nichepoetryandprose

poetry and prose about place

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garden escapes: starting a project

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This summer, one of my main occupations will be to work on a collection of poems about garden escapes.  Specifically, this means abandoned gardens, plants left behind when homes or communities are abandoned. This work is being supported by a Creations Grant from artsnb.

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I have a short mantra to refer to these abandoned plants: “die, thrive or escape.” In a way, the project theme can be used as a metaphor for any abandonment. For example, when someone abandons a relationship, the one left behind can languish, or pick up and start over, or just leave, find a place to start over. I will be watching for these metaphors throughout my project.

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For today, I have to arrange my materials and get started with a plan for my project.

  • To start I have my grant application (outlines what I intend to do), a bit of reconnaissance work I did in 2018 to develop some ideas for the project, six blog posts from that time and eight older poems that fit the theme.
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orange day-lilies, found in many of new Brunswick’s ditches, are escapes from older gardens

  • To identify abandoned communities, I can refer to information sources and databases developed by others:  the Facebook pages Abandoned New Brunswick  and New Brunswick Upon Days Faded where interested people post photos and short anecdotes about abandoned houses and buildings; the Provincial Archives of New Brunswick website called Place Names of New Brunswick: Where is Home? New Brunswick Communities Past and Present https://archives.gnb.ca/Exhibits/Communities/Home.aspx?culture=en-CA; additional information on communities will be available in Census Records at https://www.ancestry.ca/; various maps including the New Brunswick Atlas (Second Edition); Google Earth and the associated Street View; maps posted in the Facebook page New Brunswick Upon Days Faded; the Walling Map of 1862 which I have used in other projects, F. Walling, Topographical Map of the Counties of St. John and Kings New Brunswick: From Actual Surveys under the direction of H. F. Walling (Publishers W.E. and A.A. Baker, New York, 1862); and, the Monograph about place-names in New Brunswick, Ganong, William F. A Monograph of the Place-Nomenclature of the Province of New Brunswick. Transactions of the Royal Society of Canada: Second Series 1896-97, Volume II, Section II. 1896.
sample Walling map

a sample of the Walling Map for an area in Kings County, New Brunswick. The map shows individual buildings and houses from 1862.

  • For anecdotal stories about the gardeners and their gardens, I plan to use the resources of the Provincial Archives of New Brunswick since often diaries and other documents contain amazing bits of information about New Brunswick history. Obtaining anecdotal information about abandoned gardens is tricky during the time of COVID-19 since social distancing means ordinary interviewing is not easy.  I will use the websites above to obtain some information and, where possible, talk to people I encounter. I will create a Facebook Page called Abandoned New Brunswick Gardens to obtain some of these stories.
  • For plant identification, I have my own skills as a botanist and my trusty guides: Harold R. Hinds, Flora of New Brunswick, Second Edition: A Manual for Identification of the Vascular Plants of New Brunswick, University of New Brunswick, 2000; A. E. Roland and E. C. Smith, The Flora of Nova Scotia, Nova Scotia Museum, 1969; Roger Tory Peterson and Margaret McKenny, A Field Guide to Flowers of Northeastern and North-central North America, 1968; and the website The Plant List: A Working List of all Plant Species (this is to verify plants names since I use older plant guides). http://www.theplantlist.org/

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My methodology is simple:

  1. identify possible abandoned homes and communities and create an efficient plan to visit these places
  2. drive to these locations and look for plant species that may be garden remnants
  3. photograph the sites and plants
  4. make notes about the sites, the plants encountered and various sensations encountered (sight, smell, taste, touch and sound)
  5. do pencil drawings of some plants and locations
  6. obtain any anecdotal or archived information about the former communities, their gardens and their gardeners
  7. write the poems using all the information collected

I am going to write mostly free verse but I will also use some poetic forms, for example the ghazal and the pantoum.

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Sounds like fun!

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Viper’s bugloss (Echium vulgare) is an introduced plant in New Brunswick.  These are plants found on the New Ireland Road in Albert County, New Brunswick. In 1866, there were 68 families in the community (Source: NB Archives); today all the houses are gone.

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I will keep you up to date on my adventures and show you some of the plants I find. If you know of any abandoned gardens in New Brunswick, or abandoned communities, please let me know! I will acknowledge you in my book!

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This work is supported by a Creation Grant from artsnb (the New Brunswick Arts Board)!

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All my best,

stay safe,

Jane

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

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Written by jane tims

June 2, 2020 at 1:19 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

ice

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As I go over the many poems I have written over the years, I find a lot of poems about ice. Ice is very poem-worthy. It glitters and drips. It is cold and changes form. Icicles make great popsicles (if they are dripping from a clean surface). Ice can be a metaphor for emotion, life experience, change, danger, and so on.

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Today we had a high of 7 degrees C and all the snow and ice are melting. Not really sad to see them go this year.

