set syllable count or rhyme scheme, but it does have repetition. In the author’s own example, you start with a stanza of three lines. This is followed by another three-line stanza, but the third line is a repeat of the first line of the first stanza. The third stanza has the second line of the first stanza as its third line, and the fourth stanza repeats the third line of the first stanza as its third line. Got that?

Maybe a visual will help:

1st stanza line one
1st stanza line two
1st stanza line three

2nd stanza line one
2nd stanza line two
1st stanza line one

3rd stanza line one
3rd stanza line two
1st stanza line two

4th stanza line one
4th stanza line two
1st stanza line three

This gives the entire poem a “cascading” effect, like a waterfall. I have seen longer Cascade poems – the first stanza has four or more lines to it, which require more stanzas to follow – but I don’t know if this is in keeping with the creator’s intent for the poem (one of the reasons I was trying to do some research on him) so I kept my examples to the three-line first stanza.

I quite like this form, so much so that I did two examples for you – one kinda dark, and one much lighter.

Dying Time

Death’s emissary comes for us all in the end,
it is beyond our power to put a stop to this –
the sky opens up and rains down my sorrow.

From the moment we are born
the clock begins to tick; we wait as
death’s emissary comes for us all in the end.

We live our lives as best we can but still
in the end we fight, even knowing
it is beyond our power to put a stop to this.

We have no choice in when we must go
And I was not ready to say goodbye to you.
The sky opens up and rains down my sorrow.

Faery Revels

Faery lights appear in the dusk,
lighting the garden and glade—
fey creatures revelling in secret.

The hot summer days give way
as the moon begins to rise and
faery lights appear in the dusk.

If you’re quiet, if you’re careful,
you might have a chance to see them
lighting the garden and glade.

The pixies sparkle and sing,
the sprites dance and play –
fey creatures revelling in secret.

Aug 29, 2022

Orchid Mania

The orchid is Mother Nature's masterpiece.
— Robyn

An orchid in a deep forest sends out its fragrance even if no one is around to appreciate it.
― Confucius

If I see an orchid that's fantastically expensive, I'll buy it. It's worth it, for no other reason than it gives me pleasure.
— Lee Radziwill

My first orchid was a Cattleya Orchid. It looked something like this:

This isn't a picture of my orchid, it only had one bloom, but it was massive. I bought it as a seedling and it’s amazing to me that it survived because I knew nothing about orchids at the time. Nevertheless, it grew. Dare I say it flourished? It took seven years before there was a single bud on it, and six more months before the bud opened. The bloom stayed open for months, until the summer came.

The plant graced the end of the kitchen counter, and although the window air conditioning unit we had at the time was in the dining room, apparently the blast of cold air was strong enough to reach my plant. I learned the hard way that orchids don’t like blasts of cold air. Not only did I lose the blossom, I lost the entire plant.

I’ve been careful with the orchids I’ve bought since then and currently I have about half a dozen of them.

A few months ago, I did a post about indoor gardening and included a picture of the orchids on my kitchen window ledge. One had a couple of bloom stalks that had run their course and the blooms had died, but it also grew a new bloom stalk that was full of blooms. The other plant had a bloom stalk that was still in bud.

The smaller orchid is still blooming, and the buds are now open on the second orchid.

I also have a one of the orchids in my office blooming at the moment:

You notice there’s only a couple of leaves on this orchid. I have another one that’s down to just one leaf, and I’m not sure why. They all get treated the same way and the others are okay so far (*knock on wood*). Though I’ve never used it in the past, I bought some orchid food for them – I figure I have nothing to lose.

The prize in my collection is my Oncidium Orchid:

Unfortunately it’s not too happy with me right now because it’s getting too much sun so its blooms are starting to fall off, but I’m going to give it a shot of the plant food and maybe try and find a new place to keep it.

I also picked up a couple of mini orchids, but they were already starting to lose their blooms before I got them home.

A lot of people are intimidated by orchids, but they’re surprisingly easy to grow. If you like plants, I encourage you to get one. If you’re afraid of overwatering, try using ice cubes. The mini orchids take one ice cube a couple of times a week, the larger plants take 3 cubes, two or three times a week. My neighbor, who has some beautiful orchids, swears by the ice cube method of watering.

So next time you see an orchid for sale, go ahead and splurge. Next thing you know, you’ll have a shelf full of them, like me. :-)

Aug 24, 2022

Traditional Cinquain

Technically, a cinquain is any five-line poem or stanza. Traditionally it originated in medieval France, but can be found in many European languages. It was often employed by such poets as Philip Sidney, George Herbert, Edmund Waller, and John Donne.

