A Canadian visitor

holloway overhung with ancient trees n Cornwall

eagle talons

My friend and co-editor at qarrtsiluni, Beth Adams, has yet to visit Plummer’s Hollow. But other part-time residents of Quebec fly over twice a year, and sometimes they drop in for a quick bite. This one did, and got a bit more hospitality than she bargained for. See the complete story here.


It looks taller, now,
that little pine where the eagle
straightened her feathers.

Cow tool

holloway overhung with ancient trees n Cornwall

cow tool

Do you ever get the feeling, after waking up in the morning, that you’ve just been dreaming somebody else’s dream? I found this metal implement, or piece thereof, in the corner of the field this afternoon, and suddenly remembered that I had been acting as an informal advisor to President Bush sometime around 6:30 this morning. I had been trying to get him to shelve an anti-evolution statement he was preparing to make at an upcoming press conference, and feeling some considerable disgust at myself for the tact with which I chose my words. “You must understand, Mr. President,” I said as gently as I could, “that if you express your true feelings about this, right or wrong, that will forever color history’s perception of you as a leader. You will be subjected to derision and ridicule at home and abroad.” His eyes darted back and forth as I spoke, and it was clear he wasn’t listening.

What’s truly bizarre is that in the dream, I felt pity and even affection for the man. Well, I suppose it’s possible: emotions do have the property of changing shape according to the space they’re trying to fill. And later that day, as I turned the rusty piece of metal over in my hands, I was reminded of Gary Larson’s famously misunderstood cartoon picturing a row of amorphous objects — Cow Tools.

The “cow tools” were supposed to be just meaningless artifacts — only the cow or a cowthropologist is supposed to know what they are used for.

The first mistake I made was in thinking this was funny. The second was making one of the tools resemble a crude handsaw — which made already confused people decide that their only hope in understanding the cartoon meant deciphering what the other tools were as well. Of course, they didn’t have a chance in hell.

on the veranda

When I got back, my parents were sitting out on the veranda with my brother Steve. The amorphous pink object on his chest and shoulder is my niece Elanor. They were watching birds of prey migrate south along the ridge — redtails, a turkey vulture, and a golden eagle — along with enormous white sailplanes, which whistled as they flew. Elanor slept for three hours, passed from shoulder to shoulder. In the middle of supper (spaghetti with venison marinara sauce), the phone rang, and Mom said, “I’ll bet that’s Trish calling to say she’s caught an eagle.” It was.

More on that tomorrow, perhaps.


Marja-Leena Rathje

More hands, maybe? Textured paper?

Cracks in the concrete:
now the black snake has somewhere
to trap his loose skin.



The big (huge) spider sculpture which was commissioned for the opening of the Tate and dominated the Turbine Hall is back, straddling a substantial area outside the building. It is, of course, called Maman (mother). This spider is small, about the size of my camera, but was something I could relate to powerfully nonetheless.

The blessed virgin
traded in her arms for eight
flying buttresses.


Philosophical Rabbit


A baby shark
& a cat in a bathysphere
exchange a longing glance.


bean activist

Simply pour your favorite stout into a large glass and then pour in some cooled coffee. Experiment until you discover a proportion that suits your taste. I like a ratio of about one to one.

Served coffee with beer.
Now the grass below my porch
is turning brown.

(Back to grass again!)

New wrinkles

holloway overhung with ancient trees n Cornwall

Haiku comment week continues after a two-day pause. Actually, I might make have made this a permanent part of my blogging, and retire have retired the Smorgasblog. We’ll see.

My theory of why haiku in English work: it’s the three lines, and the fact that the middle one usually has one more stress than the other two. That, and the lack of direct metaphor — that reticence. The spaces at the end of each line prepare us for the space afterwards, which is needed to do the extra work that haiku require of a reader, if they’re any good (and some of mine aren’t, I realize).




Slipping through a crack
in the shed wall, the sun finds
the one round thing.


Light Verse for a Heavy Universe

What isn’t wrinkled? Plastic. Glass. Chrome.
Unless, through a microscope, you discover
the scandalous truth.

A verse must be light
to traverse the hidden depths
in every surface.


the cassandra pages

Tonight, the priest on his right listened, raised his eyebrows, smiled, and didn’t say anything; B. smiled a bit more broadly, enjoying ruffling the feathers. The question is actually timely: while traditional Catholic and Anglican parishes all the province are emptying, groups of young people are forming their own house churches, sharing bread and fellowship, prayer, meditation, and community.

Steady presences:
a friend, a journal, the smile
of a silent priest.


Blaugustine (Nov. 2)

The transition from canvas to camera to computer to website to internet doesn’t allow for accurate reproduction. Never mind, at least you can follow the changes. I don’t know if any more apples are going to appear.

Even the vase
on the windowsill wants
to be an apple.


Riverside Rambles

Tucker and I walked over to Dogbane Corner, one of my favorite neglected patches of weedy vegetation. The dogbane pods have burst and I took these shots.

On the weedy lot
near the new jail, dogbane seeds
loosen in the wind.


The House & other Arctic musings

What? One hundred and thirty-seven Nunavut bloggers?

Bloggers vanish
in the long Nunavut winter
as their fingers go numb.


Marja-Leena Rathje

I also learned, to my great surprise, that ‘marraskuu’, the Finnish name for this month, means ‘month of the dead’. But wait, it may not be like Dí­a de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead as celebrated in Mexico. It’s thought to come from the earth being ‘martaana’ or in a state of death.

All Souls Day:
the dead hortensia speaks
in a thin whisper.


bird by bird

Red-legged partridges are not native to the Americas. This one obviously belongs to someone. We tried to catch it but it flew onto the roof. If it isn’t careful, it’s going to belong to the red-tailed hawk that’s been flying around all day, calling…

Christmas already?
A red-legged partridge on the roof,
a red-tailed hawk.


holloway overhung with ancient trees n Cornwall

ebony jewelwing female 2

Over at qarrtsiluni, the literary e-zine I help curate, we’ve just lauched a new issue: Insecta. The editors are Ivy Alvarez and Marly Youmans, both writers I got to know by reading their blogs. Their call for submissions welcomes both writing about insects and writing inspired by insects, so I hope the issue will blend straight-up nature writing with some wilder and woolier explorations: J. Henri Fabre meets Karel Capek.

The issue just completed, Making Sense, features some outstanding work. As the editors wrote in their summary,

We got… scales, petals, cloves. The wet insides of living creatures. Jackknives, fishhooks, claws. Days and nights, in one way or another aware and present. People large and immediate; people small in a wide, living space. A sense of beginning and ending and putting to bed…

Rob also wrote about the experience of editing an issue of qarrtsiluni in a recent blog post.

UPDATE: Speaking of insects, be sure to check out the latest issue of the invertebrate blog carnival, Circus of the Spineless, at The Other 95%.