poetry and prose about place

Archive for January 2013

abandoned boat

with 10 comments

On Monday, we drove to Black’s Harbour.  On the new highway, where it crosses the inland dregs of Oak Bay, the ice was broken into big sheets along the shore.  There, in the icy debris, was an abandoned fishing boat, a wreck.  Although I have never seen it before, it has probably been there a long time.

abandoned fishing boat


Foggy Molly


she had a sixth sense –

kicked in on a grey day

when mists lobbed across the bow

and thickened her passage

she loved flat water

and a blanket of fog


she was nervous of a big sea,

preferred to be tied, snug

to the wharf,

to lift and settle,

to lift and settle

moved by the inhalation,

the exhalation

of the tides


ironic – she broke up

at berth, waiting for a re-fit

smashed by a nor’easter

and cleavers of ice



Copyright  Jane Tims  2013

Written by jane tims

January 30, 2013 at 7:32 am

messages on a still winter day

with 9 comments

birch bark~



snow, crystal-quiet

a sluggish breeze

riffles the woodland

sunrise lost in a rose sky


listen to the rustle

of paper on wood

the mutter of unwritten lines

birch-bark, deckle-edged


tatters and shreds

sorted by a sluggish wind

words I meant to write

letters ready for the mail



behind parcels

wait for postage

brown paper and string




'Yellow Birch Bark' revision

Copyright  Jane Tims  2013

Written by jane tims

January 28, 2013 at 7:19 am

dazzled by dresser jars

with 7 comments

Dresser jars have always been an interest of mine.  You often see them at antique stores and at auctions.

My Mom had an iridescent peach-colored dresser jar with a glass terrier on top and a pink-colored dresser jar with a young deer.

My collection of dresser jars is one of my favorite possessions.  The collection includes several dresser jars of a type made in the 1930s to 1950s (by the Jeannette Glass Company).  They are all round, made with clear or iridescent glass.  They were used as jars for women’s dressers, to hold powder.

I have four young deer (or ‘Bambi’) dresser jars, two iridescent peach-colored, one pink and one clear…

'Bambi' dresser jar

three swans, one green, one blue-green green and one amber (the swans have a cut-glass base and a hollow in their backs to hold lipstick)…  I also have a clear swan, top only…

green swan dresser jar

two terrier dog dresser jars, both peach-colored and iridescent…

terrier dresser jar

and one poodle dresser jar, peach-colored and iridescent…

poodle dresser jar

This year, I added an elephant dresser jar made of clear glass to my collection.

elephant dresser jar


Do you know of any other designs in this type of dresser jar?


Copyright  Jane Tims  2013

Written by jane tims

January 25, 2013 at 7:45 am

collecting glass animals

with 4 comments

Today, I cleaned my collection of glass animals.  Cleaning them takes a long time since I don’t clean them often.  I wash each piece in soapy water and air dry it on a towel.  As I work, I enjoy their sparkle and I think about how I got each piece.  Since most of them are second-hand, I think about the unknown people who owned them before me.

Most of the animals in my collection belong in one of three categories:  covered dishes, candle holders and dresser jars.  A couple of the pieces belonged to my Mom.  A couple of them are pieces she gave me as gifts.  The rest, I found over the years at antique stores or auctions.

some glass animals

The covered dishes are mostly hens or chickens…

hen dishes

My favorite hen dish is a funny round chicken in clear glass…

clear hen dish

I also have a rabbit in this collection…


and a duck…

clear glass duck

I have a few glass birds of various colors.  Each bird has a berry in its beak, and a hollow in its back to hold a candle…

glass birds

I’ll show you some of my dresser jars in the next post.

Do you have a hen dish among your dishes?

blue hen dish


Parting the Collection



to collect: to gather together

these prisms

of glass and light

took a lifetime

what will become of them

when what becomes of me?



collect: a short prayer

from a mouth like dust


I bid for each

between Limoges and Occupied Japan

with a steady hand

and a palpitating heart




feathers pressed into glass

bird in the house

at the window


cut crystal

edge of flight

from the menagerie


ruby swan

amethyst bee

topaz duck


glazed eyes



lenses rise in your throat

siliceous gasses

burst from your beak

as a berry


past and future



shards of glass

shared among

my daughters

do not understand

the meaning

of collection


do not know

a Sybil

rises in your beak



Published as ‘Parting the Collection’, The Antigonish Review 95, Autumn 1993


blue glass bird with berry in its beak


Copyright  Jane Tims  2013

Written by jane tims

January 23, 2013 at 7:36 am

dear deer

with 6 comments

This year, I moved our feeders to our front yard.