It’s actually quite common in formal poetry, verses containing a strict meter and rhyme scheme. It was popular in England in the 16th and 17th centuries when iambic pentameter was common. In fact, most of the most well-known examples of the cinquain are written in iambic pentameter, although other meters were also used.

The number of cinquains in a poem often vary. The poem can be a single cinquain, or it can have many stanzas. The most common rhyme scheme is ABAAB, ABABB, or AABBA (limericks are a prime example of this last one). The syllable count is at the discretion of the poet.

Because this is such a short form, I felt like I should give all three rhyme schemes a try. To my surprise, my first poem begged more than one stanza. It’s an interesting form to work in – I think it helps that it has no set syllable count.

Invisible People

Invisible people all around
unseen, unheard, do they even feel?
Living their lives in the background
like spirits who have been earthbound,
ignored as though they are not real.

Like shadows in the corners lie –
ignored, we don’t want to see
the lost, the lonely, magnify;
there but for the grace of God go I.
That’s not the way that it should be.

They gather, grey and black, the clouds;
a warning crack of thunder
and then the pounding rain enshrouds;
we look out upon the wonder
as the world is torn asunder.

I watch the shadow on the floor
As it inches towards the door
Relentless in its steady crawl
Not stopping even for the wall
Then disappears, the sun no more.

Aug 22, 2022

Once Upon a Time . . .

In ancient times cats were worshipped as gods; they have not forgotten this.
— Terry Pratchett

I had been told that the training procedure with cats was difficult. It’s not. Mine had me trained in two days.
— Bill Dana

As anyone who has ever been around a cat for any length of time well knows, cats have enormous patience with the limitations of the humankind.
— Cleveland Amory

Heaven will never be Paradise unless my cats are there waiting for me.
— Unknown

Once upon a time I had five cats.

They were, from left to right, Taz, Romi, Julius, Dante, and Panda. It started with Taz. The summer of 2000, the daughter talked me into letting her have a kitten of her own. We already had one cat, which started out being hers, but he was a senior and not in great health. And he was mellow enough that we figured he could handle a kitten.

And so we got Taz, AKA General Razmataz Meowington the Third, AKA the Tazmanian Devil. He was a fearless kitten, standing his ground against our border collie, climbing the door frame of the kitchen door, and generally leaving a trail of destruction behind him.

Just after the daughter went off to university, leaving Taz at home where he’d be happier, our senior cat passed away. The daughter browbeated, urged, suggested we get another cat to keep Taz company. Enter Panda (AKA Pandora, AKA Pandaloons)

Like her namesake, Panda was the most curious kitten I’ve ever encountered.

While Taz was instantly a smitten kitten, Panda was somewhat indifferent. But by-and-by (before we could get her spayed) they started a family.

From left to right, they are Romi, Julius, and Dante. Originally it was supposed to be Romulus and Remus, but Remus did not like his name and became Dante.

Years passed, the kittens grew into cats. And as any pet owner will tell you, the hardest part about owning pets us when you have to say goodbye to them.

Panda was the first. She had kidney disease and though she fought the good fight, she let us know when it was time to let her go.

Next to go was Julius. He developed tumors in his abdomen that turned out to be cancer.

Romi, who had been Panda’s favorite, was next (a few years later) with respiratory issues.

Taz was starting to get a little senile, and pretty much camped out in what was then my office. I started to feed him in there, and set him up with a kitty litter pan. He preferred to sleep on the bottom shelf of the bookcase, so to make him more comfortable I folded up a blanket for his bed. His passing was the quietest – I went in to feed him one morning and he was gone.

And finally, there was Dante. I sometimes wondered if we should get another cat so he wouldn’t be so lonely, but he was never the most sociable of the cats. In fact, despite the fact he’d been born in this house and raised with his parents and siblings, he seemed like a feral cat. He had pancreatitis and IBS, and then he developed an abscess on his jaw that made it painful for him to eat.

He was 19 years old, and had several other health issues. It was time to let him go, and so I did this past Tuesday. It was the right thing to do, but that doesn’t make me feel any better. He was the last of my pack of kitties. In all my life, I’ve only spent one year without the companionship of a cat. It's a strange feeling.

