Of Fall and Fine Details

This morning from my kitchen window I noticed three birds clinging to a leafless branch on a treetop, the sight of which inspired this haiku:

how brave those three
birds still clinging —
facing autumn’s gale

Much as we might wish to cling to summer, autumn has definitely made its appearance in our land. The crops are coming off and the golden brown straw left to hold the soil in place; the maple trees are golden already. Nights are cool, and during the last few days we’ve gotten the rains we wanted.

Hopefully now the Fire Ban will be lifted in our township. For a few months now we haven’t been allowed to light any fires outdoors, including in BBQ pits and such. This month local volunteer firefighters have been called out to several grass fires started by balers as farmers were harvesting hay. Sunday Sept 2nd some of our firemen left straight from church, responding to a fire east of here. About 150 acres — half of it in standing wheat crop — burned, along with four round hay bales.

The hummers left us a couple of weeks ago. Last week the second batch of barn swallows came out of their nest to enjoy the clear blue skies. For the first few days the three newcomers played in the air above our yard, then ventured farther, touring the woods and coming back to roost at night. I was out just after supper together with the cats, and the swallows came buzzing around us. Obviously they weren’t happy seeing cats so close to their residence.

It’s been awhile since I posted anything significant but I decided that if I didn’t get something written I might develop chronic blog-atrophy.

It’s not that I haven’t been writing. In fact, I’ve spent hours at the computer this week commenting on other writers’ work. Last weekend I was investigating the possibilities for having my own short stories critiqued and came across a site called Critique Circle. It It looked interesting, so I signed up and started writing comments on the stories posted.

Basically, anyone may join, and post a story they’ve written once every two weeks — but first they must critique others’ stories. In fact the system works somewhat like that old song about working in the coal mines: you do one days’ work and the company store charges two days’ pay for your groceries. 🙂 I’ve gotten .5, 1, 1.5, and 2 credits for doing various critiques, but it cost me 3 credits to post my story. So participants need to keep writing critiques (of 300 words or more) if they want to post anything.

Which is quite fair, really. I’m not griping. This approach keeps people from “taking” without putting anything in. (And it suits me because I enjoy doing editing. 😉 I do try to be gentle, though.) The “rules state that “critters” shall be encouraging and helpful to new writers as well as more experienced ones. No “Your story is blah!” comments.

I’ve posted one flash fiction story already. The first critique I received dealt mostly with grammar and punctuation — some of which I would contest. The second was an overall “Liked the story.” The third one was worth its weight in gold! It was written by a fellow who’s had a number of short stories published in literary magazines and such. He really knows his stuff and pointed out half a dozen things I SHOULD HAVE seen myself.

The stories I’m working on now are for my upcoming book of flash fiction. And now that I’ve registered it and gotten the ISBN, I can post the cover I’ve chosen (from unsplash.com.) What do you think?

The next design issues: choosing a font style and “outside border or no?”

Abstract cover.all

Notices + Absences

I notice that the Ragtag Prompt word for today is ABSENT
and Fandango’s one-word prompt is BOUND
so let’s see what I can build on these words.

I’ve noticed the lack of visitors to the hummingbird feeder this morning and had just concluded that our three lingerers must have left us when one zipped by the window. I am surprised. I was sure they’d be bound for the sunny tropics by now.

Yesterday morning my husband flew away, bound for a committee meeting in Québec. I will confess I don’t sleep well when he’s absent; so many things seem to go bump in the night! And last night more things than usual were bumping because a thunderstorm blew in about 1 am. A few good cracks penetrated my deafness, keeping me on my toes instead of on my pillow. One boom woke Pookie, who leapt to his feet, startled, around 2am. That didn’t help me to relax! Good thing this is just a short absence — and I’m thankful to know our neighbours are looking out for me.

This morning I got an e-mail notice that the haiku I submitted to an e-zine aren’t going to be used. I was actually a bit relieved. Now I can go ahead and  post them on my blog — which is really why I wrote them. I’ve read some terrific haiku in the various e-zines, but at this point poetry and haiku are just enjoyable sidelines to my main focus as a fiction writer. I’m happy to pen some verses but don’t want to direct my efforts toward becoming known as a poet.

Another writer of short verse, Frank Prem, calls his blog Seventeen Syllable Poetry, saying he doesn’t want to restrict himself to the traditional haiku form. Not limiting yourself to one poetic form definitely has advantages.

He also has his main blog where he shares longer poems. One of his collections is about his backyard tenant, the Eastern blue-tongued lizard, or skink. I enjoyed these verses about his resident lizard so much that I wrote one of my own — with apologies, Frank. 😉

Frank had a skink that lived neighbourly
Frank watched the skink
and wrote poetry,
poems of love and poems of war
day-to-day skink life at Frank’s back door.

A skink self-sufficient, with no one to thank,
content in his solitude —
intriguing to Frank.
Poems aplenty from this versatile bard
inspired by the neighbourly skink in his yard.

And now I must go on and do some work “while yet it is day, because the night cometh” when I hope to actually get some sleep. 😉

Shredding Life Story

Good morning dear readers!
Today’s a RED LETTER day at our house, our 48th Wedding Anniversary.

I bought a card for my dear hubby. It’s here somewhere! I squirreled it away for safe-keeping…

Sad to say, current efforts to locate it have proved fruitless, which means today may well evolve into a house-cleaning spree. It’s about time I sifted through my several drawers full of writing paper, note pads, greeting cards, new envelopes I might someday use, etc. Isn’t it amazing how drawers fill up until you can’t find anything you’re looking for in them?

My husband has been doing some sifting through old papers, too, which has lead to a box of docs to feed into the shredder. Yesterday I worked at this awhile, which in turn gave me some haiku on the subject.

Shredding

statements, bills, receipts
bit by bit I feed ten years
into the shredder

old love letters
shredded and recycled
new valentines

Verses to Fall Asleep By

Sometimes when I can’t fall asleep, I like to read or recite easy poems; often I choose haiku. For some reason I find these short verses so relaxing; I can lose my daytime thoughts in the simple concepts and scenes.

For example this verse by Shiki:
blue evening sea…
from spring islands near and far
new lights are shining

English translation © 1958 by the Peter Pauper Press

I’m not one to read a lot of mystic symbolism into these verses, but can easily imagine standing on the shore beside this writer and looking across the darkening sea at those specks of light from the sleepy villages on those islands.

One problem of reading haiku just before bed is that pictures and ideas start coming to mind. Before long I have to go find a pen and paper so I can write them down.

Some of mine are melancholic:

oh, churning waves
return to the deep seas
take my tears with you

And some verses that come to me are amusing:

bemused cricket
crawling up the scarecrow’s pant leg
country back roads

Do you enjoy micro-poetry?