They are not so easy to see from the house, although I have a good view from the window of our library.

feeders in front yard

The deer have liked the new feeding station.  We see them almost every day.  They empty the feeder too quickly and also visit the compost pile.  We don’t deliberately feed the deer, but they visit the feeders anyway.

deer in yard


deep and delicate,  hoof print

evidence, this space is shared


deer, eat peelings by moonlight

one floor up, we sleep, unaware


lulled by winter carbs

carrots and potatoes in the supper stew


deer pauses to look back

Copyright  Jane Tims  2013

Written by jane tims

January 21, 2013 at 7:17 am

featuring a 1941 International truck

with 6 comments

I have had a few poems accepted for publication recently.  These include ‘abandoned resort hotel, Devil’s Head’;  ‘Berries in Cellophane’; and ‘1941 International K-4’.  They appear in Issue 10 (Spring, 2013) of The Lion’s Head Magazine (online).  You can have a look at these three poems at


‘Berries in Cellophane’ is from my manuscript on growing and gathering local foods.

The poems ‘abandoned resort hotel, Devil’s Head’ and ‘ ‘1941 International K-4’ are both part of a series, not yet completed, on abandonment.  This series began my interest in abandoned churches, and lead to the novel I am now working on – ‘Saving the Landing Church’.


The poem  ‘1941 International K-4’ was inspired by an old International truck, seen in a wood lot in southern New Brunswick in the fall of 2011.  It was set up on steel drums and looked like it was no longer used.  Rusted and out-of-commission, she was still elegant to behold.  The poem came easily, written in the ‘voice’ of the truck, recalling its various adventures.

Have a look at the poem in Lion’s Head Magazine and let me know what you think.

abandoned International truck


1941 International

Copyright Jane Tims 2013

Written by jane tims

January 18, 2013 at 7:39 am

editing to remove the passive voice

with 10 comments

I am still editing my novel, aiming for the third draft.  Today is about finding and eradicating the passive voice.  When I find an instant of the passive voice, I try to find a better, more active way to present the idea.

The passive voice occurs when the object of an action is expressed as the subject.  ‘The book was read by Jane’ (passive voice)  … instead of … ‘Jane read the book’ (active voice).

The passive voice is often accompanied by a form of the verb ‘to be’.  A simple example:  ‘The text had been edited by the teacher’ (passive voice) … ‘The teacher had edited the text’ (active voice).

The active voice is usually preferred because it’s direct, energetic and less wordy.  Sometimes the passive voice is Ok to use – for example, if the agent of an action is unknown or unimportant:   ‘The letters were misdirected to Toronto.’


Here are examples of some of the changes I have made:


Passive :  The louvers of the belfry were splintered where they had been damaged by the move.

Active:  The move had damaged the louvers of the belfry, splintering the wood.


louvers in the belfry

louvers in a belfry, the wood not splintered!!!


Passive:  Our taste buds were teased by names like the Pickle in the Barrel Pub, Heavenly Hash, and Bob’s Country Diner.

Active:  Names like the Pickle in the Barrel Pub, Heavenly Hash, and Bob’s Country Diner teased our taste buds.


a salad at 'Heavenly Hash'

if there were such a place as ‘Heavenly Hash’, they might serve a salad like this!!!!


Passive: The deconsecration has been approved by the Diocese

Active:  The Diocese has approved the deconsecration.



I treat my edits of dialogue a little differently with respect to the passive voice.  People often speak in the passive and so I am careful to edit for what sounds natural rather than what is grammatically correct!


Copyright  Jane Tims  2013

Written by jane tims

January 16, 2013 at 7:49 am

the case of the missing…

with 6 comments

My Mom always loved her belongings and kept excellent care of them.  She also tried to keep track of them, but with four children (especially me), occasionally items went missing.