When the time is right for us to get another cat, we’ll probably get a pair of kittens. I know there are many older cats who need a good home, but having spent the last several years dealing with senior cats, I think it’s time for kittens again.

I miss my fur babies, but I firmly believe they’re all together again, across the rainbow bridge.

Aug 17, 2022

American Cinquain

Like last week, this week’s form is also one I shared more than ten years ago. However, in checking my research I discovered that there are actually two different versions of this form. This week I’ll explore the American Cinquain, and next week I’ll take a look at the French Cinquain.

The American cinquain is credited to Adelaide Crapsey (1878 – 1914), who was inspired to create it after reading A Hundred Verses From Old Japan, a translation of 100 haiku by 100 poets. The form consists of twenty-two syllables set in a single, unrhymed, five line stanza in the following format:

Line 1: Two syllables
Line 2: Four syllables
Line 3: Six syllables
Line 4: Eight syllables
Line 5: Two syllables

And if that format isn’t to your liking, you could also try one of the variations:

The Didactic Cinquain
Line 1: 1 word title (noun)
Line 2: 2 descriptive words (adjectives)
Line 3: 3 words that express action
Line 4: 4 words that express feeling
Line 5: 1 word (synonym or reference to title in line 1)

Or the simple form:
Line 1: One word
Line 2: Two words
Line 3: Three words
Line 4: Four words
Line 5: One word

Or a combination:
Line 1: One, two syllable word, preferably a noun
Line 2: Two words, total of four syllables, preferably adjectives
Line 3: Three words, total of six syllables, expressing action
Line 4: Four words, total of eight syllables, expressing a feeling
Line 5: One word, two syllables, referencing back to the first word

Other variations have evolved from experimentation by other poets and include:

Reverse Cinquain: five-line syllabic verse of the pattern 2 / 8 / 6 / 4 / 2

Mirror Cinquain: a sequence of a standard cinquain followed by a reverse cinquain

Butterfly Cinquain: nine-line syllabic verse of the pattern 2 / 4 / 6 / 8 / 2 / 8 / 6 / 4 / 2

Crown Cinquain: a sequence of five cinquains

Garland Cinquain: a sequence of six cinquains in which the final cinquain is composed of lines from the preceding five (generally L1 from S1, L2 from S2, L3 from S3, etc...)

And now, my examples. In the orginal post I only did one (because I didn't know about the variations) but for this post I'm adding a couple of the variations.

My original cinquain:

darkly shining
perfumed breezes wafting
anticipation fills me up . . .

A didactic cinquain:

black, menacing
racing, roiling, threatening
fearful anticipation, excited dread

Simple form cinquain:

dancing on
waves racing shoreward,
shards of light reflecting

Combination form cinquain:

slippery cruel
grasping clawing slinking
greedy fearsome loathing kindness

And that’s all you get. I strongly urge you to give the cinquain a try yourself. It’s pretty easy, but if you want a bit of a challenge try the Didactic or the Combination cinquains. They’re a wee bit trickier.

Happy writing!

Aug 15, 2022

Adventures in Pioneering

It is not easy to be a pioneer - but oh, it is fascinating! I would not trade one moment, even the worst moment, for all the riches in the world.
— Elizabeth Blackwell

Woman must be the pioneer in this turning inward for strength. In a sense, she has always been the pioneer.
— Anne Morrow Lindbergh

There is something about reviewing the lessons of the past to prepare us to face the challenges of the future.
— L. Tom Perry

Yesterday I joined a few of the ladies from my stitchery group at Lang Pioneer Village to participate in their “Tie the Knot” event, which was all about wedding practices in the 1800s. As well as setting up a display of some of the things a young bride might have in her trousseau, we worked at various stitchery projects while in costume.

First stop when we got there was the costuming building – this is where the magic happened.

It looks pretty tame in the picture, but there were hundreds of costumes to choose from, and several volunteers whose job it was to help us. The place was really hopping with activity. The styles may not have been the most flattering, but they were authentic.

Our group set up shop on the porch of the weaver’s building. Between the porch roof and the trees, we didn’t get much direct sunlight so it wasn't bad in the morning, but it did start to get rather warm after lunch.

The weaver’s shop was run by a single volunteer, but she did some amazing work

One of the displays I found fascinating was the yarn dying. I talked to the women there and discovered they used all natural dyes. It was interesting, and surprising, to learn what plants produced what colours. It’s a shame the picture doesn’t show the colours properly, but the yarn hanging to dry was actually a lovely shade of green.

