nichepoetryandprose

poetry and prose about place

Posts Tagged ‘change

A place to be still

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I love to be outside but my knees do not always cooperate. So, I make certain I have a place to sit on my walk-about. I love my concrete bench. I get a great view of the yard. In spring there are crocuses. At this time of year, a huge patch of sensitive fern. In fall there will be red maple leaves. But the bench is cold. Not a place to sit for long! Not a place to linger.

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A place to be still

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Cold concrete,

embedded, still,

where leaves

of purple crocus

press through turf,

sensitive fern

overtakes lawn,

autumn builds

layer on layer.

Cold concrete,

embedded, still.

~

~

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All my best,

Jane

Written by jane tims

June 11, 2018 at 7:00 am

take flight, metal wings, take flight

with 12 comments

A fellow blogger recently suggested a different way to present poetry in a post – to give a little background on the poem’s origins and perhaps show the evolution of the poem from draft to ‘final’ stage.

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Sounds like fun!

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The poem below began with a watchful eye.  I am always on the lookout for an image to inspire a poem.  Walking the path to the door of our house, my mind was on the rain, the warmish day and the forecast, an expected return to freezing temperatures.

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I spotted the bird bath, full of leaves and melted water.  And perched on the edge of the bird bath, a moulded metal bird.  This bird is bolted to the edge of the bird bath’s copper rim.  Presumably he is there to attract the real birds.  But since no real birds use the bath, he is the only one ever there.  My relationship with this metal bird is mixed.  I like its quiet perching on the edge of the bath.  I like its rusty patina.  I don’t like its occasional disappearance when its metal bolt lets go.  Then, I have a struggle to find its little metal body in the thick layer of leaves under the bird bath.

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So this is the set-up for the poem – a day of January thaw, melt water everywhere and knowledge the metal bird will not stay put.

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First, a photo of the metal bird.  The words ‘take flight’ were bumping around in my brain and I knew I would have a poem from this.  I want this poem to be about opportunity, about taking change and turning it into possibilities for an altered future.

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I’m a poet, not a photographer …

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Then, I grabbed my ‘rough book’, the place where every poem I ever write begins.  Sometimes, I hand-write several drafts, but in this instance, I felt like typing, so I copied the rough draft into the computer, almost word for word, but not quite.

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brief thaw

2nd draft

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metal bird, embellishment

of the copper bird bath in the garden

take your chance, your flight

temperature at melting

perhaps your rigid wings

can flex, find feathers soft

as tomorrow’s snow

fluid as ice now running

in the brook, molten icicles

their glitter subdued

follow chickadees who land

grab a seed and return to the

woods for safety, take your leave

and next spring I will not

find your rigid body fallen

wrapped in last year’s rotting

leaves on warming ground

~

So that is the rough poem.  I like it.  It flows, it contains some interesting metaphors, and it captures the possible flight and altered future of the metal bird.  It needs editing.

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For the next draft, I ‘press’ on words, getting rid of some, replacing others.  I annotate the earlier draft, finding places where I like the flow, where I find internal rhyme or alliteration.  In this poem, there are lots of words about metal, and I hope to include others.  I change ‘ing’ words and the past tense to verbs in the present when possible.

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brief thaw

3rd draft

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metal (iron) bird, (silver-plated ?) embellishment

of the copper bird bath in the garden (doesn’t matter if it is in the garden)

take your chance, your (take ?) flight

temperature at melt  (title says this)

perhaps your (rusted?)  rigid wings

can flex, find feathers soft (fine?)

as tomorrow’s snow (when, last week ? next week ?)

fluid as ice, now running runs

in the brook, molten icicles

their glitter subdued

(take flight ?)

follow chickadees,  who land

grab a seed (from the bird bath ????) and return fly to the

woods for (woods for  ?) safety (of the trees ?) , take your leave (take flight ?)

and (and or/ore) next spring I will not (not ?)

find your rigid (rigid ?) body fallen (fallen ?), wrapped

in last year’s rotting muck rot of

leaves on warming (new-warmed?) ground

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Well, I made a complete mess.  Perhaps the fourth draft will be an improvement.