Once she called me in great distress.  She had been all over her property and could not locate the second wheel from a pair of wagon wheels she knew she had.

I said she didn’t have to worry.  I had taken the wheel as a decoration for my yard.

Today, I can look out at my winter garden, and see Mom’s missing wagon wheel.

wagon wheel in the snow    ~

Copyright  Jane Tims  2013

Written by jane tims

January 14, 2013 at 7:39 am

Posted in family history

Tagged with , , , ,

writing a novel – the first reads

with 18 comments

So, I have completed the second draft of my novel.  This stage follows the pages of edits I had after reading my book on my e-reader.  It took two long days to make the changes.  I emerged from the experience feeling that I needed a few other eyes on my work before I start another draft.

I am lucky to have two people in my family who have volunteered to look at the draft, my son and my niece.  I am also fortunate to belong to a couple of writer’s groups and some of these brave folk have agreed to give the draft a critical read.  I don’t know what to expect, but it will be so helpful to see their comments, both good and bad.  I am so grateful to them all.

My husband is also listening to the draft.  Just before we watch Coronation Street each evening, I read a chapter from my novel to him.  He is no book-worm, but he listens carefully and gives me his impressions.  He is especially helpful on some of the technical issues.  For example, my main character’s husband, Tom, is a welder, and my husband explained to me that you can’t weld copper to steel.  Also, I find errors as I read.  So, I make a few changes each evening.


copper wind sculpture

Tom, my main character’s husband, is a welder… in the novel, he makes a series of wind sculptures for the writers’ retreat… this wind sculpture is one we have at our real property by the lake


I am rapidly coming to a time when I will leave the draft untouched for about three weeks.  This is Stephen King’s advice (On Writing, 2000).   It will give me a chance to return to my poetry and meet some upcoming deadlines.  Then I will pick up the draft of my novel, to read it as if brand new!  Who knows what idiosyncrasies I will find!!!


For you to read, here is an excerpt from the book, about Tom’s wind sculpture:


‘You shouldn’t be welding, you know,’ I said.  ‘The doctor said you might improve if you stayed away.’

‘The doctor said I’d already done all the damage I could do,’ said Tom.

I was silent.  It was an old argument.  Tom didn’t want to hear about possibilities.  He believed in the frozen-cold facts. 

‘Hey, girl, have a look.’ 

He lifted part of his project from the bench.  The main element was a long cylinder of steel.  In a coil around the cylinder, he had welded a thick, inflexible steel wire.  To the flat end of this wire, Tom had screwed a broad triangle of copper sheeting.  The triangle was shaped like an oak leaf, cupped and angled to catch the wind.  Tom stood the cylinder on its end and it became a tree with a single clinging leaf.  He reached for another piece of formed metal and threaded the two together.  With his hands, he moved the unit, giving me a glimpse of the way it would move in the wind.

‘It’s wonderful,’ I said, always awed by the mellow gleam of the copper and his ingenious designs.  ‘How many leaves will there be?’

‘Nine, in three layers,’ he said. ‘It’ll be taller and quicker than the others.’  He had already finished the first three in a series of these wind mobiles.  Eventually, they would be part of a sort of garden he had planned for the property.  ‘Writers,’ he said, ‘will visit the wind garden and be inspired.’ 

The whisper of the wind and the mobile joinery of the sculpture, the exchange of light between the burnished metal and the shimmering lake, together these would create a magical, rhythmic experience of light, movement and sound, perfect for meditation and contemplation.  


Copyright Jane Tims  2013

Written by jane tims

January 11, 2013 at 7:56 am

a moment of beautiful – icicles

with 13 comments

the space: drip line of a house on a winter day

the beautiful: icicles


On the day after an increase in temperature, when the snow from the roof is melting, the front of our house, on the south side and in full sun, is always dripping and making icicles.

They glitter and sparkle, sculptural wonders of frozen water.




ice storm


for three days

freezing rain and willow

have hung uncertain magic

along the river


ice in layers

laid on the bones

of the tree tops, branches break

candy-coats crack in the sun


I refuse the sparkle

resist the awe


the bones will not recover



©  Jane Tims 2009

Written by jane tims

January 9, 2013 at 10:18 am

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