Across the road from us was the blacksmith

And beside him was the general store that also served as the post office and apothecary

There was also a tin smith

And a newspaper office

The highlight of the day was a fashion show of bridal wear from the 1800s, and a mock wedding. Only a couple of us attended these events, but we could certainly hear them. The crowds began to disperse afterwards, and by 4 o’clock we were ready to turn in our bonnets and return to the 20th century.

What a fun way to spend a Sunday.

Aug 10, 2022


Okay, so I’m cheating a bit here. Due to circumstances beyond my control, I didn’t get a brand new form done. I had one all picked out, but time got away from me. So I went deep into the vault and found this form, that I first explore some 13 years ago.

The Trolaan is an interesting form created by Valerie Peterson Brown. It consists of four quatrains (a stanza of four lines), with each line having a similar number of syllables. Each line of the quatrain begins with the same letter and the rhyme scheme is abab.

Starting with the second stanza you use the second letter of the first line of the first stanza to start each line of the second stanza.

On the third stanza you will use the second letter on the first line of the second stanza to begin each line of the third stanza.

On the fourth stanza you will use the second letter on the first line of the third stanza to begin each line of the fourth stanza.

At first glance it may seem a little complicated, but it’s really not that bad. My poem was actually based on a picture of a fallen angel, which is why it seems a little dark.

Fallen Angel

Cold wind snaking through the night
Cutting the air with a wicked knife;
Capering snowflakes, like a blight
Cover a world devoid of life.

Obsequious spirits dance and sway,
Oft cast shadows looming near,
Ousting warmth they seek to stay,
Oblivious to the dangers here.

Balefire moon shines high o’er head
Bewitching in its awesome light.
Beguiling ice is swiftly spread
Banishing dreams in a blaze of white.

Abandoned hopes lay scattered ‘round
Adorning landscapes bleak and sere;
Angel lost and gone to ground
Alone, betrayed by life and fear.

Aug 8, 2022

Belle of the Ball

A man’s daughter is his heart. Just with feet, walking out in the world.
— Mat Johnson

Being a daddy’s girl is like having permanent armor for the rest of your life.
— Marinela Reka

A good father will leave his imprint on his daughter for the rest of her life.
— Dr. James Dobson

Given the title of this post, I planned to use quotes about being the belle of the ball. However, I couldn’t find any. Apparently, there’s a book by that title and there were lots of quotes from it. There was also a poem that used the phrase. I could find quotes about balls in general (ie. golf balls, baseballs, etc.) and ballroom dancing, none of which really fit. So then I tried father/daughter balls and eventually settled on quotes about fathers and daughters.

The saga of the dress my granddaughter wore to the 2022 Father Daughter Butterfly Ball, actually began a couple of years ago. The daughter bought the tickets to the 2020 ball as a Christmas present. I immediately went to the fabric store to look at patterns, but I didn’t see any that looked ball worthy, so I went online and ordered one.

I didn’t even get a chance to start looking at material before we went on lockdown, and the ball was postponed. For two years. But finally the ban was lifted and it was time to get to work.

I live in a small town and there is no proper fabric store. There’s a place that carries a small selection for quilters, but that’s about it. So off to the city I went to the fabric store for material. But because there hadn’t been any social gatherings for the past two years, there wasn’t much to choose from. So I went to a different city. Then a third (we’re kind of equidistant to them – north, west, and east).

The third fabric store had a better selection than the others, and their fancier material was on sale. I came away with 5 metres of a pale blue organza, and 5 metres of a light blue lace. I wasn’t sure which would look better, but I was leaning towards the lace, although that would mean adjusting the pattern. Unfortunately, this store didn’t have any lining material, but I came away with something I thought could do in a pinch.

Time passed. I decided to go with the organza, but I didn’t like the lining I had, so this required more trips to more fabric stores. Next challenge? I’d bought the pattern a couple of years ago and my granddaughter had grown since then. So the pattern had to be adjusted.

My first try making the bodice didn’t work – I tried it on the granddaughter and it didn’t fit. Fortunately, I had just enough material left to re-make it. This one was perfect. Then, when it was time to attach the lining, I realized I’d made an error. Instead of cutting the lining from the same pattern as the skirt, I cut it using the pattern for the slip.