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river ice

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builds in shallows

at the rim of river, incremental

embellishment to transparent sheets

of glass, ice envelopes winter

remnants, reeds and willows

thickness increased as frost

penetrates, sharp edges

cauterized by cold

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branches and icicles paperback

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freezing rain

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trees, bare branches, wait

wood snaps in the stove

budgies peck at cuttle bone

pellets of rain, tossed

at the skylight

a second transparency

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bare twigs turn in wind

distribute their coating

in these last moments

before temperature turns

the snowpack on the picnic table

shrinks at the edges

shoves over, makes room

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branches gloss so gradually

candles dipped in a vat of wax

over and over, acquiring thickness

the sky, through the skylight

dimpled tile, rumpled mosaic

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rain stipples bark as narrative

appends to memory, pane here,

light there, layers of glass

cedar twigs turn downward

as fingers, ice builds

layers of skin

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All my best

(staying home!)

Jane

Written by jane tims

April 8, 2020 at 7:00 am

On moonlight bay

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Another of my watercolours …

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All my best,

Jane

Written by jane tims

March 23, 2020 at 7:00 am

Posted in Uncategorized

collections

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In this age of “simplify, simplify” I cling to my collections. I collect paintings of poppies, tomatoware, botanical sculptures made of tin, books by various authors, and so on. I believe that collections are part of our identity; the things we collect explain elements of personality and history. Collections are probably a remnant of our ancient need to explore and understand our environment.

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I think other animals share this need to collect. Many rodents collect and hoard food and nesting materials. Some of this behavior is practical, ensuring plenty in lean times. However, I think some animals have a more frivolous need to collect.

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Recently, we moved the library in our house to another floor. Moving the contents of an entire room is a great opportunity to sort and clean. We have had mice in our house on at least three occasions in 40 years of our lives here. So I was not surprised to find a little mouse hoard in one hidden corner of the room.

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I was surprised at the contents of the hoard: one bright pink blood pressure pill, one pale pink cholesterol pill and one pale pink button. A mouse with a colour preference!

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all my best,

Jane

Written by jane tims

February 24, 2020 at 11:24 am

coming in March: next book in the Kaye Eliot Mystery Series

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The next book in the Kaye Eliot Mystery Series will be released at the end of March. Something the Sundial Said continues the adventures of Kaye and her family, first seen in How Her Garden Grew. To catch up, get a copy of How Her Garden Grew (click here).

Something the Sundial Said:

“In 1995, Kaye and her young family attend a country auction, never dreaming the stone sundial in the garden is the site of a century-old murder. They end up buying the house and property but someone else buys the sundial. Then Kaye finds a diary written in 1880, chronicling the days leading up to the murder.

When Kaye reads the diary, she decides to search for the sundial and return it to the property. And she follows clues in the diary to discover who shot Rodney in the sundial garden.

At every corner, she is outmaneuvered by a local genealogist who is anxious to obtain the diary and keep information damaging to her family hidden. The woman will go to ridiculous lengths to obtain the diary, even stalking Katie, Kaye’s teenaged daughter. As Kaye discovers someone is entering her house at night to find the diary, she wonders who she can trust.”

Here is the cover art for Something the Sundial Said:

sss cover image

Cover art for How Her Garden Grew:

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All my best,

Jane

Written by jane tims

February 20, 2020 at 12:51 pm

wild turkeys in New Brunswick

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As we came back from our drive in Charlotte County last weekend, we were on the lookout for wild life. And we were not disappointed.

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Down an unused road we saw twelve wild turkeys. Most, perhaps all, were females. In recent years we have seen wild turkeys more often on our various drives.

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They are fun to watch. They are quite social. Some were foraging, probably eating seeds, berries or insects; others were resting among the pink rabbit-foot clover.

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The University of New Brunswick is asking people to report the wild turkeys they see. The study will help determine the status of populations in New Brunswick.  Report sightings to the Facebook Page NB Wild Turkey Research

 

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All my best,

Jane

 

Written by jane tims

September 4, 2019 at 7:00 am

Free e-book next five days

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Do you like a good love story? Like to explore alien worlds? Love adventure and a bit of mystery?

The Meniscus Science Fiction Series follows the story of human survival on a distant planet.

The seventh book in the series, Meniscus: Oral Traditions, tells the story of two people as they journey across alien landscapes to reach safety.

Meet aliens who do not share our ideas of right and wrong. Explore a city built at the edge of a churning sea. Join Tagret and Rist as they tell stories around a fire. Find out about the vow Rist has taken and why it will break Tagret’s heart.

Meniscus: Oral Traditions is a great entry point to the series for readers who think they’d like to find out more about the aliens and humans on Meniscus. Each Meniscus book is written as a readable long poem and is illustrated by the author. The books are a quick read, and include both adventure and romance. For the science fiction lover there are maps, a glossary of alien terms and a Gel-speak dictionary.

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For five days this week (August 5 to 9, 2019), I am running a Kindle Free Book Deal and the e-version of Meniscus: Oral Traditions is free at Amazon.  here

Written by jane tims

August 5, 2019 at 11:33 am

Posted in Uncategorized

Canada lilies by the highway

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On a drive to Chipman today we came back via the old Trans Canada (now Highway 105) through Grand Lake Meadows. The Canada lily (also called meadow lily), Lilium canadense, is in bloom. Each plant holds its lily chandelier above the other field vegetation. They are bright orange with dark spots and hang downward.

 

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This seems to be the time of year for lilies. I have three varieties of day-lily in my garden and when one finishes its blooming, another begins.

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All my best,

Jane

Written by jane tims

July 20, 2019 at 7:33 pm

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