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In the fourth draft, I incorporated the above ideas, and made a lot of changes.  For example, I tried some different approaches to stanza …  some of my poems are very irregular in their stanza breaks.  I think this poem needs stanza breaks to help the reader.  I also wanted to repeat ‘take flight‘ at intervals in the poem.  Although I considered stanzas of three and five lines, my final decision, four stanzas of four lines, was based on the syllable counts of the lines and the sloping shape of each stanza.  I am a rabid syllable-counter.  I find it helps me decide what words are not needed at all and makes me consider alternatives.

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brief thaw

4th and (for now) final draft

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iron bird, embellishment

of the copper bird bath

take your chance

take flight

~

perhaps your rusted wings can

flex, find feathers, fine as

next week’s snow

take flight

~

molten as icicles from

the feeder where chickadees

seize a seed

take flight

~

or next spring find your metal

body rigid, wrapped in

last year’s rot

of leaves

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take flight

~

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Before I make further changes to the poem, I will read it aloud several times.  The repetition of ‘take flight’ may have to go.  Notice, I have not changed the title of the poem … that could change, although I like not mentioning the actual thaw in the poem.  The title is a great place to add other information for the reader and I often forget this opportunity.

Do you have suggestions for other changes I could make to the poem?  I welcome your comments!

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Copyright  2015  Jane Tims

 

Written by jane tims

January 21, 2015 at 7:33 am

family history – changes in 10 years

with 4 comments

As I look into my family history, I am often amazed by the changes that occur in families in short periods of time.  An example is found in the early life of my great-grandmother Ella – Mary Ellen (Hawk) Norman.  In the ten years from 1860 to 1870, she experienced dramatic changes in her family.

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The 1860 US Census shows Ella’s family living in Chestnut Hills Township, Monroe County, Pennsylvania.  The family included Josiah Hawk (Ella’s father, a shoemaker), Sallyann (Sarah Ann) (Ella’s mother), Owen and Ella (Ellen).  Mariah Hawk, Ella’s paternal grandmother was also living with them.

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Hawk 1860

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In the next decade, the family underwent remarkable change.  First, five children were born – Flora, Sarah, twins Edwin and Otto, and Emma.  Of these, Otto and Emma did not live (Josiah and Sallie had already lost a child in 1957).  Then Josiah died on June 28, 1865, a month and a half after Emma.  Also, sometime during the ten-year period, Maria Hawk, who lived until 1880, went to live elsewhere.

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John Franklin       born Sept. 15, 1855     (died Dec. 26, 1857, two years old)

Owen                       born April 21, 1857 (death date unknown)

Ellen                        born January 4, 1859   (Ella, my great-grandmother, died 1933)

Flora Alice              born June 25, 1860 (death date unknown)

Sarah Ann              born Dec. 11, 1863  (Sadie, my great grand-aunt, died 1921)

Edwin W.               born 1864 (Ed, my great grand-uncle, died 1940)

Otto                         born 1864 (death date unknown, before 1870)

Emma Lydia          born Jan. 7, 1865 (died May 9, 1865, 4 months old)

 

From: Atwood James Shupp, 1990, Genealogy of Conrad and Elizabeth (Borger) Hawk: 1744 – 1990, Gateway Press, Baltimore).

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In 1870, Ella’s mother, Sallie, married again to Joshua Popplewell.

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The 1870 US Census shows the results of all this change.  In 1870, the family is living in Williamsport, Lycoming County, Pennsylvania.  The family now includes Joshua Popplewell (step-father), Salie (Sara Ann) (mother), Owen, Mary (Ella), Flora, Edwin and Sarah (Sadie).

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Hawk 1870

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The person most affected by these changes must have been my great-great-grandmother, Sara Ann (Sallie).  During the decade she gives birth to five children (including a set of twins), her husband dies, she remarries, and she changes the location of her home at least once.  In the only photo I have of her, she seems a formidable woman, steeled to withstand all manner of disruption in her life.  I also see great sadness in her eyes.