There was supposed to be netting under the skirt to poof it out more, but I decided not to do that because the organza was already poofy enough. What I didn’t realize, is that the netting was sewn onto the slip so it was sandwiched between the skirt lining and the slip. *sigh*

I did not have enough lining material to redo this, nor did I have time to go back to one of the fabric stores for more. What I was able to do was add some material in, which actually worked better.

For my final challenge, I had to put in an invisible zipper. The only problem was, I did not have an invisible zipper foot for my sewing machine and we had no place in town to get one. Argh!

The daughter reminded me that she had my old machine, so she dropped it off (because she didn’t know one foot from another) and while there wasn’t an invisible zipper foot, there was a regular one, which would do in a pinch. Then a trip to Walmart to get more thread revealed they sold plastic, snap together, invisible zipper feet. I was back in business.

It’s been a long time since I’ve done an invisible zipper, but I remembered they can be a little tricky. So I did a Google search and found some step by step instructions. It was so much easier that I thought, and I can’t understand why I haven’t been doing all my zippers that way.

The dress was done, with a couple of days to spare. I did a pretty good job, if I do say so myself. And the granddaughter was certainly the belle of the ball.

Now I just have to figure out what I’m going to do with five metres of light blue lace.

Aug 3, 2022


At first glance, this 14th century French form looks fairly easy. It’s only thirteen lines, and some of those lines repeat. But it can actually be a little tricky to write.

Its basic structure is two quatrains (four-line stanzas), followed by a quintet (five-line stanza). The first and second lines are repeated as a refrain at the end of the second stanza, and the first line is repeated as the refrain for the last stanza.

Got that? The rhyme scheme is ABba abAB abbaA, where the capital letters are the repeating lines.

This form might be easier to follow with an example:

Measuring Time

This is how we measure time –
Day by day, a lifetime passing,
Slowly good and bad amassing
Memories sounding like a chime.

Then life will take the steeper climb
And then we fall, our ego crashing;
This is how we measure time –
Day by day, a lifetime passing.

And after we have passed our prime,
Looking back, we start rehashing;
Memories, good and bad, start clashing,
Sins and virtues – life refined.
This is how we measure time.

Aug 1, 2022

All Good Things . . .

But at the laste, as every thing hath ende, She took hir leve, and nedes wolde wende.
(source for All good things must come to an end)
— Geoffrey Chaucer, Troilus and Criseyde

It lasted for a long time, I believe.
A very long time. It was a great success, but even great successes come to a natural end.

― Isaac Asimov, Robots and Empire

All good things come to an end and the pain of some endings isn't worth the good things.
― Emilyann Allen

Well . . . I’m back. Albeit a little reluctantly. It was nice to have a bit of a break from blogging, but I figured if I took the month of August off as well I might never get back to it, so here I am. :-)

Unlike other times where I’ve needed a mental break, I’m happy to report I didn’t just dive into a reading binge. I did some reading, yes, but not constantly. And I was able to stay away from Nora Roberts. LOL

I managed to get out of the house a few times – lunch or coffee with friends, poetry gatherings, stitchery gatherings, early morning walks. And I’ve been spending time with my granddaughter while her parents are at work, which is always a good time. But the main way I found to relax was with my crafts, mostly stitchery/sewing.

As you know, I usually have several projects on the go. I picked the one that needed to be done the soonest, and worked steadily on it until it was done. In this case, it was the baby quilt for my great-niece (who’s due this month).

I like baby quilts because they’re something I can work on a bit at a time. I usually start with solid coloured squares, then trace pictures from colouring books onto them to embroider. When I’m done I find a print fabric to go in between the squares, then flannel to back it with. Then it’s just a matter of sewing it together. I don’t actually quilt my baby quilts, I use embroidery floss to tie them. It makes the quilt a little puffier, but I think it looks just as nice.

For this quilt, I’d chosen a medium violet colour and traced cartoon animals onto them. Then I used bright colours for the embroidery. Then, of course, I had to find material to go between the squares, which wasn’t as easy as it sounds. But I did find a print that was more green and white than purple, used light green flannelette for the back, and then couldn’t remember how I used to bind them – it’s been a long time since I’ve done a baby quilt.

I had a vague recollection of putting a ruffle on them, but I didn’t have enough material left for that and there was no time to go to a fabric store, which would mean a trip out of town. So I used satin blanket binding, which turned out well enough that I think that’s what I’ll be using from now on.

Anyway, here’s a picture of the finished quilt (click on it to see a bigger version):

Next week I’ll be talking about my second project, the ballgown I made my granddaughter for the Father/Daughter ball.