nichepoetryandprose

poetry and prose about place

Pareidolia

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pareidolia: the tendency to perceive a specific, often meaningful image in a random or ambiguous visual pattern

(Merriam-Webster Dictionary)

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When you look at marble, or at clouds in the sky, or bubbles in a glass of milk, do you see faces? Can you see The Man in the Moon? Pareidolia refers to the seeing of human faces or other images where they don’t exist. Pareidolia is a normal human tendency.

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I often see images in the marble patterns of our flooring. It can be quite entertaining. Mostly, I see animals. I think it is the biologist in me!

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Perhaps aliens also have pareidolia. In my upcoming book Meniscus: The Knife, I devote a chapter to this phenomenon. On planet Meniscus, there is a dirth of paper. One of my early characters, Ning, made paper from plant fibres for her girlfriend Kathryn, an artist. By Meniscus: The Knife, Book 8 in the series, (spoiler alert) only three sheets of Ning’s paper remain. Don-est, the alien child, wants to draw, so Kathryn shows her how to draw on the marble walls of the dwellings in the Village.

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Vicki sets her laundry

on the marble floor.

Tries to see

what Don’est is doing.

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As her eyes adjust

to smoky light,

she sees markings on the walls.

Drawings of bug-eyed evernells

and fuzzy elginards.

A slear-snake

with myriad eyes.

A cardoth moon,

slim sickle

of glowing white

in marble green.

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Don’est feels eyes on her.

Swivels her neck.

“What do you think

of my drawings?”

she says.

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“What are you doing?”

says Vicki.

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“I asked Kathryn for paper

but she has only a sheet or two

of the paper Ning made.

“So she showed me

an idea she had.

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“The marble walls,

you see,

have hidden secrets.

Lines and shadows

look like evernells

and Humans and slear-snakes

and grammid trees.”

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Vicki looks

at faint green lines on the walls.

Sees an old man in the pattern.

A thready waterfall.

A leaf-bare tree,

branches reaching for sky.

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“But what are you using to draw?”

she says.

Eyebrow pencil.

Kathryn and Ning

found it on a transport

long ago.”

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All my best,

staying at home,

drawing on the floors and walls,

Jane

Written by jane tims

June 5, 2020 at 7:00 am

spring flowers

with 2 comments

Our dominant ground greenery at this time of year is from the leaves of lily-of-the-valley (Convalleria majalis). Like emerald flames they light up the yard. And now they are in bloom. The fragrance is amazing!

All my best

and please stay safe at home.

Jane

Written by jane tims

June 3, 2020 at 9:59 am

with 2 comments

Written by jane tims

June 2, 2020 at 1:19 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

my COVID-19 kit

with 4 comments

Since March 12, I have been almost nowhere. I am so careful, washing my hands until I have developed a thin outer layer of skin. I have stood six feet apart, even when no one else is there. I wore a mask when I went into the only store I’ve been inside in two months. My husband does the same. We quarantine every bit of mail coming into the house. I wipe down all our groceries. The grocery bags go into quarantine as well.

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In spite of all these precautions, I worry. I am probably paranoid. The only thing that helps me be OK is my COVID-19 kit. Each morning and each night I pull it out. I take my temperature with my thermometer. 36.2 Whew! I lift my little bag of lavender to my nose. Sweet, potent, floral. Whew!

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A high temperature and loss of the sense of smell are not the only symptoms of COVID-19. Our New Brunswick Department of Health lists the following:

fever above 38°C or signs of fever (such as chills);

a new cough or worsening chronic cough;

sore throat;

runny nose;

headache;

a new onset of fatigue;

a new onset of muscle pain;

diarrhea;

loss of sense of taste or loss of sense of smell; and

in children, purple markings on the fingers or toes.

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Do you have a ritual that makes things seem OK? Even when they are not?

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All my best,

staying at home,

Jane

Written by jane tims

June 1, 2020 at 7:00 am

my place, my niche

with 6 comments

All of us, as we self-isolate and stay at home, have become more familiar with our own place or space. We also have become familiar with our ‘niche.’ It is also a sort of space, but is more about how we use that space.

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My space, on the macro-scale, is in the Northern Hemisphere and the temperate zone. I love the four seasons: perhaps summer, with it’s high humidity, least of the four. I live in a rural area; the bird chorus I hear each morning is associated with mixed hardwood and softwood. For more information on our ‘grey woods’ click here.

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Our house seemed big when we built it 40 years ago. Today it is considered modest with two floors, three bedrooms and a loft. As I grow older, arthritis means I hang out mostly on the main floor. But upstairs, the loft stores my genealogy interests and the library holds all my books. On the main floor is my computer, my bird watching corner, my sewing basket and my drawing and painting supplies. Often, my husband is there too. So you see, I have most of what it takes to make me happy.

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My space is more and more often in cyberspace. These days my family and friends are mostly there, on Facebook and Messenger. Just today I had my first meeting on Zoom.

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I spend about half of my day on the computer, in one phase or other of one of my writing projects. Last week our wifi went down for four days. Usually, I refer to the on-line dictionary or thesaurus about once every fifteen minutes. With the wifi down, I wondered for a moment what to do and then thought, “Thesaurus. Dictionary.” A little dusty but serviceable.

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So what is not part of my niche?

Music. I have a piano which I can play. And a guitar. And I have a stack of discs and a way to play them. I also have a small selection of my favourite music in my iPad. I tell myself it would be good to include more music in my life, in my ‘niche.’ So far it is only a thought.