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my great-great-grandmother Sallie -  Sarah Anne (Kresge) Hawk Popplewell (1835 - 1910)

my great-great-grandmother Sallie – Sarah Anne (Kresge) Hawk Popplewell (1835 – 1910)

 

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Our lives are dynamic, full of change.  New people enter our lives, others leave.  The place we call home shifts to a new location.  We go to school and graduate, we take a new job, we retire.  Our focus changes, along with our point of view.  Some change is dramatic, some subtle.  Some change makes us laugh, some makes us cry.

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What changes do you see in the decades of your life?

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Copyright  2014  Jane Tims

 

Written by jane tims

July 30, 2014 at 7:33 am

writing a novel – plotting the change

with 6 comments

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Title: unknown

Working Title: Saving the Landing Church

Setting: a writers’ retreat, including an abandoned church

Characters: main character Sadie, a writer; her husband Tom; people from the community

Plot: the story of how Sadie tries to win over a community in order to preserve an abandoned church

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'Rose Window'

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In writing and editing my novel, I have had to turn my attention to the plot, again and again.

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Last November, when I started to write my novel, I learned quickly –  stories usually are built on the concept of change.

  • the main character wants something (a need)
  • The character sets about trying to fill the need and is thwarted at every turn
  • In the end, they either fill the need or they don’t

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During the story, the main character must be altered in some way.

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Sadie

this is my main character, Sadie … how will she be changed during the novel? She does look like she could use a hair salon …

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As my novel has progressed, I have realised that Sadie not only wants the church, she wants the church with the blessing of the community

How does Sadie change?  Her understanding of the community and her attitude towards the community changes.  She realises that ‘community’ is a necessary component of the church she wants so badly … without the community, the church is just a hollow building  …

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To make certain my main character is changing and growing in the right direction, I’ve plotted out her understanding, her attitude and her progress with respect to the community …

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This excerpt from my writing journal will make no sense to you, but it shows that I write to make the novel and the characters progress towards an end.  If I encounter something in the plot (or the subplots) that does not fit, I look at it again and rewrite or reorder events …

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If you write short or long fiction, how do you make sure the plot is always moving in the direction you intend?

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Copyright 2013   Jane Tims

Written by jane tims

October 23, 2013 at 7:00 am

on the way to Ile de Ré 6-1

with 2 comments

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6-1 b

biking towards the coast (image from Street View)

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Day 6-1 1 Logbook

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Day 6-1 1 map

map showing distance travelled (map from Google Maps)

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On my first day of Phase 6 of my virtual bike trip across central France, I was preoccupied with seeing the ocean (Bay of Biscay) and the coastline of France.

I stopped for a cup of tea at a small roadside bistro …

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a small bistro in L’Houmeau (image from Street View)

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I started to think about the vistas I have seen in France – both the old and the new …

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6-1 a

Bricomarche – a chain store selling building and decorating supplies – similar to Home Depot in Canada (image from Street View)

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I have seen the new (big grocery stores and building supply stores) as well as the old (stone houses and shops) …

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street in L’Houmeau (image from Street View)

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On some corners, I see a mix of the new and the soon to be obsolete.  This scene from France reminds me – in Canada, in the last ten years, we have also seen the introduction of recycling facilities in every public parking lot, and the loss of telephone booths from almost every outside public location …

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recycling bins and telephone booths in L’Houmeau (image from Street View)

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Of all the old things I saw today, I loved this old green door with its elaborate hinges, the door to a church in L’Houmeau …

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6-1 r

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At last, I saw the ocean, a strip of blue on the horizon just outside Les Portes Océanes …

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6-1 zzzzzz

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Best View: my first glimpse of the coastline and the Bay of Biscay …

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Copyright  Jane Tims  2013

from the pages of an old diary – technology

with 12 comments

The 1950’s were changing times.  Families in North America were experiencing a post-war boom and the first influx of new technology.  My great-aunt records some of this change in her diary. 

Here are some of the entries for 1957:

Jan. 3              ‘car wouldn’t start’

Feb. 23           ‘I got my electric egg beater to-day’

March 10        ‘went over to A.J. in evening to see T.V.’  