Exercise. I will start by saying I do about 30 minutes of yoga-like stretches every morning. Otherwise I would not be able to get out of bed. If you follow my blog you know I am also dedicated to my stationary cycle but, since the first of the year, it aggravates my knees and I have not been doing this with any regularity. I have plans to reincorporate exercise into my niche, but so far, it is also a thought.

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Of course, the world is full of possibilities and I have many gaps in my space/niche. I have interests in coins, stamps, games, puzzles, calligraphy and so on. I have no interest in flying kites, cooking, speaking another language or clock-making. But perhaps, someday, one of these may insinuate itself into my niche. So much to include, so little time!

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So, what is in your space? Your niche? What is not in your space/niche?

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All my best,

staying at home, wearing my mask in public,

Jane

Written by jane tims

May 29, 2020 at 7:00 am

in these times

with 5 comments

Someday, my memory of these days of pandemic will have faded. But there is value in lessons learned, so I will describe my experiences here.

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My situation is that of a retired person, used to working on my writing at home and going out to do errands and some volunteer work. For my husband and I, staying home is not too different from normal life.

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lemons

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1. Food. Before the pandemic, we had already shifted to getting curb-side delivery of our groceries from the Atlantic Superstore. For that reason, no shift was needed. During this time, we make an order every two weeks, ordering early to get a convenient delivery time. My husband also goes to Sobeys once every two weeks for milk and a few needed items. Both stores have good distancing measures in place and the few substitutions any store has made have not been significant. As for take-out food, we have continued to order pizza and other take-out food as before.

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2. Passing Time in Isolation. I am so lucky that my husband and I have been able to face this time together. I have not really been isolated, since there is always someone there to talk to. We do small household projects together, read a bit together in a mystery series we both enjoy, watch some TV and plan our meals.

I am a writer and my writing life is managed by working on several projects at once, each project in a different stage. I have been very productive in the last two months, completing drafts of three new poetry books, completing work on the next book in my science fiction series, and launching two books, one science fiction and one mystery. I have seen a little spike in readership in the last few weeks, as people turn to reading to pass time alone.

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3. Contributing to Local Businesses. At the best of times, we are not big consumers. But during the pandemic, I have tried to support local businesses. I have bought plants for the growing season from Scotts, art supplies and toys from Endeavours and Think Play, fabric from Fabricville and so on. These businesses have gone above and beyond to give safe and friendly service. When parcels arrive, I put them in Quarantine for three days, to minimize any risk.

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4. Getting Out and About. During the pandemic, we have taken short drives, to bird watch, check on our cabin (about 3/4 of an hour away) and deliver sold books. In a stroke of luck, I had ordered author copies of my four newest books before Amazon cut delivery service to Canada, so I have books to sell. I do what I call ‘drive-by-bookings,’ making arrangements with those who want to buy my books, hanging a bag of books on the door handle and leaving to maintain social distancing. I have also put copies of my books in some of the little free libraries in town.

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5. Staying in Touch. I am so grateful to live in the age of the internet. I am able to keep in touch with family and friends by way of email, Facebook and my blog. My two writer’s groups have held their meetings on Facebook Messenger and I have taken a writing course twice a week on Facebook. I have family members not on social media and we have kept touch by way of telephone.

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6. Staying Healthy. Our days are very routine. We focus on getting lots of sleep, keeping our intake of fruit and vegetables high, keeping in touch with our physician and diabetic health care folk. As usual, I fall short on exercise. I have mobility problems and always do a half hour program of stretches each morning. Other than that, my success in the area of exercise is rather pitiful. I say I will do better.

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7. Adaption to new standards. We are lucky in New Brunswick where I live. We have had few cases, have no new cases (according to testing) and no deaths from COVID- 19. We are in the Yellow Phase of our re-opening plan which means most business can open with social-distancing and other measures in place.

Social distancing is hard. Not because I am a huggy sort of person, but because I find confronting people difficult. If someone is getting too close, I find it hard to confront, to say back off, even in a nice way. So when the delivery fellow comes to the door and tries to pass me a box, I take it, getting nearer than I should.

As our province tries to return to ‘normal’, I know mask-wearing will become part of our culture. So I dusted off my sewing machine and scanned the many videos showing mask-making. By the end of making ten washable masks, I could do them with my eyes shut, but my back hurt and I think I sewed through my finger at least once.

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The other day, as I went through some poems I have written, I came across one about getting the H1N1 vaccine. I have almost no memory of that time in my life. Of course, our lives were not affected in quite the same way. Perhaps I will look back on the time of COVID-19 and know some things changed for the better.

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All my best.

Stay safe. Wash your hands. Stay home as much as possible.

Find a safe way to talk to and be with those you love.

Jane

Written by jane tims

May 25, 2020 at 7:00 am

bird songs in the grey wood

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Today I sat on the back deck and listened to the birds. I can’t stay for long because our robin who has returned for year three gets upset with me. The photo below was taken in 2018, but taking a new photo just gets the robin very agitated.

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So, here is the list for today:

mourning doves – hooo hooo

northern parkland last – whirrrrr-zip!

robin – cheer cheer cheery weee

ovenbird – t-cheer, t- cheer, t-cheer

hairy woodpecker – pit, pit, pit … this fellow has been beating on the metal flashing of our roof daily. This morning he began at 5:30. Just before sun-up. I took the photo below in 2017.

All the best to you,

staying home and

in my two household bubble.

Jane

Written by jane tims

May 20, 2020 at 7:00 am

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