                          (her diary has several references to going to friend’s homes to watch T.V.)

May 1             ‘Electric men here from Pictou grounding the telephone. 

                          will be safe from lightning.’

May 7           ‘… our T.V. came to Drug store through Simpson’s. $269.95′

May 11           ‘ B. [and] A. set the T.V. up.  K., J. [and] I went to Forbes [a store] 

                           they stayed til after 11 to see T.V.’   –  after this, friends come regularly to watch

                          ‘the fights’ (Aug. 3, 1957) or ‘wrestling’ (Sept. 21, 1957)

Aug 31           ‘…car not working…’

Sept. 3             ‘…took the car to a garage.’

Sept. 4              ‘…car not working…’

Sept.5             ‘…Dad [her husband] took car up to L.S. to fix…’

Oct. 13           ‘…Our T.V. went on the blink’  ( after this she has several entries where her nephew,

                           my uncle, drops in to fix the T.V., for example Oct. 20, 1957)

Oct. 27           ‘…were home alone all eve. listening to T.V.’  

                            (note the used of the word ‘listening’ – they had listened to the radio)

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A couple of entries for 1954 caught my eye:

Jan 4.                ‘…lights were out a lot in eve.’

Aug. 16             ‘Did a big wash. wringer not working right…’

Sept. 27            ‘… did a small wash by hand…’

Oct. 4                 ‘… S.M. came in eve [and] put new roller in washer.’

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Today, our innovations come fast and furious.  I sometimes wonder what the next really ‘new’ technology will be and how my great-aunt would have recorded it in her diary.

What are your technology milestones?

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Copyright  Jane Tims 2012

Written by jane tims

February 13, 2012 at 6:37 am

settling into unfamiliar

with 6 comments

After three decades of work, I am retiring within the year.  Another milestone.  A new ‘way’ to settle into.

I remember when I made the transition into full-time employment.  It was a huge change for me.

Previously, I had been a student, living at home.  Suddenly, I was away from familiar places, in a new province, on my own.

Fortunately, I had solid back-up… my Mom and Dad were supportive and helped me whenever they could.  I loved my apartment, my new friends, my responsibilities.  Everything was new.  I learned as I went, meeting each new experience as if it was a page being turned in a book.

This transition, my retirement, will be so different.  I should be ahead of the change.  I am settled.  I know my home.  I have my husband to steady me and my son to give me advice!  I have a plan.

But the transition is still scary.  For three decades, my work has structured my life, providing deadlines and places to be, people to see.  I’ll have to establish a new daily routine.  I’ll have to set goals and celebrate milestones.  I’ll have to work a little harder to maintain my social contacts.

It will be like my first walks in the grey woods.  In those days, I didn’t know the paths very well and worried about getting lost (even though I could hear the cars on the main road!).  Sounds were strange, even frightening.  I worried about wild animals.

But gradually I learned the ways of the grey woods.  Every time I walked the paths, they became more familiar, and also more worn and easier to follow.  I learned the sounds to expect and the animals and birds I would encounter.  I learned the pitfalls.  I learned to expect a gem on every walk… a fairy ring of mushrooms, a Pileated Woodpecker hammering at a tree trunk, a chorus of frogs from the ephemeral pools…

 

walk in the grey forest

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I walk on unknown land

land I have not seen

but dreamed, the wary dream of intruder

where silence is fragile

snapped in two

by leaf fall

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I step carefully

my disturbance less

than the exhalation of wind

or the mutter of moths

between moribund trees

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this is ancient land

mossy logs, weary paths

where others may have walked

slanted cathedral light

lichened stones

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the unknown watches me

crouched in a hollow

flattened to the bole of the oak

betrayed by a ripple on the vernal pool

by the rattle of beech leaf or birch bark paper

it will surely shake free of its leaf garment

rise from the forest floor

to chastise me

desecrator of place

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even a careful step

is hard on hollow land

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it will take time

to learn to walk here

to discover game trails in the half-light

to understand words unspoken

to know the dying trees

not as omen

but as part

of the forest

~

© Jane Tims 1998

Written by jane tims

September 29, 2011 at 8:55 am

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